its the mobility stupid

I’m in tears. Back in 1972, Stewart Udall, interior secretary in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, proposed that the auto companies branch out into “exciting new variants of ground transportation” to produce minibuses, “people movers,” urban mass transit and high-speed intercity trains. Instead of expanding the Interstate highway system, he suggested that the road construction industry take on “huge new programs to construct mass transit systems.” And he called for building “more compact, sensitively planned communities” rather than continuing urban sprawl.” We all know what happened. Detroit, today desperately seeking a miracle, worked hard to ensure that this would never happen. Even today, while screaming and begging for tax dollars, Detroit is lobbying against California’s stricter emissions laws that dictate smaller cars. Here’s the thing: people don’t want cars, we want mobility. And the reason I’m in tears is that lots of people saw this, almost FIFTY years ago.

There are purposes for which we do want a car, but most of our transportation needs can be solved with clearer thinking, and applied solutions that have a vastly improved energy impact. The “many cars in every household” mindset has created a non-viable industry, and a non-viable attitude to transportation. Robert Goodman, professor of environmental design at Hamsphire College, writes about this in today’s NYTimes. I could hug the man. He asks that the “Obama administration should ask the companies, as a condition of financial assistance, to begin shifting from being just automakers to becoming innovative ‘transportmakers.'” Because that’s what we need. It’s all about the mobility, stupid – not about having three cars in each garage.

The coming years will see an incredible revolution in transportation – and when we get through our fixed view of what we thought was right, and emerge into what’s possible, we’ll find ourselves smiling from ear to ear at what fun it has become to move around in the world. (But before that happens, the industry behemoths have some concessions to make – their thinking has been all wrong, from at least 1972 onwards.)

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  • Volvo Volvo on Nov 17, 2008

    Who is this Geeber and why is he so reasonable?

  • Geeber Geeber on Nov 17, 2008

    Volvo, Thank you. People need to realize that just because others make choices or have preferences that they may not agree with or don't even like, it doesn't mean that said people are "stupid" or "manipulated by evil (insert the villan du jour here)." We've been going to hell in a handbasket since I was a kid in the early 1970s, and people have been predicting the "death of the car" since about the late 1950s. I picked the wrong career - as a professional doomster, I could have simply dusted off the old arguments, updated them for curent events, and received plenty of time on CNN. Which would have enabled me to afford a bigger house, lots of first-class travel to interesting places and maybe even a luxury-sport sedan, all while I extolled the virtues of green, urban living.

  • Garrett The only way to send a message is to pull out of the transaction when the fee is disclosed unless the dealer pays for it...or just walk out regardless.If this happens enough, eventually someone will get the message.
  • Sgeffe I pay for the Remote and Security HondaLink stuff (remote functions from a phone app; accident notification, etc.), at roughly $200/yr. That’s value-added stuff. (A nice addition is that I can enable the crash-notification on ANY Honda vehicle to which I pair my phone if I wish, as long as the vehicle supports it.) I can cancel this stuff at any time, though! It looks like you CAN’T with Mary’s Folly!Typical GM! 🙄
  • Jkross22 Just another reason to pick something other than a GM product. They'll be back at the government trough soon enough.
  • Corey Lewis I don't know a single GM owner who pays for OnStar. None.
  • Sgeffe Why, when we do edit a Comment or reply to one, can’t we insert a line break??!!