By on September 19, 2013

 

copyright Chris Bruntlett

copyright Chris Bruntlett

I love to smoke. That’s not a cool thing to admit; in fact it’s socially irresponsible. But there is something very satisfying about lighting up, and the sensation of that first drag. For me it’s not about nicotine. No I enjoy the act of smoking. Fortunately I also love to run and the two habits are rarely complementary. Save the occasional relapse, I quit some 16 years ago. But if smokes were only as bad for me as coffee, I would still light up, social pressures be dammed.

Apparently it’s a personal inclination. The automobile as evil is not new, but Chris Bruntlett wants to start a social trend that equates driving with smoking. He wants a communal backlash and public shaming of drivers. I am not upset because he hates cars; I am upset because I can almost agree with him.

In a recent submission to Vancouver magazine Hush, self-professed bike-geek Bruntlett calls driving “selfish, anti-social, unhealthy, and destructive.”

“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…”

Apparently, we have shared the same morning commute.

“…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, fiberglass, 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.”

The hybrid owners reading this can remove your smug expression now. It’s not just the pollution; it’s driving. According the Bruntlett, your green car is just as evil as my El Camino.

I am not entirely convinced the automobile is less efficient than say, an F-4 Phantom, but my old 1978 Mercury Colony park wagon came pretty close. Much has been opined about the swelling mass of even the most frugal of automobiles. I agree we could put that space to better use. Freeways are like your mother-in-law; they’re getting wider and uglier.

Jay Leno noted that alternative transportation will save the automobile in the same ilk the automobile saved the horse. Horses are now kept for sporting and pleasure. As a result, the quality of life for most horses is infinitely superior to the pedestrian mare of the old west. As better ways of moving people about arise, the car will become less of a need and more about leisure and entertainment. I’m surprisingly comfortable with that.

No worries, I won’t be scuttling my fleet anytime soon, and it’s not Chris Bruntlett’s logic winning me over. The shock numbers of his “warning label” for example;

copyright Chris Bruntlett

copyright Chris Bruntlett

“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.”

He sneaks “3,561″ in right after “planet.” Quick Georgia public-school math tells me that this is just under 1.3 million annually. Despite the World Health Organization listing Road Injury as the 9th leading cause of death, that figure could multiply 10 times the current rate and still not equate to 2% of the global population. I am not being flippant about 1.3 million, but diarrhea-related diseases claimed 1.9 million in the same period, one could argue about the horrific nature of that death as well our ability to prevent it.

I don’t dislike Chris Bruntlett, in fact I respect him. He is a man of passion, and puts his money where his mouth is, riding a bicycle in hilly and (in the winter) wet, Vancouver. I can’t agree with his total mindset, but I can see a version of his world;

“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.”

The way I see it, that means a utopian vision of easy, affordable and reliable public transportation that will take me to work, social engagements and the Midwest safely, efficiently and with the same pleasure I get from hopping in my Land Rover and jetting hallway across the US. The air will be clean and the cities full of green areas for children to play. The costs of that network and its upkeep would be staggering, but if it keeps those promises I’m in.

But I won’t quit driving.

Because in that utopian world, those of us who insist of feeding our automotive addiction will become the smokers in your building, achieving solidarity through being outcasts. The fringe of society will huddle in forgotten corners of your neighborhood around an idling engine we maintain for our own pleasure and enjoyment. Mirroring the evolution of the picnic area behind your parking lot, vast stretches of highway will be re-purposed as designated “driving areas.” They will exist just for me and my smelly cohorts. The stench of gasoline will permeate our clothes, and the grease under our nails will stand out like nicotine stains. The masses of society will cast disapproving stares, and we’ll smile back.

No, the automobile as evil is not new, but neither is the automobile as rebellion.

W. Christian Mental Ward has owned over 70 cars and destroyed most of them. He is married to the most patient woman in the world; actually rides a bicycle and so far in 2013 has run over 630 miles.


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125 Comments on “Is Driving the new Smoking?...”


  • avatar
    threeer

    Try driving over here in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia! I think I’d feel safer smoking!
    While I can (kind of) see some of the arguments made here, I’d still find it hard to give up the pleasure I get from driving. Back home, the liberation of being able to get into my car of choice and just…going…is one of life’s little joys. Of course, living and driving here in SA is a different animal, and I take my life in my own hands every day I get behind the wheel. So, while some may see the correlation between smoking and driving, at least it can be said that the relative safety of driving has increased substantially, especially given the increase in drivers/cars on the road. Not sure how emerging markets will fare in that statistic…

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    “a utopian vision of easy, affordable and reliable public transportation that will take me to work, social engagements and the Midwest safely, efficiently…”

    No such system exists or can exist until we get teleporters.

    Just as utopia can never exist.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Telecommuting achieves much of it.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      >> No such system exists or can exist until we get teleporters.

      Not exactly true. While it’s definitely not perfect and pushes the limits of affordability, Boston’s transportation is pretty damned good. Commuter rail at the station that I use leaves about every 15 to 30 minutes during rush hour. Subway trains every 5 to 10 minutes during rush hour. Rental bikes, boats, and buses round out the system.

      The transportation is good enough to help make possible 5 new 600+ ft and 3 400+ ft towers that are proposed to be built. A city as small as Boston would never be able to handle the number cars needed to get everyone into work. I can’t imagine the scale of the freeways and parking structures you’d need to accommodate the number of people coming into the city.

      Our transportation system gets you to work, entertainment, sports, and
      if you want, anywhere in the world via the airport (served by Silver Line, Blue Line, and dedicated buses). If you live walking distance to a train, subway, or bus line, you can do quite a bit without a car.

      Again, it’s definitely not perfect, but it’s pretty damned good compared with driving in. Personally, I don’t have to go into the city every day, but even with amazing parking benefits (free parking in the basement of the building with the option of free valet) I spend cash to take the commuter rail and avoid driving hassles.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @mcs- no doubt, urban dwellers can get by just fine on public transport. Once you get far from the city, what public transportation choices do you have? Say, in the Midwest?

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          A 2010 Federal Highway Administration (FHA) report found that average public-transit commute times are over double the commute times for those using private autos.

          • 0 avatar
            skakillers

            Yep, I live in Boston and driving from my apartment to my building for work takes about 14 minutes, taking the subway takes close to 40. Of course, driving isn’t really possible because there isn’t enough parking nearby, and driving 15 minutes to park a 10 minute walk away from work doesn’t really make much sense.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            That’s because most transit systems take people to and from congested downtowns, not cross town. For those routes, you need a car, or a taxi.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          Honestly? You kind of don’t matter. This is not to say I don’t value as a person and a fine person you are but in these discussions your remote small/medium town in Kansas/Iowa/insert empty state here is really inconsequential to the problem, it’s an anti-inertia cop out that we collectively partake in. The biggest 30 cities should be priority in the short and medium term along with a giant bullet train system that networks our country. Then we should use that network to spider out to the big empty middle.

          Besides that, most public transit still suffers from being a secondary system networked over an existing private transit system. The new cities in Asia (well mostly China and S. Korea) use a much better system because they design public transit as the primary system.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            In this country, that bullet train system between large cities won’t be competing primarily with cars and/or buses, but airlines. You have to consider that competition, as well.

      • 0 avatar
        lightbulb

        Well I live near Danvers and work in Somerville. Which by car takes 35mins without traffic, with traffic maybe an hour. It would take 1:50 hours to take public transit to work that includes, trains and buses. There are too many connections to make. It just not worth my time. Boston MTA is good if you live in Boston/Cambridge etc and need to get around, it gets worse the further one lives from the city.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Thats good to hear about Boston. My brother is moving there and he is a complete public-transportation junkie, he doesn’t want to own a car, loves to bike or walk when possible, and I am sure as much as he wants to, he will not be able to afford a place in the city to his liking. We were just discussing crappy suburban commuting, so he will be happy to know he can avoid the driving. Interestingly though, he will be getting a company car, so I wonder if they will expect him to have that car at the office daily?

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          I grew up in and around Boston and he’s going to love it .

          my close friend still lives there in Dorchester just off Dot Ave. and he doesn’t own a car , his wife has one for her commute and their weekly shopping etc.

          To me it’s madness , how the hell to get to Maine for the weekend etc. but whatever floats yer boat .

          -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            He does own a car, sort of… a Prius :), now with the company car he will have two cars but probably not drive whenever possible.

            I haven’t been there in decades but it always seemed like a nice city, nice place to live, etc. But its so expensive and so freakin’ cold I couldn’t deal with it.

  • avatar
    racer193

    Think of driving and smoking (both of which I do enjoy) as population control. Also if anything that could kill us where outlawed what would happen when the planet became to overpopulated?

  • avatar
    steamcorners

    I imagine it isn’t the same for everyone here..but overlaid on the “automotive warning label”, I’m getting an advert to shop for a new Dodge Dart…

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    I want a car helmet with Patrick from Sponge Bob on it!

  • avatar
    aristurtle

    >>”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…”

    We motorcyclists have been saying this for years!

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    As self-loathing as America has become, Chwis’ viewpoint could probably pull a majority here.

    But then there’s China. If he went there and publicly agitated, the chengguan would just beat him to death.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Having a kid is infinitely worse for the environment than driving, and eating meat is roughly on par. Until the greens have the balls to ostracize pregnant women for destroying the earth (or at least making it a horrible place to live, the rock will be here for a long time) they cannot say anything about car drivers, who are trivial in the grand scheme of things.

    “The summed emissions of a person’s descendants, weighted by their relatedness to him, may far exceed the lifetime emissions produced by the original parent. Under current conditions in the United States, for example, each child adds about 9441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of an average female, which is 5.7 times her lifetime emissions.”

    http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/overpopulation/pdfs/OSUCarbonStudy.pdf

    If a vegan with a vasectomy, but also a Dodge Ram SRT-10 used on a long commute, exists, that person has so much green credibility because of the former life choices that they can go into any environmental organization and take a dump in the hallway, despite the latter. If someone complains say you didn’t want to waste water by flushing.

    Cars fundamentally provide utility, while nicotine is a just a highly addictive low quality stress/ADD medication with significantly better alternatives. Car drivers may increasingly be seen as “evil”, but not as “stupid”, like smokers (sorry). Or, to clarify, if a poor person spends a significant portion of their money on cars then they may be seen as stupid, but that would also be true of clothes or any other consumptive spending. A rich person spending a trivial part of their money on cars will never been seen as stupid, while that is not true of a rich person spending a trivial part of their money on cigarettes. The stigma of “stupid” is much stronger than the stigma of “evil”, so cars will never have the stigma of cigarettes.

    By the way, the most unhealthy modern exhaust by far is diesel, so if people are worried about exhaust causing cancer maybe they need to reconsider the diesel push.

    http://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/jun/12/diesel-fumes-cause-cancer-who

    • 0 avatar
      18726543

      Thank you! I’ve been a fan of this kid argument for years!

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      You had me with the “kid” argument but not the “evil/stupid”. I have a lot of trouble with the “my vice isn’t as bad as your vice” argument. So if you die in a car wreak when you could have taken the bus… Ok, you’re a dead genius, (lights a cigarette, walks away)

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        I used to smoke, so this isn’t coming from a snotty person that never smoked. The evil/stupid dichotomy is not something I’m arguing for as something that should exist. But it is something that I argue does exist in society, based on my observations. Concern that people would think I looked “stupid” kept me from lighting up when I was quitting, but I never get in my car, and then don’t drive, because I am worried someone will think I look “evil”. So I argue that the “stupid” stigma is more effective.

      • 0 avatar
        WildcatMatt

        Reminds me of that old joke:

        “If Einstein was so smart, how come he’s dead?”

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      +infinity

      Don’t intentionally breed, save the world. There will be enough rugrats born accidentally to keep the species around. Plus then you will have the money to drive some really cool cars. My best friend spent more in diapers in the past year or so than my Range Rover cost me!

      On the other hand, it always amuses me to picture the do-gooders of the world holding bake sales to save the T-rex when he was going extinct. The Earth will go on no matter what we do to it, any contribution humanity can possibly make is wholly irrelevant in comparison to the past or inevitable future asteroid impacts. Our time here has been and will be a geographic blink of an eye, so we might as well live it up.

      • 0 avatar
        BobinPgh

        Wouldn’t you rather spend money on cool cars than on Pampers? The markup on those is incredible. Also, you will never have a minivan in the driveway ever. Unless you are Thomas Kreutzer, who seems to like to spend money on minivans and Pampers with all of his kids he brings up all the time in every story he does.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          Condoms are way cheaper than diapers, that’s something to live by.

          • 0 avatar
            BobinPgh

            But then what would Thomas write about? His articles would be much shorter without any reference to his kids, kids, kids, (and even he uses that expression I came up with). So Tom, how much do you spend on Pampers, helping to keep Proctor and Gamble in business?

            Oh, and when you were in the Merchant Marines, did you ever wonder how many of those containers were full of Playskool and Little Tykes kindercrap? Have you seen the Pacific ocean gyre of plastic?

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      It’s tough for me to take that argument seriously when you’re living so well by borrowing from the assumed earnings of future generations.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        The first Social Security recipient paid $18 into the system and her first check was for $22. She lived to be 90 and collected over $100,000. My future earnings were taxed to pay for my parents’ generation’s retirement. Those future generations are just gonna have to tighten their belts and wait their turn.

  • avatar
    jz78817

    I really get tired of mental adolescents like Bruntlett. Every 14-year-old on the planet has gone through that phase where they feel like they’re the first person to think of something, or that “(monumental task) would be easy if someone would just do it!”

    Ask them to lift a finger to actually effect change, however, and prepare to be deafened by the chirping crickets.

    I’ve heard your opinion. repeatedly screaming it into my ear isn’t going to make me agree with you. Get off your ass and actually DO something. Preferably without blowing things up like those retards who were torching Hummers to “protest” their environmental impact, apparently blind to the clouds of black smoke they had caused.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    “But if smokes were only as bad for me as coffee, I would still light up, social pressures be dammed.”

    Oh, hell yes. *sighs* Espresso and a Camel straight. Breakfast.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I smoke while driving my car… I’m a pig

  • avatar
    WheelMcCoy

    Just yesterday, my subway commute in NYC was horribly crowded. A woman standing behind had 2 shoulder bags, one of which was poking me in my back. Packed like sardines, strangers were breathing on top of my head (I’m 5′ 5″). Normally, this is just bearable because at the next stop, there is sufficient turnover for me to find a better space. But that morning, the subway was crawling. I was stuck.

    Oh, to be in a glass and steel bubble, even stuck in traffic.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    What is impressive about the professed “bicyclists” is that they manage to be selfish, anti-social, unhealthy, and destructive, and to avoid all logic and reasoning, without even needing cars.

    Here is the end result of bicyclists thinking they are too good for traffic signals: http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Bicyclist-sentenced-for-fatal-S-F-crash-4736312.php

    The bicyclist, in true professed “bicyclist” form, killed a pedestrian because he was “way too committed to stop”. Unfortunately he just got probation and community service, no jail.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      Hell, that kind of Capital-C “Cyclist” pisses me off when I’m on my bike. I was riding on Hines Drive last year, and as a bunch of us got going after a red light this idiot next to me nearly bowled me over as he weaved 10 feet left and right trying to re-attach his pedal clips. I wanted to kick the motherf**ker off of his bike.

      • 0 avatar
        18726543

        That is not a description of a Capital-C “Cyclist”. That is a description of a guy who just graduated from the world of toe-clips. A Capital-C “Cyclist” should be able to track-stand through a red light cycle. I’m not claiming to be a Capital-C “Cyclist”. I do all my riding in the dirt because it’s FUN, and I can track-stand for the better part of an afternoon if need be (bike trials FTW)

        • 0 avatar
          jz78817

          I don’t think I was clear… when I use the term “Capital-(letter)” something, I’m referring to the extremist jerks. e.g. how there are atheists who don’t believe in any god but just go about their business and (capital-A) Atheists who have to make sure everyone within earshot knows what they think of religion.

          a pro- or hardcore cyclist isn’t automatically a Cyclist. The Critical Mass twats are.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      They cheat too

    • 0 avatar
      Hillman

      Well in fairness to the bicyclist, the victims family did not want the guy to jail. If the victim’s family was happy with the outcome then I don’t know how we can complain.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        The criminal justice system is fundamentally to serve society by creating deterrence and keeping dangerous people off the street. Society, not the victims, pays for the prosecutors. The civil system is to address the specific needs of victims. The prison industrial complex and drug war are a disgrace. And it is insane that the US imprisons more people in absolute and percentage terms than any other country on earth. But this is a guy who killed a guy.

      • 0 avatar
        michal1980

        We dont let victims family determine the punishment. Otherwise we’d have alot of ‘eye for an eye’ type of punishments.

    • 0 avatar
      ringomon

      I’ll wait for you to link to the thousands of stories of drivers killing pedestrians that didn’t get jail time.

      I’m sympathetic as a car driver, but I call out huge logical inconsistencies when I see them.

      • 0 avatar
        ringomon

        Well in fairness stories might be hard to find, as pedestrian deaths at the hands of drivers are common enough that it’s barely news.

        • 0 avatar
          ringomon

          About drivers getting away with killing pedestrains in NYC:
          http://gothamist.com/2012/02/15/heres_why_drivers_get_away_with_mur.php

          Some choice quotes:

          ■241 pedestrians or cyclists were killed by drivers last year. Only 17 of the drivers responsible faced criminal charges.

          ■Asked how many criminal charges were filed against drivers in non-fatal accidents, the NYPD reps said they were not aware of any.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            Maybe that was because only 17 of the drivers were actually at fault. Just because a driver hits someone doesn’t mean that he or she is the one at fault. There are two sides to every story, and you’ve provided the bicyclists’ side. Let’s hear ALL of the story.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Instead of looking for those logical inconsistencies, it might help to learn the law covering this area. Just because a motorists hits someone with his or her car doesn’t mean that he or she should automatically go to jail.

        The pedestrian could be at fault for failing to yield to traffic signals or darting out in front of traffic. That happened to my friend – he hit a 10-year-old boy while driving down a residential street. He was not charged, however, because the boy had darted out in front of his car, and he could not stop (the boy was not seriously hurt).

        It might also help to read the original story, as it contained this information:

        “Bucchere sped through several stop signs before arriving at Castro and Market, and he rode into the intersection after the light turned red, prosecutors said.

        “After the accident, but before Hui died, Bucchere wrote a post on an online cycling forum saying he was ‘way too committed to stop’ before hitting Hui.

        “Bucchere dedicated the post to his ‘late helmet. She died in heroic fashion today as my head slammed into the tarmac.’”

        A motorist who did those things prior to hitting someone would have most likely gone to jail. Mr. Bucchere got off easy for this one. Maybe when he hit his head on the tarmac it slammed some common sense into it.

        • 0 avatar
          ringomon

          I’m in no way trying to clear the cyclists name, nowhere in my original comment did I try to. So your reply was a diversion. It’s pretty obvious from reading the article (which I was familiar with before this posting as it turned into national news) that he was responsible.

          The point is looking into the issue of pedestrian deaths at the hands of automobiles it immediately becomes clear that the way the bicyclists case was handled is only rare in that so few pedestrians die at the hands of bicyclists, and that there was a conclusive investigation. Deaths at the hands of drivers are often treated by authorities with general faith that the driver acted in good faith and that it was an unavoidable accident, without much further thought. (Which would have come across some if you read the article I linked or read some literature on it before replying to me).

          The original post is what’s known as cherry-picking, and it makes for a horrible argument for anyone that’s trying to be honest about an issue.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “A motorist who did those things prior to hitting someone would have most likely gone to jail.”

          No, that isn’t necessarily the case at all. One example:
          _______

          (M)ore often than not, the drivers responsible faced no serious consequences.

          Sixty percent of the 238 motorists found to be at fault or suspected of a crime faced no criminal charges during the five-year period, CIR found in its analysis of thousands of pages of police and court records from Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco counties.

          When drivers did face criminal charges, punishment often was light. Licenses rarely were taken away. Of those charged, less than 60 percent had their driving privileges suspended or revoked for even one day, an automatic penalty in drunk driving arrests.

          Forty percent of those convicted faced no more than a day in jail; 13 drivers were jailed for more than a year. By contrast, those charged in accidental shootings often serve lengthy jail terms, according to media reports.

          cironline.org/reports/bay-area-drivers-who-kill-pedestrians-rarely-face-punishment-analysis-finds-4420
          _______

          As a society, we accept that transportation is a risk — the lack of intent removes a common element of what we define to be criminal.

          At the same time, prosecutors want high conviction rates, which means that they fail to press charges when they feel that they can’t win.

          Juries are often sympathetic to drivers who harm pedestrians, since they themselves probably have more in common with the position of a driver than that of a pedestrian, which discourages prosecutions. If DA’s weren’t judged by their conviction rates, then we might see more trials, but the prosecutor will probably prioritize his career and take a pass.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            Here is information from the case highlighted in the article:

            “The driver who hit Molinaro told police she was traveling down two-lane Buchanan Road at around 35 mph, according to the coroner’s report. She said she did not see him in the crosswalk because the sun was in her eyes, a possibility given the time and location – and a common driver explanation in the files reviewed.”

            That’s a lot different than blowing through several red lights (as the bicyclist, Mr. Bucchere did) and nowhere did she admit that she was “way too committed to driving to stop.” There is also no indication that she was drunk, texting or talking on the cellphone.

            Juries can generally tell the difference between something that happens because of an accident and something that happens because of sheer recklessness. Yes, she was “at fault,” but I certainly wouldn’t send her to jail over what happened, and I’m betting that neither would most people.

            If the driver had been riding a bicycle instead of driving a car when she hit the pedestrian (with the same ultimate outcome), I’d say the same thing.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “That’s a lot different than blowing through several red lights”

            For the pedestrian, it makes no difference. The pedestrian is still dead.

            And if you read the article, you’ll note that even drivers under the influence can get a slap on the wrist or no punishment at all for killing someone. It’s easy to get away with manslaughter when you’re behind the wheel.

            Again, the takeaways -

            *Sixty percent of the 238 motorists found to be at fault or suspected of a crime faced no criminal charges during the five-year period

            *Of those charged, less than 60 percent had their driving privileges suspended or revoked for even one day

            *Forty percent of those convicted faced no more than a day in jail

            Those numbers all add up to drivers generally getting little to no punishment for what they’ve done. That’s five years of fatalities over a multi-county areas, not just one anecdote.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “way too committed to stop”

      So, a bikegasm, eh? Always wondered about those guys.

    • 0 avatar
      gessvt

      Case in point: not to pick on Boulder due to current events, but we were recently admonished by a cyclist to “go back to your car” after our group of parents and kids had the gall to cause him to slow down and move over…on a sidewalk.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    I’m going to hazard a guess that this tobacco prohibitionist here is also a marijuana advocate, but back on topic.

    These Coercive Utopians hate me having a car for the same reason they hate me owning an AR-15: that two tons of metal and plastic give me freedom, dignity and independence.

    Personal liberty is anathema to these people, because it interferes with their desire for a world firmly under their “enlightened” control. If I can get in my car and drive a thousand miles away, they can’t tell me what to do anywhere near as easy as if I had no wheels.

    What these “enlightened” types never seem to get is the fact that they’re always the first ones the thugs stuff into the Siberian Express.

    I’m just really sick of these people trying to sell the world slavery and misery in the name of trees, water and of course, The Children.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      “These Coercive Utopians hate me having a car for the same reason they hate me owning an AR-15: that two tons of metal and plastic give me freedom, dignity and independence.”

      I’m a bit worn out from the whole “hate freedom” meme. I disagree with what you say here. It’s not that these people “hate freedom,” it’s that they’re so self-centered and so convinced that their way is the ONE TRUE RIGHT WAY that it just doesn’t occur to them that they could be wrong about anything.

      our society promotes and rewards arrogance and narcissism.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        If they didn’t have a cause they’d have a religion, same attitude

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Hopefully you are not a part of this, because there is a growing libertarian faction. But it is funny, in a sick way, how many of the people that complain about their “freedom” are completely fine with the US imprisoning more people than any other country on earth, primarily because of laws, fought for by Nixon and Regan, making felons out of business people and consumers selling and consuming products.

        Last century one party stood for brutal social engineering with jail for those that do not comply, and it was the Republican party. We’ll see how far groups like Right on Crime can get in transforming the party.

        • 0 avatar
          morbo

          “Last century one party stood for brutal social engineering with jail for those that do not comply, and it was the Republican party”

          Damn the GOP with their Civil Wars and Reconstruction Carpetbagging and rights for Negroes.

          But seriously, what? I don’t recall the democrats rejecting PrisonCo. Industries donations. They’re both in bed.

          Not disagreeing with you on the idiocy of US prison policy, or the horrendous ROI we get by turning potheads into hardened criminals by sticking them in jail with murderers/rapists/bankers (oh wait, we don’t imprison real criminals, scratch the bankers) but it’s not GOP vs. Donkey. Their both tools of PrisonCo. Industries.

      • 0 avatar
        E46M3_333

        You’ve merely supplied the reason why these people hate freedom: they’re self-centered and convinced their way is the one true way.

      • 0 avatar
        ihatetrees

        +1 for your ONE TRUE RIGHT WAY point.

        Most people find much about DRIVING disagreeable. However, most people really want to go where they want, when they want. For them, public transport is horrifying.

        So cars are never going away. A future of self driving cars, shared cars, and smart road networks seems most likely.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      >> I’m going to hazard a guess that this tobacco prohibitionist here is also a marijuana advocate, but back on topic.

      Just wanted to point out cigarette companies have spiked their tobacco with up to 3 times the naturally occurring nicotine levels. At that level, freedom to smoke really isn’t a choice.

      Agree that coercive in-your-face utopians should be ignored. But I do like some utopian ideas and ideals and they should be treated as stars to steer by, not necessarily reach.

    • 0 avatar
      brenschluss

      “They hate our freedom” is perhaps the only counter-argument one could come up with that is at a lower intellectual level than “cars are evil.”

      They don’t want you to have an AR15 because they think it makes it too easy for you to kill people. They don’t want you to drive because they think it makes the air dirty and you might hit someone. They’re misguided, but it’s a two-way street.

    • 0 avatar
      Sutures

      “These Coercive Utopians hate me having a car for the same reason they hate me owning an AR-15: that two tons of metal and plastic give me freedom, dignity and independence.”

      Where did you find a two ton AR-15?

  • avatar
    David Walton

    Tremendous piece, and I’ve thought the same thing before.

    Another thought: How long before the Coca-Cola Polar Bears become as reviled as the Marlboro Man or Joe Camel?

    Protect your individual liberties steadfastly!

    • 0 avatar
      Hillman

      Some are trying to claim sugar is evil. The problem is society used to laugh at these idiots but now they are having a voice.
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/netherlands/10314705/Sugar-is-addictive-and-the-most-dangerous-drug-of-the-times.html

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Sugar is really unhealthy. That said, there are no second hand smoke issues, so the heath costs are completely internalized. In the short term sugar creates more healthcare costs (a financial externality), but in the long term it may pay off in terms of people living shorter lives, and therefore being less of a drain on social security, pensions and Medicare.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Sugar is like fat – it’s actually helpful in LIMITED quantities, and in certain varieties. It is also tasty – just like fat. Modern technology and increasing affluence have allowed people in this country to basically consume as much of it as they want. Given its pleasurable taste, the amount of sugar that most people want is “as much as possible.”

        THAT is the problem.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Honestly, I can’t trust a website that wants me to feel depressed about driving but turns around and flashes suggestive images of women at me, and has a category up top that leads to some NSFW material.

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    Do these self-righteous morons ever consider how many lives are saved every year by automobiles and the network of roads built to accommodate them? The road that allows the ambulance to get to your house in 5 minutes? The road that allows the doctor to get to the hospital quickly to perform emergency surgery?

  • avatar
    redav

    I greatly enjoy cycling, and would commute by bike if it was a safe option. I can see the negative effects of cars, but I see no need to force excessive limitations on them.

    For me, I would like to see a system where people genuinely have a choice about transportation–if they want to bike, take the train/bus/etc., drive, etc., the holistic system should enable it. The problem is that it seems in most places, only cars are enabled. I don’t agree with systems in places like Portland where they are dis-enabling the car where in some communities it isn’t even possible to drive to your home.

  • avatar
    raph

    Man, maybe I’ll live long enough to see this guy’s dream come true. I doubt it though.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    If so many people die each day, then maybe I need to buy an international CXT.
    I’ll trade out those thin sheet bumpers for 2 inch thick steel and attach 10 air bags to them.

  • avatar
    daviel

    I love smoking and driving, too. Usually at the same time. I’m from the era where if you did not smoke, YOU went outside, not the smokers. I quit 25 years ago. If they found out they were wrong about the health thing, I’d find my old Zippo lighter, get a pack of Marlboros and light up. I’ll never take public transportation anywhere. I gotta drive.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Not having a car may work in a larger city. I don’t live in a city, or town for that matter. It is a 2 1/2 mile walk to get a gallon of milk and 15 miles if you want to get actual groceries so thinking about walking to the store never enters my mind. I am sure our vacation up through door county would have been far more efficient if we had taken the bus. Sure. I am not sure a 2 hour bicycle ride to work will leave me smelling like roses either. I guess I could take a shower when I get to work, when I get home, after riding to the store. We have plenty of water, right?

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Well, I’m sure that Holy People like Chwis Bwuntlett don’t sweat… they merely exude the finest colognes.

    • 0 avatar
      afedaken

      I commute by bike as often as possible. In the cooler season that’s 4 times a week. That said, I work only 4 miles from my office so in a pinch I could walk to work.

      When I took this job, it was a $10,000 pay cut.

      It was also 90 minutes back into my day. And my fillups have gone from once every six days to once a month.

      Bills are a little tougher, but it’s been worth it. :-)

      I know it’s not always possible (or desirable) to move closer to work, or to find a job closer to home. But there are benefits.

      I like driving a lot more now that I don’t HAVE to do it. I also arrive at work and home more energetic and in a better mood. Doesn’t matter how bad your day was… it’s hard to be mad after you’ve done some time on the bike. :-)

      @Redav – I’m lucky enough to have a shower available at my place of work. (Hurray hospital!) But I was pleasantly surprised to learn thay there are now neat little wipes (think industrial sized wet naps) that do a pretty good job of keeping the sweat off.

      Some of the bike commuters I speak with just keep their speed down to avoid sweating. (Not hard to do when it’s cooler out.) I can see the advantage of this; but I *LIKE* the cardio, and I like the (illusion) of speed, so I keep up the pace and enjoy the sweat.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “I don’t dislike Chris Bruntlett”

    I don’t dislike him, either. But he sounds like a wanker.

    People have devoted millennia to finding new ways to move themselves and their stuff over greater distances at higher rates of speed. A guy who operates a website should have access to Google, which would help him to figure that out.

    Transportation facilitates trade and interaction, and trade and interaction support progress, while the lack thereof hinders it. Transportation broadens our ability to access what the world has to offer, which is why humans have devoted such considerable efforts to speeding it up and democratizing it as much as possible.

    With only bicycles, our universes would be very small. For example, if you could only get food that was produced within a few mile radius of your home, then chances are good that you would have a poor diet and be subjected to the risk of a bad harvest, time and time again. While relying entirely on cars is a bad idea — they do have their limitations — getting rid of them entirely would be far, far worse.

    And when you move people faster, then some people are going to die. As a society, we need to accept that’s a reality, and just try to do what we can to reduce the fatality rate with the understanding that the laws of physics will prevent that rate from being zero.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Very well put.

    • 0 avatar

      One interesting fact that liberals like to cover up is that bicycles kill. I once followed a guy down Mt. Diablo, who decided to show me how it’s done and started speeding away. He was pulling a little trailer with his toddler, too. He succeeded to demonstrating that he’s much faster downhill than my car, because I was driving sensibly. What a hero. Halfway down the road I came upon the place where he took a corner a shade too hard, fell, and cracked his head despite wearing a helmet. Fortunately his kid was buckled into the trailer and was unharmed. I think I had an extremely fortunate escape by not trying to race that guy. If I followed him when he keeled over, he would’ve sued pants off me, not to mention an unfair criminal prosecution sure to follow too. As it was, he’s just a shining example of a bicyclist.

      We really ought to ban bicyclists at least from common use streets in our cities, as a sensible first step towards safety.

  • avatar

    I love this. I love it more than smoking Cuban cigars and eating McDonalds while orphaned toddlers massage my over-Botoxed scalp. Fantastic!

  • avatar
    Glenn Mercer

    I just want to throw in two facts here, as regards how horribly unsafe cars are. In recent years total vehicle miles traveled in the USA was more or less 3 trillion. In recent years total vehicle fatalities were more or less 35,000. Every traffic death is a bad thing, for sure. But if I just simply divide those two numbers, I get one fatality for every 85,000,000 miles. So… just how much better than a human driver would an autonomous vehicle have to be, to beat those numbers?

    Disclaimer: I am not against autonomous vehicles. I even think they are inevitable, and likely worthwhile. But I think the off-hand assertion that they will be “safer” — even if true — just needs to be put into perspective. Frankly, I think their GREATEST benefits will not be in safety, but in liberating those who cannot now drive themselves: the elderly or disabled who either can’t drive or who drive but shouldn’t be driving, instead now just telling their Camry to take them safely to the grocery store, at a nice placid 25 mph. I think many of us have relatives who we can imagine would benefit immensely from this. But most of the autonomous-car proponents are younger and active people who just don’t think about this aspect: they are focused on replacing their Google shuttle bus with a Google car that they can still sit in and do email while moving, without having to sit next to that coder from Google+ whom they really dislike! (grin)

    • 0 avatar
      daneli

      I had this dream, or maybe it was a nightmare: Technological progress (if you want to call it that) is going to accomplish what moralistic finger-waging can’t. The first step will be the proliferation of autonomous vehicles. The second step will the the development of secure networks to safely and efficiently coordinate these vehicles. When automobile accidents become as rare as plane crashes are now, then it is all over for the driver and car as we know them today. The steering wheel, accelerator and brake will become a tiny joystick with two buttons, tucked away in an emergency pod that doesn’t descend unless something catastrophic happens – like oxygen masks on airplanes. “Cars” – maybe they won’t be called that – will shed size and weight and become dramatically more fuel efficient, because accident survivability will no longer be an issue. If the network can reliably send an autonomous vehicle to my pickup point, then maybe car ownership itself will begin to seem quaint and unnecessary. We’ll buy our rides by the hour, or maybe purchase guaranteed transportation services through a yearly subscription. And when GoogleWheels sends a vehicle to your home for the trip to work, what you get will be customized for the purpose – no need for a multi-ton monstrosity with 12 cup holders when a single seat pod is all that is required. In our dotage, the Best and Brightest will try to explain to our grandchildren what they are missing – how fun and exciting and compelling cars were back then, but these stories won’t be much more interesting than stories about Bessie the Old Gray Mare . “Oh grandpa – I’ve seen pictures of that car you drove. What a death trap!”

  • avatar
    08Suzuki

    For all of Chris’ talk of cars causing disease, one of the unintended effects of public transportation that I have personally had to sit through is that public transportation, particularly on a very crowded bus, is an extremely efficient way to spread disease itself. Particularly the common cold.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    This is total BS, twisting of statistics to feed the panic machine.

    I telecommute as much as possible, that works awesome for me, others do not have that luxury. Not everyone can pick a job that is based in a residential area, and not everyone wants to live in a city.

    IMO, if people really want to cut down on wasteful driving, then the government should promote incentives for companies to offer more telecommuting options, and possible off hours work times too. I know for me, when I do have to go into the city, I have about a 90-min window where it is totally pointless to even try to drive in. I either have to get to work by 7am or 930am. Most people have to be at work between 8 and 9, so the traffic to get to that target time is horrendous, so I avoid it whenever possible. And I meet a lot of people from a lot of different industries, and there are many jobs that could be performed just as well remotely, but the bosses want to see the people working. Think of the money they could save not only in reducing driving but the savings from having so much less office space, less computer equipment, phone systems, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      “Think of the money they could save not only in reducing driving but the savings from having so much less office space, less computer equipment, phone systems, etc”

      A friend of mine used to be a road warrior, err “consultant”, for Price Waterhouse Coopers. He was on the road most of the time. As a result, his home office building was sized to accommodate only like 80% of their workers at one time. With people out on travel, sickness, emergencies, etc, they figured you never needed the infrastructure to support 100% of your employees.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        I used to work for PWC too, same deal. But my organization had capacity for probably 300% of the workforce, to accommodate traveling workers, etc. Back in the day they wasted money like crazy.

        A few of my friends work as consultants for HP, Cisco, etc. They have no local office, they work from home 100% of the time. When they are not at a client site they are training or whatever. Maybe once a month the company pays to send them to whatever corporate office they have to go to meetings at, usually fly or drive.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    I’ve often felt that if people who only want a car to get them from point A to point B would just take the bus people like me could have a lot more fun on the roads, but that only works if I can get them to keep helping pay for the roads.

    More seriously, can you imagine a Hurricane evacuation limited to mass transit that was designed to efficiently meet the usual loads? EMT’s on a bus? No UPS etc.? Most driving is irrational and performs tasks that could be done more efficiently by mass transit. That doesn’t make the other driving unnecessary.

  • avatar
    Marko

    Bruntlett’s article reads like a National Enquirer reject…

  • avatar
    old fart

    What should we do take public transportation or a bike ? Well how do I get all my groceries home , how about a bus ? Lets see the bus does not go to my store so I would have to walk a long way with all those bags and maybe steal a shopping cart each time and leave it at the bus stop and when the bus gets me close to home I’ll have to hope someone else left their cart there to get me home , but in the winter I’m screwed . Well a bike is enviro-mental (intended) for the same reasons, and I’m over 50 with a disability so how do I visit my sister 20 miles away . In the future just make soylent green with all the old folks that will solve it .

  • avatar
    ajla

    “This used to be a pristine Canadian wilderness”

    But of course, the city of Vancouver simply sprung from the ground.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      We weren’t really using it, so why not? After we’re done extracting it’s sweet juices, it’ll return to being wilderness. I don’t really see a problem here. Better a few holes dug out there than the windmills they’re putting up within a mile of my place.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “self-professed bike-geek Bruntlett calls driving “selfish, anti-social, unhealthy, and destructive.”

    He loses all credibility with being a self-professed bike geek, he’s quite lucky to not be jumped by the rest of us after school.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    By virtue of our broken urban planning (even in bigger cities that should be suited to walking, biking, and transit), driving will never be seen as evil as smoking, as it’s far too necessary. I imagine in time though, driving will finally get too slow and expensive that people will finally support putting more money into alternative solutions (who are we kidding, they’ll hitch it wasn’t done 25 years earlier, when they voted against it).

    That said, even though I’ve never smoked, I’m pretty sure I fan relate to a 30-year, pack a day smoker. I no longer drive because I want to – it’s a depressing, costly slog – but I’m obligated.

  • avatar
    MBella

    Cars are only inefficient if time has no value to you. If it does, the car is pretty nice. Not everyone can afford to live and work near public transport.

  • avatar
    replica

    I can’t imagine the even higher cost of urban living if we didn’t have as many cars. As more urban real estate becomes even more desirable, due to limiting cars/roads etc, I’d rather just make a car payment and maintenance.


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