In the midst of the discussion about the ethics of traveling to Vancouver, the issue of how cars have benefited and harmed people living in urban areas came up. It is undeniable that they have been a major transformative force, when it comes to the shape and character of cities.
To me, it seems that private cars in cities do more harm than good, for a slew of reasons:
- They kill a lot of people: both drivers and pedestrians.
- They take up a lot of space and alter urban design in negative ways, contributing to sprawl and vast areas of just residential or just commercial zoning.
- Sprawl reduces natural and agricultural space. It also leads to people commuting, which is a major waste of their time.
- They pollute and emit greenhouse gasses.
- They are loud.
- They cause neighbours to know one another less than they otherwise would.
- They help make many states dependent on oil exports, and frequently involve them militarily in Middle Eastern conflicts.
- They have made roads into hostile spaces for everything but automobiles, whereas previously they were more versatile public spaces.
- The roads they require are built with public money, though they do not provide value to everyone, and contribute to serious negative externalities.
- They use energy quite inefficiently, since they move faster than is sensible, and the mass of the vehicle itself far exceeds that of passengers and cargo.
If it were possible to re-design cities, I think it would be better if they excluded cars entirely within their cores and had a lot of dedicated transit and bicycle routes. Stores could be permitted to have delivery vehicles for large items, and taxis could continue to exist, but the use of private cars within city limits would ideally be eliminated.
What points would people offer to defend private cars in cities? Also, are there and indictments against them I missed?