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The dream of the car is over

I had always been obsessed with cars. To me, cars represented freedom, engineering excellence, modernity, technological brilliance, speed, fun and excitement. I still love cars but not like I used to…

Beautiful machines? Or deadly waste of time? Flickr/RMhowie

I had always been obsessed with cars. To me, cars represented freedom, engineering excellence, modernity, technological brilliance, speed, fun and excitement.

I still love cars but not like I used to. Now, I grieve for them. I grieve for what they promised me but cannot deliver. Why? Because these days, driving a car is sadly neither exciting nor liberating. More frequently it is mundane, unproductive and frustrating. Worse, it is deadly.

Accepting the dangers

Around the world, traffic injuries claim 1.2 million lives every year and injure up to 50 million more - and rising. We no longer accept death from food poisoning, medical procedures, infectious disease, assault, or workplace accidents. Trauma created by cars, however, remains largely tolerable.

In Australia, 20 people are still killed every week on public roads. If 20 people died in Australian cinemas every week, how many of us would go to the movies? Would we not demand a better system for watching films?

Private cars are rapidly gaining precedence in developing countries such as India, China, Indonesia and Vietnam. As these countries follow their developmental right-of-passage to the freeway, road trauma is projected to become the fifth greatest cause of death and disability worldwide by 2030.

The video below provides some truly shocking examples of accidents, which will leave you scratching your head as to how such a situation has possibly been allowed to occur.

In a cruel irony, numerous studies from across the world clearly show that as cars increasingly dominate, people inside cars become safer while people outside cars (generally the poorest, youngest, and most disadvantaged groups in society) face even greater risk. 27% of the world’s road fatalities are among cyclists and pedestrians killed or injured by someone driving a car.

So why do we keep pushing cars to the centre of transport policy?

Skewed reality

In Australia alone, the auto industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising each year convincing us that cars are fantastic. I agree that as individual pieces of machinery they certainly are. They are brilliant, shiny, beautiful machines, designed to move you incredibly quickly, in comfort, while impressing other people along the way. To function optimally, though, they rely on the presence of a perfect system - one that chiefly does not contain humans or other resemblance of reality either here or overseas.

Beyond never represented alongside deaths and injuries, consider some perhaps more benign examples apparently common to the thriving world of advertised cars but particularly uncommon to everyday life:

  • In the world of advertised cars, full car parks don’t exist. You never need to drive around the block five times or park 500 metres up the road, in the rain.

  • Advertised cars are never shown driving alongside melting glaciers or through freak storms. Despite this, cars produce around one-fifth of our entire greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Over half of non-work trips taken by drivers are to destinations that are less than 5 kilometres away. Advertised cars never exit the driveway only to drive two blocks to the shop when they could have more easily walked or ridden a bike.

  • Australians waste a lot of time in their cars. For example, the average Victorian drives 17km to and from work each day at an average speed of just 33km per hour. But ads never show an unproductive, boring, frustrating 60 minutes per day deleted from every working person’s life. There is nothing you can do in your car that you can’t do better or more effectively somewhere else.

  • Drivers of advertised cars rarely drive alone. If they do, it is only briefly before picking up a friend/date/rock band/entire sports team. The advertised car is a means of connecting with others – in reality there is an average of 1.2 people in your car at any time. You are alone.

Road to congestion

Simply too many cars Flickr/Burning Image

Another commonly used image we readily accept from advertised cars is one of a single car driving down wide, empty streets, unimpeded. It is the equivalent to driving in Perth, on a Tuesday night, at 2am, all the time. However, unless it actually is 2am and you are in Perth, this never happens.

As drivers, though, we consider regular, everyday congestion to be a source of frustration - almost ‘unfair’. Stuck in traffic, we crane our necks to see the dream presented to us by manufacturers; that our car is noble and good while the problem is the roads, the number of other cars, or all the other ‘bad’ drivers.

But our cars won’t be set free with one more bridge, one more lane, ring road or tunnel. It is no truer to say that a lack of roads is the cause of congestion as it is to say a lack of aspirin is the cause of a hangover.

The problem is not the roads, the problem is an abundance of cars. An abundance of cars facilitated by a transport system that continues to place the car at its core.

By accepting the skewed reality presented to us by the dream of the car we consign ourselves to placing ever more cars on our roads and ignoring more efficient and productive alternatives. In doing so, we willingly preside over a transport system that creates wholly predictable deaths, injuries, pollution, congestion and even ruins the once loved experience of driving, itself.

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87 Comments sorted by

  1. Mike Stasse

    logged in via Facebook

    The dream of the car is over alright........ It's only a matter of time before Peak Oil sees an end to the nonsense.

    Like you, I used to be a real car enthusiast, even restoring an old Triumph sports car in the 70's..... ah those were the days, you could even get away with drink driving if you were that way inclined, all you had to do was 'walk the line' without falling over! And you could buy petrol after hours using twenty cent coins...!

    Back then you could get in your car and drive to the Gold Coast for a coffee late at night and hardly see another car (let alone one with flashing lights).

    Today, driving is either boring or frustrating, and if you've greened up a bit, downright embarrassing.

    The sooner we run out of oil the better.......

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Very familiar with that material, Mike, but the point is that electric cars CAN be fueled from renewably generated electricity, but I've never heard of a genuine way to renewably generate oil (well, maybe algae might get there, but I'll wait and see) Besides, as I noted, the in-car batteries can become a positive component in a much smarter grid.

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    2. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      "The problem remains that without oil you can't even mine the resources needed to build the cars"....Ever, we can never ever ever ever use anything other than oil as our source energy

      This is just short sighted

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    3. Mike Stasse

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Is it? WHAT did we use before oil...? Just remind me.....

      Oh and before you berate me again, without oil you can't make solar panels, wind turbines, nuclear power stations, etc etc etc....

      with oil you can do ANYTHING....

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    4. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      "Oh and before you berate me again, without oil you can't make solar panels, wind turbines, nuclear power stations, etc etc etc...."

      No I totally agree, we can never ever ever find a replacement for oil, it is impossible it just can't be done our only option is to keep burning it and anyone who says differently is just a communists

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    5. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      All the more reason, I would have thought, to move as quickly as we can away from burning up profligate amounts of precious oil fueling private vehicles when there are alternatives - even if they're still expensive and less than perfectly developed - there being nothing like necessity to drive improvement!

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    6. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      "....I doubt electric cars will ever replace the good old days......"

      Ever is a very long time Mike.

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    7. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      No doubt we will be facing an ever more restrictive future when it comes to oils, greases and other lubricating type uses Mike but there have been synthetic oils developed now for a few decades and when we do start restricting our use of autos because of petroleum shortages and prices, there'll be lower grade oil supplies that are unsuitable for refining into fuel but will likely be fine for lubricants and other users.
      I expect we might also become much more recycling addicted and the huge quantities of oil that currently gets dumped wherever will be finding its way more and more to rejuvenation plants.

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    8. John Davidson

      Retired engineer

      In reply to Michael Shand

      The technology is already there to replace oil with renewable, low impact fuels. For example, we can make clean hydrogen using water and clean electricity. If we have clean hydrogen we can make clean ammonia. Liquid ammonia has been used in the past as a fuel for cars with only minor changes to the system used for using LPG.
      If you have clean hydrogen and CO2 you can make methanol and a wide range of fuels such as diesel and gasoline. You can also remove the need for fossil fuels as the basis for a wide range of petrochemicals. (For more see: http://pragmatusj.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/renewable-low-impact-fuels-game-changer.html ) Iceland is already exporting clean methanol to the Netherlands for blending with gasoline.
      It is more energy efficient to use clean power directly for transport. However, the fuels mentioned above can be used where this is not practical.

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    9. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Gas To Liquid, Underground Coal Gasification, Secondary Bio-Diesel.

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    10. Mike Stasse

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Davidson

      Hydrogen is not a fuel, it's an energy storage medium, and a poor one at that. Everything around us was built/made with very high (100:1 to 20:1) Energy Return on Energy Invested. We are already extracting oil with ERoEI of less than 10...... this isn't even enough to MAINTAIN existing infrastructure let alone build new stuff AS WELL...
      http://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/its-the-nett-energy-stupid/
      http://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/lookout/
      http://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/peak-fossilsuranium-in-2017/
      http://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/energy-products-return-on-investment-is-already-too-low/

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    11. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to John Davidson

      Totally agree, my comment was sarcastic and trying to highlight how ridiculous Mike Stasse's position is that there are no options other than fossil fuels and there never ever will be

      I am with you that this is a short sighted and small minded view of the world based on lack of information

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    12. Ashley Hooper

      Farm worker

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Yes, because every problem is soluble, right? That we will maintain Business As Usual is beyond reasonable doubt?

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    13. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Ashley Hooper

      "Yes, because every problem is soluble, right? " - yes, there is a solution to every problem, whether the solution is to fix the problem or adjust attitude's so that it is not a problem - still every problem is able to be solved.

      "That we will maintain Business As Usual is beyond reasonable doubt?" - Well....depends on your time frame, short term we will continue BAU, long term the sun is going to loose heat and we will all die

      I don't understand what your comment is about

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    14. John Doyle
      John Doyle is a Friend of The Conversation.

      architect

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Before everybody gets too hung up about solutions, remember this-
      Eric Severeid's "law"
      "The chief source of problems is solutions"

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    15. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to John Doyle

      "The chief source of problems is solutions" lol, that's 'deep' man, better not fix that gas leak then as it'll just cause more problems

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    16. Mike Stasse

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      I put it to you that it is YOU who is lacking information..... not that I'm surprised, my information is hardly spelled out all over the media, and I have left LOTS of links for you to read to inform yourself better...

      Have you even bothered...???

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    17. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to John Doyle

      Some have said that I'm joker, others know me better as a smoker but I prefer to call myself a midnight toker

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    18. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      I haven't bothered because your argument that there will never be a replacement for burning oil is asinine, starting with the word 'Never'

      We don't know what the future holds with any great deal of certainty and it is safe to dismiss anyone who does

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    19. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      There is a book published called "2052: A Global Forecast for the next forty years" which describes various models of what society at large may or may not do, it is a follow up to "The end of growth" which used similar models to predict what society at large may do in the next hundred years - a great deal of which has come to fruition.

      In this book, and there are others, they expect that it will be BAU until atleast 2020, at which point it be overwhelmingly obvious that we have a problem with…

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  2. Mike Swinbourne

    logged in via Facebook

    I'm going to agree with many of the things you have to say Jason, but also disagree. The problem is not with cars themselves, but how we use them.

    And I would like to suggest that much of the problem stems from people who use (or misuse) their cars when they should be using alternatives. Driving down to the corner shop or taking the kids a kilometre or so to school are, as you pointed out, clear examples of the misuse of vehicles, but the single person driving their car to work in the city during peak hour is probably a bigger problem. Use public transport for goodness sake!

    If we are able to get these 'misuses' off the road, it would free up our roads and provide part of the reduction in emissions that we must achieve to reduce the effects of climate change.

    And driving cars can still be liberating and fun - you just need to have the right care and use it in the right circumstances.

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    1. Jason Thompson

      Research Fellow, PhD Candidate at Monash University

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      At the risk of disagreeing with myself, Mike - I totally agree with you. I also have a motorbike, which I love riding - but it's only useful or fun under the right circumstances. Definitely not a sensible or enjoyable form of transport for an everyday commute.

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    2. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jason Thompson

      My Jeep Wrangler is a lot of fun as well! But I don't use it to commute - I catch the train.

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  3. John Newlands

    tree changer

    I think people know the happy motoring party will be over in a decade or two but they want reassurance. For example the latest Holden ad
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_dPjGpikrs
    says a 'fillup' for a Volt is a mere $2.50 other lesser cars $80. They don't say the Volt battery will take you just 40-80 km on electricity but some compact all petrol cars can go 1,000 km on that $80.

    The latest thinking seems to be the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle has to be made to work. So far the cheapest model (Hyundai) is talking $200k sticker price and filling stations cost $1m to build, Sure they can make hydrogen from wind and solar but that's also expensive. Somehow part time waiters in the outer suburbs will be able to afford these cars for their low paid evening shift work.

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    1. Kim Klaka

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Jason Thompson

      There seems to be a big chunk of argument missing. The arguments in th original article stated the obvious down sides to car ownership without explaining why people use them. When I use a car it is for one or more of the following reasons:
      1. I need to carry something big e.g shopping, sports equipment, which I can't carry easily on alternative transport
      2. I don't want to get wet when it is raining.
      3 .I need to get from A to B and there is no public transport (even in my capital city)
      4…

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    2. Jason Thompson

      Research Fellow, PhD Candidate at Monash University

      In reply to Kim Klaka

      Agreed, Kim - there are times and circumstances when cars are entirely appropriate - However, for the most part, these are the exceptions to most people's use of them (i can;t take my dogs on public transport, for instance). The problem is not the car, itself, it's the reliance on cars as the core of the system.

      As you rightly say, the viable alternatives are lacking.

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Kim Klaka

      Kim - love that 'mediaeval village society, but with internet' concept. I think we'll need to do something very much like that and add in good, electrically-powered public transport for major intra-city routes and very fast trains (preferably electric as well, if possible) for inter-city.

      In a similar vein, I think/hope the houses of the future will be a clever mix of very low/old tech with very new/high tech; think tiny sensors and a microprocessor monitoring your composting toilet and turning it and adding sawdust as needed (or, maybe better, telling you to get off your bum and do it manually).

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    4. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Kim Klaka

      Kim, you had just better adapt to changing your life style before a new style is forced upon you.

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    5. Ashley Hooper

      Farm worker

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Very fast trains are not particularly environmentally-friendly. We may simply have to get used to 'normal' trains and buses for long distances.

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    6. Mike Stasse

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ashley Hooper

      In fact what we REALLY need are very frequent trains over short distances......

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  4. Shane Beck

    Railways

    The problem is that there is not enough private profit or government profit in public transport or alternatives such as bicycling. You can't collect road tolls or registration from a bike (technically feasible but economically unfeasible). A bicycle is relatively maintenance free whereas cars usually require at least a service each year. Then there is the staggering amount of land allocated to car parking. The best bit about the car racket is that it is subject to population growth. Each new generation will require a car unit, parking, maintenance, registration etc. Until the point where provided infrastructure is simply unable to cope. So, even though public and alternative transport may be rationally efficient, the car cult will continue because there is much money to be made out of it.

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    1. Mike Stasse

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Shane Beck

      But the end of the oil age will put an end to all those things you think make alternatives unthinkable......

      And population will soon stop growing....

      I can't believe anyone can think business as usual will keep going...

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    2. tim brennan

      mostly harmless

      In reply to Shane Beck

      As Shane points out there is a major issue with the land take from private car ownership. I think we are at a major crossroads as the rising cost of oil is going to force a major re-think of how we move people around our cities. Electric cars (fuelled by renewable energy) appears as the least change option, and i think is the option that many policy makers and businesses are hoping for, but i think there are significant risks in this approach. Electric cars will still face all the congestion and…

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    3. tim brennan

      mostly harmless

      In reply to Shane Beck

      I agree with Shane pricing is a real issue. As other posters have noted it is often cheaper to drive than catch public transport, a large cause of this is the fact private car owners are not paying the true cost of their driving. They are massively subsidised by the state (admittedly this is true of public transport as well). Externalities such as congestion, carbon emissions, local air pollution, road accidents, obesity, land use, etc. it all adds up and drivers are probably paying at best half the true cost of their driving.

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    4. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to tim brennan

      Having a roof covered with solar panels and an electric/hybrid car or 2 with big batteries in the garage, does provide the possibility of having a fairly independent home. Shades of the old 32 volt systems I grew up with. Just got to manage things so that one has enough power for the next days commute.

      Could change the face of the power network, especially if one can sell power at a good price during peak demand.

      The issue is integrated systems and the demise of old monopolies.

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    5. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      " I can't believe anyone can think business as usual will keep going..."
      I reckon most people just thinks she'll be all right mate and it'll be business as usual for as long as it takes even if there is a gradual decline and a few shock step downs along the way.

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    6. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Shane Beck

      There'll be a new style of parties Shane, garage parties even with those progressive dinners so everybody can judge who has the shiniest car in the garage - the car garage cult born.
      There might even be new motor sport events where pit crews are pushers and it could develop as a bit of a cult too, much more participative for you could have relay teams doing high fives around the track, teams able to get competive by varying the high five track points.

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    7. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to John Holmes

      Be great John, especially with a few weeks of cloudy weather!

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    8. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to Greg North

      Not a problem if the climate keeps changing in Perth. Plenty of sunshine, pity about the rain.

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    9. Mike Stasse

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg North

      We need to live more simply so we may simply live........

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  5. Steve Hindle

    logged in via email @bigpond.com

    By 2030 most journeys in cities will be in small driverless electric taxis. They will be ubiquitous and cheap. Being picked up at your door, driven directly to your destination and dropped off without the need to find a car park will kill bus and train travel. There will be a need for far fewer vehicles because the vehicles will do multiple trips per day instead of spending most of their time parked up.
    Yes it sounds a bit far fetched but the speed of driverless technology is starting to resemble the speed of computer technology.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9fUQ-_NBbU

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Steve Hindle

      Nice concept, if it can be made to work.

      But what will the young men do to prove their prowess?

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    2. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Steve Hindle

      Yes, it does sound a bit far fetched Steve and for all this new technology that is desirable, we'll need a heap of old technology and energy that we may not have to produce it.
      I'd think we'll have a much fitter society or at least those doing the pedalling ought to be fitter.
      Viva le Tour!

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    3. Mike Stasse

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Steve Hindle

      But but.... I was promised flying cars and no need to work because everything would be done by robots...! Been waiting forty years.

      Where's my flying car? Where are my robots........???

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  6. Garry Baker

    researcher

    A well written article - but a point of view nonetheless. Indeed, it almost reeks of boredom, as if it were composed during a gridlock session. Transport is only one of the functions cars have, whereas "Life begins at speed", better describes one of the great values of these creations with wheels. Added to this, many like the affinity experience, where adding things like chrome dipsticks makes the power plant look better, driving lights that will burn the corneas out of your eyes, and red paint…

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Garry Baker

      Of course, it would be less painful and expensive if we were smart enough to get a pace or two ahead of Darwin on this one...

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  7. Michael Shand
    Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Software Tester

    Great Article but the problem is not cars, the problem is the types of cars we have.

    We buy a 1000kg machine in order to move a 80kg human around.....? say what?

    We can build electric bikes and compact cars but people are too small minded and stuck in their ways

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  8. John Doyle
    John Doyle is a Friend of The Conversation.

    architect

    For my money we will have difficulty into the future with cars because of many reasons.
    Western affluent cities have been designed [not sure that's the right word] or rather allowed to be reliant on cars. Decentralisation is the norm and is happening in the developing world along with the rise of the middle classes and their aspirations.
    People, now seeing the value of a personal transit device [cars in particular] are not going to be at all willing to give it up. They will put up with a lot of…

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to John Doyle

      " They will put up with a lot of inconvenience to keep a car. "
      Keeping it in hope is one thing John, using it will be another.
      The future belongs to those prepared to accept change as Joe Hildebrand takes us to Sh*tsville, not in his double decker though.

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    2. John Doyle
      John Doyle is a Friend of The Conversation.

      architect

      In reply to Greg North

      Indeed, Greg.
      That's the way we are now.
      In the not too distant future the changes we face will alter what we believe. However if you want instant chaos, then give up cars now.

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  9. Chris Booker

    Research scientist

    Great article, but I'm afraid it's even worse than you state - you forgot completely about the health effects! Air pollution from traffic is linked with respiratory problems, heart disease, stroke, even type 2 diabetes. And not to mention that the reliance on a car-based transport system makes it difficult to get exercise during commuting, by walking, cycling, etc., further exacerbating the health effects of car transport.

    Furthermore, as you state for the advertising, the auto industry has huge…

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  10. Gary Cassidy

    Good article - thanks.

    For my wife and kids to catch a bus to our local shopping centre and back (<3km) will cost around $12 (or $6 if they shop quickly and return on a 2 hour fare). Taking the car is probably less than a dollar. Taking the car is a no-brainer in this case. It is a shame really because the bus is mostly empty most of the time.

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Gary Cassidy

      Gary, in many ways you describe the practial reality, but, have you fully factored in the cost of purchase, insurance, fuel, taxes and rates to pay for the extra roadway needed, etc. - let alone the deeper, less personal costs to health noted by Chris Booker above?

      I still remember my mum telling me how, when she was young and they couldn't afford a car, she watched her wealthier friends driving to the gym to exercise then driving home again. 'Why don't they just jog there, do a few push-ups in the park across the road, then jog home again?' was her refrain. She had a point.

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    2. Gary Cassidy

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Hi Felix,

      Unfortunately in our (any many other people/families) circumstance, not having a car is not at all practical so the car ownership costs are somewhat unavoidable. A few years back when the kids were mere babies we decided to become a one car family and that worked out pretty well for a while, however as the kids started kindergarten, school, extra curricular activities, etc, that became impractical as well. I guess it's the way the suburbs have been engineered.

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    3. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Gary Cassidy

      Many families are just going to have to adapt Felix and there'll be no " not having a car is not at all practical " and a lot of hardening up.
      The bonus is all those costs you can avoid.
      Heaps of healthy options - http://www.rswart.org/fourwhel.htm or for wind breaking in line benefits without trafting and le tour spills you could go for http://www.google.com.au/search?q=Four+seater+cycles&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=xjHVUdXlLI-OkgW_lYHICw&ved=0CEMQsAQ&biw=1424&bih=782
      I reckon there'll be a new age cult coming.

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    4. Mike Stasse

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg North

      I actually did without a car for six years...... never been richer!

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    5. Gary Cassidy

      In reply to Greg North

      "Many families are just going to have to adapt"
      Perhaps one day Greg. But for the moment, and in the near-term future life without a car in the suburbs is not practical and replacing a short distance car trip with a ride on a near empty bus is prohibitively expensive.

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    6. Ashley Hooper

      Farm worker

      In reply to Gary Cassidy

      Which raises the environmental aspects of families, when the society they're born into mandates automobiles for the most basic functioning therein.

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  11. John Davidson

    Retired engineer

    We need cars for:
    All those trips for which public transport is not available or not efficient.
    The weekly shopping which is too much to carry on a bike
    Allowing people who aren't able to walk long distances to bus stops to get around
    People whose knees just can't handle standing up in crowded trains. AND...
    However, this doesn't mean that we should be building cars to satisfy fantasies and bolster weak self esteem.
    What we do need are more cars that are safer, designed for moving one or two people only, have less impact on the environment etc.
    Think about it. Autonomous drive will take the human factor out of driving. OK, it will be boring being in a car that sticks to the speed limit and avoids collisions.
    Small, narrow track vehicles that are narrow enough to drive two abreast in a single traffic lane will do a lot for congestion. (Over 80% of commuting cars in the greater Brisbane area carry only the driver.)
    AND..

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    1. Ashley Hooper

      Farm worker

      In reply to John Davidson

      Or we will adapt to not having cars again, as people 100 years ago did. None of those things are non-negotiable requirements of human animals.

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  12. James Hill

    Industrial Designer

    A timely article with unbeatable arguments.
    But perhaps we have lost sight of the historical lessons of Ford's Model T and the benefits it provided which are no longer available.
    Pre-Ford in The US people lived in the cities close to their work and any commuting by horse drawn buggy restricted the suburbs to within a ten-mile radius.
    Needless to say expensive, overcrowded housing was the order of the day.
    Come the model T outside the eight mile limit farmers simply drove pegs into the ground…

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    1. Garry Baker

      researcher

      In reply to James Hill

      " Freed from inner city housing slavery " Well the wheel has turned full circle, hasn't it. Now it's viewed as suburban slavery, given the lack infrastructure that went with it.

      However, there's one more dimension Australians need to explore. Here we build or buy a house, then look for nearby work - Whereas the Americans find work, then move house accordingly.

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    2. Mike Stasse

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Garry Baker

      Abandon suburbia, abandon affluence, abandon work, discover happiness....

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  13. Ryan Brown

    logged in via Facebook

    It's been a while since I've read in the print or online media scribble with such blatant and unashamed hate of Australia. You should understand that the vast majority of ordinary Australians--a group of people no doubt as alien to you as the Zulu tribe--would sooner jump off Sydney Harbour bridge than see your homoerotic scooter and public bus euro-wannabe fantasy become reality.

    Or perhaps I'm missing the point completely; maybe what you truly want is to remove Australian cars from the road…

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  14. fret Slider

    Developer

    "In Australia, 20 people are still killed every week on public roads. "

    Perhaps people need to start looking before they cross the road.

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  15. Arthur James Egleton Robey

    Industrial Electrician

    If we halved the number of person/kilometers in cars and doubled the population, how many cars would be on the road?
    The doubling time of the population is 35 years.
    When the population doubles again how many cars will be on the road?
    Can you see the problem?
    Here is a solar powered car. It will never succeed because it is not a fashon statement. It would cause every self-proclaimed comic genius to flash his feathers for the girls.
    http://phys.org/news/2013-07-student-team-unveils-world-solar-powered.html
    So you see, it all boils down to Sex.

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    1. Terry Thompson

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Arthur James Egleton Robey

      Yes Arthur there are fundamental problems that are just not being addressed.

      BAU has just about run its course.

      No matter whether humanity changes course of its own volition or the planet and its natural balances change our direction for us.

      It is probably not the things that we are even aware of that will spell the end but a sudden collapse of or may be birthing of something essential or terminal to our continued civilization. (pathogens etc)

      The Civilization we live in is complex…

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  16. none at all

    none

    I love my bike. It has a 200 watt petrol engine and I pull the string to start it only when I need it for hills, or strong head-winds. Most of the time, I don't use the extra power, as I can pedal faster than its maximum speed of 24 kph. It takes a litre of petrol every 2-4 months and I normally ride about 25 km a day.
    My wife has a similar bike, but we've had to limit their use to a few furtive, local routes, as the Bligh government made them illegal a couple of months after we bought them, without compensation. We still use them, as they cost us $3500 for the pair, they're unsaleable in Queensland and I'd like to see some dumb cop nick a couple of eighty-year-olds for trying to save the planet. Our clever government would rather have us drive to the shops in our Pajero and burn heaps of fossil fuel.
    C'est la vie!

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  17. Ben Rose

    Environmental Consultant

    Yes I'm another who was seduced by cars; had 22 plus 8 motorbikes and a couple of trucks in 42 years of driving
    And yes I now hate them too (for the damage they do). Go by bus a lot and walk/ bike short trips.
    The biggest argument against taxing fuel/ car use is always 'it takes away jobs' When will we all grow up and realize this is nonsense - people can and do change jobs - car salesmen can become sellers of bikes or mobility scooters or bus drivers.
    A good start would be to double the excise on fuel and make 3rd party insurance payable on fuel so larger vehicles doing a lot of kms (statistically more likely to do harm to others) will pay accordingly. Make the car driver / causer of harm pay the price proportionally!

    Ben Rose, Convener of Sustainable Transport Coalition of WA

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