cars: a road to ruin
October, 1995 (as amended)

I hate cars. They are smelly, noisy, dirty and dangerous, ugly, anonymous, and expensive. They are environmentally, personally and socially toxic. Itís a fact: cars are unsustainable. If we somehow survive being choked (by the pollution) and drowning (from the greenhouse effect), the oil is going to run out anyway - indeed, it's running out already.

I am car-less and happy (I'm also sometimes wet, tired and without a ride after midnight, or on Sundays and Public Holidays). I'm happy I am doing something for the environment, and adding my number to the public transport statistics. Public transport won't improve if it's not used.

I have lived without a car or a drivers license since 1989. During this time, I have certainly had cause to appreciate the convenience and independence cars can afford, but I question the enthusiasm with which they are utilised. Given their drawbacks, it might be wise to find alternatives.

Any claims of greater convenience and independence afforded by cars are short-sighted and fail to recognise the unfortunate long-term consequences of driving. The freedom has a price. People say "you'll wonder what you did without it" (after espousing autophilic rhetoric) .. what they mean is "I've become dependent on my car, cool huh". Then, they blow $500 on new this and new that, plus licensing, registration, insurance, and fuel.

Sucked in!

Think about the money saved by not owning a car. Freedom of movement is increased at substantial financial expense. Why do it?

Of course, while doing it with a car, poor, pawn-like drivers get real lonely. Traveling by car is a lonely thing. Time is usually spent roaming alone, rarely taking the time to get to know anyone, because they'll pass by, faces in a crowd. Mobility is anonymity, and isolation. In this way, cars drive people apart.

Car manufacturers have sensed this loneliness, this growing inability to communicate, and have, for the comfort and peace of mind of their customers, installed horns. Unfortunately, the horn is only capable of a monotone.. so drivers drive around expressing themselves somewhat staccato-like. Sooner or later they'll start using Morse Code.

Meanwhile, intelligent city planners are busy putting cycleways near freeways and refurbishing roads in cafe districts (when eating and exercising, fumes hit the spot every time).

Pollution from cars is made worse by periods of high UV. This is because it is the combination of UV and pollution that causes photochemical smog to form. Smog in turn is linked to many respiratory problems including asthma.

People using cars die and are injured whilst attempting to ignore the fact that human bodies were not designed to travel at velocity in what is little more than a sardine can.

Of course, the whole time, humble pedestrians and cyclists are politely dodging the ugly, people-unfriendly road networks that are draped over the landscape like giant, tarred snail trails.

Consider the volume of space, in terms of surface area and air above, rendered unusable by roads. In the central business district, that's prime land, worth many millions indeed.

Yet, angered by the unfairness, and encouraged by facelessness of it all, short-sighted, selfish, socially inept, polluting and poor pawn-like drivers seem to have decided that they own the space that cars drive on. That'll show 'em!

Pawn-like driver (factually): "After I run you down, I'll poison your family."

That "license" you're buying is really a cute way for the police to get into your life. You supply them with stack of ID and they record all of it. Then, they datamatch you with other law enforcement agencies, scan their global database for "terrorist profiles", and accuse you with your own privates. Neat, huh! Did horses have licence plates? Did you have to register a horse before riding it? Cars are slavery.

And what of the new "eco-friendly" vehicles that run on.. irrelevant. In environmental terms, those cars are all hideously expensive to produce, and offer few, if any solutions to the issues posed on this page. For a start, they are mostly made of plastic. Here's a fact. Plastic is made from oil.... And guess what is gonna run out? The oil is going to run out. What are they going to make their "eco-friendly" cars out of then? How will they make computers then? Who knows - why don't we just burn up all the oil and find out?

I don't accept any of it. Nature was here first, pedestrians next and community right after that. Convenience is a shallow and ultimately selfish reason to support a dangerous, expensive, unsustainable technology that fouls the environment, is damaging to health, and undermines society.

With a little planning, a little tolerance, the use of cars can be minimised, and perhaps avoided entirely. Cycle or walk instead, and get some exercise too. Think of the journey as part of the adventure. Or catch public transport. Enjoy the ride!