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Old 09-14-05, 08:27 AM   #1
Portis
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50 Reasons Why Cars Suck!

Road Kill:
50 Reasons Why Cars Suck


by Michael Zezima

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.
Joni Mitchell

I was absolutely determined to launch this preamble with an anecdote calculated to allegorize the vigor of our American car culture in unaffected, yet poignant, terms. Then I changed my mind. Why be coy?

The automobile and the lifestyle it inspires have risen to prominence through the power of relentless suggestion. There's nothing delicate about car commercials and car toys and the hundreds of songs and movies that venerate the irrefutable gratification of owning an internal combustion engine of your very own. Like cigarettes, television, and the meat-based diet, cars are profoundly engrained within modern human existence. It doesn't even register when a movie character hops into a car and screeches away from the curb. We no longer consciously acknowledge the presence of cars on the street, the highway, and in driveways from coast-to-coast.

On a much deeper level, it's simply expected that singers will sing about cars, writers will write about cars, actors will act in cars, and practically everyone will become a motorist. Even radicals and dissidents regularly drive to their protests and rallies (even environmental activists do so). Owning a car is now considered a virtual birthright, an actuality not open for debate on a philosophical level. As a result, although cars have been around a relatively short time, the culture that facilitates their subconscious acceptance.

Why wouldn't we? Well, to follow are fifty answers to that query. Some light-hearted, some satirical, many are well-documented realities. It doesn't (and it shouldn't) take a 400-page tome, replete with footnotes, index, and bibliography, to arouse inquiry. The efficacy of the car culture is based upon a façade, on billions of dollars of advertising, on the insecurity and gullibility of humans living in a society that feeds on and cashes in on insecurity and gullibility. It was in a child's tale that a simple observation exposed a ruler as perpetrating a fraud on an all-too-willing populace. Now, another artifice faces child-like inspection and perhaps we too will ascertain that not only does the emperor have no clothes, the emperor also doesn't need a Chevrolet to see the U.S.A.

1. There are way too many of 'em
From 1950 to 1970, the U.S. automobile population grew four times faster than the human population. Today, there are around 200 million cars in America. Which brings us to reason #2.

2. Traffic
Contrary to all those car commercials in which you see the automobile being marketed as it cruises along all alone on an open road, we Americans spend 8 billion hours per year stuck in traffic.

3. Cars kill people
During the twentieth century, 250 million Americans were maimed or injured in automobile accidents.

4. Cars kill kids
The leading cause of death for children aged 5 to 14 in New York City is pedestrian automobile accidents.

5. Cars kill celebrities
While some may (understandably) regard this as an admirable reason to expand automobile production, it may have been interesting to discover what else people like Jackson Pollock, Albert Camus, or James Dean had to offer. Just a thought.

6. Cars kill every day
Every single day in the U.S., an average of 121 people are killed in car accidents.

7. Cars kill animals
The carnage is even worse for furry, feathered, and multi-legged earthlings. Automobiles, SUVs, trucks, and other fossil field-burning vehicles kill a million wild animals per week in the U.S.

8. Cars exploit dead animals
Substances like anti-freeze, bio-diesel fuel, hydraulic brake fluid, and asphalt binder are all made with ingredients culled from the carcasses of departed animals.

9. Those Christmas tree-shaped air fresheners
Enough to turn anyone's lungs into a potential Superfund site.

10. Car bombs
An uncomplicated equation: no cars = no car bombs.

11. Drive-by shootings
A touch more of the old math for ya: cars + automatic weapons = drive-by shootings

12. Sprawl
During the last century, an area equal to all the arable land in Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania was paved in the U.S.

13. Expensive sprawl
The area equal to all the arable land in Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania requires maintenance costing over $200 million a day.

14. Very expensive sprawl
The surreptitious cost of the car culture totals nearly $464 billion a year in the U.S. alone, much of that going to the sustentation of a military presence in the Persian Gulf.

15. Bumper stickers
Another truism: Without bumpers, there wouldn't be any bothersome bumper stickers.

16. Malls
Need I say more?

17. Horns
Especially when they are used in lieu of a door bell. Especially at 3 a.m.

18. Alarms
Especially at 3 a.m.

19. They take up too much space
A car demands 300 square feet when parked or standing still and 3000 square feet when moving at 30 miles per hour. A pedestrian requires only 5 square feet when standing and 10 square feet when walking.

20. There's less room for bicycles
With the possible exception of written language, the bicycle just may be the neatest idea we humans have ever come up with.

21. Global warming
Automobiles emit one-quarter of U.S. greenhouse gases.

22. Car toys
An entire industry designed to lay the foundation. Imagine that.

23. Drivers who ignore what traffic lights mean
Green means you drive through the intersection above the speed limit. Yellow means you drive through the intersection while making a mockery of the speed limit. Red means you drive through the intersection at a rate approaching the speed of sound.

24. Traffic lights
The next time you're feeling "free," see how far you can walk without being legally compelled to stop . . . so cars can pass.

25. Oil addiction
The U.S. spends $60 billion per year on foreign oil.

26. Serious oil addiction
Eight million barrels of oil per day is combusted in U.S. cars.

27. Very serious oil addiction
That's 450 gallons per person per year.

28. Walking in right angles
Thanks to our car-centric civilization, most cities are designed in grids forcing pedestrians to forever walk in right angles.

29. Poor posture
That's what we get from sitting hunched over a steering wheel 8 billion hours a year.

30. Car songs
With all due respect to Bruce Springsteen, I'd suggest we've heard all we need to hear about the joys of souped-up hemis, drag-strip romance, and the mythical '57 Chevy.

31. The drive-thru life
From drive-thru eating to drive-thru funerals, isn't it safe to insinuate we've forfeited a little bit of perspective here?

32. Waste
Cars create 7 billion pounds of un-recycled scrap and waste annually.

33. Car commercials
They say: "Cars make you sexy, smart, cool, and successful." I say: "Go back to reason #3 to see what cars really make you."

34. Parking lots
These structures, sitting atop once-thriving eco-systems, are rivaled only by cemeteries in the post-modern space-wasting competition.

35. Parking tickets
The inescapable consummation of the dreaded "alternate side of the street" abstraction.

36. Parking
How much time have you wasted looking for a spot, squeezing into that spot, and then trying to recall where the hell the damn spot was in the first place?

37. Tires
With approximately one billion discarded tires littering our increasingly paved landscape, meditate upon this: Every tire loses one pound of rubber per year, spewing minute grains of rubber into the stratosphere and then back down to find a new home in our water and/or our lungs.

38. Road rage
These equations just keep getting easier. Road rage cannot exist without the automobile. Hey, when was the last time you saw a cyclist brandishing an Uzi?

39. Mechanics
Your car dies, you walk into the repair shop, and you just know what the mechanic is thinking: "I know something you don't and, man, am I'm gonna make you pay for it."

40. The internal combustion engine
Or, as Ralph Nader calls it, the "infernal combustion engine." Possibly humanity's foremost folly.

41. Humans did not evolve to ride in cars
Or in boats and planes, for that matter. A transparent case of stone age biology in a space age society.

42. Carchitecture
How many structures exist exclusively to nourish the car culture? We can start with the highway, on-ramp, off-ramp, gas station, strip mall, car wash, auto repair shop, car rental establishment, bridges, tunnels, and, of course, the suburbs.

43. The suburbs
Phase one of a cunning master plan to facilitate automobile dependency.

44. De-funded public transportation
Phase two.

45. Campaign contributions
Phase three.

46. Corporate welfare
Phase four.

47. Cars are hell
During the 40 days of the Gulf War, 146 Americans died keeping the world safe for petroleum while at home, 4900 Americans died in motor vehicle accidents.

48. Personalized license plates
To foster one's singularity . . . while keeping the homogenizing car culture alive and well.

49. Speed kills
If the national speed limit is no higher than 65 MPH, why are cars capable of going twice that fast?

50. Humans drive 'em
After you've cynically dismissed all of the other 49 reasons why cars suck, take a good hard look at the person sitting behind the wheel of the next car you see.

Case closed.

© Michael Zezima



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Old 09-14-05, 02:36 PM   #2
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A million animals per week? Is that possible that cars kill 1 million animals per week? Damn!
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Old 09-14-05, 04:14 PM   #3
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#51 they cause your cardiovascular system and quads to atrophy.
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Old 09-14-05, 07:43 PM   #4
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#52. They give teenagers and adulterers a place to copulate. How many kids have been conceived on a Trek?
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Old 09-14-05, 07:58 PM   #5
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53. Some of the colors are really tacky
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Old 09-14-05, 08:54 PM   #6
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Yup. Thanks to our wonderful car I cant save any money for retirement. Or a new bike. Or my kids collage education, .....OMG! Someone wake me up from this nightmare! $400 for the payment. $100 for insurance. Not to mention gas and the stress to make sure enough is in the budget.....It just isnt worth it!
Cars come from HELL!

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Old 09-15-05, 03:19 AM   #7
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#3.141592654..... Cars are an excellent mechanism for transferring ALL expendible (and most non-expendible) wealth from the individual to the Giant Evil Corporations (tm). This is best accomplished if same corp's own the media, government etc., and they can brainwash the populace into believing they NEED a car. Their kids will go hungry, they'll never get that college degree, they'll rent for life, all to have a CAR.

Agreed. Cars are from hell.
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Old 09-15-05, 06:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranger
I was absolutely determined to launch this preamble with an anecdote calculated to allegorize the vigor of our American car culture in unaffected, yet poignant, terms. Then I changed my mind. Why be coy?
I almost didn't read past this pompous introduction. I still wish I hadn't. Some of these are clever, some are true, but at least half are just stupid.

Blaming the grid on cars? What shape would we use for buildings if there were no cars? Circles?

Road rage? There would be plenty of cyclist road rage if everyone were biking.

Forgotten parking spaces? How is this the fault of the car?

Humans did not evolve to ride in cars? I think he's confusing evolution, which is an adaptation to existing conditions, with "intelligent design."
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Old 09-15-05, 06:42 AM   #9
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Quote:
12. Sprawl
During the last century, an area equal to all the arable land in Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania was paved in the U.S.
Another good reason why everyone should drives SUVs
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Old 09-15-05, 02:48 PM   #10
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The only cars I santion is the small European/Asian ones, Electric, Hybrids that are driven on enclosed, elevated, or fenced roads that are specifically designed for their use-and far away from the rest of us.
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Old 09-15-05, 02:53 PM   #11
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20. There's less room for bicycles
With the possible exception of written language, the bicycle just may be the neatest idea we humans have ever come up with.
i couldn't agree more.
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Old 09-15-05, 04:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranger
A million animals per week? Is that possible that cars kill 1 million animals per week? Damn!
Maybe. Aren't bugs and insects animals, too?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranger
... How many kids have been conceived on a Trek?
I've seen some female riders on TREKs that I thought about .... never mind, that was about to turn ugly.

d.tipton
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Old 09-15-05, 05:59 PM   #13
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A lot of these are good and I agree. There are a few I disagree with though, and a bunch I have comments on, some critical, some just because I can. I might as well make a ChrisL list.

1.) That's not an argument. Simply saying cars suck because there's too many of them and their numbers are growing is like people suck because there's a lot of them.

2.) Yeah, 8 billion hours a year sitting in traffic does suck, can't argue that. Another sucky statistic: The average woman spends 2 years of her life in front of a mirror.

3.) First of all, the argument is they kill people and the supporting fact is injuries. I'm very skeptical that 250 million Americans have been injured by cars. The current population is around 270 million, which if I remember the growth trends correctly, means around half of Americans alive today have been injured. Are we counting catching your finger in the door?

7.) "Cars kill animals." - So do other animals. I got over it by drowning my sorrows with a cheeseburger.

8.) Wait a second, now biodiesal is evil?

10.) The world isn't that simply. If it's not car bombs, it will be donkey bombs or bike bombs. You wouldn't really want die from a carbon fiber shrapnel wounds when some nut drives his 5.9 Madone into a busy marketplace loaded with C4.

11.) See 10.

13.) The cost of maintaining roads is offset by the increase in commerce. Before a major road is built, it's always evaluated on a cost-benefit basis. B/C > 1 means it doesn't get built.

16.) Good point.

17.) Worse yet, the motorhome that drove past my house a couple weeks ago at midnight with an old couple in it blaring out, of all things, folk music with the bass cranked up loud enough to rattle the windows. Creepy.

18.) Saw an article recently about a man arrested for shooting a car at 3:00 am because the alarm kept going off. Can't say I blame him.

20.) I'll concede to the point, but the premise sucks. Soccer is the coolest thing man has come up with.

28.) Being pedestrian oriented wouldn't solve that. If you're going to have a building interrupting the passage of traffic, be it foot, bike or car, the best layout is always a square.

30.) I've got a feeling the author isn't a Beach Boys fan.

36.) The problem there lies in the mentality of the driver, not the car itself. I've never had any problem taking the first open spot I see.

37.) Rubber's organic. It's not going to hurt you anymore than all the dihydrogen monoxide American unknowingly consume.

38.) I guess we haven't seen Sam around bikeforums in a little too long.

40.) Given their high power-to-weight ratio compared to other power sources (especially solar), I'd have to disagree.

41.) Evolution takes time. More importantly, the car evolved to fit man.

43.) Claiming it's conspiracy is pretty lame. I'm sure nothing would feed the sadistic appetite of The Hierarchy Enslaving Me (T.H.E.M) then seeing me going from point A to point B at 70 mph.

49.) My car doesn't go twice that fast. Most don't. Cars that do go that fast are luxuries, and last time I checked, indulgences were not inherently evil.


Interesting list. A lot to think about. I enjoyed reading it.
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Old 09-15-05, 07:20 PM   #14
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It seems ironic to me that most anti-car whackos (like Michael Zezima
) come from places like BOSTON, New York, LA etc.. Cities that would not be possible without the evil internal combustion engine.
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Old 09-15-05, 07:54 PM   #15
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What a load of drivel
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Old 09-15-05, 08:15 PM   #16
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Talk about hypocritical.
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Old 09-16-05, 12:32 AM   #17
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You missed one. Cars are convenient. And convenient is bad, right?

Also, I happen to think that driving is fun. Prefer a sportbike, but a sporty-ish car is a solid second.

Oh, and how am I taking my 3yr-old daughter to Disneyland without one?
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Old 09-16-05, 01:02 AM   #18
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Another scourge proliferated by cars

DENGUE HEMORRHAGIC FEVER - transmitted by asian tiger mosquito which breeds in discarded tires.
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Old 09-16-05, 01:18 AM   #19
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cons:
pollution
fatalities
disease
environmental havoc

pros:
convenience

rest my case
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Old 09-16-05, 01:23 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by berts
Another scourge proliferated by cars

DENGUE HEMORRHAGIC FEVER - transmitted by asian tiger mosquito which breeds in discarded tires.
And obviously the asian tiger mosquito and dengue hemorrhagic fever didn't exist before the advent of the automobile.....
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Old 09-16-05, 01:30 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by berts
cons:
pollution
fatalities
disease
environmental havoc

pros:
convenience

rest my case
pollution? granted.
fatalities? yeah, sure.
disease?
environmental havoc? just repeating pollution again, aren't you?

convenience? Tons of it. Please note that most people will happily shell out $20k for a car, and balk at the idea of spending over $500 for a bike. Why? Because they perceive that cars have over 40x the value of a bicycle. How's that Costco run on the Bianchi working out for you?
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Old 09-16-05, 02:13 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveRogers
pollution? granted.
fatalities? yeah, sure.
disease?
environmental havoc? just repeating pollution again, aren't you?

convenience? Tons of it. Please note that most people will happily shell out $20k for a car, and balk at the idea of spending over $500 for a bike. Why? Because they perceive that cars have over 40x the value of a bicycle. How's that Costco run on the Bianchi working out for you?
reply
air pollution (contaimination of atmosphere with potentially damaging substances)=subset of environmental havoc which includes wanton exploitation and destruction of earth's resouces in favor of the CAR (G'd), large areas of the earth's surface destroyed, natural ecosystems wrecked, not to mention global warming which goes slightly beyond pollution, etc. etc.
disease does not stop at dengue but includes many respiratory diseases which we do not realize the full impact of the CAR. Another plausible effect may be on mental health. Hours of driving in heavy traffic among anxious and sometimes inconsiderate drivers certainly has an effect on me.

perceived value is a matter of cultural norms - one who lives in southern ca "needs" a car because without it he goes nowhere, one who lives in netherlands or china could do very well with a bike. bring good mass transport to so. ca., plan the cities so they are human friendly and live near place of work and it could also be bike friendly - change priorities and planning.
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Old 09-16-05, 06:09 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveRogers
And obviously the asian tiger mosquito and dengue hemorrhagic fever didn't exist before the advent of the automobile.....
Several factors contribute to the resurgence of dengue fever:

No effective mosquito control efforts are underway in most countries with dengue.
Public health systems to detect and control epidemics are deteriorating around the world.
Rapid growth of cities in tropical countries has led to overcrowding, urban decay, and substandard sanitation, allowing more mosquitoes to live closer to more people.
The increase in non-biodegradable plastic packaging and DISCARDED TIRES is creating new breeding sites for mosquitoes.
Increased jet air travel is helping people infected with dengue viruses to move easily from city to city.

While it is true that dengue existed before the advent of the automobile, discarded tires are a significant contributing factor to the proliferation and expanded distribution of vector mosquitoes and disease. In order for the disease to occur the vector must be present.

The point being that human activities creating environmental disturbances can lead to emergence and resurgence of maladies to epidemic proportions. The car has definitely led to such. The question is whether the convenience is worth it.
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Old 09-16-05, 08:44 AM   #24
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1) Can not tow my horses
2) Can not put my motorcycles in the back
3) Do not work well in 4' of mud, snow or deep sand
4) Harder to see the good looking women in the convertibles




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Old 09-16-05, 09:18 AM   #25
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54. Boom cars that blast mexican polka music. Oh please God help me!
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