Autocentrism: Isn’t it time to free ourselves from the chokehold of the car?


The underlined passage might as well refer directly to the colossal missed opportunity of New Albany’s Downtown Grid Modernization Project. What Jeff Gahan has chosen to do constitutes the barest of minimums to (a) achieve paving on someone else’s dime, and (b) declare victory.

$3 million (or more) later, we’ll have climbed painfully into the 1980s. Just imagine what might have been, because if you can imagine it, that’s considerably more than the suburban auto-centric mayor can conjure.

The car has a chokehold on Britain. It’s time to free ourselves, by George Monbiot (The Guardian)

Our insanely inefficient transport system is in thrall to the metal god. Electric vehicles are not the answer

We tell ourselves that we cherish efficiency. Yet we have created a transport system whose design principle is profligacy. Metal carriages (that increase in size every year), each carrying one or two people, travel in parallel to the same places. Lorries shifting identical goods in opposite directions pass each other on 2,000-mile journeys. Competing parcel companies ply the same routes, in largely empty vans. We could, perhaps, reduce our current vehicle movements by 90% with no loss of utility, and a major gain in our quality of life.

But to contest this peculiar form of insanity is, as I know to my cost, to be widely declared insane. Look at how advertising is dominated by car companies, and you begin to understand the drive to ensure that this counter-ergonomic system persists. Look at the lobbying power of the motor industry and its support in the media, and you see why successive plans to address pollution seemed designed to fail.

Suggest a neater system, and you will be shouted down by people insisting that they don’t want to live in a planned economy. But in this respect (and others) we do live in a planned economy. These days transport planners make a few concessions to cyclists, pedestrians and buses, but their overriding aim is still to maximise the flow of private vehicles. Rather than encouraging the more efficient use of existing infrastructure, they keep increasing the space into which inefficiency can expand …