Comment 29292

By schmadrian (registered) | Posted March 04, 2009 at 06:58:22

In the end, beyond the environment, beyond the the ugly truth that the automobile is at the heart of the North American value system. And migrating people away from that, as I've often said, requires one of two things: either a crisis...or something 'sexier'. I won't belabour the point here, but it's vital to understand and appreciate how deeply embedded this attachment is to the car...especially when you consider that it is, essentially, a means to get from Point A to Point B (NOT an indicator of achievement or status), an evolution of the horse.

I don't own a car. But I am a driver, have been for 30+ years. Most of my trips are on foot...or by bus. This means I spend a lot of time observing. And as much as I'd love to see an entirely different paradigm exist, our world, our cities, our neighbourhoods have been designed around the automobile. When you combine this with the materialistic attachment (that is, to consumerism, as opposed to the experiential), you have a near-intractable situation. So much so that I'd place a ton of money on this bet: most people I see on the HSR, if they had the resources, would be driving to where they're going, not taking the bus.

Just as the answer to our obesity problem is not just a matter of getting people to eat less, or the answer to our crime problem is not just a matter of having more police, more jails, the solution to this conundrum isn't just a matter of making bus frequency or transit reliability better. Its solution lies in changing the value system itself. To wit: until the car is not the prime indicator of self-esteem, we're screwed. (And I need to point out that if we were suddenly able to produce Individual Transportation Vehicles that were no drain on the environment at all, or at least of the most negligible sort imaginable, we would be in no better state. But most people cannot fathom this paradigm's beyond their ken.)

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