Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Car-less Society-Will it ever happen?

A Car-less Future awaits:

Apocalyptic Dystopia for some, Utopia for the rest of us

A Car-less future...what brought this subject up? Really I just wanted to vent about this, and this is the best channel for that. With an early Spring in March and an early summer in gas prices one begs to question how much longer can the auto industry stand on it's feet. Some sources say we are headed for $7 a gallon gasoline by the end of this summer. Even if we don't reach such an astronomical number, one begs to question how much longer the common person will tolerate gas prices. There is a breaking point to everything, and people will be willing to pay only so much for a given item. If that item is not essential for survival, then it will be replaced if it can no longer be afforded. Granted, there will be many people to will fight tooth and nail to the bitter end to keep the precious commodities that they currently own. To be fair, many elderly and disabled will need provisions to get around even with the high cost of gasoline. So is this idea of a Car-less future only a far fetched, idealistic and libertarian concept? How close are we to achieving, or ending up in this situation? 

Cars are more than just goods that transport people around. They are an icon, an icon that no one dares question or topple from it's mighty throne. Since the inception of the assembly line and mass production (we can thank Henry Ford and the Model T for that)  the automobile has been the king of the castle for over a century. Housing subdivisions, the size of our freeways, economic and political infrastructure have all been modeled to serve the interest of the automobile and it's beneficiaries. Wars have been fought for the fossil fuels that keep it running on the road. The health of the overall population has declined because of it. Evenings spent with the family around a dinner table have all but disappeared, as most people spend their evenings in traffic driving home from work. Society has now reached a climax, a tipping point because this current model, which has been contained in every possible way in order to make it work, is now bursting at the seams. It can no longer contain the negative effects it has had on it's loyal subjects. 

The good news is, fallout is already tricking down. We can see that in the improved public transit and railways being built in cities across the country. Bicycle lanes are not just being put in parks anymore. Practical bicycling routes are being implemented. Transit Oriented Developments are leaving the drawing table. Car free zones are being considered. This isn't just a bunch of hipsters and vegans getting together in faddish style at a coffee shop. No, this is gaining support from the grass roots level all the way to the federal level. A head has finally turned, someone has finally noticed.

I am not asking for more that what is already being done. Many cities are still behind and have a long way to go to to be less dependent on their vehicles. Either way, owning a car or spending our paycheck at the pump will not be a choice we will have to make for very long. Rather, the increasing cost on gasoline, both financially and in every other aspect of our lives, will eventually make the choice for us. Revolution? some might ask. Not likely. Instead there will be a silent stand in solidarity over what must be done. No matter what creed or class, all will unanimously agree the course that has to be taken. People will park their cars and ride their bikes instead. Like all inefficient technologies, the automobile too as we know it will one day become obsolete. It's now a matter of sooner rather than later, and for a young man like me this is promising. It may finally come at a day when I am still able to ride my bike.

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