Kill the Car

Via blogTO we have a great video about what most cyclists will eventually harbour in their minds. Is it too radical for I Bike T.O.? Is it not accommodating enough? Should we be prefacing this funny video in saying that we don't condone violence against person or property? Perhaps. Let the readers decide.


"Is it too radical for I Bike T.O.? Is it not accommodating enough? Should we be prefacing this funny video in saying that we don't condone violence against person or property?"

Mostly, no. I suppose we shouldn't condone violenece against people, despite the sick schadenfreude we all felt against the cyclist assaulted motorist last week. But why should I feel sorry about a few people's cars should they get scratched up, slashed up or blown up, when my concern for myself is getting home unmangled?

I'm a little long in the tooth to watch MTV, but they seem to be on the side of the angels with this sort of video, and their coverage of 'Bike Friday'.

What's this about prefacing or adding disclaimers? We're all grown-up's here. We can tell the difference between humour and a call to arms. So, I say we let adults be adults and decide for themselves.

The video doesn't really promote violence against people or property. It says 'kill the car,' a rather ambiguous and indistinct suggestion. Sure, it mentions ideas like sugar in the gas tank and car bombs, but the narrator only says 'maybe' they could be considered. It's pretty clear he's not serious. Killing the car can be achieved by abandoning it, after all or enacting laws that make it prohibitive to use the car as recklessly and recreationally as most folks currently do. 'Kill the Car' is really such a vague statement that it can be interpreted many different ways.

Either way, I really hope irresponsible use of the car dies, not the car least not the 'green' ones anyway.

"I really hope irresponsible use of the car dies, not the car least not the 'green' ones anyway."

The single-quotation marks are well placed, 'Enigmaniac'. However, besides the name being a fallacy, 'green' cars are just as likely to hit me as standard vehicles, just as likely to ruin the streetscape, just as likely to lead to resource wars, and just as likely to cause obesity and diabetes.

Kill the car!

I think the video is superb except the use of the couple killed by those two 'racers'. I am pretty sure that it was reported the couple was well blathered as they drove. If they were not killed themselves they could have possibly killed someone themselves. No way an excuse for what happened.

"The judge said he also couldn't ignore the fact that Rob Manchester had a blood alcohol limit double the legal limit at the time of the collision."

I also have a pet peeve. Cars have never killed anyone. They are both unthinking and unfeeling. It is the people that have car and control of them that do the killing and maiming.

The car isn't going to die or disappear. It may be replaced by vehicles that run on something other than fossil fuels (damn dinosaurs---this whole global warming thing is their fault! LOL), but it has become and integral and vital mode of transportation. Even if we had cars that did not negatively impact the environment, the problem would be the irresponsible and reckless use of cars. Far too many people cannot conceive of using any other mode of transportation---walking, riding, train or bus---no matter what the trip is. It must be done by car and any other consideration is completely absurd to them.

What I'd like to see---in my little fantasy world anyway---is a clean, green car that is capable of no more than 50 km/h operating on urban streets under electronic speed control that guarantees the vehicle will not exceed the speed limit for that road. And I'd like to see speed limits reduced dramatically as well. I'd like to see folks pause for a moment and decide the trip out to the grocery store is a 10 minute walk or a 2 minute drive, and elect to walk or ride their bike. I'd like to see them jump on a bus to go to work and only use their car when the situation demands it. I'd like to see a public transit system that is so expansive, there's no reason a person couldn't get from downtown to north Etobicoke, for instance, by bus or subway in a reasonable amount of time as opposed to right now where it's a 30 minute drive or more than two hours by bus. I'd like to see most folks shudder at using cars for frivolous, recreational or impractical trips and despise those that still use their cars that way. That's what I'd like to see.

My neighbours who own cottages in the Muskokas or Haliburton Highlands need their car to get to them. They've got kids and gear. How are they supposed to get there? Bicycle? My sister owns a farm near Warsaw Ontario, No buses or trains go there and it's too far for me to cycle there and back for a visit, especially when my wife is not a cycllist, so we rent a car. The car, as much damage as it does, as imperfect as it is, as dangerous and life threatening as it is, is necessary at least until a viable replacement is developed.

I hate cars and what they've done to society but it's a mistake to direct anger at drivers in general.
These are the "hearts and minds" we are trying to get on our side. Most cyclists are also drivers, we want to persuade them to take the car less often - or never.
By all means, make driving more socially unacceptable, build many more restrictions and make it fully pay for a century of damage.
But let's also set an example by having cyclists doing the right thing and acting responsibly.

The comments about car-necessity sound reasonable, but they simply aren't: private motorized transportation ruins cities through sprawl, ruins health through lack of exercise, ruins social-cohesion through isolation, ruins lives through 'accidents', and ruins the environment through extra infrastructure and fossil fuel use. Never mind the BS about hybrids, 'electric' cars, 'bio-fuels' or 'hydrogen' vehicles: the original power source in any of the technologies comes down to oil or nuclear.

"My neighbours who own cottages in the Muskokas or Haliburton Highlands need their car to get to them." I'm sorry to be a Trostkyist snot, but I don't care about your bourgeois concerns, bourgeois though I am. I use Autoshare for much the same, though I know I probably shouldn't. Anyone who owns "cottages in the Muskokas or Haliburton" shouldn't get to make de facto social and environmental policy for the other 90%, should they?

Aidan, I share most of your sentiments. I agree whole-heartedly with your concerns about the destruction, devastation and harm private cars inflict on cities. I am a loud and vocal advocate for fewer cars, believe me. Every effort to drastically reduce the number of cars on our roads---even radical ideas---is usually soundly endorsed by me. But, we still need to be realistic.

Those of us who live downtown are sometimes ignorant of the conditions in North York, Etobicoke and Scarborough where one must walk a long way before they find a bus, where buses are crowded and slow and where it can take an unusually long time getting around by public transportation. I know, I've lived at Don Mills & Steeles, Don Mills & Sheppard (long before the new subway line), Finch & Vic Park and Yonge & Steeles, among other areas up there. I still rode my bike primarily, but it was a treacherous undertaking sharing the road with cars travelling at 80+ km/h on 6 lane arterial roads. It's not like downtown where roads are narrower, traffic is usually slower and there's a streetcar, bus or subway within a five minute walk. Up there and out there, cars are practical. I hate it that they are, but that's the reality. There simply is no reasonable substitution.

If I could change it, I would. I'd reduce the number of lanes, install huge bike lanes on every road and along rail corridors, reduce the speed limit of arterial roads and tax car-owners at every opportunity. Ten bucks an hour to park at meters, Fifty bucks a day to park at any downtown parking lot---not including the regular fees, gas taxes, congestion taxes and everything else. But I'd also have to concede that they need a reasonable alternative: many more buses, subway or LRT routes, expansive bike facilities, etc. Since we aren't giving them that, what choice do many of those people have?

As for my bourgeois neighbours making de facto social and environmental policy for others, of course I don't think they should, but if they work hard and earn enough to buy property elsewhere, well, that's the privelege of a capitalist society, isn't it. Who am I to deny anyone the luxuries they can afford.

The difference is when their luxuries negatively impact everyone else. If my bourgeois neighbours use their cars to zip out to the corner store or the grocery store for a bag of milk and a loaf of bread or to hop along Bloor St. or St. Clair or College St. on their little errands, then they are behaving irresponsibly, inconsiderately and reprehensibly. They are not using their car in a socially responsible way, in my opinion, in spite of the car culture that has been ingrained in them. It's true that I never see some of my neighbours walk or bike anywhere and always use their cars. I condemn them for that. I don't condemn them for using their car when they are hauling a lot of groceries or transporting more than one person with gear, groceries or other sundry items. It's simply impractical for them to walk, particularly if they are aged or physically challenged, and carry heavy loads as many of my neighbours are.

That is why I said and reassert that effective, responsible and socially considerate use of the car must be promoted, that the car be regarded as only ONE option, not the only ONE option. Should they use hybrids or fully electric vehicles when they need a vehicle? Absolutely. Should they use our public transit system, their feet and their legs more often? Absolutely. But should they have the choice of using a car---when it is the best choice for certain trips? Absolutely.

As someone who lives in North York, I simply can not stay quiet about this idea that you can not function in the inner suburbs without a car.

I have lived in North York for 20 years, 12 years of which I have not owned a car. For 7 months of the year I get around exclusively by bicycle and the other 5 months I'm on the TTC. I'm still alive, I still get to do everything I want/need, grocery shop, home renovations, socialize, go to the movies, play hockey 2 to 4 times a week, you name it, it can be done without a car.

The reason more people aren't doing it here is simply because they don't want to. Or, if I'm in a generous mood, they don't know any better.

That, and the fact that downtown cyclists keep hogging all the cycling infrastructure money for downtown projects only.