Thursday, December 15, 2005

Culturespotting or Auto love

A few days ago I was in Phoenix and the air was absolutely disgusting! A horrible brown haze hung over the entire valley. It made me sick just looking at it. That Phoenix has such a horrible smog problem didn't surprise me. We were driving on a 10-lane freeway at 70 mph. Sometimes the freeway widen to a whopping 16 lanes. It made driving an absolute joy.

Now I'm in Las Vegas and driving is so enjoyable. The surface roads are 6 lanes with a 45 mph speed limit. The intersections are massive with 2 turn lanes in each direction. The roads are straight as an arrow and if you hit the lights correctly you don't have to stop until you reach your destination. Las Vegas also has a smog problem.

Both Phoenix and Las Vegas are trying to get people out of their cars and onto bicycles or public transit. FAT CHANCE! Why would I take a bus in Phoenix when I can get everywhere using the freeways and going 70 mph? Who is going to bicycle in Las Vegas when the traffic is going so fast that the wind from passing vehicles can knock you off your bike?

America (and especially the West) does love the car. We've structured whole cities around the car, spent millions on roads and other infrastructure. Giving up our oil addiction is going to be more traumatic than a heroin addict going cold turkey. Heaven help us.