Angry Robot

Cartown Part 1

I have mixed feelings about cars, which really comes from my parents. My dad grew up in the midwest; when he was a teen he was a real gearhead and used to basically build cars from scratch. But he lived in NYC for ages and then downtown Toronto and was definitely fond of cities, bikes, walking etc. My mom grew up in Europe and her tastes for the different modalities of urban transport basically reflect that. When I was a kid we always had a car, but only one, and it was always an econobox, often used.

I grew up loving cars, being especially fond of identifying the different makes and models on the road. That was my go-to road trip game. In high school we all wanted them; we all had that traditional north american thing where the car is the symbol of adulthood, freedom, (social) mobility etc. We were jealous of the rich kids who got their own cars for their 16th birthdays. Yet maybe around university I stopped caring about them, and through a young adulthood of living in the city cores of Montreal and then Toronto it never seemed to make any sense to get one. I could have had a beater Dodge Colt hand-me-down from my folks in the mid-2000s and I tried it out for a bit and just got too many parking tickets and generally found it expensive and unneccessary. Not being much of a sportsman, I had come to rely on walking and biking for my exercise, and if I drove everywhere I’d have to either join a gym, take up a sport, do a shit ton of pushups at home, stop eating so many burgers, or get pretty fat? No thanks.

I think if you spend a lot of time in a car, you start to internalize the car’s point of view. The same is true of bikes, transit and walking. So over the years I developed a rather strong non-car perspective. Why was it ok that car “accidents” were the leading cause of death for young people? Why were street lights timed to cars and not pedestrians? Why did 150 people in a streetcar have to wait 1 minute for a single occupancy vehicle to turn left? Could the relationship between our relatively low gas taxes compared to Europe, our relatively high car dependence and our relatively high obesity be any clearer?

More tomorrow. Thrills, I know. But also, I promise this isn’t a car hater post (skip to 6:40 ish)…

Speed Racer 26  The Car Hater by clist007