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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Dependancy on Cars

Well it's the era of self-driving cars, so might be that is a reason we depend so much on cars that give us a safe journey. But in real term they are fuel-efficient and less emits CO2. So why not we select them. But still if any concerned then we should aware about their issues that are normal for all cars and vehicles. Issues in European Car

great article

People are rapidly switching to personal car from public transportation, which is the matter to contemplate. Already people are suffering from air pollution caused by toxic gases emitted from cars and this problem can be increased more with this augment in number of cars. Best way to avoid this problem is regular check of all the car parts and use less emission engine. Besides, people should evade the use of personal car for short distance traveling and use public transportations as much as possible.

Car Addict

Now many people are dependent on cars for daily basis. Car users are using their cars for travel as well as maintaining a life status. They are in a habit of doing maximum work by car. It's just like a drug addiction which is taken not by mouth or by injection, but in daily life. Cars are comfortable items which gives speed & safety. Proper maintenance is mandatory.

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Suburban and car use

Though now we live in urban and sub urban areas to make our life comfortable but the progress hampering us rather than developing us in many is use of more cars that increasing the hydrogen gas and reduce oxygen. The other way for more garages needed and that increases the chemical use and affect the nearby people. That's why we need to focus and maintain our car in a right servicing point where we will do the servicing regularly and also it wont affect much in cost.BMW Repair Glendales

Very unique and innovative

Very unique and innovative article. Most of the people are facing problems due to car. Many think but don't speak. Cars are ruling the auto industries. It has become the basic medium of transport for them. I personally too dependent on my car. But fuel efficient cars must be avoided and electric cars should be used more. This will reduce pollution and will provide an eco-friendly environment. BMW Repair Canoga Park

Auto rules the world

Automobile is one of the fastest growing businesses now days; and it provides various kinds of opportunities to business organizations to earn profits. With the increasing nature of automobile business we can estimate that automobile will be rule the road in near future.
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New Developments in Automotive Industry

Now humans are depending on machines to make their work done in all sectors.So in automotive also they are introducing new technical features to make smooth driving and technically equipped for all shorts of benefits like latest design,styling etc.But some times if we didn't take the proper care then the facility will vanish day by day.Here you have to take care of your vehicle by providing regular service in a proper time gap.

Car wars

The addiction of cars is quite horrible from the addiction of other things; therefore we should avoid the common use of cars in most of the cases. Basically people were own cars to maintain their reputation and status, but in reality the use of cars make people lazy and inactive. And due to lack of physical activities we are suffering from different types of problems. So its better to avoid the excess use of cars in various situations; otherwise in near future we have found car rules in the roads.
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In this modern era having a

In this modern era having a car shows a person's personality whether he is rich or poor. Because every person have a perception that if anybody have a car then he definitely a prestigious person.Due to this every people have a passion to have a own car. So, that day by day the car manufacturing companies are developed new technology cars,to make the peoples life more easier. The car companies main aim is providing basic comfort in the car. For that reason the demand for cars are increasing. After purchasing a car, its proper maintenance is necessary.
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Cars are the basic medium of

Cars are the basic medium of transportation of every people. Everyday new technology cars are discovered to fulfill the basic needs of people,and the ultimate aim of every car company is to provide the basic comfort in the car. Driving a car is not a big deal rather its proper servicing and maintenance is necessary. So, it is the duty of every car owner is to proper take care of the car in regular basis.
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