Re: [carfree_cities] Carfree and Free Minded
- 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.
----- Original Message -----
From: "demitriamondethraam" <monde@...>
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.
> I find driving a car quite demeaning. If I was forced to use one more thanA goal is to make any given place accessible by some other transportation
> 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.
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.
- "demitriamondethraam" <monde@...> said:
>Cars scare the crap out of me. Here I was sitting in this hugeYour posting is excellent! I totally agree with you! I think anybody who
>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
>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.
is true to themselves will agree with you! Thank you & welcome!
"Louis-Luc" <exqmtl@...> said:
>A goal is to make any given place accessible by some other transportationExactly! Let's do it! But how does one go about it? City council
>mode than car. When it becomes true, then most people will find cars are
>redundant and they can continue without them.
meetings? Letters to congresspeople? Let's come up with some ideas!
"Louis-Luc" <exqmtl@...> also said:
>So it means it is roughly 1 World Trade Center tragedy PER MONTH, thatThat's exactly what bothers me. But not just that governments feel it's
>repeats over and over and over again each month, and the governments feel
acceptable, but that moms and dads feel that's acceptable. Those stats
include people's kids.
- --- In carfree_cities@y..., "michelle@g..." <michelle@g...> wrote:
> Exactly! Let's do it! But how does one go about it? CityI think the most important strategy is to expose and curtail
> council meetings? Letters to congresspeople? Let's come up
> with some ideas!
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
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" <exqmtl@...> also said:Human health and well-being has (naturally) precedence over money, wealth,
> >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.
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...
Ask the question: "Do you prefer a slow healty lifestyle or no life at all,
or handicapped life forever?".
- 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
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.
>From: "Louis-Luc" <exqmtl@...>_________________________________________________________________
>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
> > >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
>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
>and more roads to accomodate cars. Then one, two or more people in his
>family are suddenly killed by car accidents. Will he make is mind and
>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"
>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.
>we even have to choose between many because there are too many to relate...
>Ask the question: "Do you prefer a slow healty lifestyle or no life at all,
>or handicapped life forever?".
>To Post a message, send it to: carfree_cities@...
>To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
>Group address: http://www.egroups.com/group/carfree_cities/
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Join the world�s largest e-mail service with MSN Hotmail.
- 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.
- 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.
The word "accident" contains a presumption. Shortly after the Selby crash,
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
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
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
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.
34 Beaudesert Road
Birmingham B20 3TG
0121 554 9794
----- Original Message -----
From: "Louis-Luc" <exqmtl@...>
Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2002 1:00 AM
Subject: RE: [carfree_cities] Re: Carfree and Free Minded