Are private cars the ideal transport?
On Behalf Of Chris Bradshaw
We would argue that since cars only transport roughly 10-20% of
travelers, they should only have access to 10-20% of road space, for
moving and parkingand should respect the rest of users, as well as
the right to some peace and quiet of all the people working and living next to roads.
This is a good point: equity for all travellers. It applies not just to space for travel and parking, but the various forms of pollution. Under the right conditions, cars produce, per passenger, less pollution and noise than larger public-transit vehicles.
The X-transit discussion here diverges over whether smaller vehicles should be visualized as large cars or small buses. The latter tends to fail because the driver cost is spread over so few passengers, which government can justify only if it serves very small, needy populations, which in turn makes frequency so poor. But if seen as the former, the service, mediated by cell-phone matching, means that every driver's empty seats are available, as long as his route coincides enough with the person needing a ride. Such a scheme relieves the system of driver costs. But cars are private, so no go.
The car fails by being the second-best mode for most trips, rarely the best.
This is because it is used from destination to destination, a tool of mobility _and_ access (only the short walk to its parking space is excepted). It needs to be driven through walk-first environments because it is privately owned and its owner expects it to be ready-and-willing 'acap'
(as close as possible).
A society in which people fail to respect the rights of others, and in
which the rich believe they should have special privileges on the
roads as well as in every other aspect of life, is a society destined
to fall into crime, selfishness, viciousness, and lack of the
neighborly friendliness that allows people to live comfortably
With cars being private, they too often are occupied by only the owner, leaving the other 4-6 seats empty (except when used for storage for personal 'effects'). The owner, rich or poor, sees this privacy as his right. The car's footprint is 'amortized' only over one traveler.
The relationship to these negative social trends is not just that of car causing them, but reflecting the breakdown. Private cars both cause the breakdown of share vehicle systems, and are the beneficiaries of that breakdown ("I have to have my own car. Transit is too infrequent, and walking and cycling are too dangerous."
We can never share the roads unless we find a way to share all the vehicles used on them. This is more common in the so-called underdeveloped countries. While they are trying to copy the developed countries' idea of 'success,' the reverse should be the situation.
When people go into the public realm, it should be to mix with others.
Being in a private car is not providing that contact, not producing the humility and tolerance societies need. All governments, who are dependent on these attitudes, should have a bias in favour of sharing the corridors and the vehicles used on them.
Supporting the private-car regime is a form of societal suicide.
Chris Bradshaw, Ottawa
On 8 Sep 2008, at 15:23, Eric Britton wrote:
> On Behalf Of Chris Bradshaw
> > We would argue that since cars only transport roughly 10-20% of
> > travelers, they should only have access to 10-20% of road space, for
> > moving and parkingand should respect the rest of users, as well as
> > the right to some peace and quiet of all the people working and
> living next to roads.
> This is a good point: equity for all travellers. It applies not
> just to space for travel and parking, but the various forms of
> pollution. Under the right conditions, cars produce, per passenger,
> less pollution and noise than larger public-transit vehicles.
I'm not sure about this... as crowded as buses and trains are here in
Leeds, the private car still transports at least 60% of travellers -
should we still have that equity of space, or should we shift the
balance to where we'd like it to be?
Anzir Boodoo, PhD student
The Institute for Transport Studies, The University of Leeds, LEEDS
Chris Bradshaw wrote:
> Private cars both cause the breakdown ofI don't know about the second, would have thought the reverse, but the
> share vehicle systems, and are the beneficiaries of that breakdown...
first is certainly true. It's plain human nature.
Years ago I lived in a tiny village, Evershot in Dorset. This had a
well-stocked village shop with post office which lots of villagers
visited every single day or several times a day, being only some seconds
walk from most houses. But it had a lousy bus service, only about one or
two a day, and steep hills for cycling.
An ideal place to put up the pinboard of the "Evershot Transport Club",
which I founded. Using pins and notes, people where supposed to put up
small notices if they required a ride or could offer rides in cars. In
addition I sent forms for regular trips to every single villager.
It was an utter and dismal failure. Not a *single* shared trip resulted
even though everybody thought the club was a good idea. I myself, who
had a car at the time, was unable to share or get a single trip. People
- in our culture anyway - simply don't want to share if there is the
*slightest* inconvenience. When you offer a trip, even if your passenger
pays you, you have the cost of not being able to cancel your trip at
short notice, of having to share with a perhaps unpleasant person, etc.
These costs are immediate, whereas the costs of operating a car are
indirect and in arrears.
Much more advanced share-systems in Switzerland years later, using
internet, membership and vetting schemes and special stopping places,
all also failed. (What does work is time-slot exclusive sharing of
There is a parallel in the world of free software, which is public
shared software, and even free content. This is overall much better than
private ("proprietary") software, which is usually also overpriced, yet
I bet that 90% of the intelligent people on this list use e.g. Microsoft
and Apple thingies. The cost of the small inconveniences associated with
free software (e.g. lots of choice) is higher than the few hundreds for
the commercial "private" solution. You get what you pay for, you don't
have to share, you can blame the manufacturer when it doesn't work.
Without special tricks. it is a lot more difficult to give away
something people don't want or know, like free knowledge or free trips,
than sell something they *think* they need, like certain fads or brand
name items - or cars.
Therefore psychologically private cars *are* the ideal transport - in
rural areas and for the able anyway - even if we all agree that present
day cars cost far too much: resources, space, health, even life.