This episode of Facebook Fight (TM) started over some comments about a SLOG post authored by transportation guy par excellence, Ben Schiendelman. Update: Dan Bertolet gets all serious about the “War on Cars” at City Tank.
A bunch of folks get into the act here. Our side seems to really take the “War on Cars” meme to heart. I think because it is an effective rhetorical device, and I think it strikes a chord. We tend to deny the war on cars, working to prove it doesn’t exist, and debating about it. Personally, I think this isn’t the best strategy.
The fact is the angry driver from Bellevue that almost ran me over in a crosswalk yesterday has a point. Things are changing. There are more bikes, more people in the streets, and fewer parking spots, all of which is making it more inconvenient to drive. When we say “there is no war on cars” we lose people. And we confirm that the other side is aligned with good old fashioned American values like individual choice. In fact, it’s just the opposite, we want to create more and better choices. We need to explain the changes going on and why we believe that they are consistent with a set of values that are well reasoned and good.
Denying the war on cars is a hopeless pursuit. We don’t need to say there is one either. What we do need to do is articulate why things are changing, why it’s good, and why anyone who values the environment and the community should support these changes. We need, to paraphrase Henry Kissinger, to answer our questions not theirs.