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Full Metal Burka - the Car as Veil.

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  • tws_ottawan
    Full Metal Burka. This article also appears on my blog at www.ottawanphoto.blogspot.com along with several photographs which support car free cities and a city
    Message 1 of 11 , Sep 21 12:55 PM
      Full Metal Burka.




      This article also appears on my blog at
      www.ottawanphoto.blogspot.com along with several photographs which
      support car free cities and a city with a balance between natural
      and human space. The article follows:
      ============================================

      Is it my imagination, or is the automobile simply a high tech
      version of the Muslim burka. The similarity between the garment
      which covers all but the eyes of the person wearing it and the car
      which envelopes its user or wearer in tinted glass and sheet metal
      is striking. Both make its user anonymous and liberate the
      individual from the curious stares, judgments, and interaction of/
      with members of the public that he or she encounters in their extra-
      residential errands. The difference of the automobile is that it is
      a luxury version coming complete with cup holder, electronic
      entertainment system, communications devices and ergonomic piloting
      controls. The user of an automobile is at large in the world without
      his personal identity. This identity is masked completely, by the
      covering of the vehicle, which comes in one basic shape and design,
      with several minor variations. Some are small, some medium sized,
      some large, some are squared, others are rounded. Like the burka,
      there is some latitude for variation in individual taste in colour,
      and minor characteristics, but the basic pattern is always held to.
      While the burka is a covering for pedestrians, the automobile
      shrouds its user from passers-by and does this with its own internal
      motive power.

      In ancient times a prince or a wealthy individual might have a sedan
      chair which enclosed him and served as a conveyance, carried by a
      team of slaves. While this was originally a luxury for only the most
      affluent, who wanted seclusion from the public, today, in our
      society, it is universal. We are attached to these sedans for much
      the same reason the princes of old were, because of the privacy and
      isolation they give us. Those of us, male or female, who leave home
      without it, are considered losers, people of no account, and if not
      stoned for not covering themselves in public, are reviled and
      thought less of. Only those of the lowest status in our society
      expose themselves to the public by being without an automobile.

      As a means of transportation, the private automobile, is more
      expensive, less green, less safe, and more wasteful of land, than
      public transportation. One might well ask why consumers cling to the
      automobile for going about in their non-domestic environment. If the
      decision to own a private car is based solely on the criterion of
      its use as a vehicle for transport, then surely it would be deemed
      to be an overly costly, environmentally unfriendly, burden on the
      city and its citizens.

      Perhaps the reason that the automobile using sector of the public
      will not give up the car, is the same reason that so many Muslim
      women will not give up their veils, their chadors, and their burkas,
      the convertible, the coupe and the sedan, car in this style of
      women's clothing. Even when living in countries where wearing these
      garments is not the custom and is discouraged, many persist in using
      them. For them it is a source of privacy and isolation from contact
      with the the increasingly multitudinous, more abrasive, more alien
      face of the local public.

      To the men and women of this country who use the private automobile
      as the equivalent of the burka, I would exhort you to overcome your
      agoraphobia and to find the strength to appear in public places and
      to go about in the city without hiding yourself from view. In this
      country it is not dictated by religious conservatives that women or
      anyone clad themselves from public gaze. Perhaps it is dictated
      by "the market" and by our own need for anonymity that we, in our
      society, clad ourselves in cars.

      Is it an irony that all the same rationales exist for relinquishing
      the Muslim veil, chador and burka as exist for relinquishing the
      automobile. At least the burka and its use by hundreds of millions
      or billions of individuals does not deplete the planets non-
      renewable energy supply and does not contribute to global warming
      and climate change.
    • Erik Sandblom
      ... snip ... burkas, ... these ... using ... contact ... That s a very interesting observation. Perhaps you have heard the burka song, Burka Blue. The music
      Message 2 of 11 , Sep 23 6:20 PM
        --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com,
        "tws_ottawan" <tws_ottawan@...> wrote:
        >
        > Full Metal Burka.

        snip

        > Perhaps the reason that the automobile using sector of the public
        > will not give up the car, is the same reason that so many Muslim
        > women will not give up their veils, their chadors, and their
        burkas,
        > the convertible, the coupe and the sedan, car in this style of
        > women's clothing. Even when living in countries where wearing
        these
        > garments is not the custom and is discouraged, many persist in
        using
        > them. For them it is a source of privacy and isolation from
        contact
        > with the the increasingly multitudinous, more abrasive, more alien
        > face of the local public.


        That's a very interesting observation. Perhaps you have heard the
        burka song, Burka Blue. The music starts 30 seconds into the video.
        They sing in English.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOk5Ax40hcs

        Erik Sandblom
      • Matt Hohmeister
        Excellent analogy. However, there s one difference that I point out all the time concerning anonymity: Pedestrians don t have licenses, registration, and
        Message 3 of 11 , Sep 24 2:54 PM
          Excellent analogy. However, there's one difference that I point out
          all the time concerning anonymity:

          Pedestrians don't have licenses, registration, and insurance. You can
          walk or ride your bike around all day without a current metal ID tag
          attached to your back side.

          If you want to travel locally in complete anonymity, wear pants and a
          hooded sweatshirt and use mass transit, walk, or ride your bike. I
          suggest against riding a bike wearing something hooded (visibility),
          and that will sound most unattractive here in north Florida, where
          fall is here and we still have afternoons hovering around 32C.
          Alternatively, use a limo or taxi and pay in cash--you'll spend a
          fortune on fares and be taking hundreds in cash out of your bank's ATM.

          By the way, if I'm not mistaken, burkas are required by law in some
          extremely conservative places. Car use is not written into law here
          (yet), but it almost is--in most places, it's illegal to develop
          property without "adequate" (read: too much) parking. Here, retail
          requires 4 spaces per 1000 square feet. High schools? One space per
          employee and one space per 6 students. Bowling alley? Four spaces per
          bowling lane and two spaces per billiards table. I wish I was joking.

          You want more proof of driving written into law? Drivers have been
          known to call the high school near my house to complain about (gasp!)
          students CROSSING THE STREET between the school and a convenience
          store. Nobody deserves to have a complaint lodged against them for
          going to a convenience store to buy a Coke/Red Bull/coffee/whatever to
          start their day.

          > Is it my imagination, or is the automobile simply a high tech
          > version of the Muslim burka. The similarity between the garment
          > which covers all but the eyes of the person wearing it and the car
          > which envelopes its user or wearer in tinted glass and sheet metal
          > is striking. Both make its user anonymous and liberate the
          > individual from the curious stares, judgments, and interaction of/
          > with members of the public that he or she encounters in their extra-
          > residential errands. The difference of the automobile is that it is
          > a luxury version coming complete with cup holder, electronic
          > entertainment system, communications devices and ergonomic piloting
          > controls. The user of an automobile is at large in the world without
          > his personal identity. This identity is masked completely, by the
          > covering of the vehicle, which comes in one basic shape and design,
          > with several minor variations. Some are small, some medium sized,
          > some large, some are squared, others are rounded. Like the burka,
          > there is some latitude for variation in individual taste in colour,
          > and minor characteristics, but the basic pattern is always held to.
          > While the burka is a covering for pedestrians, the automobile
          > shrouds its user from passers-by and does this with its own internal
          > motive power.
        • manfrommars_43
          ... The situation calls for detente . If I shed my protective armor, then you must do so too. We could all be driving around in lightweight electric golf
          Message 4 of 11 , Sep 25 8:52 AM
            --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "tws_ottawan" <tws_ottawan@...>
            wrote:

            > To the men and women of this country who use the private automobile
            > as the equivalent of the burka, I would exhort you to overcome your
            > agoraphobia and to find the strength to appear in public places and
            > to go about in the city without hiding yourself from view.

            The situation calls for "detente". If I shed my protective armor,
            then you must do so too. We could all be driving around in
            lightweight electric golf carts, until a single person in an SUV gets
            on the road and changes the balance of power.

            But this is true of so many aspects of American life, were we have
            armed ourselves against each other with metal sheathes, financial
            instruments and gated communities.
          • Debra Efroymson
            I just got back from meetings in Paris, where beautiful discoveries/sights were an elderly woman walking alone at 11 pm, and myself discovering that it was
            Message 5 of 11 , Sep 29 5:52 AM
              I just got back from meetings in Paris, where
              beautiful discoveries/sights were an elderly woman
              walking alone at 11 pm, and myself discovering that it
              was safe to walk a good ways in the "inner city" after
              1 am on a weeknight. One of the truly marvelous
              aspects of people shedding their protective armor is
              how the streets and the nights become ours--not a
              common experience in most US inner cities, I can't
              imagine.
              Debra

              --- manfrommars_43 <jabailo@...> wrote:

              > > To the men and women of this country who use the
              > private automobile
              > > as the equivalent of the burka, I would exhort you
              > to overcome your
              > > agoraphobia and to find the strength to appear in
              > public places and
              > > to go about in the city without hiding yourself
              > from view.




              ____________________________________________________________________________________
              Pinpoint customers who are looking for what you sell.
              http://searchmarketing.yahoo.com/
            • Richard Risemberg
              ... Yes, and it can happen even in LA, even accidentally. In my own neighborhood the buildings are old enough to have little or often no parking, and there
              Message 6 of 11 , Sep 29 7:24 AM
                On Sep 29, 2007, at 5:52 AM, Debra Efroymson wrote:

                > I just got back from meetings in Paris, where
                > beautiful discoveries/sights were an elderly woman
                > walking alone at 11 pm, and myself discovering that it
                > was safe to walk a good ways in the "inner city" after
                > 1 am on a weeknight. One of the truly marvelous
                > aspects of people shedding their protective armor is
                > how the streets and the nights become ours--not a
                > common experience in most US inner cities, I can't
                > imagine.

                Yes, and it can happen even in LA, even accidentally. In my own
                neighborhood the buildings are old enough to have little or often no
                parking, and there are many carfree people; even the ones who drive
                usually must park a block or two away, on less dense streets or in
                pay lots, so there's lots of people walking day and night. Shopping
                is nearby, including a 24-hour market (with underground parking and a
                well-designed , rather grand sidewalk entrance!), and there are two
                or three music clubs, so there's lots of foot traffic. Women young
                and old, some strikingly attractive, can walk our block without fear
                any time of the day or night.

                It's not a rundown or inexpensive neighborhood; it just has lots of
                street life. We are off Wilshire and La Brea, two major
                thoroughfares in the western heart of the city.

                The noise from delivery trucks in the early morning is the only
                drawback. (That and our whiny-voiced neighbor who talks on her cell
                phone on the front porch all too much....)

                Cheers,

                Rick

                --
                Richard Risemberg
                http://www.bicyclefixation.com
                http://www.newcolonist.com
                http://www.rickrise.com
              • sidneyfalco@mailcan.com
                In Marseille, France, where I live, there is no freedom to walk at night. Indeed, there is no freedom to walk at at any time, night or day. In Marseille, cars
                Message 7 of 11 , Sep 30 7:34 AM
                  In Marseille, France, where I live, there is no freedom to walk
                  at night. Indeed, there is no freedom to walk at at any time,
                  night or day. In Marseille, cars and motorbikes park on
                  sidewalks, and the motorbikes are routinely driven on sidewalks
                  whenever and wherever cars impede their progress in the streets.
                  In this respect, Marseille is a Third World city, overcrowded
                  with motorized vehicles and without a semblance of pedestrian
                  rights. Check it out.


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Erik Sandblom
                  ... A new tram network is being built in Marseille, France, which when completed in 2011 will consist of three tram lines. The first phase opened on June 30,
                  Message 8 of 11 , Oct 1, 2007
                    --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, sidneyfalco@... wrote:
                    >
                    > In Marseille, France, where I live, there is no freedom to walk
                    > at night. Indeed, there is no freedom to walk at at any time,
                    > night or day. In Marseille, cars and motorbikes park on
                    > sidewalks, and the motorbikes are routinely driven on sidewalks
                    > whenever and wherever cars impede their progress in the streets.
                    > In this respect, Marseille is a Third World city, overcrowded
                    > with motorized vehicles and without a semblance of pedestrian
                    > rights. Check it out.


                    A new tram network is being built in Marseille, France, which when
                    completed in 2011 will consist of three tram lines. The first phase
                    opened on June 30, 2007. It is part of an urban renewal project which
                    aims to reduce car use and favour pedestrians, bicyclists and public
                    transit users.
                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tramway_de_Marseille

                    Could you tell us your impressions of this?

                    Erik Sandblom
                  • Erik Sandblom
                    ... I think the tram is part of the solution. A tram takes as many passengers as two bendy busses, and is better att attracting new custom (ie car drivers)
                    Message 9 of 11 , Oct 7, 2007
                      --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, "Erik
                      Sandblom" <eriksandblom@...> wrote:
                      >
                      >
                      >> A new tram network is being built in Marseille, France, which when
                      >> completed in 2011 will consist of three tram lines. The first
                      >phase
                      >> opened on June 30, 2007. It is part of an urban renewal project
                      >which
                      >> aims to reduce car use and favour pedestrians, bicyclists and
                      >public
                      >> transit users.
                      >> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tramway_de_Marseille
                      >>
                      >> Could you tell us your impressions of this?


                      > As far as I can see, the tramway so far has had something close
                      > to zero effect in reducing car use in Marseille. Although only
                      > two of the three planned routes have been constructed, it is
                      > clear that the effort has had little to do with environmental
                      > problems and much to do with public relations. Cars flood the
                      > streets of Marseille, it is true. But an even bigger problem has
                      > emerged over the years, and that has had to do with the growth of
                      > motorbikes. They are everywhere, not merely parking on sidewalks
                      > but being routinely driven upon them as well. They totally
                      > dominate the city and the consciousness of the population. When
                      > you leave your apartment your head is on a swivel looking out for
                      > the next motorbike bearing down upon you. Motorbike drivers
                      > believe they are entitled to drive their vehicles anywhere a
                      > person can walk. The police provide no restraints.


                      I think the tram is part of the solution. A tram takes as many
                      passengers as two bendy busses, and is better att attracting new
                      custom (ie car drivers) than buses are. Since the tram is good at
                      getting large numbers of people to and from the city streets, they
                      are often used as part of an urban regeneration scheme.

                      Maybe you could write a letter to the newspaper and point out that
                      now that there are these nice trams, the police could help make the
                      city a more pleasant place by imposing order on the motorcyclists.

                      Erik Sandblom
                    • sidneyfalco@mailcan.com
                      Erik s defense of the tram is too ideological and does not speak to the issues. Nobody has attacked the tram per se, but any public project has to be judged in
                      Message 10 of 11 , Oct 8, 2007
                        Erik's defense of the tram is too ideological and does not speak
                        to the issues. Nobody has attacked the tram per se, but any
                        public project has to be judged in terms of its specific location
                        and who are the beneficiaries. The Marseille tram was sold on the
                        basis of its alleged environmental benefits and its ability to
                        reduce auto congestion in the central city. These have yet to
                        materialize and the prognosis is poor. The Marseille tram
                        presents a pretty picture to the tourists and far-away promoters.
                        But the results do not match the hype. One reason seems to be
                        that the tram routes chosen follow too closely existing Metro
                        lines. Another is that most people who use the Tram, like myself,
                        don't own cars or motorbikes. Thus far, the Marseille tram seems
                        to have benefitted mainly the real estate developers who have
                        succeeded in moving huge numbers of low income residents into
                        other areas. In the States we call it "urban renewal." Erik needs
                        to come to Marseille and inform himself of our situation so that
                        he might add facts to his perspective. His suggestion that les
                        Marseillaise should write letters to the editor is an insult.


                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Erik Sandblom
                        ... You re right that good public transport does not in itself make cars and mopeds disappear, but as I say, better public transport is part of the answer. I
                        Message 11 of 11 , Oct 8, 2007
                          --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, sidneyfalco@... wrote:
                          >
                          > Erik's defense of the tram is too ideological and does not speak
                          > to the issues. Nobody has attacked the tram per se, but any
                          > public project has to be judged in terms of its specific location
                          > and who are the beneficiaries. The Marseille tram was sold on the
                          > basis of its alleged environmental benefits and its ability to
                          > reduce auto congestion in the central city. These have yet to
                          > materialize and the prognosis is poor. The Marseille tram
                          > presents a pretty picture to the tourists and far-away promoters.
                          > But the results do not match the hype. One reason seems to be
                          > that the tram routes chosen follow too closely existing Metro
                          > lines. Another is that most people who use the Tram, like myself,
                          > don't own cars or motorbikes. Thus far, the Marseille tram seems
                          > to have benefitted mainly the real estate developers who have
                          > succeeded in moving huge numbers of low income residents into
                          > other areas. In the States we call it "urban renewal." Erik needs
                          > to come to Marseille and inform himself of our situation so that
                          > he might add facts to his perspective. His suggestion that les
                          > Marseillaise should write letters to the editor is an insult.



                          You're right that good public transport does not in itself make cars
                          and mopeds disappear, but as I say, better public transport is part
                          of the answer. I believe many motorists feel they are "above" public
                          transport in one way or another, and that is why public transport
                          needs some glitz if it is to really help solve the problems. Trams do
                          in fact bring a lot of pedestrians to the street, which can work as a
                          sort of critical mass to calm the pace of traffic.

                          The suggestion to write a letter to the editor was not intended as an
                          insult. Obviously you do what you please, but nothing is likely to
                          happen without some sort of public relations effort, and that has to
                          start somewhere. I agree that having the police ticket offenders is
                          one good way forward.

                          Erik Sandblom
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