Drive Change, Not Cars

Everyone hates traffic because it exposes the lie that a personal vehicle is the epitome of freedom. Whether it causes a late entry for the third time in a week, or it means that a task is left undone, most constituents are aware that with a rise in population indicates that if all have personal vehicles, it would take a massive investment in infrastructure and a reconfiguration of society to make vehicular traffic efficient. In response, there have been a number of auto-oriented “solutions” which have done little to reduce traffic in cities: microtransit, rideshare, and the obsessive anticipation of driverless cars. However, it has become more obvious than ever that except for rural areas, people will mathematically have to do something other than drive.

While gas may be getting cheaper now, the only reason for the drop in prices is the fact that more people are foregoing car ownership. In the topsy-turvy world of supply and demand, poorer people are acknowledging that unless they know how to fix their own vehicles, car ownership is drastically more expensive than transit. If younger people changed their minds tomorrow, the price would once again rise, and marginalized people would have to choose between commuting and food. Therefore, alternative driving fuels — even electricity — are not the savior of the personal vehicles.

Beyond fuels, cars are not reducing in price and they still depreciate with the addition of mileage. Except for the very rare occasions of car collections, every car is worth less the moment someone begins to drive it. Financing and credit are already driving younger people deeper into debt and the instability of the gig economy means that reliable income is a fantasy for most positions. The 1950s image of a four person household with long-term employment has been inaccurate for at least a decade, and the idea that “everyone makes car payments” is obsolete.

Even people in suburbs are finally recognizing that without some transit options, people are unable to live in such neighborhoods. Historically and currently, people live in expensive areas with little transit to avoid integration, which has been working so well that the country is more segregated than it was in the beginning of the first civil rights era. In areas like Dallas — generally conservative in politics — commuter lines have expanded because of the interest in reducing traffic and attempting to recreate circumstances in other major cities where “everyone rides the train.” Those communities that refuse to alter their perspectives on how one should traverse their areas will eventually be cut off as they will have no service workers.

Living in the United States is complicated because of the lack of personal responsibility by those in positions that shape society. Instead of adapting to the way people are living, decision-makers are mired in the past and clinging to the sepia-toned pictures of how citizens used to live. Ownership of an automobile should be stricken from the criteria for how the country will continue to progress.


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