Eric Sanderson has it all worked out with plenty of statistics — from exactly what studies and under what assumptions would be interesting to see — to back up his view that all you need to do is lose your car to provide the nation with green and pleasant cities. Well, not quite everyone: farmers, rural dwellers — How rural would that be? Groceries available ten miles away? Or less? — and others like emergency services are allowed to keep their cars under the conservation ecologists plans; and they are big plans indeed. But first he wants to convince you that owning a car is not just bad for the planet, it’s inefficient! Traffic logjams, hunting for a parking space when you get where you’re going, filling up your tank with expensive gasoline. The list of time-devouring sins a car seduces you into commiting seems impressive, until one thinks about having to do a Saturday’s worth of shopping without your car. Put together a typical to-do list and imagine doing it all by public transport; or better yet on a bicycle or just walking. Unless you live in Manhattan, I suspect that your Saturday shopping would be longer, more exhausting and end much later than if you had done it by car.

But of course, Eric Sanderson knows that. It isn’t that he thinks we’re all dumb and only choose the most efficent option to get us from point A to point B because we love the sound of a 69 Chevy with a 396, fuelie heads and a Hurst on the floor. We’re just a little confused and only need to imagine a brave new world with very few cars and a whole lot of public transport; perhaps like Prague in 1968. We just need more frequent and extensive, and cleaner, public transport which of course would be cheaper according to Sanderson. The elderly and disabled would love waiting for the streetcar and subways could be refitted to carry freight at night … I’m not making this up. In our just-in-time economy such schemes would likely cripple growth by disrupting supply lines and throwing inventories out of whack leaving stores with the wrong product at the wrong time. Unless you believe in a command and control society — whether Green or Red — then it’s consumers who will make the choice to use their cars less — if they do so — at some point. Unless you live in Manhattan, where you can always hail a cab.

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