Twice in the past few days, someone has tried to pull a freight hostage argument on me.
If you're not familiar with it, the freight hostage argument is a classic muddle-headed transit advocate attack. "Oh, you muddle-headed transit advocates! How will you get your cereal if there are bus lanes everywhere? How will you get your bike parts if you tear down that highway?" For some reason, for years it was always cereal, but lately it's bike parts because that makes us look OMG so much more hypocritical!
The short answer to that is, "Fuck you," because what else do you say to someone who's telling you that your kids may have to die for cheap cereal or derailleurs, and that they have zero interest in imagining any other way things could be? Seriously, why waste your time on a person like that?
If you must engage with these kinds of arguments, you can start with something like, "If we can solve the problem of moving people around without automobiles, we can solve the problem of moving freight." The longer answer is to actually articulate a vision of freight movement that doesn't involve giant deadly trucks all over the roads. That's what I did in a series of posts over the past several years.
The basic idea is to first decide whether something needs to be moved in the first place. Then, borrowing from Chuck Marohn, we decide whether paved areas are highways, streets or country roads. Any freight that goes on a highway should instead be on a train or a boat, or in a pipe. Then we can tear down all the highways. Streets should be for people, bikes and trolleys. Country roads should be designed for small vehicles, moving slow, with generous sidepaths for pedestrians and slow cyclists.
The side effect of this will be that all of the stores and warehouses will have to be accessible by foot or streetcar from a train line. The more accessible they are, the more successful they will be.
There you have it! No more big trucks. No more big highways. No more big-box stores, no more malls. Now who's the muddle-headed thinker?