Is Driving the New Smoking?
We have often complained about the negative impacts of our car culture, but Chris Bruntlett, writing in Vancouver magazine Hush, goes much further, calling them selfish, anti-social, unhealthy, and destructive. He says that it is time to start treating cars as the 21st century version of smoking; and picks up onMikael Colville-Andersen’s idea of warning labels for cars. with his own up-to-date designs.
Bruntlett notes how wasteful and inefficient cars are:
Let’s face it: when someone gets into a car, they are entering a bubble. Not just a physical bubble of metal and glass, but also a figurative one, where all logic and reasoning is barred from entering. They seem oblivious to the simple truth that the motor vehicle is the most inefficient mode of transportation ever devised. Without thinking, they squander millions of years of stored solar energy to haul around two tons of metal, fibreglass, machinery, and electronics, along with their meager frame. This machine demands a colossal amount of space: 300 square feet when parked, and 3,000 square feet when moving at 50 km/hr. As a result, we carelessly hand over vast chunks of our public realm to the parasitic automobile; space that could be put to much better use.
He goes on to explain how bad they are for our health, and how seriously dangerous they are to their occupants and everyone around them. Writing from a province where the cops want to seize the bikes of cyclists who don’t wear helmets he complains:
Perhaps no other symptom of car culture is more prevalent – and ignored – than the daily carnage that takes place on our streets. Every single day on this planet, 3,561 people suffer a horrific death inside a car. If another consumer product – such as a toaster – was causing this amount of death and destruction, we would immediately fix or ban the toaster. Instead, we treat road deaths as inevitable, collateral damage in our modern lives.
We need a massive public education campaign to remind folks how dangerous, expensive, and inefficient cars really are. In doing so, we might finally break the cycle of car addiction, and we’ll all be a little healthier, wealthier and happier for it.
By Lloyd Alter, from Treehugger