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Re: [carfree_cities] 2 unrelated (?) stories about auto-madness

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  • Simon Baddeley
    I am increasingly of the view - and stories like those whose URLs appear below are proliferating - that the chief focus of those of us concerned with problems
    Message 1 of 2 , May 7, 2003
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      I am increasingly of the view - and stories like those whose URLs appear
      below are proliferating - that the chief focus of those of us concerned with
      problems caused by autodependency is no longer to argue against cars. I
      notice that "car busters" have just announced their intention to alter their
      name to one that focuses more on the idea of car free environments and
      living patterns.

      I have fully digested the arguments - multifarious, logical, well developed
      and almost impossible to improve - against the car. The foremost challenge
      from now on is to grow the arguments and spread debate about alternatives to
      cars and trucks and increase understanding of changes in work, retailing,
      leisure and settlement patterns created by a century of government aided
      auto-supremacy. So pervasive has been the impact of car use that most of us
      have views of time, distance, speed, landscape, health, human relations,
      sexual attraction, work, leisure, shopping, child rearing, worship and
      aesthetics that are deeply entangled with habits of auto-reliance instilled
      from birth.

      As someone who is in his 60s and only took to cycling and walking and public
      transport as my preferred way of getting around in my mid-50s, I have
      realised how much I have had to change and how many scales have been
      gradually dropping from my eyes - literally and metaphorically.

      The principle that slavery was evil was soundly established by the early
      1800s. Specious justification continued in a self-serving way of course, but
      the arguments of Wilberforce and others against slavery have not been
      improved upon in the last 200 years. The issue became how to spread those
      arguments and the challenge of how to imagine and evolve economies that did
      not depend on slavery. I know there are other arguments. Cheap employment
      (wage slavery) was actually preferable to keeping slaves, and so on. I still
      think the analogy holds for the case I'm making that one set of arguments
      need no refining. The challenge now is that of inventing futures that are
      not autodependent in a world in which most of us in the rich world left the
      womb addicted by parental auto-dependency.

      Arguments for gender equality have not been improved since Mary
      Wollstencroft. The political work that followed was evolving a world in
      which her "bizarre" and "dangerous" ideas became common sense, given whole
      societies built on unequal relations between the sexes. Both men and women
      found equality inconceivable because their habits and styles of life were
      inextricably linked to a world-view in which men and women were unequal.
      Women were as much caught up in this misperception as men. Men and women
      contributed equally to change. Indeed men being more powerful and less
      constrained were sometimes able in the early days to make more prominent
      contributions to this campaign (e.g Married Women's Property Act promoted by
      Emily Pankhurst's husband.) (ditto Wilberforce was not a slave)

      Men continued to keep other humans as slaves and live in ways that
      subordinated women even as they knew both these things were unsound, wrong,
      deeply immoral.

      I know the day of the car in cities is over because this form of transport
      is flawed and wrong, but I still own a car and rely on it on occasion while
      campaigning for alternative transport and carfree environments. There are
      many more like me. I take no enjoyment from having a car. I want to see a
      world where land use policies and the plethora of ruinous regulations and
      economic subsidies that have created car dependent settlement are reformed.
      It is a long game and also requires intense intellectual focus because many
      of us are so deeply imbued with auto-dependent assumptions. It is hard to
      imagine a world without cars - or rather a world where they exist but are
      unnecessary.

      I detest needing oil, but even if cars are sustainably powered I'd want such
      changes in the scale and speed of cars before I could accept them near me
      that my views would remain as subversively antagonistic towards this form of
      transport whether or not fossil fuelled.

      I know this is what carfree is all about so my apologies if I'm saying the
      obvious.

      By the way if you want a little experience of finding it entirely normal to
      be without a car spend a few days in Venice. I've just come back from there.
      It seemed so entirely normal to walk or float. I experienced at first hand
      why Joel Crawford uses Venice as a paradigm for the idea of a car free city.
      (That said I could have done without the constant noise of motorised canal
      traffic).

      Regards

      Simon

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "dan_belich" <dbelich@...>
      To: <carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2003 8:27 PM
      Subject: [carfree_cities] 2 unrelated (?) stories about auto-madness


      > Just thought I'd pass along two stories I found recently. One dealing
      > with the increase in traffic in the formerly bucolic suburbs of
      > Boston, since everyone needs to drive everywhere, all the time, no
      > matter what:
      http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/local_regional/gridlock04272003.htm
      > the other, about what all this traffic might do to us:
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2984923.stm
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