Since the crash that killed this author’s friend in 1995, approximately 1 million more Americans have been killed in car crashes. This carnage has been normalized in the US, and “governments have prioritized motorists’ convenience over other goals, including the lives of people who aren’t driving”. If you ride a bike have you ever been accused that you don’t belong on the road because drivers pay gas taxes? Speaking of taxes, buyers of expensive new electric or hybrid cars get great tax breaks:
“Those who walk or bike to work receive no commuter tax benefit, while those who drive receive tax-deductible parking. Another provision of the tax code gives car buyers a tax rebate of up to $7,500 when their new vehicles are electric or hybrid; buyers of brand-new Audis, BMWs, and Jaguars can claim the full $7,500 from the American taxpayer. Environmentally, these vehicles offer an improvement over gas-powered cars (but not public or active transit). Even so, 85 to 90 percent of toxic vehicle emissions in traffic come from tire wear and other non-tailpipe sources, which electric and hybrid cars still produce. They also still contribute to traffic, and can still kill or maim the people they hit. Why are we taxing bus riders to pay rich people to buy McMansions and luxury electric SUVs?
The automobile took over because the legal system helped squeeze out the alternatives.
Gregory H. Shill, Law professor
In America, the freedom of movement comes with an asterisk: the obligation to drive. This truism has been echoed by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has pronounced car ownership a “virtual necessity.” The Court’s pronouncement is telling. Yes, in a sense, America is car-dependent by choice—but it is also car-dependent by law.
Patients in any American hospital might be ill as a result of air pollution, suffering from lung issues or asthma. In the orthopedic department, patients are being treated for injuries due to car crashes, or suffering from neck, back, hip and knee issues after a lifetime of inactivity. Diabetes, hypertension, and diseases related to obesity are directly related to sedentary lifestyleas people travel in cars rather than walking or riding bikes. Cars not only make us sick, they also destroy community. The amazing variety of ways in which cars have ruined our lives is striking, and yet we have accepted it – because we’ve been duped by the industry into thinking that we can’t livewithout cars. “Yes, the car is still useful – for a few people it’s essential. It would make a good servant. But it has become our master, and it spoils everything it touches. It now presents us with a series of emergencies that demand an emergency response.”
Cars are killing us. Within 10 years, we must phase them out
Driving is ruining our lives, and triggering environmental disasters. Only drastic action will kick our dependency
‘Transport should be planned. This means a wholesale switch to safe and separate bike lanes.’ Photograph: Tim Ireland/PA
Pollution now kills three times as many people worldwide as Aids, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Remember the claims at the start of this century, projected so noisily by the billionaire press: that public money would be better spent on preventing communicable disease than on preventing climate breakdown? It turns out that the health dividend from phasing out fossil fuels is likely to have been much bigger. (Of course, there was nothing stopping us from spendingmoney on both: it was a false dilemma.) Burning fossil fuels, according to a recent paper, is now “the world’s most significant threat to children’s health”.