I'm finding myself tired of this thread and have held back
a couple of long posts as a result. However, we do need to
put this subject to bed. (There's a further discussion over
on World Carfree Network for those who insist....)
First of all, people in rural areas are going to continue to
drive almost no matter what. As it happens, I'm driving 20,000
miles a year myself right now... due to a car crash. My parents
lived in the woods until the neighbor boy crashed into them.
I'm now living in my parents' house and commuting down to
their hospitals and nursing homes, about 50 miles away.
I hate to drive, but "fortunately" I'm doing the driving in a
Prius, which at least gets about 55 MPG. The only cure for this
is to sell the house and move down nearer to where they are, and
I am in fact in the process of doing this. It won't entirely
eliminate my need to drive, but it will reduce it considerably.
(There is, of course, no effective public transport option, this
being the USA.)
As long as people live in rural areas, they will be wanting
to drive, as there is no practical alternative.
What I think we need to do is to dramatically reduce the impact
of the driving that must be done. I would like to ask anyone
who wants to continue this discussion to read the material at:
(including the links). I regret that I have never had time to
finish development of this site, but the ideas are still valid,
The first and easiest step to take to reduce CO2 emissions,
fuel consumption, and the general impact of cars on society
is to lower the national US speed limit from the de facto 75 MPH
to an enforced 55 MPH. This was actually done in the fall of 1973
and had a real effect on both fuel consumption and road safety.
It was implemented in a matter of a month or two. This step
can be Al Gore's first move when he is inaugurated in Jan. 2009. ;-)
55 MPH is not actually slow enough, but it's a good start.
We will need to cut top speeds to 50 or even 45 MPH. We then
need to stop the manufacture of any automobile that can exceed
whatever is the top national speed limit. The "need" for huge
V-8 engines will disappear, as even a modest 4-cylinder engine
can move a large vehicle at this speed. We will also need to
cap maximum acceleration. (Remember that the acceleration ramps
on freeways will be amply long for slow-moving cars with "poor"
acceleration.) I suppose a rapidly-increase gas tax is an obvious
second step, and mandated fuel economy standards the third.
Once we have done that, we will be on the way to a national
fleet with an average fuel economy of 60 or so MPG (without
the need for hybrids and their nickle batteries).
Then (i.e., the following week) it will be time to start improving
public transport and moving cars out of cities.
I think that the first priority is to make dramatic cuts in
fuel consumption. Fuel-efficient, not-fun-to-drive cars are
the first step.
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J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities