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  1. #1
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    Is being car-centric hurting society?

    I'm forming a thesis for a speech I have to give, and considering going this route. So if anyone has any ideas to throw my way, on both a yes and no side of things, that would be stellar. Thanx in advance to anyone that contributes. All thoughts are welcome on the matter.

  2. #2
    CRIKEY!!!!!!! Cyclaholic's Avatar
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    Apart from being a major contributor to obesity, pollution, global warming, urban sprawl, hunger and famine through driving demand for biofuels, the deaths of 45,000 Americans per year plus the even greater number of permanent injury, and resource wars in the Middle East, no.

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    Randomhead
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    the fact is, many of the areas in cities that are attractive to people are no longer legal to build, even in those cities. There was a recent case in Indianapolis where a vacant building was going to be re-opened for a purpose that was similar to it's original use. Not allowed because of parking restrictions. This is entirely due to being car-centric

  4. #4
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    Kind of a loaded question to throw to a cycling forum... you may want to ask something similar on some car forum. Of course they will deny the 45,000 deaths annually.

  5. #5
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Let's not forget parking lots. They consume huge amounts of land, drive up the cost of goods and the vast expanses of concrete and asphalt have a major effect on the ecology. What might have been a green field with a stream flowing through it, is now black and radiating heat back into space.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

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    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  6. #6
    Unobtanium-Based Lifeform calamarichris's Avatar
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    I don't think you should argue that cars hurt 'society' exactly, but instead that they prevent us from participating in our communities and interacting with each other.
    Perhaps you can go with the Insulation/Isolation argument. That our cars become insulative environments that prevent us from doing so. It's probably one reason we substitute talk-radio for the human conversation and interaction that we crave. Furthermore, that one reason many of us have lost the ability to relate to one another, evidenced by many people who avoid public transportation at all costs, ("Too many weirdos & perverts on buses." etc.) is resulting in more people feeling isolated and feeding the snowballing population of weirdos and perverts.
    I've also seen more than one person eat their booger next to me while waiting at a stoplight--I guess they assume that because they are always looking straight ahead, that everyone else is too.
    Either that or we're emboldened by the anonymity afforded by automobiles. Even if someone saw you pick & eat your booger, the chances of ever seeing them again are remote. And even if you're driving a memorable/noteworthy car, the odds are I'll see thousands of other cars and hundreds of other booger-eaters before we see each other again, causing me to forget and miss the opportunity to point, laugh and mimic the act of your mining for nosegold.
    And drivers frequently become threatened or annoyed if you glance at them at a stoplight. It's kind of an invasion of one's personal space, like looking at someone in an elevator--"Put your eyes back on the numbers!"
    Last edited by calamarichris; 03-15-10 at 05:18 PM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
    Let's not forget parking lots. They consume huge amounts of land, drive up the cost of goods and the vast expanses of concrete and asphalt have a major effect on the ecology. What might have been a green field with a stream flowing through it, is now black and radiating heat back into space.
    Beyond the amount of land that they consume, parking lots have the effect of spreading things further apart, making it harder to walk from one place to the next, thus making us more car dependent. It is a viscous cycle. Automobile infrastructure tends to make a community less friendly to other forms of transit.

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    Time is money and cars help us be more efficient as a society. People want to live in the suburbs while working in the city and cars give us this ability. There's also the commercial side, and without vehicles we couldn't have everything we have at the price we like.

  9. #9
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    One of my problems with automobiles is their consumption of petroleum products.

    However much oil is still in the ground the amount is finite. Petroleum contains some extremely useful chemicals. An entire industry has developed around producing things from it. This stuff is widely used for making everything from plastic toys to fertilizer. Given its many uses driving cars that burn up enormous amounts seems like a tremendous waste.

    I strongly believe that our grandchildren or their grandchildren will curse us for our waste.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Perhaps a focus on overuse and misuse of cars? Cars are very useful. A car gets you where you want/need to be when you need to get there. I happen to be gardening a lot right now, which includes some landscaping. I can get a moderate load of materials in my vehicle, what I need when I need it. Work is about 6 miles from home, but with a nasty little hill that honestly is dangerous during rush hour (and ironically a right turn on the way home, wher the corresponding left is OK). A car is simply more suited than a bike.

    BUT. I also see people in their cars at the mall waiting 5-10 minutes for a parking space to open up when there are plenty of spaces just 50 feet farther from the front door. I wonder if for longer commutes going car to the starting point for mass transportation might not be the way to go. But every case I know where people tried this it was very very difficult to get the needed information. Perhaps this is a useful case for cars good, they can get people out in the burbs (where population density is lower) to a starting point for mass transit, but the over love of cars is bad because people won;t do it and it almost seems no effort is made to help car loving people use mass transit (perhaps a bad us vrs them attitude?)

  11. #11
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    The distaste so many have for car centric life may have some merit but it has allowed us personal speedy travel at our own pace and own time. Yes it requires less planning on a daily basis so we can be more spontaneous than may be good for us but we are also free to travel all over this big country just because we feel like it. There might be other ways to accomplish this ease of traveling access but I am not sure what it could be. If we take into consideration the size of our country and the freedom of movement we have it is hard to imagine a US without cars. In fact looking at China’s movement towards what we already have it seems as if they believe our lifestyle is worth pursuing. They are creating their own auto industry and at the end of last year they were buying more cars a month than the US.

    Whatever the draw is it is strong enough to persuade a country that was not car centric to move in that direction. Same thing is happening with India. Now we have the two most populace countries in the world expressing a great desire to move into a lifestyle we in the US have enjoyed. So car may simply be a natural evolution in transportation for developed society and in their self are not responsible for all the ills of our society.

  12. #12
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Anything overused and/or misused is bad. The same goes for cars. Cars are a great invention, but people has become too dependent on them and too obsessed with them which led to the car-centric infrastructure that hurts everything else. Oh, and we have that idiot Robert Moses to thank who hated mass transit, trains and human powered vehicles so much that he built highways and bridges that are purposely not acceesible to buses and bicycles. And they named two state parks after him, what a freaking joke.

    If we had high speed rail, street cars, rapid bus transit and shopping and services infrastructure integrated with fast and reliable transit things would look different.

    Adam

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    Don't forget without cars we would not have drunk drivers. Automobiles are the vehicle of choice for get away use after robberies. Pretty hard to do a drive by on a bicycle, what about hit and runs? No we must have cars look at the jobs that would be lost.

  14. #14
    Randomhead
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    sprawl and suburbia are forced by government interference. You could easily build a nice suburban neighborhood in almost any city in the U.S. if you can afford the land. Building something that isn't car centric requires a lot of effort, and in most cities the developers would lose. So we have suburbia and exurbia and sprawl by government edict.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    the fact is, many of the areas in cities that are attractive to people are no longer legal to build, even in those cities. There was a recent case in Indianapolis where a vacant building was going to be re-opened for a purpose that was similar to it's original use. Not allowed because of parking restrictions. This is entirely due to being car-centric
    That reminds me of a job-related issue a few years back; the area where my co-workers and I built bikes for the store for a short time was outside, under a roof overhang between buildings. When the weather began to cool, we looked at alternatives, including enclosing the area. We would have done the work, but were told the enclosure would increase the store's requirement for parking spaces.

    Automotive accommodations can be so friggin' demoralizing.......

  16. #16
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    I appreciate all the replies so far! If there are any more suggestions, I'd like to hear them!

  17. #17
    Faster than yesterday
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    We do devote a lot of resources to them. Whether they merit it depends on your perspective.

    Someone pointed to cars as an aspect of American freedom. It's just another way to get around, and we have a lot of space. The problem is that our lives have become so patterned around them that car and insurance companies own you to some degree. In many areas it is difficult to extricate yourself from this system, which is one I want no part of. Most people think you're crazy if you have no desire to own a car, because they can't imagine a world without them. When I say to others that I hope I never own a car again, they give me the "you'll see" pearl of wisdom. If I have kids, then I might want a way to safely transport them. Barring that, I will never pay another dime to car insurance companies.

    My personal world does not have personal motor vehicles. It's pretty nice, so far, but the average American is obsessed with them, and the financial powers that be are not about to let that change.

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