“We have met the enemy and he is us”–Pogo
Somewhere along the way to “living the good life”, I realized that something wasn’t right. We lived in a solar and wind powered house, composted our waste, and reduced, reused and recycled. Yet disturbing facts about the connections between the machine siting in our driveway and our atmosphere, our water, our planet were emerging. I became involved in the referendum to stop widening the highway in Maine (which won, but in the long run lost—the highway was widened). As I learned more about cars and the structures that surround them it became increasingly clear to me that even with the cloudiest of crystal balls our car based transportation system was headed for trouble. Trying to raise awareness about cars seemed daunting because the car problem is so huge that most people are unable to think about it in any other terms that increasing fuel efficiency.
It was roughly at that point that I became resident artist at Southern Maine Community College and as part of a advertising project began gutting an old van. As I stripped the transmission, the engine, the seats out I discovered how beautiful many of the parts were. From that point on I began working with car parts and found a way to combine my concerns about the car with my aesthetic interests.
Our car culture is an immense problem and will not be dealt with effectively with band aids. There are no simple cures. This is a systemic disease and the course of treatment is long and consistent. I hope I have laid out in this section of the site an outline for moving us from here to a world with far fewer cars.
I. Autohierarchy for Society
1. Each of us should be able to function easily within society without owning or needing to use a car.
2. As a society, we will act to encourage less use of the car.
3. We will seek to limit the damage to the environment and our society caused by the car through promotion and regulation.
II. Autohierarchy for Individuals
1. Don’t drive
2. Drive less
3. Drive wisely
The government’s goal, in line with the hierarchy should be: to make it possible for a citizen to choose to live without a car and because of that choice to suffer no unreasonable limitations on their freedoms, well being, and economic opportunity.
Establish goals to reduce annual automobile mileage use and develop strategies to implement them.
Establish goals and statutes relating to the car to reduce polluting affects, improve fuel efficiency, and reduce use of natural resources.
These goals are to be implemented by:
• Creating demand for non car transportation,
• By removing impediments to the maximum efficiency of public transportation,
• By fostering transportation choices that conserve energy and natural resources,
• By Redefining the role of Departments of Transportation to reflect our future transportation vision.
Societal transportation changes are more important than individual transportation changes. Walking to work may be fine for you to do, but making it easier for others to do the same would be better. Feeling good about the choices you’re making, being an example, is great, but lots of people only driving slightly less is a lot better than one person never driving.
Individual actions in isolation will not solve the problem.
These Band-Aids are like dieting–Too easily forgotten and not very effective. The problem cannot be addressed by simply changing our habits for a few months. Driving less is difficult to do unless we make our daily lives require less driving.