Carfree Home Page
A Carfree Home Page

Why is it not completely hilarious, or utterly horrifying, that most people require a device that weighs 10 to 40 times what they do just so they can get to the grocery store or to their job?

Car Culture

The car culture is something that has crept up on us rather quickly, in less than a hundred years, but today it, more than anything else, shapes the world that we live in, at least in the United States. Its influence can chiefly be recognized in the design of suburbs and other new places, places that are built around the car, around making it easy for cars to get around in them. Car environments have something else in common -- they make it virtually impossible for any other type of transportation to use them with any success.

  • A person weighs a tenth or less what an automobile weighs. Only about 10% of the energy used by an automobile makes it to the drivetrain. That leaves about 1% of the energy that a car uses to move the passenger in the car. That's not very efficient. Neither is it efficient to use a resource as valuable, precious and scarce as oil (energy concentrated over millions of years) to go back and forth every day.
  • It takes energy to make energy. We're using up millions of years of fossilized solar energy like it's going out of style, and it soon will. It's going to take millions of years to make the energy to keep driving our cars once we run out of that oil.
  • Automobiles take up a lot of space. For each car in the United States there are at least half a dozen parking spaces (of course your car isn't in six places all at once, but the only way cars work as transportation is if there are enough empty spaces to put it all the places you're going to go).
  • Automobiles produce greenhouse gases that are contributing to global warming. Enough said on that!
  • Fifty percent of the air pollution in most urban areas is due to transportation, primarily automobiles. This translates into respiratory problems for everybody who lives in places criss-crossed by cars and trucks.
  • The street used to be the primary place where people met each other, where community happened. Now streets are the exclusive domain of automobiles and their drivers, a type of being whose sense of compassion has become deeply warped by the power they possess with a ton or two of steel, and community is, well, all you have to do is watch the television news to find out where that went.
  • People spend ever-growing chunks of their lives driving cars, and ever-growing percentages of their wealth to feed and maintain them. What they are in effect doing is paying to volunteer as heavy machine operators rather than relaxing on some kind of transit device and letting a professional drive for them and a few dozen other people.
  • Automobiles kill. It is estimated that worldwide each year half a million people die in automobile accidents.
  • Americans have a love affair with the automobile. Sure. Americans love cars the way a chainsmoker loves tobacco.

Break Free from Car Addiction!

What it all boils down to is that a transportation system based almost completely on the automobile, which is the transportation system that exists in much of the US, does not make sense economically, ecologically or socially. Yet our political leaders are offering no leadership on this issue, because most of them are addicted to the automobile. This is where you and I come in. It is up to us to boycott the automobile, to drive it out of our lives, and take personal responsibility for our planet and the legacy that we leave to future generations.

It is high time that we broke free from our bondage to the automobile, that we escape our slavery to a style of life completely bounded by steel and tires, that we rediscovered the community-building aspects of mass transit and just plain having to walk down the street.


Some personal information about how and why I live carfree is located in One Carfree Life

Some of my observations on how the automobile influences how we think can be found in A General Theory of Automobile Intelligence

Some wise anti-auto words can be found in my page of favorite Carfree Quotations

A parallel is drawn in Cigarettes and Automobiles.

Walk for safety, but leave your living room behind is a column I wrote for my local community newspaper.

There's a whole lot of other groups and individuals questioning car culture out in cyberspace. You can link to several of them through my page of Other Car Free Links.

My diary of living without a car in 2005 can be found in Carfree 2005.

Get a copy of my carfree novel Billion Million Thousand Hundred Novel Not Extinct, or just read some segments.

Do yourself a favor, free yourself from your car!

Copyright © 1998 John Akre
A Carfree Home Page has been on-line since August 1996.
This page last updated 27 January 2005