powered by BCT Publishing
Automotive Traveler Magazine: Vol 2 Iss 1 Page 9

Let Them Ride Bikes!

American car culture reflects the very freedoms we hold dear. And that's something the activists behind such movements as World Car Free Day would take away from us.

By Robyn Larson McCarthy

I'm writing this column the morning after the 2010 mid-term elections--despite the fact that we're scheduled to publish this issue of Automotive Traveler later today. The editors at almost every magazine I've worked for tend to postpone writing their editorial columns until the 11th hour. (We explain this procrastination by saying we write better under tight deadlines.) Now, the wonders of 21st century technology have given us the perfect excuse to do what we've been doing all along.

And this is a good thing.

If you've read my colleague Richard Truesdell's editorial column on Page 6, you know about Automotive Traveler's new production process and proprietary viewer for reading our online-only monthly publication.

The flexibility of our online format means we can provide readers with news that breaks a mere few hours before our IT director hits the "Publish" button for each issue. Spy Shots of a heretofore-unseen vehicle prototype that one of our writers or photographers manages to capture, for example. Or a Behind the Wheel review of a 2012 model no other journalist has driven.

With this in mind, then, what great insights do I have about how yesterday's political shift in power will affect issues of importance to our readers? CAFE standards, for example, or a punitive new national gas tax along the lines of what Thomas "Don't Measure My Carbon Footprint" Friedman advocates.

Actually, those discussions can wait. The country's swing back to the political center also brings with it a more general tidbit of good news: There are now bound to be far fewer celebrants of World Car Free Day walking through the congressional halls of power!

World Car Free Day, you ask? Surely, you didn't miss the 22 September international celebration of life without the internal combustion engine? Personally, I was too busy driving the 10 miles to my local transfer station (that's country-speak for "town dump") with the week's trash and recyclables to celebrate. But maybe you had your priorities straight.

World Car Free festivities are filled with talk of choosing a lifestyle that is healthier for both you and the environment. Yet as with most such campaigns, the ultimate goal is to achieve a certain behavior through government fiat rather than individual choice and personal responsibility. And it's funny how their promotional materials never show a bedraggled mother schlepping kids, groceries, and briefcase to the bus stop in the rain--just happy, healthy people beaming in a world of apparently eternal sunshine.

Sam Kazman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has written that the anti-car crowd ignores the "incredibly liberating nature of the automobile," whether ending the "crushing isolation of rural life" in the first decades of the 20th century or "giving women the ability to enter the job market while still getting their kids to day care."

And then there's the sense of freedom enjoyed in the contemplation of an open road--whether the road ahead is the beginning of a carefree cross-country adventure, or just a means of getting to the polling station to exercise your right to vote.