There are people in this city who believe, in spite of an abundance of opposing evidence and logic, that cars belong. They are dead wrong.
An ugly case of this ignorance is shown in University of Illinois-Chicago's (UIC) Marketing 474 class, which recently developed an on-campus campaign promoting a new hybrid car. This work stinks of corporate sponsorship and stands blind to the fact that hybrid cars are not an answer. These pretty little eco-schmeeco vehicles can kill and cause gridlock as well as any car. Missing this truth in perfect stride is Katrina Fajardo, author of the 9-Nov-2009 Chicago Flame article "Selling new hybrid technology" (http://tinyurl.com/yz3rp64).
Katrina begins her article with a gross assumption that sets a deaf tone to reality. No, Katrina, we are not looking for a new car. This is because cars do not belong ubiquitously choking dense city streets. Chicago has long suffocated under car culture. Of the approximate 1.1 million private motor vehicles in this city, about 1 million of them are truly unnecessary. Juan Herrera, a car cult leader, propagates a rumor that college students can afford new hybrid cars. He is quoted in the article saying, " The (Honda) Insight is affordable at $19,800 for students." Really? $20,000 is affordable to college students? Call the General Assembly, UIC has solved its financial problems--the students can pay.
Actually, $20,000 may be in the bank accounts of some rich, privileged students, but not most. To put it in perspective, $20,000 also buys 232 monthly CTA passes, or 19 years' worth of unlimited public transit. And then there's the costs of gas, insurance, and regular maintenance for cars. Annually, these costs exceed the price of several new bicycles with full accessories. Thinking of financing some of the $20,000? Think again. Taking out an interest-bearing loan to pay for an unnecessary, depreciating transportation privilege that could otherwise not be afforded is a very dumb financial decision.
According to fars.nhtsa.dot.gov, cars killed over 37,000 Americans last year. H1N1, aka "Swine Flu", might kill 6,000 by the end of this year. Sadly, the nation's news channels are popping with fear and focus over only one of these stories. Also, it doesn't take 200 horsepower to carry 200 pounds of human and baggage 25 miles per hour. Cars are oddly over-engineered for city transportation. They are colossal wastes of energy when compared to the amazing efficiencies of walking or riding a bicycle.
What kind of a sick addiction does a car cult member have if they are willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars on inefficient, polluting, killing machines? Maybe there's a UIC Psychology class that is interested in studying the psychosis of car culture.
Break The Gridlock!