Ads For Cars Are Like Ads For Cigarettes

Remember The Marlboro Man?

With 40,000 deaths by car last year in the US, “…it may be time to treat automobile companies like cigarette manufactures if they’re going to encourage this kind of reckless aggression.”

This BMW ad in Canada is no different from the multitude of ads in the US depicting cars as aggressive, powerful “beasts” on empty city streets, or zooming on winding, precipitous mountain roads. Ads show vehicles with dark, tinted windows, offering glimpses of a perfectly attired man or woman cocooned in the sound and climate-controlled, luxurious interior. Trucks and SUVs are most often shown off-road, with rugged, sporty owners off loading camping gear or surfboards, living the life.  Ads work – they’re aspirational, especially ads for luxury, life-style items, and automobile manufacturers are profiting on knowing that they can continue brainwashing the public as they have been doing since the 1920s. Can we stop the killing by working to break car culture the way we have been trying to break smoking culture (it won’t be easy…now it’s vaping)?

What would an honest car advertisement look like?

“Often violent films and video games are accused of influencing behaviour, but those are fictional portrayals. Advertising is different: it’s aspirational, showing us a lifestyle we should, ostensibly, be striving for with the help of whatever product is being sold…What this ad and others like it are suggesting is that driver aggression is normal and should even be encouraged. In Toronto and other cities we’re familiar with the unleashed beast though, and it’s a killer.”

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/11/02/what-would-an-honest-car-advertisement-look-like.html

Video: Amsterdam children fighting cars in 1972

Amsterdam wasn’t always bicycling heaven. Vehicles had been taking over city streets there just as they have been taking over streets in the US, but they did something about it…

This 1972 documentary video tells the story of a how the children in a neighborhood in Amsterdam fought for safe streets and a place to play with what we now call “tactical urbanism”.The area had become congested by vehicles. People, especially children were endangered. Does this 1972 neighborhood look like any American cities we are familiar with today?  Some US cities are taking steps to change from “car culture” , into cities for people of all ages , but not enough, and not fast enough. 40,000 people are killed in motor vehicle related crashes every year in the US!

The documentary video was discovered recently, and shortened to about 10 minutes with subtitles. Watch and share.

Image from the documentary from 1972. The streets are dominated by cars and there is not a tree in sight.

“This would be a perfect area for a trial with a maximum speed of 30km/h” (18mph) explains a traffic expert of the city of Amsterdam to a child in a film that was broadcast on Dutch national TV almost 42 years ago.

“The TV documentary was made for a progressive broadcasting corporation and shows the Amsterdam neighbourhood “De Pijp” which was about 100 years old at the time. The homes were run down and small. The streets were never built, nor fit for all the cars brought in by the 40,000 people living in the small area and its many visitors. This led to an overpopulated neighbourhood with a lot of dirt and filth and especially the children suffered. The documentary is one of a series and this particular episode looks at the situation from a child’s perspective.”

The same street as seen in Google Streetview is very different. The carriage way was narrowed. The homes renovated and the trees and bicycles make the area a lot friendlier.

More from:

Bicycle Dutch

 

And read about How Children Demanding Play Streets Changed Amsterdam

 

Automobile Supremacy

Does this sound familiar Asbury Park?

Dangerous behavior like failing to yield to pedestrians is almost never enforced. A Wisconsin study showing drivers only yielded to pedestrians 16 percent of the time, indicating that if cops wanted to, they could spend their time doing nothing else but writing failure-to-yield tickets.

A law professor lists a dozen ways that our legal system puts its thumb on the scale for drivers to the detriment of everyone else: transit users, cyclists and pedestrians.  We are dominated by car culture and until these laws are repealed we will suffer the consequences.

How Driving is Encouraged and Subsidized — By Law

By Angie Schmitt 

Driving is so hard-wired into American culture, life and institutions, that it’s hard to account for all the ways it is subsidized, preferenced or otherwise favored.

Read all 12 ways that drivers rule the road- walkers and bike riders are at the mercy of cars:

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2019/03/06/heres-how-driving-is-encouraged-and-subsidized-by-law/

Rutgers Report: How Does Crash Reporting Influence The Reader?

Neglecting to name a driver of a vehicle, or to describe an incident with details of negligence on the part of the victim perpetuates car culture, and the increasing numbers  of traffic injuries and deaths of the most vulnerable road users.

Language and Perception matters.  What are crash report articles really saying?

“Inclusion or exclusion of an agent affects perception of
blame. Sentences with agents make the actions of the
perpetrator clear and reduce victim blaming.”

EDITORIAL PATTERNS IN BICYCLIST AND PEDESTRIAN CRASH REPORTING

Kelcie Ralph | Rutgers
Evan Iacobucci | Rutgers
Calvin Thigpen | Lime
Tara Goddard | Texas A&M

“Around one fifth of the 37,000 annual traffic deaths in the United States are
bicyclists or pedestrians. Despite this figure, there is little public outcry about
these vulnerable road user (VRU) deaths. Media coverage has been shown to shape public perceptions in other fields, primarily by signaling which topics merit attention (agenda-setting) and by infuencing how those issues are
interpreted (framing). This study examines how local news outlets report car crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists.”

Read the report:

Editorial Patterns in Bicyclist and Pedestrian Crash Reporting

Copenhagen Wasn’t Always Bike Rider’s Paradise

Copenhagen’s bicycle-friendly streets are often used as a model for other cities around the world.

What most tourists, and even many Copenhageners, don’t realize is that the city wasn’t always this urban-mobility utopia.

Cars were seen as “vigorous symbols that the Depression of the 1930s and the darkness of World War II had lifted,” according to a history by Lotte Ruby on Denmark’s official website.

As more families could afford to buy cars, the city demolished cycling infrastructure it had built in the first half of the 20th century to make room for roads and parking. By the mid-1960s, thanks to a postwar economic boom, the roads were clogged with cars. But then a few things happened to bring about a road revolution: a growing number of people were killed in traffic accidents, there was vigorous opposition and protests against new road projects that would have cut through some of the city’s most beautiful areas and pollution was becoming a problem. Then, the oil crisis hit Denmark hard in 1973, prompting a new policy focus on energy independence and conservation, including car-free Sundays.

Read more…

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-drive/what-bicycle-friendly-copenhagen-can-teach-us-about-commuting/article34233541/

We Let The Automobile Take Over

These amazing news clips from the 20s and 30s tell a story of how the automobile took over, but not without pushback from citizens and lawmakers. The US has a long way to go to become a nation that is willing to change the car culture, but it can happen. Even Copenhagen wasn’t always the bicycling capital of the world.

THEY SAW IT COMING: The Car Was Always The Cause of All the Problems in Our City

As we start the new year, let’s take a look back at how everyone knew the automobile was a menace, yet somehow let it take over anyway.

By Ben Verde 

“The automobile has ruined our cities — choking our streets and making our communities less livable.

But Americans who care about cities saw it coming from the very first days of the Age of the Automobile. Residents wrote to their local newspapers, begging lawmakers to not capitulate to motorists or car makers as they sought to turn public streets into free parking lots. Reporters covered the rise of private ownership of cars as a scourge on our cities. Judges decried what too many people today think is normal: streets clogged by privately owned single-occupancy vehicles in the public right of way.”

See the news clippings:

https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2019/01/01/they-saw-it-coming-the-car-was-always-the-cause-of-all-the-problems-in-our-city/

America’s Ongoing Problem With Traffic Violence

The opiod epidemic grabs headlines and gun deaths have brought about calls for regulation.

The rate of traffic deaths has continued to rise but little is actually being done in the US to address the problem as a national health crisis.

America’s Car Culture is Literally Shortening Your Life: Study

The U.S. has been falling behind its peer nations on traffic safety and now life expectancy as well. There’s a connection. Graph: WHO

“So while the opioid addiction grabs headlines, cars have quietly remained a leading killer. In 2015, for example, the U.S. traffic fatality rate jumped 9 percent. And in 2016, it jumped again 5.6 percent, wiping out nearly a decade of improvements. It was the biggest two-year jump in 50 years.

Read more:

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2018/08/24/americas-car-culture-is-literally-shortening-your-life-study/