London Daily

Focus on the big picture.

All the ways cars suck, according to the guy who wrote the book about it

All the ways cars suck, according to the guy who wrote the book about it

There was once a time when Americans didn't care about cars. Now, personal transportation has taken over, writes author Daniel Knowles.

It's hard to imagine a time when America, home to history's most famous car manufacturer and the world's first monster truck, almost rejected having cars in their cities over a century ago.

Daniel Knowles, author of "Carmageddon: How Cars Make Life Worse and What To Do About It," chronicled a period in the 1920s, when Americans were incensed by the ever-encroaching presence of cars on their streets — cars that were killing pedestrians and taking over the roads they traversed on by foot.

Demonstrations across the country ensued. One person even wrote to The New York Times, suggesting that pedestrians crossing their street should point their guns at anyone driving in self-defense, Knowles wrote.

Knowles, whose work cited historian Peter Norton's book "Fighting Traffic" for much of this chapter, told Insider that it was one of the most eye-opening facts about cars he learned when researching his new book.

"Cincinnati had a law that almost passed that would have forced every car to have an automatic speed limiter built into it," Knowles told Insider. "And this huge backlash against cars when they first arrived, I actually was really surprised through it. I think I had this idea that like, mobile phones or something, everyone sort of said, 'Oh, it's just a new invention, I guess I'll buy one' and then everybody else bought them."

Now, thanks to lobbying efforts by the automotive industry to move pedestrians off the roads and into cars, Americans view cars much differently, he said. Cars are a necessity and even a symbol of self-reliance and the American dream, Knowles wrote.

Knowles's book, however, argued that those early fighters of car culture may have been onto something.

Cars suck because they blow — chemicals and particulate matter, that is, Knowles wrote. They contribute heavily to the climate crisis. They isolate us from bustling cities, but we cling to the idea that they give us freedom. Now, cars are driving us toward our smog-filled doom, he wrote.

Knowles, who lives in Chicago and does not own a car, also wrote about the unequal distribution of harms by cars that affect people of color. Communities of color are more likely to be exposed to harmful air pollution, regardless of region or income. Car culture destabilized cities like Detroit by helping planners and local lawmakers implement laws that would build freeways in cities to accommodate white, suburban car owners, he added.

Despite this, Knowles wrote, cars persist. Data shows that they are infiltrating every nook and cranny of our limited space on Earth as car ownership grows all around the world. Between 2017 and 2021, the number of registered vehicles in the US rose by nearly 4%. In 2016, research found that globally, the number of cars in the world would double from 1 billion to 2 billion by 2040.

"Even in America today, I think the big challenge is political, and part of that problem is what people on the internet call 'car brain' — you know, the crowd of anti-car people who are big on like Reddit and that sort of thing, but… I think when you become completely dependent on your car, the idea of making driving somewhere something more expensive or more difficult, or in any way restricting, it feels like a sort of an assault."


How to ditch cars completely


The issues that cars present are some that policymakers are already privy to. Their solution is to go all in on electric vehicles.

In April, the Biden administration unveiled an investment plan to make electric vehicles more affordable for lower-income families. It's part of a larger goal to make 50% of vehicle sales electric by 2030 to fight off the worst impacts of climate change.

California has also unveiled a plan to make sure all new cars sold beyond 2035 are zero-emissions vehicles.

But, as many transportation experts have argued before, Knowles told Insider that he believes we need to ditch cars completely for public transport, both for human rights reasons and because of the massive environmental cost of maintaining so many vehicles on the road.

To change America's car culture, Knowles said that he thinks public transportation planners need to start focusing on accommodating people who could use it the most, such as lower-income families burdened by car costs, or women taking care of children.

"A study that the LA Metro had done found was it disproportionately mothers who had a part-time job, and some caring responsibilities, and found that transit just wasn't working for them," Knowles said, describing a 2019 study that found women who used public transport were burdened by worries such as safety and accessibility for them and their children. "And those are the people you need to be targeting."

Knowles also said policies that make it harder to drive and easier to use public transportation will help.

"So many American cities have been passing laws, changing parking requirements and changing zoning so that developers can build apartments and dense housing around public transport stops," Knowles said. "And so I think I'd be more optimistic."

Comments

Oh ya 1 year ago
Well all the green nutbars like Daniel Knowles can drop off their cars they hate so much at my house along with the title. Just doing my part to help the retarded out.

Newsletter

Related Articles

London Daily
0:00
0:00
Close
Britain’s Refugee Visa Rules Stranding Children in War Zones
UK Elections Predict ‘Electoral Extinction’ for PM Sunak’s Conservative Party
Italian Activist Ilaria Salis Returns Home After Election to European Parliament
Good morning!
England Faces Serbia in Euro Opener with Defensive Concerns
Dermatologist Warns Against Sunbed Usage
Fake Pro-Reform UK Social Accounts and Their Influence on Elections
UK Man Jailed for Non-Consensual Condom Removal
Reform UK Surpasses Conservatives in Historic Poll
US, Britain, Canada Accuse Russia of Interference in Moldova’s Election
Taylor Swift Fans Create Seismic Activity in Edinburgh
Sunak Aide Under Investigation for Election Bet
Labour Leader Starmer Focuses on Wealth Creation for Upcoming UK Elections
G7 to Use Frozen Russian Assets for $50 Billion Ukraine Aid
Anti-Israel Irish MEP Clare Daly LOST her seat in the EU Election
Johnson & Johnson Settles Talc Safety Claims for $700 Million
EU Urged to Welcome Skilled Russians to Weaken Putin
EU Elections Overview: Far-Right Gains and Major Political Shifts
Israel Rescues Four Hostages from Gaza
Emmanuel Macron Calls for Snap Election
Jordan Bardella: Young Far-Right Leader Poised for Future Political Influence in France
World's Oldest Privately Owned Book Auctioned for $3.8 Million
Animal Rights Activists Deface King Charles' Portrait in Protest
Dutch Military Intel Uncovers Extensive Chinese Cyber Espionage
Turkish Student Arrested for Using AI to Cheat in University Exam
Rise in Dengue and Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases in Europe Due to Climate Change
EU Elections Overview: Far-Right Gains and Major Political Shifts
Far-Right National Rally Dominates France's EU Vote
Macron Calls Snap Legislative Elections After Far-Right Victory
Far-Right Gains Significantly in EU Election
UK Job Market Shows Signs of Recovery
Orban’s Fidesz Party Wins Majority in Hungary’s EU Elections as New Challenger Emerges
Meloni's Far-Right Party Wins European Elections in Italy
Key Insights from the European Union Elections
European Union Elections and Rise of Far-Right Parties
England Loses Over 260,000 Social Rent Homes in a Decade
Campaigners Urge Government to Block Shein's FTSE Listing
First NHS AI-Run Physiotherapy Clinic Launches This Year
British TV Presenter Michael Mosley Found Dead on Greek Island
Ukrainian Forces Claims First Strike on Russia's Su-57 Fighter Jet
Macron Dissolves Parliament and Calls Snap Elections
Russia Adds Yulia Tymoshenko to Wanted List
UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron Tricked by Hoax Caller Posing as Former Ukrainian President
Kate Middleton's Absence from Colonel's Review Due to Chemotherapy
UK Foreign Secretary Deceived by Prank Video Call
Sunak Criticised Over D-Day Exit in BBC Debate
Rishi Sunak Apologizes for Leaving D-Day Commemoration Early
UK Woman Sentenced After Causing Fatal Crash While Sending Selfies
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen Assaulted in Central Copenhagen
UN to Add Israel to Human Rights Blacklist
×