This is my favorite part.
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You know who builds apartments like these? Communists, that's who! And maybe some Nazi sympathizers!
In fact, I never promote carfree anyplace but here on this forum. Like you, I worry that people are very defensive of their cars, and active promotion of being carfree will be misconstrued as an attack on their lifestyle.
The farthest I will go IRL is to provide neutral DIY information to those who want it. I do promote alternatives to cars, especially bikes, walking, and transit. And by promote, I mean that I mainly try to encourage improvements more than I try to sell others to use these alternatives. My outlook is that selling is not the issue--people are eager to try non-car alternatives, provided they are available, efficient, and pleasant. Is that positive enough for you?
"Think Outside the Cage"
I think we have to be realistic. People may love their cars and driving but how many people love more traffic and driving longer distances because cities have sprawled further and further? What's more, how long do people think such an economy can grow without causing yet another crash? In fact, isn't it reasonable to say that there's been a more or less persistent state of recession since the 1970s due not to oil crisis but to overgrowth of motor traffic? The Vietnam war, for example, could be viewed as a form of population-control that followed a failure of the US economy to grow sustainably enough to accommodate the baby boomers. As a result, many people of that generation took to seeking alternative economic means, such as communes, nomadic living, etc. and the government responded by drafting them into a war against communism.
I don't mean to start an endless discussion about conspiracy theories with this. It's just one example of how the US economy has simply failed to accommodate the 'dream' of everyone owning and living sustainably in the motor-traffic economy. How much population has been shifted to prisons, military service, and corporations because the economy simply couldn't accommodate the high traffic volume otherwise?
There has been a struggle to deal with growing population and the reason economic growth hasn't been able to keep up, I contend, is because of limits of sustaining motor-traffic growth. If all those people have to drive everywhere to do everything, the road networks simply fill up with traffic and all the driving wears on people to the point where they are more eager to invest in escape than in growth.
Rational discussion means going beyond ad hom denigration of your opponent. For some reason, people who are for driving dominance don't want to see that it is unsustainable so they ridicule anyone who raises the discussion point. Doesn't that strongly suggest that they lack grounding for their position since, if they had reasonable grounds, they'd explain and defend those legitimately instead of resorting to inferiorizing the other side of the debate?
I don't live car free. But I don't drive a whole lot ether. I think I could modify my lifestyle and free myself of car ownership if I desired to.... although it wouldn't be easy. But... I can't imagine how, why, or from whom I might get any backlash... for making a lifestyle choice. I think any backlash might come from the advocacy of trying to pressure changes on others.
Further, it seems incredibly fashionable for some members of this sub-forum to claim a CF-lifestyle, but do whatever they can to separate themselves from LCF stereotypes. So, if a new member shows up and says something like "auto culture costs us more than it makes these days, in terms of direct and indirect subsidies, economic and environmental degradation, and lives lost on the highway", members here will respond with stuff like "shut up, commie! Get out of my America!! I'm livin' carfree, but I think it's awesome that we give huge subsidies to highly profitable oil companies, and that ppl die in car wrecks with alarming frequency. Go eat a vegan-dawg, Nancy, with extra smugness-relish..."
(Now watch someone demand a link to the thread from which I pulled that quote.)
Lastly, we have to contend with the fact that, despite the ostensible subject matter of this sub-forum, moderators will move the thread to P&R the moment it becomes remotely political--even though this is a forum about ppl living carfree. The topic is politically charged by its very nature.
I try to check in here about once a week, b/c sometimes we see some interesting articles linked in a discussion, or some funny stuff. But the argument-for-argument's-sake vibes here are tough to stomach sometimes.
By it's very nature advocacy involves trying to influence people. But it doesn't occur in a vacuum. Things are being forced on us all the time. Building freeways through neighbourhoods or farmland, or allowing motor vehicle exhaust to blanket the countryside, is a form of change being forced on us. And not very positive change either. In fact it has a lot of negative consequences. So why are you singling out the people who oppose these massive changes, or advocate for healthier choices, as somehow being the pushy ones? Are you such a big fan of despoiling of the air and land that you think anyone against those trends is somehow your enemy?
Weirdest part is the car sympathizers. I get it that cars have become an intrinsic part of our culture, and I get it that we rely on internal combustion to transport most of our stuff, at some point, no matter how far we try to remove ourselves from reliance on autos. I also get it that some ppl need to use autos routinely due to health reasons, location reasons, family reasons, etc... But who could possibly argue that the current rate and degree of auto usage is anywhere near sustainable or sane? And why do ppl use "anti-car" as a disparaging term on a CF forum? Why do anti-car ppl try to deny being anti-car?
I drive a truck, I drive a big ol' van at work all the time, and I see 4wheeled car-type vehicles as a positive component of modern life, b/c some folks really do need them... and, further, we all rely on internal combustion to move necessities from place to place. Even given all of that, I'm OK with being called anti-car, b/c I feel that the way we ("we" being defined as the ppl of the USA, in large, bulky, generalized terms) currently use automobiles is unhealthy for us and for the Earth, as well as the economy.
We shouldn't abandon the truth about the ill effects of rampant auto use, just b/c books written on the subject fell out of fashion a decade ago. To see transportation cyclists falling over themselves to defend the auto from its critics on a supposed LCF forum is, frankly, embarrassing. I drive, wish I didn't have to, but I realize I'm guilty of reliance on autos. That's embarrassing for me, too, b/c as I see it, autos have:
-contributed to sprawl
-contributed to the decline of urban centers
-contributed to inflation, due to the usury involved in auto loans as well as the role in the automobile in the viability of suburban McMansions and their ilk, which are probably the biggest factor in debt-slavery in the USA since the 1950s.
-contributed to the decline of urban rail
-contributed to pollution, in the form of exhaust gases, erosion caused by the highway system and parking lots, and landfills full of tires and other non-recyclable parts from discarded autos. Oh, and the auto has contributed to the distribution of litter, even if litter would exist regardless.... autos have allowed litterbugs to spread their discarded flotsam much further afield.
-contributed to widespread health problems, including obesity and various respiration issues.
-contributed to the waste of steel, which is a crying shame b/c i like steel.
Do I really need to annotate that? Does anyone really not know that this is true? One could argue that these issues would exist without the car, and that's true, but to what degree? One could also argue that bikes have cost us in terms of money and resources, and that's true, but does it actually compare? Such arguments are silly, but ppl on LCF still seem to enjoy making them.
The OP brought up a discussion in good faith and with seemingly good intentions, but ppl accused him of being a dumpster-vegan couch-surfer with an annoying agenda and a fetish for Armageddon fantasies, who hates cars. An odd reaction to a question as to why ordinary N.American folks are so resistant to car-free living, or even discussions about it. Denying that ppl resist the notion of CF lifestyles is daft, considering that many mainstream politicians have worked anti-transpotation-cycling stances into their platforms, often successfully.
I think we have a silent majority problem. I assume that many lurkers here support "anti-car" ideas, but don't want to express their opinions for various reasons. I feel like a voice crying in the wilderness sometimes. Thank goodness for Ekdog's strong voice! But people need to speak out more. Express yourselves! You don't have to attack others, just say what you think. Like surreal said, you don't have to provide links or citations for an opinion/observation. I really think the main motive of these frequent "pro-car" complainers is to shut down conversation about carfree matters. If they intimidate somebody or ridicule somebody, they feel they have won a victory. Don't let them win...speak out!
"Think Outside the Cage"
Last edited by Ekdog; 01-14-14 at 04:34 PM.
Smug, bicycle-riding, car-bashing, public transport-using zealot.
It's like those people who constantly have to tell you they don't own a tv. Just shut up already! No one wants to hear about how you think you're so much better than everyone else because you've chosen some fringe lifestyle.
I try to be a fair, sensible, non-judgmental person. I think that the best approach to take is a candid, practical, thorough one. As far as cars go, there's a lot to love: they're convenient, a lot o fun under ideal conditions, a machine that allows some ppl who might otherwise be homebound to explore the world around them, a thing that--for many-- brings up some warm,fuzzy, nostalgic feelings. On the other hand, they're expensive, dirty, inefficient, dangerous, and have changed our social lives and environment in a way that, in my view, is negative overall. I'm not going to cite any sources b/c only a fool, a liar, or a troll would call any of that into question.
Let's allow common sense and truth to come back into the picture for a second. Tell the truth: does anybody reading this actually enjoy traffic jams?
Am I anti-car? I don't think so, really, b/c I own a personal 4-wheeled gas-guzzler myself, and I wouldn't want to see autos outlawed or even simple penalties for drivers. However, I would say I'm against the status quo, in regards to automobile development and usage. I'd like to see oil subsidies end. I'd like to see cars built with an eye towards practicality: we currently have the means to build autos that get over 100mpg, so why don't we? We could build cars with better safety, not only for the driver, but for the stuff the driver crashes into. Lower curb weights, lower top-speed, better visibility. Laws and infrastructure could be changed to discourage and prevent risky on-road behavior and the accidents such behavior brings. Stiffer laws--with actual punishment-- for drivers who kill other road users might be nice. Drivers could can their expectations of glass-smooth tarmac, too. It's expensive to keep roads in that condition.
All of the pro-car arguments that make sense in terms of practical concerns (and not passionate emotional appeals to high-speed hijinx) would totally allow for a Transit-Connect sized thing with a direct-injection biodiesel/electric hybrid powerplant with a top-speed of 45mph that returns 100mpg--- with enough meat on the wheels to allow for ruts and potholes. Grandma can get from point A to point B safely and without physical exertion. Local businesses could deliver their wares. Due to the improved efficiency, folks could afford to pay $15/gallon at the pump.... and, if they couldn't, then maybe they'd FINALLY think twice about jumping in the car for every little thing. If we did that, I'd be enthusiastically pro- car. Let the actual driver foot the bill for the actual cost of driving-- from the oil subsidies to the road upkeep to the indirect subsidies that take shape as wars with far-off oil-rich nations-- and I'll become a zealous automobile advocate.
As I said before, I own a vehicle, so the "holier-than-though" charge doesn't apply to me. Shameful hypocrite? Perhaps that shoe fits a bit better. But I feel like a chump for spending money with businesses I don't support-- oil companies, insurance companies--- and each of those dollars buys me some more pollution, some time wasted on a congested road, and a belly-full of emotional/mental stress without any physical exertion to accompany it. Admittedly, it also allows me to do other cool stuff, like carrying bulky items to remote places for worthwhile activities. But, I think what we have to do, as individuals, is find a balance within our own priorities. What do we want, what do we need, and what do we wish to avoid? Asking oneself those questions could help develop a personal transportation plan that suits one's needs. But let's please refrain from allowing petty concerns about image-- about looking like or NOT looking like a tree-hugger-- to overcomplicate these considerations.