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Re: [carfree_cities] Carfree and Free Minded

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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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