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Yosemite Valley vehicle traffic

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Yosemite Valley vehicle traffic

Postby SSSdave » Wed Oct 25, 2017 6:15 pm

Yosemite Valley has a much larger issue than the $70 day fee increase being addressed on the other current thread that far too many have only wanted to stick their heads in the sand about not doing anything necessary about. Of course I am referring to the insane automobile traffic around the loop road. As long as people are allowed to drive their vehicles into the valley without limitations it is only going to become worse. Reality is the world's most famous glacial valley is small. The situation is only going to change if people admit something needs to be done and then take action.

The majority of vehicles drive into the valley between about 10am and 1pm then leave between 3pm and 6pm. The scenic pull outs become the same kind of zoo as Christmas season parking at shopping malls. Everywhere is the disgusting loud noise of vehicles, all too many of which our driven by impatient inconsiderate urban people just like they do on their weekday commutes. Most of the visitors spend less than 10 minutes at the usual series of scenic pullouts that reflects the shallow level of awareness or understanding of what they are looking at or what might be a more productive and interesting way to spend their time. Much of that behavior is simply due to the fact most everyone else is doing that same thing... so it must be a good thing. Oh lets take a selfie against the waterfall. Gee which one is that? Snap snap, oooh that look good! Let's go, I'm hungry. They then continue on until they reach their favorite infrastructure areas at the east end of the valley with the most popular the being the Village store.

It is there the majority wander about visiting the shops, eateries, and exhibits for two or three hours before getting into one of those open air trams or shuttle buses. The open air bus types end up back at the store where they continue their people watching while those on the shuttle buses to their credit, end up at some feature for a hike, maybe Bridalveil Falls or Happy Isles or another eatery visit at Curry Village. After that they are likely to take a shuttle back to the location of their vehicle.

There have over decades been suggestions for parking outside the valley and taking buses into the park. Automobile, lodging, and tourist businesses have always hated those proposals because it is certain to affect their bottom line. I personally have advocated that be done during popular periods of the year unless someone has a reserved campground permit or lodging reservation. Also those who have driven their vehicles in the valley for camping or lodging ought to be prevented from driving around during mid day hours. Imagine just a modest adequate number of quiet electric vehicles moving around the loop road?



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Re: Yosemite Valley vehicle traffic

Postby rlown » Wed Oct 25, 2017 6:50 pm

I like February..
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Re: Yosemite Valley vehicle traffic

Postby wildhiker » Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:01 pm

Making people park in outlying lots and use some kind of mass transit within Yosemite Valley was proposed by the Park Service back in the 1970s! But they soon gave up on the idea. The biggest stumbling block is money. You would have to build enormous parking garages and some kind of rail transit to move enough people. 5000 parking spots in multi-story garages @ $30,000 per spot to build is $150 million just for the garage. Then you need the rail system. And where could you put those garages that wouldn't create an enormous eye-sore?

I think the only practical solution is some kind of reservation and quota system for driving into the Valley, just like we have for camping in the Valley.

-Phil
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Re: Yosemite Valley vehicle traffic

Postby rightstar76 » Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:10 am

SSSdave, I am guilty as charged though I am not much of a selfie fan. Still, it's always fun to take a quick photo from a scenic pullout. :)

wildhiker, the problem with the reservation and quota system is it will curtail revenue. As SSSdave mentioned, the tourist lobby is not going to take that lightly. Also, I think it will create a system where those with more get to visit and those with less don't. I believe we have the capacity to build those parking lots and a rail/bus system into the park. This will maintain the integrity of the valley and provide a steady stream of revenue while allowing everyone to visit the valley. Until then, however, I expect the traffic situation to get much worse.
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Re: Yosemite Valley vehicle traffic

Postby Hobbes » Thu Oct 26, 2017 7:08 am

Yep, discussions about managing/controlling Valley traffic have been going on for a long time. Given recent successes in different venues and circumstances, perhaps the solution is to identify a designated 'victim' group.

Whether it is frogs dictating fish kills, bears requiring canisters, or re-introduced wolves killing sheep, some one/thing needs to be promoted as deserving special protection in order to push past opposition.

So, what does the Valley offer, have or need? And no, Dave, it cannot be something as virtuous as a cry for solitude. It needs to be more concrete, like trees, animals, air/water pollution, heritage, etc. Identify the victim, promote its virtue, and raise the alarm; do that, and the dominoes begin to fall.

For example, there are world heritage sites that have increasing cut down on non-validated travel - Machu Picchu is a good example. When we went 11 years ago, you could still cruise around unaccompanied. Now, no way - you can't meander the grounds without guide/proof of stay. Like Yosemite, there are local towns, businesses and transport companies catering to tourism that were effected.

If Yosemite were to take that approach, then the Valley would become a very, very expensive place to visit. No more generic 'Muricans hitting a NP for a quick in/out; rather, an exotic foreign vacation for world travelers.

So, the question becomes: how much are you willing to "save" the Valley if it means you can no longer (easily) visit?
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Re: Yosemite Valley vehicle traffic

Postby Hobbes » Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:32 am

I should also add that if the experience in Europe is any guide, external parking lots would probably create *more* visitors & total volume of foot traffic .

We just got back from a visit to Italy, and it seems like it keeps getting busier in not just the larger cities, but also the smaller towns and rural villages. The reason? Watch a Rick Steves episode: cars have been banned from the inner, historic zones, leading to an explosion of day trippers and visitors (dropped off by mammoth tour buses that park remotely).

The way Europe has done this is the development of (many) external parking lots and restricted, but well marked traffic routes/directions - to both parking lots and around city centers. The local cafes & merchants love it of course - there doesn't seem to be any other economy other than tourism: lodging, dining, shopping and museums. I, for one, would gladly exchange hordes of walkers for cars if the price is solitude and a chance to enjoy beautiful surroundings without vehicle traffic. (Local permits are of course issued for residents & commercial, but even they have limited hours.)

As an aside, I've driven on multiple occasions in France, Germany, Spain & Italy, including inside Paris, Madrid & Frankfurt (but not Rome - even that is too gnar for me). It's actually really easy to get around - they don't want lost, petrified tourists stuck in a medieval alley anymore than a tourist does. We kept running into others who were either part of a group or had hired a driver that seemed surprised when I mentioned I had driven from Rome to Florence (and all throughout Tuscany) and back to Rome (airport via Autostrade ie their high speed freeways). I told them all you have to do is look for the directional white arrows, the large P signs, and *stay off any cobblestones*. (Roads are just like here - paved. The exception is the preserved core ie cobblestone, field stones, bricks, etc.) You see the beginning of some stones, and it's best to make a 3 or 4 point turn to get out of there, get back on pavement, and find the parking lot. LOL

Anyway, with regard to Yosemite, while there may be initial complaints & adjustments if they do manage to restrict traffic, you can't beat a winner. In other words, there are certain places that will attract visitors no matter the price, time and/or effort. If the Valley was cleared of most vehicle traffic, it would still be crowded - perhaps even more so, but with foot traffic & vendors. (Tastefully appointed, of course.)
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Re: Yosemite Valley vehicle traffic

Postby sambieni » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:54 am

Hobbes wrote:I s If the Valley was cleared of most vehicle traffic, it would still be crowded - perhaps even more so, but with foot traffic & vendors. (Tastefully appointed, of course.)


Taco trucks? \:D/
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Re: Yosemite Valley vehicle traffic

Postby longri » Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:29 am

It's nice to have a fantasy.

I'm not sure we can draw easy parallels between European cities and Yosemite Valley. The more common example that gets cited is Zion but there are important differences there as well.

It's not an easy problem. If it were it would have been solved in the 70s.
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Re: Yosemite Valley vehicle traffic

Postby Hobbes » Thu Oct 26, 2017 11:49 am

I actually think it has become an 'easier' problem to solve. We're both children of the 60s & 70s. Back then, Calif was much more homogeneous, and not just race, but income/wealth. As a result, the NPs have a legacy of inclusion and a come one, come all attitude. Many here probably recall the uproar about even a hint of restricted access back then.

Nowadays? Over time, the people have accepted more laws, regulations, restrictions and limits, with little comment, as long as money buys freedom. With the present population largely lacking an institutional memory of what the state used to be like, they may be more amenable to imposing new restrictions on previously open places.

We've all seen the power of media and the influence it wields in shaping public opinion. A well coordinated campaign, once a suitable virtuous attribute was decided upon, could easily shift people's perceptions.

Euro cities and Zion are two good examples; there are plenty of others. The bottom line is the bottom line: as long as *more* visitors and/or money is generated, everyone tends to be happy all around.
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Re: Yosemite Valley vehicle traffic

Postby Jimr » Thu Oct 26, 2017 12:28 pm

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Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead, let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?
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