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  1. #1
    Fat Guy in Bike Shorts! manual_overide's Avatar
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    If cars were clean, would you drive one?

    I thought of this idea while typing a reply in the global warming thread, but rather than ask there I decided to pose the question in a new thread. So, if clean electric cars were readily available, would you still be car free? Many people cite air pollution as the main reason they do not drive, but what if that point were moot? I know for urban people the issue of parking would still be there, and the cost of insurance and maintenance would still exist. So would you have a car if they didn't pollute?

  2. #2
    Fat Guy in Bike Shorts! manual_overide's Avatar
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    Oh, I just thought of something else, as clean reliable electric cars seems to be the goal of many people, what do you think the social effect of such a vehicle would be? Would people drive more because they know that it doesn't affect the environment and there is no gas to purchase? If they do, is sprawl going to be an even bigger problem? Will people get even fatter than they are now because they drive more?

  3. #3
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by manual_overide
    Oh, I just thought of something else, as clean reliable electric cars seems to be the goal of many people, what do you think the social effect of such a vehicle would be? Would people drive more because they know that it doesn't affect the environment and there is no gas to purchase? If they do, is sprawl going to be an even bigger problem? Will people get even fatter than they are now because they drive more?
    If the source of the electricity is coal, the electric car won't be very clean. As well, you need to look into other issues like the amount of pollution involved in manufacture, road clearing in the winter, general infrastructure issues (how many forests destroyed to create the highways and parking lots.).

    Aside from the environmental impact, I don't think electric cars would be more fun to drive than bicycles. That would be a big factor for me.

  4. #4
    est'd 1966 tfahrner's Avatar
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    No. It's not about emissions; it's about the energy inherent in the use of high-speed vehicles much heavier than what they carry. I'm with Ivan Illich who said "high quanta of energy degrade social relations just as inevitably as they destroy the physical milieu." http://todd.cleverchimp.com/energy_and_equity/

  5. #5
    Dubito ergo sum. patc's Avatar
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    No, no, no. This question has been asked many times already!

    Even IF you could produce a zero-emission car and even IF you could manufacture it without pollution, you still have two overwhelming problems.

    Cars use tonnes of metal and plastic to move just a few people - sometimes only one. Unacceptable!

    Cars use a huge amount of space to move just a few people - sometimes only one. Unacceptable!

    In urban centers the use of a personal motor vehicle is an evolutionary dead-end.

  6. #6
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    "Cars' cause damage to the planet from manufacture to
    infrastructure requirements so NO I wouldn't use a car
    just because it's "clean".

    This question here isn't "just" engine pollution at all and never
    should be. The TOTAL environmental impact is what's really
    important. From the mining of the metal ores to the suburbia it
    causes cars are the worst invention of man by far.
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
    I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

    Originally Posted by krazygluon
    Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?

  7. #7
    Senior Member donrhummy's Avatar
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    This question was already asked and I got some REALLY good answers from people here. I recommend you read this thread:

    http://bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=170895

  8. #8
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donrhummy
    This question was already asked and I got some REALLY good answers from people here. I recommend you read this thread:

    http://bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=170895
    You're right that it was a good thread, but we have lots of new members now, so I'm glad that manual_overide started a new thread about it.

    Personally, I wouldn't get a car even if I lived in a dream world where it was possible to have a truly pollution-free auto. I don't want to give up the financial savings, the opportunities for exercise and especially the FUN of walking and riding everywhere.

    I also agree with what tfahrner, patc and Tightwad said. I think sprawl is destructive to social and cultural networks, and electric cars would encourage sprawl as much as the current gas monsters do.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  9. #9
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    I don't think a zero emissions car would have allowed me to lose 40 lbs in 10 months, and still show no sign of stopping. So to answer the OP's question, no.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Huh. Well, I have a pretty bizarre reason but... no. I don't like the licensing, insurance, hoops, terry stops, and general police/driver asshattedness associated with driving large metal weapons.

    Sure, I once calculated the housing, park, and garden space you could make available on the dulles toll road by closing it down completely and replacing it with construction and 2 lines of rail. I agree that cars have negative effects that are way more than just the fuel pollution.

    I also think that not everyone lives urban and some sort of reasonable transportation system for peeps out in the relative boonies would be useful- so i'm all for biodeisel and electric developments.

    But what really just gets me, is the legal/bureaucratic/insurance/licensing maze. I've had enough trouble with the overly legalistic society since I came back, I don't care to participate in that if I don't absolutely have to.
    Last edited by Christof H; 02-10-07 at 06:18 PM.
    looking for the one true bike.

  11. #11
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    From my observations, the majority of carfree people don't drive because they find it fun to ride a bike. Not polluting is just a nice bonus.

    You have to like riding a bike. If you ride a bike because you don't want to pollute but you hate biking, it probably won't last long.

  12. #12
    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    Don't forget about the people that don't need a vehicle in the first place.
    I agree, most people don't go with out a car because it's not green enough. Many other reasons abound.
    My Youtube Cycling Videos Here

  13. #13
    Mister Goody Two Shoes KnhoJ's Avatar
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  14. #14
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KnhoJ
    Good one! The danger of car travel is one reason I'm carfree. They are one of the riskiest modes of travel available. I was already carfree when my stepson and best friend were seriously injured in a car crash, but this experience hardened my resolve to avoid cars as much as possible.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  15. #15
    Senior Member Gotte's Avatar
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    I'm lucky in that I cycle because I enjoy the sensation. I have a general ecological leaning, recycle, use carbon neutral heating, drive as little as possible (usually just for family outings and holidays - hey, I come from the UK, and if you want to visit family by train or bus, you'd better take your sleeping bag, and ***, if it were allowed).
    But mostly I cycle because I enjoy it. It does me good, makes me happy and makes the world a better place for my daughter.
    Though of course the A**hole down the road who's just bought a 4 litre pickup truck will probably negate all the carbon saving I make in my lifetime in the lifetime of that vehicle.
    But what can you do other than be true to your principles

  16. #16
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    I still would not drive a car. I would miss the scenery, health benfits and people if I drove a car.





    Gas, the price of a can of beans

  17. #17
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    There's no such thing as a clean car. Even electric cars are usually not any cleaner than regular cars; in fact, electric cars may be even DIRTIER than regular cars. If everyone drove electric cars, we'd have to build more power plants, which, at the moment, mostly burn coal. If we did that, we'd produce even more greenhouse gases than we do now. And let's not forget that just making a car is really bad for the environment, too, especially if you're making one that's holding a bank of huge batteries. And finally, as we know from personal experience, cars have turned many of our cities into uninhabitable sh**holes. The goal should be fewer cars, not cars that make us all feel better about being resource hogs.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  18. #18
    Senior Member donrhummy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi
    There's no such thing as a clean car. Even electric cars are usually not any cleaner than regular cars; in fact, electric cars may be even DIRTIER than regular cars. If everyone drove electric cars, we'd have to build more power plants, which, at the moment, mostly burn coal.
    Well, a few things:
    1. Not every power plant uses coal, so not all electric cars would be dirtier than gas/diesel cars. In fact, a friend of mine gets his power from a clean-energy plant, so his ownership of an electric car would be very clean.

    2. Moving to electric cars has nearly inifintely more "clean-energy" potential than gas/diesel because if you change the power plants to be clean energy, it would also make those cars "clean" (including the manufacture). Whereas changing power plants to clean energy would never make gas/diesel cars clean.

  19. #19
    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by manual_overide
    Many people cite air pollution as the main reason they do not drive, but what if that point were moot? I know for urban people the issue of parking would still be there, and the cost of insurance and maintenance would still exist. So would you have a car if they didn't pollute?
    Air pollution were moot... you mean if the vast majority of the countries electricity didn't come from coal-fired power plants?

    I'm not carfree yet, but I'm more against our car-based culture than the car itself. So I guess the answer is no, I would not.

  20. #20
    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donrhummy

    2. Moving to electric cars has nearly inifintely more "clean-energy" potential than gas/diesel because if you change the power plants to be clean energy, it would also make those cars "clean" (including the manufacture). Whereas changing power plants to clean energy would never make gas/diesel cars clean.

    Out of curiosity, what do you consider to be a "clean-energy" power plant? The things that I consider clean are almost nonexistent and noone seems in a huge rush to build more. In fact, one of the two power companies in my state recently petitioned the state to replace their current coal with... a bigger coal plant (and of course raise customer rates to pay for it).

    The current infrastructure does not have the excess capacity to handle the proposal.

    It's a moot point since the mainstream electric car won't be available until the oil runs out - and only then if the economy doesn't completely implode as a result.

  21. #21
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    i don't like what i become when i drive. i get more stressed out, angry, and feel helpless when traffic really starts building up. i would consider driving in other places, but not in NYC. it's just not worth my mental health. a bike, to me, makes so much sense that it's almost ridiculous that more people don't ride.

  22. #22
    as I used to be NotAsFat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tfahrner
    No. It's not about emissions; it's about the energy inherent in the use of high-speed vehicles much heavier than what they carry. I'm with Ivan Illich who said "high quanta of energy degrade social relations just as inevitably as they destroy the physical milieu." http://todd.cleverchimp.com/energy_and_equity/
    Check out the series "FutureCar" on Discovery Channel. This week's episode on the car body exhibited some interesting lightweight vehicles. Narrow, tandem "leaners" and ultralights that came in at around 1000 lbs for a 2-seater vehicle. Some of the designs were very narrow, about 1/2 of a standard car's width.

    I understand that most of the car-free people on this forum, having made the lifestyle adjustments necessary for car-free living, aren't going to be eager to go back to owning cars. However, some of the new stuff being designed beat the hell out of the current generation of cars. Until the rest of us can get our lives arranged so we're car free, "better" cars are a step in the right direction.
    Starve a terrorist - ride a bike to work. It's not just good for the environment, it's good for civilization.

    My new blog is No Pinch Flats.

  23. #23
    Micro Gameboyist
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    There are just so many things wrong with car ownership. Mainly, the high ass pricing, not to mention the single biggest legally forced scam there is. Car free is more than just enviromentally good, it's economically good- although i'm sure if bikes ever become as popular as cars they'd have their prices marked up and their ownership taxed.

  24. #24
    bicyclist LandLuger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi
    There's no such thing as a clean car. Even electric cars are usually not any cleaner than regular cars; in fact, electric cars may be even DIRTIER than regular cars.
    I used to think as you did until I did the research for myself. If we are to dismiss the whole national security issue of being "hand-tied" in the ME because the US is the oil equivalent of a crack-addict and we focus just on the environmental impact of electric vehicles, renewable energy technologies such as wind power have dropped in cost over the last two decades to the point of being on par with coal. This is indicative of a number of emerging and maturing renewables that I have been following in the news, and we are only on the beginning of developing these technologies. Furthermore, battery techs such as NiMH and LiPol are environmentally sound compared to the Pb and Cd batteries we are more familiar with.
    Last edited by LandLuger; 02-16-07 at 10:40 PM.

  25. #25
    Senior Member donrhummy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffS
    Out of curiosity, what do you consider to be a "clean-energy" power plant? The things that I consider clean are almost nonexistent and noone seems in a huge rush to build more. In fact, one of the two power companies in my state recently petitioned the state to replace their current coal with... a bigger coal plant (and of course raise customer rates to pay for it).

    The current infrastructure does not have the excess capacity to handle the proposal.

    It's a moot point since the mainstream electric car won't be available until the oil runs out - and only then if the economy doesn't completely implode as a result.
    Wind or solar power.

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