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Carfree and Free Minded

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  • demitriamondethraam
    I m happy to see a community devoted to carlessness. I have lived my whole life in California, being born and raised in Los Angeles County of all places,
    Message 1 of 11 , Feb 2, 2002
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      I'm happy to see a community devoted to carlessness. I have lived my
      whole life in California, being born and raised in Los Angeles County
      of all places, where cars are literally worshiped. I did not join
      the Church of the Vehicularly Obsessed, though. The main reason for
      my never driving or owning a car [even as a teenager!] was one I
      don't see listed in the reasons cars stink (literally, too) on the
      carfree-cities site. And that is a psychological thing.

      Driving, I found out after only three driver training lessons (well,
      honestly, I'd say 2.5 driver training lessons as I called off the
      third one before it was half over) is something my spacey, drifting,
      artistic rightbrained mind just could not do properly. I think most
      people who experience the things I did just ignore them, thinking to
      themselves well I NEED to drive, I better just write off this
      scaredycat feeling that I can't really follow what people on ALL FOUR
      SIDES OF THE VEHICLE I AM IN are doing, and what the cars behind THEM
      are doing, and at the SAME time be cognizent of the turn in the road
      ahead and the fact that I must lower my speed to safely handle it,
      plus the fact that the freeway exit I need to get off on is coming up
      very fast to the left and to the right is the truck lane and I can't
      see the rearview properly because some dimbulb at the last gas
      station bent the damn thing while cleaning it and yet on top of all
      this - go figure - MY mind is looking at the goddam clouds and
      thinking of what shapes they're forming and fantasizing about
      something going on in a fictional universe somewhere. Or thinking
      about sex. I think you get the idea. God knows how many lives I
      saved by calling the whole thing off mid-training as a 17 year old
      and just telling my parents "I'm moving to San Francisco. There's a
      lot of buses there."

      Cars scare the crap out of me. Here I was sitting in this huge
      contraption that I was supposed to actually maintain control of and
      do it in tandem with all those other drivers in their great big metal
      contraptions. I have a hard enough time keeping up with other humans
      outside of big contraptions that will smash you up and injure and
      possibly kill you if they collide with one another. You know, I
      think road rage actually stems from the driver fear no one really
      lets themselves believe they have. Most people drive like they can
      do it in their sleep. They're as overconfident as I am
      underconfident. But only a few of them are good enough mental
      multitaskers to drive without latent psychosis slowly smoldering in
      their brains and bodies over the passing years...or so I think. I
      might be wrong. I'm not really the sanest or most normal person.

      But I knew well enough not to drive.

      And I'm glad. When I think of all the other problems - the oil
      running out so soon, the huge amounts of personal finances cars
      devour, and the hideous positive-ion feeling of being in a car
      (wonder why you get carsick sometimes in a car standing still? That's
      why...) I can't understand why more people won't look beyond them.
      God, the money saved alone not buying gas, mechanic services,
      insurance, parking tickets and other car related crap is reason
      enough for EVERYONE to go carless.

      But the best reason is not having to actually spend time in the
      harrowing and deadly multitasking of driving!When I ride the BART
      train or Caltrain, I can play with my laptop, listen to music, read,
      talk or just sit there with my eyes closed dreaming and fantasizing
      or maKing practical plans of some kind instead of worrying what the
      asshole in front of me in the red Honda is gonna do next. :-)
    • Vincent Hedger
      To paraphrase Pogo: We have met the asshole in the red honda, and the asshole is us. Word- vinny ...
      Message 2 of 11 , Feb 2, 2002
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        To paraphrase Pogo:
        We have met the asshole in the red honda,
        and the asshole is us.
        Word-
        vinny


        >From: "demitriamondethraam" <monde@...>
        >Reply-To: carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com
        >To: carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com
        >Subject: [carfree_cities] Carfree and Free Minded
        >Date: Sat, 02 Feb 2002 18:43:06 -0000
        >
        >I'm happy to see a community devoted to carlessness. I have lived my
        >whole life in California, being born and raised in Los Angeles County
        >of all places, where cars are literally worshiped. I did not join
        >the Church of the Vehicularly Obsessed, though. The main reason for
        >my never driving or owning a car [even as a teenager!] was one I
        >don't see listed in the reasons cars stink (literally, too) on the
        >carfree-cities site. And that is a psychological thing.
        >
        >Driving, I found out after only three driver training lessons (well,
        >honestly, I'd say 2.5 driver training lessons as I called off the
        >third one before it was half over) is something my spacey, drifting,
        >artistic rightbrained mind just could not do properly. I think most
        >people who experience the things I did just ignore them, thinking to
        >themselves well I NEED to drive, I better just write off this
        >scaredycat feeling that I can't really follow what people on ALL FOUR
        >SIDES OF THE VEHICLE I AM IN are doing, and what the cars behind THEM
        >are doing, and at the SAME time be cognizent of the turn in the road
        >ahead and the fact that I must lower my speed to safely handle it,
        >plus the fact that the freeway exit I need to get off on is coming up
        >very fast to the left and to the right is the truck lane and I can't
        >see the rearview properly because some dimbulb at the last gas
        >station bent the damn thing while cleaning it and yet on top of all
        >this - go figure - MY mind is looking at the goddam clouds and
        >thinking of what shapes they're forming and fantasizing about
        >something going on in a fictional universe somewhere. Or thinking
        >about sex. I think you get the idea. God knows how many lives I
        >saved by calling the whole thing off mid-training as a 17 year old
        >and just telling my parents "I'm moving to San Francisco. There's a
        >lot of buses there."
        >
        >Cars scare the crap out of me. Here I was sitting in this huge
        >contraption that I was supposed to actually maintain control of and
        >do it in tandem with all those other drivers in their great big metal
        >contraptions. I have a hard enough time keeping up with other humans
        >outside of big contraptions that will smash you up and injure and
        >possibly kill you if they collide with one another. You know, I
        >think road rage actually stems from the driver fear no one really
        >lets themselves believe they have. Most people drive like they can
        >do it in their sleep. They're as overconfident as I am
        >underconfident. But only a few of them are good enough mental
        >multitaskers to drive without latent psychosis slowly smoldering in
        >their brains and bodies over the passing years...or so I think. I
        >might be wrong. I'm not really the sanest or most normal person.
        >
        >But I knew well enough not to drive.
        >
        >And I'm glad. When I think of all the other problems - the oil
        >running out so soon, the huge amounts of personal finances cars
        >devour, and the hideous positive-ion feeling of being in a car
        >(wonder why you get carsick sometimes in a car standing still? That's
        >why...) I can't understand why more people won't look beyond them.
        >God, the money saved alone not buying gas, mechanic services,
        >insurance, parking tickets and other car related crap is reason
        >enough for EVERYONE to go carless.
        >
        >But the best reason is not having to actually spend time in the
        >harrowing and deadly multitasking of driving!When I ride the BART
        >train or Caltrain, I can play with my laptop, listen to music, read,
        >talk or just sit there with my eyes closed dreaming and fantasizing
        >or maKing practical plans of some kind instead of worrying what the
        >asshole in front of me in the red Honda is gonna do next. :-)
        >
        >
        >To Post a message, send it to: carfree_cities@...
        >To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
        >carfree_cities-unsubscribe@...
        >Group address: http://www.egroups.com/group/carfree_cities/
        >
        >Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
        >
        >




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      • Doug Salzmann
        In a message sent Today, demitriamondethraam wrote: - Driving, I found out after only three driver training lessons (well, - honestly, I d say 2.5 driver
        Message 3 of 11 , Feb 2, 2002
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          In a message sent Today, demitriamondethraam wrote:

          -> Driving, I found out after only three driver training lessons (well,
          -> honestly, I'd say 2.5 driver training lessons as I called off the
          -> third one before it was half over) is something my spacey, drifting,
          -> artistic rightbrained mind just could not do properly.

          And it's something that those of us with focused, organized left-brained
          minds don't do as well as we usually think, either. It didn't take me
          thirty-some years of driving to figure that out, but it did take me nearly
          that long to realize that I *don't* have to do it. at least not in town.

          They can't make me.

          Great introduction, demetriamondethraam. Welcome.

          -Doug
        • Simon Baddeley
          It seems to me you have learned something I only discovered late in life. Your observations make sense to me in a way they would not have a decade ago. One of
          Message 4 of 11 , Feb 2, 2002
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            It seems to me you have learned something I only discovered late in life.

            Your observations make sense to me in a way they would not have a decade
            ago. One of the things I find astonishing about driving a car is that you
            have to steer it all the time and change gear and look at instruments or at
            the road ahead.

            When you are walking your hands are free, or you can even read a paper or
            book as you go along. If you did that in a car you would die or kill
            someone. I first thought this when I realised that until the arrival of
            hands-free phones every phone call wasted a hand. Even on a bicycle you can
            look around you, hear and smell things and stop almost anywhere whenever you
            feel like it. In a car you are often as unable to stop as if you were in a
            airplane. When you do stop you have to find a parking space and you usually
            have to pay for that these days. In a car you are constantly having to obey
            rules and follow directions laid out by others. It is almost as though you
            have the restrictions of a railway line without any of the freedoms you get
            as a rail passenger.

            The other thing I've noticed about cars is that driving them safely and
            responsibly is rather unexciting. To that to get any sort of travelling
            sensation you are tempted to go faster than you should and in other ways
            take risks with your own and other people's lives. Cycling on the other
            hand can be exhilarating and well within any speed limits and walking allows
            you to go places you could never get to in a car.

            The other thing I find unsatisfactory about a car is the reduced vision of
            the outside world you get from most modern cars. In old fashioned cars you
            sat up high as on a carriage and could see over hedges and walls as you can
            on a bicycle. In a car you are forced to remain seated and can't look around
            you without taking risks - unless in an open-top, but you don't see many of
            those in UK.

            The thing I really dislike about cars is how if you are on a road with a lot
            of other cars you are forced to wait in a row of other cars for several
            minutes and often a lot longer with the engine just running. Even while you
            are sitting there you have to keep your hands on the wheel and be ready to
            move again as other cars move on. On a bicycle you can both ride it and walk
            it and so do not have to be inconvenienced by street lights.

            Yesterday I was giving a running a seminar at a conference centre about 5
            miles north of Northampton (small market town in central England). I found a
            cycle route on the map and travelled from my hotel in the town after
            breakfast in about 20 minutes, charging expenses for the journey of 30p. I
            returned in the afternoon with a fellow lecturer who persuaded me to share a
            taxi with him back to the station in town. The return journey (with my
            bicycle folded in the taxi's trunk/boot) took 30 minutes and cost £11.50. It
            felt bizarre that we and 1000s of others should volunteer to waste their
            time travelling in this way, but I didn't want to be impolite.

            I find driving a car quite demeaning. If I was forced to use one more than
            absolutely necessary I would want to pay someone else to actually sit in the
            driving seat and do the routine work of steering and so on. Another thing
            I've noticed is that every time you leave a car you have to lock all the
            doors and unlock them again when you return. I now keep a car so old and
            scruffy (but roadworthy) that it's hardly worth stealing. I use it
            occasionally to take stuff to the tip and do other heavy carrying errands.
            It is also useful to have it outside the house when I'm away so that
            potential criminals assume there's someone indoors. Since I more or less
            decided driving was a chore to be avoided and reduced my average annual car
            mileage from around 20K a year to under 3K I have had more than enough money
            to buy the services of a taxi cab driver to get me to places I can't get to
            by train, bus, cycle or on foot.

            S


            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "demitriamondethraam" <monde@...>
            To: <carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2002 6:43 PM
            Subject: [carfree_cities] Carfree and Free Minded


            I'm happy to see a community devoted to carlessness. I have lived my
            whole life in California, being born and raised in Los Angeles County
            of all places, where cars are literally worshiped. I did not join
            the Church of the Vehicularly Obsessed, though. The main reason for
            my never driving or owning a car [even as a teenager!] was one I
            don't see listed in the reasons cars stink (literally, too) on the
            carfree-cities site. And that is a psychological thing.
          • Louis-Luc
            ... A goal is to make any given place accessible by some other transportation mode than car. When it becomes true, then most people will find cars are
            Message 5 of 11 , Feb 2, 2002
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              > I find driving a car quite demeaning. If I was forced to use one more than
              > absolutely necessary I would want to pay someone else to actually
              > sit in the
              > driving seat and do the routine work of steering and so on. Another thing
              > I've noticed is that every time you leave a car you have to lock all the
              > doors and unlock them again when you return. I now keep a car so old and
              > scruffy (but roadworthy) that it's hardly worth stealing. I use it
              > occasionally to take stuff to the tip and do other heavy carrying errands.
              > It is also useful to have it outside the house when I'm away so that
              > potential criminals assume there's someone indoors. Since I more or less
              > decided driving was a chore to be avoided and reduced my average
              > annual car
              > mileage from around 20K a year to under 3K I have had more than
              > enough money
              > to buy the services of a taxi cab driver to get me to places I
              > can't get to
              > by train, bus, cycle or on foot.
              >
              > S
              A goal is to make any given place accessible by some other transportation
              mode than car. When it becomes true, then most people will find cars are
              redundant and they can continue without them.
              You said a car in front of your house makes criminals assume someone is in.
              When the vast majority of households will be carfree, the criminals will
              find it hard to determine whether someone is at home or not, because the
              absence of a car will not necessary mean there is no-one at home. And even
              with households with one car (the family car rather than one car for each
              person), the absence of the car will simply mean someone is using it and
              other people may be at home.


              Louis-Luc
            • michelle@giansante.net
              ... Your posting is excellent! I totally agree with you! I think anybody who is true to themselves will agree with you! Thank you & welcome! Michelle *** ...
              Message 6 of 11 , Feb 4, 2002
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                "demitriamondethraam" <monde@...> said:

                >Cars scare the crap out of me. Here I was sitting in this huge
                >contraption that I was supposed to actually maintain control of and
                >do it in tandem with all those other drivers in their great big metal
                >contraptions.

                >I can't understand why more people won't look beyond them.
                >God, the money saved alone not buying gas, mechanic services,
                >insurance, parking tickets and other car related crap is reason
                >enough for EVERYONE to go carless.

                Your posting is excellent! I totally agree with you! I think anybody who
                is true to themselves will agree with you! Thank you & welcome!

                Michelle
                ***

                "Louis-Luc" <exqmtl@...> said:

                >A goal is to make any given place accessible by some other transportation
                >mode than car. When it becomes true, then most people will find cars are
                >redundant and they can continue without them.

                Exactly! Let's do it! But how does one go about it? City council
                meetings? Letters to congresspeople? Let's come up with some ideas!
                Michelle
                ***

                "Louis-Luc" <exqmtl@...> also said:

                >So it means it is roughly 1 World Trade Center tragedy PER MONTH, that
                >repeats over and over and over again each month, and the governments feel
                >it's acceptable?

                That's exactly what bothers me. But not just that governments feel it's
                acceptable, but that moms and dads feel that's acceptable. Those stats
                include people's kids.
                Michelle
              • turpin
                ... I think the most important strategy is to expose and curtail the existing subsidies for sprawl. Most people do not realize the extent of these subsidies.
                Message 7 of 11 , Feb 4, 2002
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                  --- In carfree_cities@y..., "michelle@g..." <michelle@g...> wrote:
                  > Exactly! Let's do it! But how does one go about it? City
                  > council meetings? Letters to congresspeople? Let's come up
                  > with some ideas!

                  I think the most important strategy is to expose and curtail
                  the existing subsidies for sprawl. Most people do not realize
                  the extent of these subsidies. Every bedroom community places
                  a large cost on the city where its residents work, directly
                  for roads and utilities, and also indirectly, in the cost
                  of police, courts, and medical services to clean up the
                  damage of daily commuting. The taxes most states allow
                  cities to collect do not correlate with these costs. Most
                  cities rely on ad valorum property tax, and because suburban
                  land is less valuable than land in the city, outlying
                  neighborhoods pay less in tax, despite imposing greater costs
                  on the city. Most cities cannot tax at all the bedroom
                  communities that lie outside their corporate limits.

                  As long as the 'burbs are subsidized, they will continue to
                  grow. Only changes in state law can redress this
                  subsidization.

                  Importantly, this is an economic argument. I think the folks
                  who talk about urban planning in a way that de-emphasizes
                  economics are making a tremendous error. Economics is the
                  most important thing we have going for us in discussing
                  these issues. It is the ONLY way that our concerns are
                  anything more than the special desires of a minority. When
                  people say "we want to de-emphasize economics," much of
                  they're audience rightly wonders: Why do they want someone
                  else to pay for what they want? And there is no need for
                  this. The economics of these issues are largely on our
                  side. Right now, EVERYONE subsidizes sprawl. The costs,
                  direct and indirect, are LARGE. What we need to do is point
                  that out, and argue for an end to a form of subsidy that
                  has no rhyme or reason.
                • Louis-Luc
                  ... Human health and well-being has (naturally) precedence over money, wealth, efficiency, etc..., anything else. Cars show a bundle of problems, like
                  Message 8 of 11 , Feb 4, 2002
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                    > "Louis-Luc" <exqmtl@...> also said:
                    >
                    > >So it means it is roughly 1 World Trade Center tragedy PER MONTH, that
                    > >repeats over and over and over again each month, and the governments feel
                    > >it's acceptable?
                    >
                    > That's exactly what bothers me. But not just that governments feel it's
                    > acceptable, but that moms and dads feel that's acceptable. Those stats
                    > include people's kids.
                    > Michelle
                    >
                    Human health and well-being has (naturally) precedence over money, wealth,
                    efficiency, etc..., anything else.

                    Cars show a bundle of problems, like pollution, city land invasion,
                    dependance, lack of physical activity, etc. Pro-car people will state the
                    advantages of cars which are speed, performance, social status (according to
                    these fanatics), ability to carry loads, etc.

                    We must terminate the brainwashing task car, gas and other money-sucking
                    car-related companies (including governments) are making to all of us, poor
                    innocent people. Even pro-car people will admit cars are a PERPETUAL
                    TRAGEDY. THEY KILL, KILL, KILL and KILL each day. If one doesn't see that,
                    then that person will realize it too late when him or a family member is
                    injured or killed by a car (or truck or other gas guzzler).

                    A situation: assume the Ministry of Transports is in favor of building roads
                    and more roads to accomodate cars. Then one, two or more people in his close
                    family are suddenly killed by car accidents. Will he make is mind and become
                    pro-transit, pro-walking or cycling?

                    Today's load of Tears:
                    The life of an innocent 5-year-old young girl ended dramatically after her
                    school day when she has been hit by one of those "children carrier" minivans
                    driven by an unexperimented person, as she stepped out of her school bus.

                    Ask me tomorrow, the day after, and I'll dig one of these for you. Sometimes
                    we even have to choose between many because there are too many to relate...

                    Awful...

                    Ask the question: "Do you prefer a slow healty lifestyle or no life at all,
                    or handicapped life forever?".

                    Louis-Luc
                  • Vincent Hedger
                    Jouis-Luc, Michelle, others, If you want to move beyond where we are, I urge you (at the risk of redundancy) to look at the INTRANET (Integrated International
                    Message 9 of 11 , Feb 5, 2002
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                      Jouis-Luc, Michelle, others,
                      If you want to move beyond where we are, I urge you (at the risk of
                      redundancy) to look at the INTRANET (Integrated International Transport
                      Network) initiative on the home page of the Harrisonburg school's website-
                      http://www.hburgsc.org I'm quite confident that if you take the time to
                      understand the scope/sequence of this initiative, you'll appreciate that
                      this is a key element in bringing about the changes that we are clammoring
                      for.

                      In order to move beyond this obsession with cars, we need a viable option.
                      INTRANET is that viable option. what is needed to make it a reality is more
                      voices speaking out in favor of implementation. YOur voices can help with
                      this task. You can also help by telling others about this effort, and
                      enlisting their help.

                      Please look at this initiative.
                      Most sincerely,
                      Vincent Hedger


                      >From: "Louis-Luc" <exqmtl@...>
                      >Reply-To: carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com
                      >To: <carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com>
                      >Subject: RE: [carfree_cities] Re: Carfree and Free Minded
                      >Date: Mon, 4 Feb 2002 20:00:59 -0500
                      >
                      > > "Louis-Luc" <exqmtl@...> also said:
                      > >
                      > > >So it means it is roughly 1 World Trade Center tragedy PER MONTH, that
                      > > >repeats over and over and over again each month, and the governments
                      >feel
                      > > >it's acceptable?
                      > >
                      > > That's exactly what bothers me. But not just that governments feel it's
                      > > acceptable, but that moms and dads feel that's acceptable. Those stats
                      > > include people's kids.
                      > > Michelle
                      > >
                      >Human health and well-being has (naturally) precedence over money, wealth,
                      >efficiency, etc..., anything else.
                      >
                      >Cars show a bundle of problems, like pollution, city land invasion,
                      >dependance, lack of physical activity, etc. Pro-car people will state the
                      >advantages of cars which are speed, performance, social status (according
                      >to
                      >these fanatics), ability to carry loads, etc.
                      >
                      >We must terminate the brainwashing task car, gas and other money-sucking
                      >car-related companies (including governments) are making to all of us, poor
                      >innocent people. Even pro-car people will admit cars are a PERPETUAL
                      >TRAGEDY. THEY KILL, KILL, KILL and KILL each day. If one doesn't see that,
                      >then that person will realize it too late when him or a family member is
                      >injured or killed by a car (or truck or other gas guzzler).
                      >
                      >A situation: assume the Ministry of Transports is in favor of building
                      >roads
                      >and more roads to accomodate cars. Then one, two or more people in his
                      >close
                      >family are suddenly killed by car accidents. Will he make is mind and
                      >become
                      >pro-transit, pro-walking or cycling?
                      >
                      >Today's load of Tears:
                      >The life of an innocent 5-year-old young girl ended dramatically after her
                      >school day when she has been hit by one of those "children carrier"
                      >minivans
                      >driven by an unexperimented person, as she stepped out of her school bus.
                      >
                      >Ask me tomorrow, the day after, and I'll dig one of these for you.
                      >Sometimes
                      >we even have to choose between many because there are too many to relate...
                      >
                      >Awful...
                      >
                      >Ask the question: "Do you prefer a slow healty lifestyle or no life at all,
                      >or handicapped life forever?".
                      >
                      >Louis-Luc
                      >
                      >
                      >To Post a message, send it to: carfree_cities@...
                      >To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
                      >carfree_cities-unsubscribe@...
                      >Group address: http://www.egroups.com/group/carfree_cities/
                      >
                      >Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                      >
                      >




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                    • Robert Hines
                      I ve been thinking about property tax reform a lot and its place on dismantling the suburban establishment. There are a lot of ideas on how existing suburbs
                      Message 10 of 11 , Feb 5, 2002
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                        I've been thinking about property tax reform a lot and its place on
                        dismantling the suburban establishment. There are a lot of ideas on how
                        existing suburbs could be converted but I believe property tax is the
                        first step to take.

                        Upping the taxes on gas so that it covers the negative influence on our
                        environment is a step to take eventually but then suburbanites would
                        still be living in the suburbs and municipalities will have to provide
                        more inefficient public transportation to carry them downtown and back
                        unless the taxes would be raised so high that it would force people to
                        move closer to efficient transit. Does anyone know what a litre of gas
                        would cost if the taxes reflected its negative impact?

                        Metrics would outlaw most homes in the suburbs and many in the city but
                        it could work after we harness sprawl by making people pay for the
                        benefits of open space, personal transportation, false sense of
                        security, and a lackluster social life. But it would be chaos to impose
                        this organized idea on paradigm which is the complete opposite.

                        Money definitely talks in this profit margin world, people do not and
                        will not pay for an expensive place to live and if they decide to, they
                        will pay accordingly. I wholeheartedly support property tax reform but
                        at the same time if these laws were adopted people would react in
                        protest; these reforms would effect millions of people where it hurts
                        the most, their pocketbook. They will argue that they will have to live
                        in crime filled streets in the city, that it is their right to live in
                        the suburbs, and that they will have to protect their children &
                        families. These suburbanites have massive numbers, voting power, and
                        money to spend on legal fees to protect their kingdom. How are planners
                        and advocates going to deal with this?

                        I'm all for a suburban relocation program, counselling would have to be
                        provided free of charge of course.
                      • Simon Baddeley
                        Too often even the bereaved don t blame the car. They persist in thinking of what has happened as a tragic accident . This is a piece I have just written
                        Message 11 of 11 , Feb 5, 2002
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                          Too often even the bereaved don't blame the car. They persist in thinking of
                          what has happened as a tragic "accident".

                          This is a piece I have just written about our "Royal Society for the
                          Prevention of Accidents" - RoSPA - which works with the car industry and
                          perpetuates the idea of the "accident" and blames the victims of the car
                          rather than the car and its drivers.


                          RoSPA MYOPIAS
                          The word "accident" contains a presumption. Shortly after the Selby crash,
                          and
                          long before the guilty verdict on the driver who caused it, the Bishop of
                          Doncaster, said "Accidents are part of life. Tragically, accidents occur.
                          And when they do occur I think we simply all have to be here, you know,
                          pulling together and working with the people involved." He was seeking to
                          convey a spirit of conciliation amid grief, but his words didn't feel right
                          at the time and certainly not to a jury.

                          "Accident" fixes a meaning which, in the case of death on the roads, is
                          under pressure. I sat in a meeting a few weeks ago with the Attorney
                          General, Peter Goldsmith, and the Solicitor General, Harriet Harman, as a
                          two parent RoadPeace lobby asked gently but firmly why the courts are still
                          delivering penalties for speeding way below the statutory limits. You can
                          never quite gauge how seriously you are being taken at these events.
                          Conversation is circumspect. The rationale for the meeting is that it is
                          being held. What I noticed in the hour we were together was that neither
                          politician nor the civil servants once used the word "accident". The concept
                          and what it denotes are as real as ever, but in the case of deaths on the
                          roads the great and the good are becoming cautious about the word
                          "accident". Its use is becoming infrequent, and its growing conditionality
                          may create difficulties for individuals and organisations who still believe
                          they rely on an agreed and stable concept.

                          The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) - whose mission
                          and name enshrine the word "accident" - is fixed in the amber of an
                          abandoned view of causality. The growing extraction of the word "accident"
                          in discourse on road safety must be troubling to an institution with that
                          word so prominent a part of its name and mind-set.

                          RoSPA believe in accidents where more and more can see fault and
                          liability.They see solutions in technical fixes, where others note the need
                          for a change in attitudes to mobility, liability and duty to others.

                          RoSPA tends, in the case of roads, to respond to symptoms instead of
                          strategic sources of danger. Like doctors when they say "we must treat this
                          symptomatically because we are at a loss to know from what you are
                          suffering", RoSPA see as a series of separate and distinct events what
                          others with no less scientific an approach recognise as epidemic.

                          I wrote to RoSPA's patron, HM The Queen, about this, thinking, after the
                          failure of other attempts to get into any sort of dialogue with RoSPA, that
                          this would be a way to get a letter (or even a leaflet) answering my
                          reproaches about their unwillingness to acknowledge road speed as a major
                          public health problem causing widespread collateral damage across
                          populations. The Palace responded politely thanking me for my letter and
                          saying my observations and questions would be forwarded to RoSPA. RoSPA did
                          not reply.

                          Perhaps they are institutionally incapable of seeing what stares most of us
                          in the face. Go back a century or so and you can imagine the position RoSPA
                          might take in relation to waterborne disease. Faced with the statistics of
                          infant mortality amongst the populations of our cities, RoSPA would be
                          concentrating on the habits of the poor. I suspect that they would have been
                          unable to get excited about the "excessive vision" of damming lakes in Wales
                          and piping clean water over a 100 miles via a massive sanitation
                          infrastructure that would pipe away foul water to unprecedently large sewage
                          works. Their reflexive institutional focus is on the behaviour of victims
                          and their personal hygiene.

                          Such myopia had it been applied to waterborne disease would have made RoSPA
                          a natural ally of those opposing so massive a public works programme as
                          would be required to bring clean water to Birmingham (or less toxic forms of
                          mobility to the whole UK).There were after all public voices claiming 19th
                          century child mortality could be put down to the fecklessness of the poor.
                          (see Asa Briggs' account in his histories of Birmingham for examples of
                          fervent opposition mounted against plans to bring clean water to Birmingham
                          and other industrial cities).

                          If you looked at the sudden downward slopes in the child mortality rate
                          graphs after the sewers and supply systems were completed you see that, by
                          their attitude, people who took such "victim-blaming" stances were failing
                          to ally themselves with - even directly opposing - one of the most dramatic
                          improvements in quality of life of any public works programme in the last
                          150 years.

                          The Road Danger Reduction Forum, which split from those allied to RoSPA on
                          these grounds, includes - formally and informally - all those
                          individuals and groups committed to promoting a new agenda for road safety.
                          It aims to reduce road danger at source, promoting equity and accessibility
                          for non-motorised road users. Taming motorised traffic is not on RoSPA's
                          agenda.

                          It will claim deep concern about lives lost or damaged on the roads, but it
                          does not - as an institution - recognise the notion of road danger as a
                          public health problem causing blight and tragedy in the same way as did
                          waterborne disease over a century ago. It does not recognise the
                          impact of auto-dependency on air quality, noise pollution, community
                          severance, urban sprawl, the distance between producers and consumers,
                          energy waste and personal health, especially children's.

                          This inability to respond to the pathological impact of our travel habits
                          will be noted by historians of our times, but it would be so exciting
                          if they could add a final paragraph attesting to the courage of people
                          within RoSPA who caused it to make a major shift in strategy at the start of
                          a new century.

                          Simon Baddeley
                          34 Beaudesert Road
                          Handsworth
                          Birmingham B20 3TG
                          0121 554 9794
                          07775 655842




                          ----- Original Message -----
                          From: "Louis-Luc" <exqmtl@...>
                          To: <carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com>
                          Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2002 1:00 AM
                          Subject: RE: [carfree_cities] Re: Carfree and Free Minded
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