Driving is the New Smoking

Whatever you may believe about where we’re heading in the future, at least you have to admit that people can change significantly–sometimes for the better.

Take our attitude towards smoking. Thirty or forty years ago, smoking was inescapable. Restaurants, public places, even airplanes. If anything, they reserved small, sad places for people who didn’t smoke. They were the exceptions and most people felt sorry for them or thought they were just being silly. Remember this guy?

In the beginning, there were scientific articles and public policy documents and finally some nice warning labels. They didn’t have much effect at first. But, after all those years, pretty much everyone alive today realizes what a terrible idea smoking is. An idea whose time has come and gone.

Today, driving is the new smoking. I mean it’s glamorous, macho, tough, sexy, you name it. Everything that smoking was, back in the day.

Today, driving is almost inescapable. They reserve some sad, little facilities for those of us who don’t participate, but virtually all cities on Earth are designed with the car in the center: Everything revolves around traffic, parking, dealing with congestion–just like smokers used to be in the center.

But times are changing.

Numerous recent studies show that car commute times are increasing and that there is a serious health impact to sitting more and being exposed to more traffic-induced stress, i.e. car driving. Traffic is the number one complaint of most people who live in large cities. Plus, 40% of global CO2 emissions that cause climate change are directly related to motor vehicles.

On the other hand, the scientific articles on the benefits of cycling for health, mental well-being, our communities, and our planet are legion. Likewise, we have every reason on Earth to give up privately owned vehicles in urban areas and start to design our cities to be human-friendly rather than car-friendly.

The time is coming. The writing is on the wall. The day of the car is drawing to a close and it will be soon. We just need to start putting warning labels on all the cars!

 

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