Canada’s Car Culture Criticized

Glad to see some Danes standing up for Canada.

A Canadian stands up for the Danes.

The Danes stand up for themselves.

A few points have arisen as a result of this discussion, largely in defence of “car culture.” I’d like to address them if I may:

We love our cars!

That’s great. What is important, though, is having choices, and safe, affordable and convenient choices. Cars should not be the only option. In a sustainable, livable city, a citizen should have a choice to walk, cycle, run, take the bus, ride the train, get a lift with a friend or drive. These choices must be open to everybody old, young, able bodied and disabled. It is possible to have it all, and the option of driving a car should be alongside, rather than at the expense of healthier, quicker and often more affordable options.

Country X is too big for sustainable transport

Density and sprawl are more relevant to the discussion than size. Many people live within 5 to 15 km of where they work, shop and play but infrastructure designed exclusively for private cars makes sustainable and healthy travel options difficult. In regards to inter-city travel, driving for lengthy periods is unsafe and time consuming. Large countries in particular should demand superb transport systems between cities to make travel safer, cheaper and more relaxing.

What about winter?

Agreed. Winter in Scandinavia is pretty dismal, especially for vulnerable groups in society. I’m sure parts of Canada are even worse. Again, it is about providing choices for safe travel, not just cars. Gridlock is gridlock in sun and snow. Car-free bus lanes, trains, cleared bicycle and pedestrian lanes alongside traffic-calmed roads can make winter transport safer and more convenient for everybody. The same is true of choices for the remaining three seasons.

Amid the responses to this discussion I genuinely hope that energies are directed towards those who can actually change policy. Hopefully less gridlock, safe and sustainable choices, green spaces and livable, vibrant, healthy communities are what people want all over the world. Sustainable transport is about giving people safe choices to travel, not banning cars.

2 responses to “Canada’s Car Culture Criticized

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