So Wendell Cox has come out with several books and articles arguing that transit, pedestrian and cycling advocates are waging a "War on Cars." As Sarah Goodyear sums up, people like her, Eric de Place, Todd Litman and Ezra Klein are bewildered by this accusation. War on cars? We just want choices. Can't we just be pro-transportation?
Those of us who have been fighting this for years know that there is a struggle going on. The problem is that we didn't start it. It just happens that several different campaigns that have been waged on several different fronts have used cars as their primary weapons. These include the March of Progress, the civil rights struggle, the American dream, the Back to the Land movement, and now the Mr. Austerity beauty contest.
You could characterize these campaigns as the War on Proven Technology, the War on Black People (and Mexicans Too), the War on Renting, the War on Cities, and the War on People who Make Less than $250,000 a Year, but unlike Wendell Cox I will be charitable and assume that people are motivated by positive goals. Despite these positive goals, though, these campaigns have had many negative effects. The casualties have been fairness, equality, resource conservation, clean air and water, safety, health and community.
It isn't one war, but the values we cherish are under attack from many different directions, and we are sticking up for them. We are fighting back against the Deniers and the Not Our Problem crowd. We're trying to get help from the You Can't Do That Without a Car crowd, but it's hard when they are convinced that we can't win.
The fact of the matter is that we can't just be pro-transportation. We can't afford "choice" or "balance." We can't afford to build and maintain two redundant transportation networks, one with private cars and trucks and one without. We may not really be able to afford one transportation network. We need to pick the cheaper one and focus on it.