Those who know me well know that I often bemoan the dominance of private cars as the primary mode of transport for most Americans.

Now folks on the Internet can read my bemoaning too.

It’s not about public transport

The benefits of well-implemented public transport are real:

And yet curiously enough, I wouldn’t describe myself as a fan of public transport per se. Rather, I’d say I’m a fan of being able to get to my destination, and I just happen to think private cars are often not the best way to do that.

You see this issue in many other contexts as well. For instance, I’m a software engineer. Sometimes we are described as “coders”. But I think this somewhat misses the point. The point is not to “code”, but rather to solve a problem. Or rather, engineer a solution to a problem, using software as a tool to do that: a means to an end.

It’s not about hating cars

In a similar vein, I wouldn’t say that I hate cars. I find the framing of “fuck cars” to be counterproductive. A car owner might interpret “fuck cars” as “fuck you” and become defensive, shutting down conversation.

It’s much rarer to convince someone of your viewpoint with anger and hate, than it is by laying out the facts calmly and respectfully.

Cars have their place

You’ll notice that I said that cars are often not the best way to get around. But of course, cars are useful in some cases, like when traveling through rural areas or with large cargo.

Every developed country that has advanced public transport also has a well-developed system of roads and freeways.

This too is generalizable: everything in moderation (including moderation).

Hope for the future

Trying to build a city around cars, however, is impossible. Car-centric cities cannot possibly be walkable. The physical reality of how much space cars take up doesn’t allow it.

Because of this, I believe over time, cities that want to be easily navigable will have no choice but to abandon car-centrism and implement support for other modes of transport.

Options benefit us all

Moving away from car-centrism and investing in other modes of transport naturally benefits non-drivers, like children and the blind.

But these policies also benefit car owners, who will enjoy less traffic and roads that break down less rapidly, due to fewer cars using those roads.

There are other modes of private transport

You’ll notice that I’ve been discussing private cars versus public transportation in this post so far. This may imply the only method of private transportation is a car.

As any owner of a bike, e-bike, scooter, or working pair of legs can tell you, this is untrue. And indeed, in many cases, these modes can complement or replace car trips.

Most trips shouldn’t require a car

Most car rides are not multi-hundred-mile road trips or lugging hundreds of pounds of cargo. A large amount of trips are just a few miles around town.

These kinds of short, local trips could often be done with other modes of transport like bikes, if the town in question implements sufficient infrastructure for these other transport modes.