Ridding Ourselves Of Cars

bikeLow-Tech magazine looks at bicycles this week, and concludes that cars have to go.  Boy, I couldn’t agree more.

The problem is not that there is a lack of good roads – enough of these exist to bike from here to Mars and beyond. The main problem is that these are occupied by automobiles that are not only dangerous but also very inefficient both in terms of energy use and floor space.We don’t need any new infrastructure, what we need is to clear the existing infrastructure of inefficient vehicles and replace them with efficient ones. In other words: give all streets, highways, cloverleaves and motorways exclusively to bicycles and all other human powered wheeled vehicles. Get rid of cars. Why make things so complicated if the solution is so simple?

How could we live without cars, I hear those trapped in skepticism say.  The answer is clear:

Picture this for a second. If cars are gone, we are left with pedestrians (on the sidewalk), pedal powered vehicles (one part of the streets and the highways) and public transportation (another part of the streets and the highways, separated from pedal powered traffic, or underground) … For long distance passenger transport, we have trains. For long distance cargo transport, trains again. Short distance cargo transport could see the revival of cargo trams (streetcars). Electric vehicles could be a part of the solution, too, both for cargo transport and for the disabled, provided they keep the same speed as bicycle traffic.

The whole article is well worth the read, and the possibilities should be lightly discarded.

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5 Responses to Ridding Ourselves Of Cars

  1. Mittens says:

    all well and good, jak, for people who have access to public transportation, bicycles, trains, and planes. The problem comes when you live 20 miles from the nearest store, or bus, and 40 miles from the nearest train, which only goes to the major cities.

    Anyone in a rural area would be effectively isolated without a car, and in the winter effectively locked in until spring.

    Whoever wrote this article was not thinking beyond urban or suburban confines, apparently.

  2. jakking says:

    I agree and I took this to be a purely urban plan. However, it is worth noting that rural folk managed to live successful and happy lives for many many centuries without the automobile. In the big picture, have their lives really improved with them?

  3. Mittens says:

    rural folks had horses, wagons, and the society they were in was totally geared to a horse driven culture. Horses were also part of the agricultural landscape, of which we have very little left, at least in this area. If I were to take a horse and wagon to town, I’d probably have to take a giant pooper scooper along, plus feed, and risk arrest for littering.

    A horse culture involves an entire community–stables, blacksmiths, grain, hay, mowing, vets, on and on. Tack shops. And equally importantly, in the 19th century you could take a horse to town (or walk, weather permitting) and take a train to the next town, or the town beyond that. Trains were the public transportation of choice.

    I have a diary here, one year in the life of my husband’s great grandfather who was in his early 30s at the time. He lived on a farm, and worked incredibly hard, as did his wife and sons. They managed to find time to socialize, and to take the trains to Portsmouth (starting at 4 AM to get there), but for all of that their days were long, and their mobility was seriously localized.

    happiness, jak, is where you find it. I think that has less to do with the kind of life than the kind of persons involved.

    they managed because they were part of the society they lived in. We manage for the same reasons. I see this article’s point, and it sounds good, until you realize that a lot of the things proposed are pipe dreams, and utopian “if only” things, far too costly to implement, and far too complicated.

  4. jakking says:

    “Far too costly to implement”: I’m afraid I have to say that to NOT do these things will destroy the planet and, even before then, will cost — financially, medically and psychologically — much more than the alternative. You and I will be fine; it is our grandchildren I worry about.

  5. @Amanda, you appear to know what you are talking about. Do you mind shooting me your e-mail? I would like to speak more with you.

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