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We’ve Been Carjacked 12

Carjacked

Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile & Its Effect On Our Lives – Photo by James Schwartz / The Urban Country

I finally picked up a bunch of copies of the book Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile and Its Effect on Our Lives. The book is written by Catherine Lutz and Anne Lutz Fernandez, two sisters who loved their cars as much as any American when they started investigating the consequences of the American car culture while doing research for the book.

The wonderful thing about this book is that it is not written through the lens of a bicycle advocate, or a hard-core environmentalist. Anne Lutz Fernandez is an ex Wall Street businesswoman, and Catherine Lutz is an Anthropologist.

These sisters grew up immersed in car culture, with fond memories of car expeditions that “carried us through our happiest family adventures”.

Cars have played an important role in both of their lives and in the Preface, the sisters reflect on how significant a role cars have played in their lives:

“Between the two of us, we have owned nine cars and driven eleven others belonging to the important people in our lives – our parents, boyfriends, husbands. We have driven or ridden an estimated 600,000 miles, consuming around 30,000 gallons of gas. To do this, combined, we have spent an estimated 25,000 hours in the car – if this were a job, each of us would have been at it for 3,125 eight-hour days, or more than six years of our lives.”

The book contains some great bits of information about America’s addiction to car (which extends here to Canada as well to a more limited extent).

Instead of tweeting every time I came across a good sound byte, I decided to share them here instead. The following quotes are some of my favourites so far. Feel free to copy them into Twitter. I confirmed they are all within Twitter’s 140 character limit (except for that long ass one):

“In recent years, the American Dream of a car in the driveway expanded to the dream of three cars in the driveway” #carjacked

“The car today is less a reliable sign of hard work done & money earned than of hard work yet 2 be done & money yet to be earned” #carjacked

“We are convinced that the world is too dangerous to allow independence to our children. This obscures the fact that a child is far more likely to be killed in the family car than riding a bus.” #carjacked

“Cars are like men’s jewellery” #carjacked

“The image of cars and speed as a manly combination can be quite dangerous” #carjacked

“Building new roads to address traffic congestion is like buying a bigger belt to address obesity” #carjacked

“Automotive naming and commercials have headed into the wilderness, perhaps as wishful compensation” #carjacked

“We treat as normal what would otherwise be untoward; putting our beloved children in the thing most likely to kill them” #carjacked

“Of the top 15 Senate recipients of car industry largesse, not one voted for a 2005 bill raising fuel economy standard for cars” #carjacked

“There are roughly as many gas stations in America as public transit vehicles” #carjacked

“Americans buy more cars on an average day (150,000) than there are public transit vehicles nationwide (129,000)”#carjacked

These quotes give you a small glimpse into this thoughtful book that takes a hard look at our addiction and reliance on cars.

To pick up your own copy of Carjacked, check your local bookstore or buy it on Amazon.com for just $18.48. Or if you are in Toronto, I have plenty of copies here and I’d be happy to give you one.

James D. Schwartz is a Transportation Pragmatist and the Editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at james.schwartz@theurbancountry.com or follow him on Twitter.

i share the road

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