Car Wars: Should Autos Rule The Road? Part II

Rick Harrison's Car.jpg

We have a severe drug problem, we've been told, that mostly affects suburbanites. The dangerous drug is not taken by mouth, nor by injection, yet it is used daily by every family member and must be stopped before we, as a nation, are utterly destroyed. According to many experts, our “dependence” on cars must stop.

Internet rumors abound that we are about to be legislated out of our stupor, and be taxed into high density, inner core cities. Should this rumor become fact, let’s look at what effect it will have on our economy, and, quite frankly, on the American Dream of home ownership.

Today, the housing market is still dealing with the disaster of plummeted prices. Since 80% of the new home market this past decade has been suburban, it would be safe to say that 80% of Americans that bought in this century are the hardest hit, because these new homes have dropped to pre-boom pricing. It has been young families, generally, that have driven out to the suburbs to find new homes, the promise of lower density, and newer safe schools. In addition, many (most) of these families believed that their homes were a source of income; after all, values were increasing 10% or more annually, and that equity could be tapped in loans, (both suburban and urban).

While many think of the suburbs as pure white, that is no longer true. The suburbs today, in general, are intermixed with all races. But the new race being ridiculed by many is the “suburbanite”. The suburbanite yearning for his or her daily fix of the car, consuming our fuel, and spewing carbon into our atmosphere must be eradicated at all costs.

So how do we eradicate this vermin? There are rumors of a carbon tax that will place a financial burden on those vehicular junkies. Who cares that this major portion of America's population is under the most financial pressure since the depression. If we tax these infidels, that will surely bring them to their senses , and we can cure their dependence on Chevys, Fords, and Mini-vans. Let’s break their backs once and for all, so that these families will abandon what is left of the suburbs and be forced back to the inner core. If reason does not work, we can just legislate it.

Let’s imagine this new future filled with promise of a new America. In this fantasy, we visit the Smith family, who moved from their 10,000 foot suburban lot into the urban core. Adam Smith, the father, now must take the bus to the train station for the new light rail line that goes to Edenville, his job out in the suburb as a plant manager (it seems that his place of employment did not make the move). With connections, he can make it to work within an hour, whereas his 10 mile commute from suburb to suburb took 20 minutes.

Lilly Smith (his new wife, as the old one refused to move into a 20 story inner city high-rise) works at Bester Buy on the edge of the city. She needs two bus connections to get there Having a car is not an option, since parking costs are prohibitive in the city. Luckily, the kids are old enough to be left alone; Josh is 8 years old, Jane is 12, and Joey, who is 15, watches over the siblings. Today is a holiday and they are home from school, but the cold rainy day keeps them inside, along with hundreds of other kids who play in the vast corridors.

Lilly arrives at work, only to remember that Jane had a dentist appointment which she forgot about. She shivers, thinking about the old days, and the warm comfort of the Mini-van she once relied on to take her kids to appointments. She breaks out into a sweat and falls into a stupor. Her fellow workers recognize the symptoms, as they too have been weaned of their dependence upon personal vehicles. Her manager, Ralph, lets her take a week of sick leave to get help.

Ralph is lucky. He lives in a single family neighborhood on the edge of the city. He has his own large lot, a spacious 35 feet wide and 90 feet long. He and his wife each posses a car. His luxury two story home, setback five feet from the sidewalk, is 25 feet wide and 50 feet deep; the house itself is a massive 2,500 square feet, over twice as large as the Smiths inner city apartment. He also has three children who enjoy the privacy of their back yard. The garage adjacent to the 12 foot wide alley consumes 440 square feet of their remaining 1,200 square foot rear yard. Still, with 760 square feet of green space, the kids are lucky.

Ralph and his wife, Mary, both drive electric cars. Mary has the larger vehicle, with a 50 mile range per charge on a warm day. Their daughter wants to play with a cousin who still lives in the suburbs, 20 miles away. This is a cold day, which reduces the range of the vehicle to 35 miles, and their cousins do not have a charging station, so their 11 years old daughter is driven to the Light Rail station, a mile away.

A week later, back at the Smith apartment, an argument starts between Adam and Lilly about her desire to get out of the city. Even if they did move out to near Adam's plant, they would need Lilly’s paycheck to make ends meet, so she would need the light rail and two bus connections to get to work. Lilly begins to sweat and shake again… When Josh asks what is wrong with Mommy, Adam explains about the days when Americans were drugged out on their cars, the days when people were free to go when and where they wanted. As he describes those terrible times, he too yearns for those days. Adam and Lilly dream of moving out to a place with space, if only the carbon tax on moving out of the city could allow it, but alas, it’s only a dream that only the wealthy can now afford.

A fantasy? Here is what I’m experiencing as a planner. When I met with a city official a few weeks ago I was admonished for a proposal that included attached garages. I explained that attaching the garage reduces 40 feet of exterior wall to be built, and here in Minnesota, an attached garage means you do not have to shovel snow between the home and the garage, nor slip on the ice. Why would I detach a garage, I asked? The city official explained that according to his planning staff, the space between the garage and the home is a social gathering spot where neighbors can stop and talk about their day. I had thought that’s what that large front porch we are proposing on the homes was for.

There is a movement to prevent the toxic drug — the car — from infecting our lives. For me, no way you are taking me off my ERPT -- Extremely Rapid Personal Transport -- dependence.

This is the second of a two-part series in which different authors examined the centrality of the autombile in urban and suburban life.

Photo by Rick Harrison of the author's ERPT -- his Porsche.

Rick Harrison is President of Rick Harrison Site Design Studio and Neighborhood Innovations, LLC. He is author of Prefurbia: Reinventing The Suburbs From Disdainable To Sustainable and creator of Performance Planning System. His websites are and

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Auto rules the world

Definitely the dependence upon car and other vehicles are rapidly increases day by day; therefore we have found that people were slowly addicted towards the using of cars and vehicles. That ultimately makes people sick and lazy, so it is better to avoid the use of cars in most of the moment. With the developing strategy of automobiles we have found the use of cars is rapidly increases day by day.

Fast Cars

The cars really depends on your price. The car speed will then be acting for you. HD Car Wallpapers

It is true that many car

It is true that many car owners don't know how to take care of their car but it is essential to know how to take care of their car. Taking care of a car is much more difficult than having a car.Car wash also a part of auto care. Many car owner do it their self at home other hand many car owner take it to service station. Beside it taking care of all auto part is also essential. I don't neglect to regular check and take care of my Land Rover Parts .

Car Use

Automobile market and the use of car and other vehicles is completely depends upon various things. First of all the price value of fuel now a increasing rapidly and it probably affect the Automobile market. It is because of the use of more number of fuel vehicles. The impact of it also very bad to our environment due to the Carbon emission and it polluting the environment. So, both it is not good from both the economical and commercial point of view. So, now a day Electric vehicles are getting more popularity. So, we have to use electric vehicles to protect our environment and also the expenses in electric vehicles are very less. The Auto will definite rule the road if we use electric vehicles more. Mini Cooper Repair Orange

Car War

Car is the luxurious vehicle and everyone really want to be a car owner. So it helping to increase the number vehicles or we can say the increase in the number of cars for the personal use. People normally travel through the public transportation, but these days the first need of a people to have a personal vehicle and mostly a car is preferable. So for this and due to the increase in the number of vehicles and number of cars on the road, we can say that the Autos rule the road.
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Thanks for the post and great tips

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Auto motive the most fast

Auto motive the most fast and the wide market and till grow day by day. Auto is the second most big investment for the common man, and agree with the title that the auto really rules the roads.
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Imposition of any kind of tax

Imposition of any kind of tax is a burden on citizens. If this carbon tax is imposed then vehicle owners would be facing problems. I own a class b rv; if this tax gets imposed then I wonder what amount of tax I am going to have to pay. I do not think any car owner would be comfortable paying this tax.


Actually I was talking to one of my friends from Hyundai dealers NH about the rumor that says about a carbon tax which will be implemented. In my opinion that is not realistic because many car companies have already chosen to soon market electric cars. A carbon tax will be paid only by people who actually drive car that runs on gas. If you have an electric car, you will pay no tax. What will people do in case that such a tax is voted? Simple answer: buy electric cars and bye bye tax.

I don't see how our

I don't see how our dependence on cars can stop. We live in a world that was shaped by cars. In school I had a teacher who told us that not owning a car after you graduate is a handicap, it will make things tougher for you so since I couldn't afford my own car I subscribed to a automobile donation event and I was lucky to be elected and got a car. We can only hope now for the auto technologies to improve so that the car use to stop being harmful for the environment, if that's even possible. I don't see people quitting their cars at this moment for better cities or for a better environment.