Anti-Car (not anti-driver) and Proud

On Friday I was at the SF Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) to give a talk with Bruce Appleyard entitled The Legacy of Livable Streets: Four decades later, what have we learned? Bruce is the son of Donald Appleyard the UC Berkeley professor who led the 1969 study on the social impacts of motor vehicle traffic in San Francisco that I replicated for my dissertation at the UWE Centre for Transport and Society.  Tragically, Donald Appleyard was killed by a speeding car in 1982, a shock that reverberated throughout the urban planning world.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Bruce is finishing up his PhD at UC Berkeley and looking to release a second edition of his Dad’s seminal work, Livable Streets.   He and I just met when I returned to the States in October.  He’s a really sweet guy, and I feel like I’m almost getting to know the father through the son.    Bruce and I have been traveling around the Bay Area talking with high school students, planning organizations, and anyone else who will listen about the importance of his father’s work, and how we can take lessons from Livable Streets to help us get us out of this mess that we’re in.

Josh Hart and Bruce Appleyard at Santa Cruz High School Dec. 17th 2009

David Baker, architect of sustainable housing and longtime bicycle advocate, moderated the session on Friday and introduced me as being ‘one of the old guard transportation activists from San Francisco- someone who has, over the years, remained unabashedly anti-car.’ (or something like that)

Thank you David Baker.   Honestly, that is the kindest thing you could possibly say to me.  As readers of this blog are well aware, there is no love lost between me and ol’ four wheels.  Unfortunately the potentially healthy relationships we could have had with the car have (almost exclusively) been usurped by relationships of dependency that have proven devastating to our health.  Devastating in ways that are now being documented and measured like never before.

I have no problem with coming right out and saying it.   I am anti-car.  I am vehemently and totally against our society’s current relationship with the automobile.  The expectation that everyone can own a car and use it as one’s primary transportation is delusional and dangerous.  However, I am not anti-driver. And there is a big difference.  Love the patient.   Hate the disease.

What I said by way of introduction at the SPUR event, was the following:

Imagine that you grew up in an alcoholic family, watching your sisters and brothers beaten, your parents so drunk they couldn’t stand up, watching them collapse in the gutter puking their guts out, watching them neglect the ones who they loved and gamble the family’s nest egg just so they could get one more bottle of booze.  If this was you, I imagine you’d be pretty anti-alcohol, despite perhaps enjoying a glass of wine with dinner on occasion as an adult.

Our society is like that family- but the drug of choice is of course, fossil fuels, with the most potent method of administering that drug being the motor vehicle.   Sadly, the addiction is that much worse because it goes undiagnosed (and like many other drugs is extremely dangerous when combined with alcohol).  The side effects written off as “tragic accidents” and “natural” disasters.  Somehow we have grown numb to the impacts.  The biggest killer of our kids.  The greatest threat to our future.  Doesn’t get much bigger than that.

To confront the reality directly would require difficult questions about the morality of our society- especially questions of class and corporate power, and require an initially painful period of withdrawal.  For most people, that transition is too much to take on as long as social norms and current land uses continue to require that human adults individually purchase and operate a vehicle with five or more seats.  Though as a new generation grow up into a senseless motorized and suicidal society, this dynamic is perhaps gradually starting to shift.

We need an intervention of historic proportions- a way to shake ourselves out of our complacency. But how, when, and where?  Who?  You?

So why am I anti-car?  So glad you asked.  Let us count the reasons:

Top Ten Reasons I am Anti-Car:

Cars are killing our kids. Motor vehicles are the number one killer of California children and UK boys (1).

Cars are poisoning the air. We sacrifice the air that we breathe to exhaust pipes, the toxins from which kill up to an estimated 2.4 million people/ year and degrade the health and quality of life of billions more. (2)  One’s right to breathe is now considered less important than one’s right to drive.

Cars are destroying our mental health Worsening road noise causes an unknown epidemic of stress, sleep deprivation- even heart disease and depression. (3)

Cars are destroying our local social lives and communities. The volume of traffic on your road largely determines the number of your neighbors with whom you are acquainted,  and particularly the number of close friends.  (4)

Cars are terrifying billions into lives of inactivity and disease. Cars not only allow people to live virtually exercise-free lives, they also scare countless others away from walking and bicycling and into sedentary (and often solitary) lifestyles.  Lovely stuff.   Skyrocketing obesity levels in the developed world are a predictable outcome of our car-friendly planning and transport policies over the last 60 years.  In the United States, 70% of the population fails to meet minimum recommended physical activity (5), a deficiency that leads to over $77 billion per year in hospital costs. (6)

Cars destroy human and animal life.  We kill or seriously injure 50 million human beings (7) (more than 200 Haitis) and somewhere over 1 billion wild and domesticated animals every year which we dismiss as “accidents” on the world’s roads. (8)  The truth is that this massive suffering and death toll is a preventable tragedy.  Deaths and injuries are strongly linked to the number and speed of vehicles on a given roadway. (9)  One less car will actually save a life.

Cars are jeopardizing our stable climate.  We are endangering the very foundation of our civilization- a stable, productive climate, just so we can continue to put the pedal to the metal.  Despite clear warnings from scientists, we persist in selfish and self-destructive behaviors like individual, habitual driving- not because we are evil, but because we think that someone else is paying attention to the problem.  Cars are responsible for more CO2 emitted than any other sector in California. (10)

Adolf Hitler LOVED cars. And yes, what top ten list would be complete without Hitler.  It is true that the man himself really was the driving force behind the Volkswagen, the Autobahn, and ultimately the technique of killing 6 million Jews and other undesirables efficiently with the use of the internal combustion engine.

On that note, happy cycling.

Sources

(1)  ONS, 2002. Social Focus in Brief: Children July 2002. London: Office for National Statistics/TSO. Available from: http://www.statistics.gov.uk [Accessed 8 April 2008].  For US: http://www.disastercenter.com/cdc/111riskc.html

(2) WHO, 2002. Estimated deaths & DALYs attributable to selected environmental risk factors. WHO Member State, 2002.

(3)  YAMAZAKI, S., SOKEJIMA, S., NITTA, H., NAKAYAMA, T., FUKUHARA, S., 2005. Living close to automobile traffic and quality of life in Japan: A population-based survey, International Journal of Environmental Health Research, 15:1, 1-9.

(4)  APPLEYARD, D., 1969.  The Environmental Quality of City Streets: The Residents’ Viewpoint.  Journal of the American Planning Association, 35, pp. 84-101.

and

HART, J. (2008) Driven to Excess: Impacts of Motor Vehicle Traffic on Residential Quality of Life in Bristol, UK.  University of the West of England 2008.

(5)  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, 2000. Healthy People 2010. Washington, DC: USDHHS.

(6)  PRATT, M., MACERA, C.A., WANG, G., 2000. Higher direct medical costs associated with physical inactivity. The Physician and Sports Medicine. 28 (10), 63–70.

(7) WHO, 2004. Global strategy on diet, physical activity and health. Geneva: World Health Organization.

(8) http://culturechange.org/issue8/roadkill.htm

(9)  ROBERTS, I., NORTON, R., JACKSON, R., DUNN, R., HASSALL, I., 1995.  Effect of environmental factors on risk of injury of child pedestrians by motor vehicles: a case-control study.  British Medical Journal. 310:91-94.

and

IIHS, 2000. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Status Report 35 (5), May 13, 2000.

(10) http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_vehicles/solutions/cleaner_cars_pickups_and_suvs/californias-global-warming.html

40 responses to “Anti-Car (not anti-driver) and Proud

  1. A great post! I live car free in this dependent culture. Just like you I HATE CARS. Your reasons are top notch, I have been saying similar things for the last 25 years. However little seems to have changed, indeed in many ways things have got worse, particularly the attitudes of car dependent drivers.

    The only problem I have with your post is you have succumbed to Godwin’s Law, which is totally unnecessary when your case against cars is so strong.

    best
    Nipper

  2. We kill or seriously injure 50 million human beings (7) (more than 200 Haitis) and somewhere over 1 billion wild and domesticated animals every year which we dismiss as “accidents” on the world’s roads.

    Can you explain that a bit more. That figures is 7x the number of people who die from cancer each year across the globe.

  3. Bravo that man!
    I confess that I’m a driver and own two vehicles.
    I’m still anti-car and I use my vehicles a sparingly as possible.
    Car-free? Not yet, but working on it.

  4. Thanks for your comments people. I have to admit I had no idea what Godwin’s law is, so I googled it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law.

    According to Wikipedia, Godwin’s law is defined as follows: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches” It goes on to say that “It is precisely because such a comparison or reference may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued[4] that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact.”

    I would argue that pointing out Hitler’s role in the development of the Volkswagen is extremely relevant and valid. It wasn’t as if this was the end of a flame war and I blew a gasket and said, “you people are all f-ing nazis!” The question is, who makes the decision about whether a particular Hitler reference is valid, or simply hyperbole? I’ll let the reader decide.

    With regard to the stat about 50 million people, these are people who are killed or seriously injured by road crashes (the clinical term that strips away any possible emotion is KSI). I agree that it is an obscenely high toll, and that we should be up in arms about it. As an aside, many of those cancers you mention are due to the particularly effective distribution of toxins such as benzene, lead, and ozone into the environment by the auto.

    As the stencils on the Panhandle Bike Path in San Francisco warn, “Beware of Death Monsters Ahead”

  5. I totally agree with you (and was at that forum — kudos on an excellent presentation). We need to do is find ways to get people away from cars in ways that are as painless as possible. Meanwhile, of course, the auto industry alone spends billions of dollars on the manufacture, marketing, and distribution of their product — how do we wage a war against an industry that spends at least ten thousand times as much on marketing as advocates of walking, cycling, and transit can?

    • The auto industry knows it’s in trouble and it’s just a matter of time before tobacco-type restrictions are applied against its products. The campaign by Toyota is a good example. “We see beyond cars” Ha! http://www.toyotabeyondcars.com/ It’s just like the healthy cigarette, diet cola, or low carb snacks. It’s harder to fool the youth- they emerge without the blinders that obscure reality from the rest of us. I’m sure one reason that kids aren’t snatching up new cars in such great numbers is a deeply felt nausea that we are participating in killing the planet. From Lester Brown comes this article about the decline of the American car industry:

      “Perhaps the most fundamental social trend affecting the future of the automobile is the declining interest in cars among young people. For those who grew up a half-century ago in a country that was still heavily rural, getting a driver’s license and a car or a pickup was a rite of passage. Getting other teenagers into a car and driving around was a popular pastime.

      In contrast, many of today’s young people living in a more urban society learn to live without cars. They socialize on the Internet and on smart phones, not in cars. Many do not even bother to get a driver’s license. This helps explain why, despite the largest US teenage population ever, the number of teenagers with licenses, which peaked at 12 million in 1978, is now under 10 million. If this trend continues, the number of potential young car-buyers will continue to decline.

      Beyond their declining interest in cars, young people are facing a financial squeeze. Real incomes among a large segment of society are no longer increasing. College graduates already saddled with college loan debt may find it difficult to get the credit to buy a car. Young job market entrants are often more interested in getting health insurance than in buying a car.” (Full article http://www.peopleandplanet.net/doc.php?id=3709)

      Focus on the youth….and the liberal left. Don’t waste your time on the 20% hardcore right wingers who will never change. Focus on the liberal left. When conscious, progressive environmentalists begin to abandon auto-dependence in large enough numbers, and change their lifestyles to stop propping up corporate domination, the justification for everyone else to behave like that will weaken. Kill hypocrisy first!

      Hell, that’s why I’m living in Marin County!

  6. Can you point me to the exact evidence that says 50 million a year. I am very sceptical of stats and have heard many different figures for the same thing.

  7. Don’t trust bloggers either!!!

    • And I suppose the mainstream media is so much more truthful- I’ll believe it when I see an in depth episode of Frontline or 60 Minutes on the impacts of car-dependence on health. Don’t hold your breath. Or rather, do…

  8. May be add one more to top 10 is:
    Car is an expensive toy and waste the money!

  9. Mainstream media is just as bad!!

  10. WOW!!! very nice post man! Its just like saying Love the sinners but hate the sins… I’m also anti-car but not anti-driver. Thumbs up for this post!

  11. onthelevelblog

    Speaking of Godwin’s law: “The internet is full of people desperate to be heard. Comparing things to Hitler is the online equivalent of shouting, and quoting Godwin’s law is like refusing to listen to people who shout. By nature, I favour the latter camp and find most online shouting unpleasant and ignorant.

    But sometimes people who shout are right and some circumstances warrant shouting. We mustn’t ignore them all because of a law of probability. The wearying truth about the internet is that it requires readers to scrutinise the authorship, bias and reliability of everything they read more than ever before. So, to know if a Hitler comparison is apposite, you have to know more about Hitler than that he wasn’t a nice guy.”

    I love David Mitchell.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/28/godwins-law-nazis-healthcare-mitchell

  12. what the hell is up with you people, you are sooooo boring and misinformed. first off we can forget the global warming crap because cars=0.001% of all c02 created every year, end of. second of all who are you people to apply your logic to everyone else?! i love cars, i would trade posibbly 3 fingers to save my own car. the noise the speed and the looks all thrill me mabye in the way a book or game of chess does it for you people (boring scaremongering useless people, or bsup whichever you prefer). last of all the fear factor is the best thing, that buzz which you get only from bungee jumping or standing up for what you belive, if we all were like you people we would still be in caves. tbh people like you need to be iridicated if the human species if to evolve any higher. please feel free to think what you want to its wrong but your only lying to yourselves because your to scared to live like the rest of us :)

  13. I’m glad I found your article!! It almost felt as if I was the only one to completely ABHOR cars! I hate them for the reasons mentioned above, I so loathe cars and not because I don’t have a license, because I have a license. This whole society bows before their great mammon: the traffic, the cars. They sacrifice their comfort, security, health to it – the car is their most sacred idol.
    You can’t peacefully go out into the streets, without having to fear that people whom you don’t know, who are unreliable, instable, own a car and are allowed to wield something which makes them faster, stronger, more dangerous than any living animal. Often car drivers, when having the choise between letting you cross the street or arriving a few seconds faster where they’re going, chose the latter and step on it.
    A car is too much responsibility for the great majority of persons. It’s always metal against human flesh, and none is going to change anything, it’s not even an issue for the public.

    People who are critical about cars and traffic are seen as the queerest of all cranks.

    How I hate cars. And I hate this situation even more, knowing it’s completely useless, because NOTHINGS GONNA EVER CHANGE.

    • Dear Frustrated,

      Thanks for your comment. From your e-mail address it looks like you live in Germany, which does have fairly progressive policies to provide good public transit, pedestrian, and cycling facilities. Despite this, like most industrialized (and industrializing) countries the car still reigns supreme and strangles quality of life in many areas. You are right- the car has become like an idol- to whom we sacrifice our children, our environment, and our safety- all for what? Status? It’s deeply dysfunctional and you are far from alone in your astute observations and feelings.

      The mainstream media is complicit in portraying a world where there is little dissent about our public spaces- the reality of course is very different. Our human tendency to overestimate the number of drivers compared with other modes- based on the space consumed- also contributes to this.

      Do not fret- you are not alone, and as the nightmare of car addiction grows worse by the day there are more and more of us out there! Get out of the city, go out into nature on a long bike ride or hike and don’t lose faith!

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  15. Hi Josh, Glad to read you are still active with “the crusade” to convert travellers to two wheels. On the subject of “cars are poisoning the air”, I wondered if you had read The (British) Sunday Times article (News page 12 yesterday) ~ “Toxic cities mock ‘healthy’ cycle riding” quoting Int Panis of the transport research institute at Hasselt University in Belgium indicating that cyclists are inhaling higher levels of toxic nanoparticles than drivers or pedestrians ? Cheers, Roy

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  18. Wish there were more like the three of us.

    I walk amid the myopic sprawl of Eugene, OR. Needless to say, I am among a tiny minority.

    The end of the fossil fuel era approaches. If we want to conserve those precious fuels for priority uses such as agriculture, home heating, cooking, electricity, durable plastics, then we need to stop squandering such precious resource on ridiculous automobile forays.

    People of the USA use over 15 million BARRELS a DAY on personal trandportation. Exhausted. Gone.

    We as a nation need to set as a goal, and commit to reaching it with an action plan, of reducing personal automobile use by 80% in the next 20 to 40 years. This could be done by allocating resources to the building trades and telecommunications trades and rebuilding all neighborhoods so that (almost) all people can get what they need within walking distance of their homes.

    It will also take a fundamental change in the way that resources are allocate. Goods and services will need to be allocated based on need with a “plan and implement” paradigm rather than the current profit motive which uses the “risk and return” economic paradigm.

    Let’s start a movement!

  19. great informative post, but I have one question, what is your opinion on electric cars? in terms of killing our world

    • Hi Smart-

      The following article basically sums up my position. Electric cars are yet another false solution to climate catastrophe and a dangerous red herring.

      Josh

      Bianca Mugyenyi and Yves Engler are authors of Stop Signs: Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Environmental Decay to be published in early 2011.

      Don’t believe the hype. The GM Volt plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is a threat to those who care about livability, equality and the planet.

      For more than three years, General Motors has been touting the Volt and its ability to run for 40 miles on electricity before switching to a gasoline engine. In January 2007, the Financial Times concluded that the Volt was designed to counter the “halo effect that Toyota gained from the Prius, which rivals the iPod as an iconic product.” In fact, the Volt was originally named the iCar. “I admit,” said former vice-chairman of GM Bob Lutz, “that it [the Volt] has a secondary benefit of helping to re-establish credibility in technology.”

      The lure of technological advancement has always been part of the automobile’s formidable ideological prowess. Popular journals, magazines and other media regularly portray the automotive sector as a forerunner of innovation.

      While automakers spend huge sums on R&D the mode of transport is inherently inefficient. These 3000-pound metal boxes carry on average one and a half people, approximately 300 pounds – a mere ten percent of the vehicle’s weight. At the same, the car’s appetite for space is insatiable. Requiring 300 sq feet for home storage, 300 sq feet for storage at destination, 600 sq feet while traveling and another 200 sq feet for repairs, servicing or sale, an automobile occupies about 1,400 sq feet altogether – more space than most apartments.

      Buses, trains, streetcars, bikes as well as pedestrians (and just about every other animal, plant or mineral) use space and infrastructure more efficiently than personal cars, whether moving or at a standstill. At approximately four meters across, road lanes are about the same width of railroad tracks, yet rail carries twenty times the number of passengers.

      Despite the environmental fanfare, the Volt’s electric battery merely relocates tailpipe pollution to the source: power stations. Yet over half of all US electricity comes from coal, which produces more carbon emissions and pollutants than regular oil. If the goal of the electric car is to limit global warming, using carbon based fuels is puzzling.

      Even with alternative fuels or better fuel efficiency the private car will continue to be an ecological catastrophe. From steel and aluminum, to paint and rubber production, to automotive assembly, manufacturing an average automobile generates enormous pollution. A Summer 2007 study titled, From Dust to Dust, concluded that half the energy a car uses in its lifecycle is in the production and destruction phases. Growing awareness of these energy costs prompted Norway to make it nearly impossible for car companies to advertise as “green”, “clean” or “environmentally friendly” without proving that this was the case in every aspect of the lifecycle from production to emissions to recycling.

      The basic point is this: there is no such thing as a green car. It is not sustainable for individuals to hop into a two, four or eight thousand pound metal box for mobility.

      Beyond ecological costs, car hegemony has a slew of negative side effects. Auto travel leads to significantly higher rates of injury or death than other forms of transportation. Additionally, infrastructure designed for the car undermines walking and biking, which are vital elements of a healthy lifestyle.

      An incredibly expensive form of transportation, the amount of time devoted to the car is immense. It’s been calculated that the average person in the U.S. works from January 1st to March 31st to pay for their automobile(s). April 1st has been declared auto freedom day; the day people begin earning money for food, board, clothing, education and the other necessities of life.

      When the automobile serves as the primary mode of mass transit, the poorest are hardest hit. Low-income U.S. families spend over a third of their take home pay on transportation, twice the proportion of affluent families. The Volt, which starts at $41, 000, will not alter that. But, it will give a boost to the image consciousness. Since the dawn of the auto age, the car has been a conspicuous symbol of status in a hyper materialist world.

      North America’s transportation system, based on individual ownership of vehicles, is inefficient, environmentally destructive and dominates cultural, economic, and political systems in a wide variety of negative ways. Will the Volt revolutionize transportation or will its smoke and mirrors reinforce the dominance of the private car?

      It may be time to look beyond private automobility.

      Bianca Mugyenyi and Yves Engler are authors of Stop Signs: Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Environmental Decay to be published in early 2011. Anyone interested in organizing a talk as part of a book tour please e-mail: yvesengler (@) hotmail.com

      • I know it’s an old thread and all that but your post here is right on. I’ve been trying to say the same things off and on for a year or so. You say it well!

  20. -With respect to electric vehicles, my thoughts are that they may be a small part of a longer term solution and probably restricted to rebuilt/walkable urban and suburban neighborhoods for the use of the elderly and/or infirm.

    The top priority with respect to fossil fuels and other energy resources is demand side management. The chief priority in planning the role of the automobile is to reduce automobile use by 80% in the next 20 to 40 years. We are currently burdened by a terrible oversupply (including owned and overstocked inventories at factories and dealerships) of fuel inefficient and poorly designed internal combustion vehicles. If these vehicles weren’t so poorly designed, there could be a significant opportunity to convert them to hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles. But they are very poorly designed. Perhaps the current population of vehicles should be deconstructed and parts reused or recycled. Such is obviously not a feasible alternative, though efforts should be made to make all vehicles that are in use after a comprehensive downsizing of the vehicles remaining in use New vehicles should be exclusively, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric, except maybe for long-term transport and work vehicles.

    It is very doubtful that we ever need to produce one more vehicle off the absurd robotic assembly lines of atrociously designed anachronisms, opulent ostentations.

    There could be tremendous amounts of work generated by the reconstruction of neighborhoods and the rearrangement of production, distribution, and communication systems to make them neighborhood friendly. In addition, a great potential for work lies in the field of deconstruction of transportation and related infrastructure adaptation. Parking lots could be torn up and converted to community gardens. Streets (and rail systems) could be torn up and converted to walking and bike paths and others altered to be less wide, restoring the liveability of housing located on these very noisy busy passageways. Parking garages could be torn down and replaced by mixed-use developments and/or garden/park uses. Highways could be dedicated mostly to bus travel, long distance transport, and perhaps some, if not many, of them torn down and reclaimed as natural and agricultural land.

    For automobile usage, it would be optimal to encourage the development of car-sharing cooperatives. All vehicles left in use must be quiet, and slower (with the exception of busses and long range transport). With respect to transport and distribution systems (and production systems) relocalization and neighborhood telecommunications (including teleconferencing facilities) should be the major goal, greatly reducing the need for longrange transport.

  21. Hitler on your list? C’mon.

  22. I agree with this article. Some people aniway they can’t drive a car properly

  23. Thank goodness for a breath of sanity in world demented by the addiction to greed and speed. I am developing a charity in Glasgow, Scotland trying to replace car use with cycling projecta. It is hard. Glasgow is gridlocked by cars and we are getting a £1/2 billion motorway on stilts that tears apart the south of the city. Funding for walking and cycling is on the comedy level.
    I am anti car for all the reasons you state, especially road deaths.
    I wonder why 9/11 is considered a great tradgedy. 300o people died. Since that time 400,000 people have been killed by cars in the USA. Yet whereas the former has had a gigantic effect on American Consciousness, spurring wars in the middle east, the latter has on the contrary done little to discourage the American dream of driving everywhere. Obama’s first act was to pour billions of dollars to support the motor industry.
    I believe the human race has been infected, literally by a kind of mass psychosis generated by cars, a condition that blinds people to the terrible suffering caused by these machines that cause more violent death than anything else.
    The question is: What can we do?

  24. I am a cyclist who makes roughly 75% of his trips by bicycle; this is no small task at times, because I face a 38 m8il round trip commute to go to work and back. However, I guess I don’t share the vehemently anti-car sentiments of this blog. It’s one thing to say that we use cars too much and should lessen our dependence on them; I couldn’t agree more. However it’s quite another to say that we should divorce ourselves from cars completely. There are some functions for which cars are just more useful than, say, bicycles. I am a lover of bicycles myself, so I really have no axe to grind. It’s just that I really doubt that I would pull up to the airport to pick up my grandmother on a tandem bicycle, or that I would take my newborn baby home from the hospital on a bicycle. And if someone in my family lay dying in the hospital 100 miles awayy in the middle of the night, I’d hate to be separated from them for lack of buses running at that hour simply because someone legislated that I could not own a personal automobile. There are certain areas of this country that are sparsely populated in which public transportation just wouldn’t work, and there are many people who are not healthy enough to travel by bicycle. I do not think it would be ethical to deprive these people of transportion at the expense of a high minded principle (as well meaning as it might be).

    I’m not saying any of this just to be contentious, I’m just kind of throwing some other viewpoints/arguments out there. Godspeed!

  25. the author totally echoes my views on cars. yes, i too am a car hater from india and i tip my pagdi (hat) at you for writing what i had been intending to write.

    i also have a solution to the problem in mind.
    admit it, we will never be able to outnumber the moronic car-users or hope to convert more than a tiny percentage of them to our logic.
    what we have working on our side is the fact that petrol will not last forever. it has to end and it is already getting more and more expensive. which is fantastic.
    now what we can do, is hasten the process. buy as much petrol as you can afford and pour it down the drain. if all of us start doing that, our ideology will reach mass consciousness and will generate demand for non-polluting modes of transport across the world.

  26. Let’s face it, auto-use is a filthy habit.

    We need to repeat over and over again 5 or 6 short statements in several different media. When challenged on a particular statement, never explain, simply refer to another statement as proof.

    Autos kill.

    Autos cause asthma.

    Autos cause global warming.

    Trains are clean.

    Trains are clean and comfortable.

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  29. I am so glad to have found this site. Since I woke up about religion and its utter ridiculousness, I have been having this obsessive hatred of cars as if it were somehow they were part and parcel of that same irrationality as religion. There’s something wildly irrational about cars and what they have done to cities in which we have so much filth and ugliness that the only way you can experience nature, silence, birdsong, clean air, is to fucking drive out of the city and contribute to the very thing that’s driving you out of the city! Trapped like rat on a treadmill we all are with our bloody cars. I am making a website history of my village back in Ireland called Straw and I call it “strawdog” with an avatar of a dog called Puddy who terrorized cars and drivers back in a rural 1950’s Irish village, by running out into the road and barking and snapping like a mad thing as cars, infrequent then, went by. Puddy hated cars and so do I!

  30. just curious: are you a proponent of agenda 21?

  31. Frank Gubasta

    WMD’s Found

    I found ‘em. They’re everywhere. Just look around. You’ll see them too. They bump into each other like bumbling idiots. In the process they kill thousands of people (43,443 in the U.S. alone in 2005) and maim millions (2,699,000) more every year. The carcasses of small animals they leave in their wake is heartbreaking.

    How many trees have been axed, how much arable land has been rendered useless except for their fleeting rights of passage? They leak toxic substances onto roads, driveways, and parking lots which accounts for 70% of our water pollution from runoff. They poison our air so badly that by the afternoon whole skylines magically disappear. 8,000 pounds of carbon and 700 pounds of air pollution were generated to make each one. They create wars over oil. From Arctic ice core samples, National Geographic has discovered that in 1850, prior to our insatiable appetite for burning fossil fuels, the Earth’s oxygen content was 30%. It’s now down to 19%. At 12% the human mind can no longer rationalize and we won’t be able to figure our way out of this mess.

    But we love them, or so we’re told by Madison Avenue. They throw daggers of fear into our hearts if our children get anywhere near one that’s moving. Think of all the places our naturally-provided means (legs) of freedom of movement has been restricted just to allow these death machines to roam freely. They have more rights than people do and have turned millions of square miles of our land into ‘don’t walk there or you may get killed’ zones.

    They pile up in junkyards by the billions–what to do with all that waste? The old tires, batteries, filters, used oil, the list is endless. When they get stuck, the operators get so angry they gun down other operators.

    I hope that one day we Americans will learn from the more advanced (certainly more forward-thinking) people like the Europeans that non-polluting, efficient, and safe means of mass public transportation is what we need to work toward for a sustainable future for our children and theirs.

    I for one will continue to walk, roller blade, bike, and bus it around. I hope you’ll think about it too.

    Frank Gubasta
    Fort Myers, FL

  32. I love the car. Am also happy to report that contrary to your opinion, automobiles are HUGELY flourishing across the planet. LONG LIVE THE AUTOMOBILE AND ITS DRIVERS!

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