Your Minivan Is Worse Than: A Horse

Not this kind of horse, despite how Ford might want you to think of it.

A horse like the kind you take on the Oregon trail…and die….of dysentery.

I could never make it past this stinkin’ river…

It’s outdated.  It’s something that perhaps made sense at some point in our history.  But, increasingly, it doesn’t anymore.

I’ve read comments from car-centric thinkers here and there lately maintaining that cars are the “best” mode of transportation (so those “choosing” to walk/bike/take transit should stop their bellyaching about how little of the transportation system works for us).  Even disregarding the health issues, the socioeconomic issues, looking purely at it as a tool, it’s not.

It’s merely the most catered-to.  Cars were marketed to us to go faster and farther.  Our entire road system is all about moving cars as fast as possible (which might be why you think it’s the “best”). When you get there, years of zoning standards have ensured a minimum number of parking spots in most cities so that you won’t have to worry about where to park–so much so that there are up to 8 spots per car in some areas of the US.

But it is failing: the car is cannibalizing itself.  The more of us on the road, the less fast and far we go. On average, a car commuter loses 38 hours per year stuck in traffic. Less than 10 percent of our car trips are longer than 2 miles anyway, which is a distance at which the car hardly has any advantage.

On the other hand,  in 25 years, there will be 9 billion people living in urban areas, so there’s not exactly room for them to each be in their own car.  We can’t outbuild it: over and over we see the pesky little phenomenon of induced demand, where the more roads we build, the more traffic we create.  So have fun cruising down the open road….

Your car is the way of the past–the king of the 100-year reign of the auto industry and the highway lobby.  But things are changing–and they are set to change a lot more.  Hold on if you want, but eventually you might start to look a little silly.

Ride on, cowboy….


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