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How Cars Divide America - from Citylab

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How Cars Divide America - from Citylab

Old 07-23-18, 11:07 AM
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How Cars Divide America - from Citylab

I almost posted this in Politics and Religion but there is so little "bike talk" going on in there that I decided to post it here in Car Free in the assumption that you folks would be most interested in the findings of these studies. I have been car-free since 1989, and possibly falling off that wagon soon due to work changes.

If the mods don't like it here they can move it. My feelings won't be hurt.

How Cars Divide America

https://www.citylab.com/transportati...merica/565148/
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Old 07-23-18, 06:22 PM
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Interesting article. Lots to discuss but much of it will get this thread moved to P&R. Something I was thinking recently, which maybe speaks tangentially to this subject, is that I think many people who want to bike or walk more for transportation are motivated or deterred by the overall aesthetic of the area they're biking/walking through. Those of us who have chosen to LCF may ignore the aesthetic of a given corridor as being car-oriented because we just want to go where we're going and so we bike or walk there. But I think there are other people, a lot I think, who feel a lot more comfortable and happy to walk/bike in corridors where bike paths and sidewalks are aesthetically oriented toward pedestrians and cyclists. It's like they don't want to be aesthetically marginalized by being a cyclist or pedestrian in what they see as car-territory.

I think this effect also happens with drivers like the Ford politician in Toronto who wanted to get rid of bike lanes. I think there are many motorists who think in terms of bike lanes or biking/walking in general as taking away from the integrated aesthetic of the entire landscape being dedicated to driving. Obviously when people aren't hung up on aesthetic absolutism in the space they are using, there is going to be less division and conflict. This is as much true for motorists who are comfortable driving in a corridor with wide sidewalks and bike paths as it is for cyclists and pedestrians who are comfortable walking down the sidewalk of a 4- or 6- lane highway where most of the businesses are oriented toward driving and parking.

For me, I don't mind walking and cycling in areas that few, if any people walk or cycle, but because I think it would be better environmentally/economically/etc. to have less cars and more LCF, I support these infrastructure renovation projects to add better pedestrian and bike lanes. When they redo a street and it doesn't have bike lanes, or the sidewalks are all pavers, it bothers me that they didn't make the road more bike-friendly, but ultimately it won't stop me from biking there the way it would most likely deter many people.
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Old 07-23-18, 09:13 PM
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The author suggests:

It may be that cars are not only the chief destroyer of our communities, but are tearing at the nation’s political and social fabric.

Given that cars have been an integral component in the life of everyone alive today, I would think it more accurate to say that cars have had a significant influence on the nation's political and social fabric. They are not an external agent to the culture, they are part of the culture and the present culture as we know it doesn't exist without the car. Yes, the suburbanization of America would likely have been reduced without the car, but it's equally possible that the technology that facilitates this remote discussion would not exist either. All of our technological progress stems from the automotive age and the society that grew with it. Technology and the desire to forward that technology shapes and in significant part defines our culture. It is part of who we are. The automotive age was about much more than just the car. But it does not exist without the car.

And the few conclusions presented in the article correlating such things as income and car dependence do not begin to prove causality. He really fails to establish any substantive link.

In retrospect, it isn't hard to make the argument that our society could have handled population growth and the accompanying growth of automotive in a better manner. Hindsight is always 20/20. But that doesn't mean cars have divided our culture. It helped to increase physical separation, but our culture was certainly no less divided before that occurred. Indeed, the automotive culture created the middle class, which arguably bridged cultural divisions (although it certainly didn't erase them). I'd certainly agree that we should have incorporated better public transportation into our infrastructure. The claim he makes is much more grandiose and in my opinion the evidence he presents in support of that claim is poor.
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Old 07-24-18, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by jon c. View Post
Given that cars have been an integral component in the life of everyone alive today, I would think it more accurate to say that cars have had a significant influence on the nation's political and social fabric. They are not an external agent to the culture, they are part of the culture and the present culture as we know it doesn't exist without the car. Yes, the suburbanization of America would likely have been reduced without the car, but it's equally possible that the technology that facilitates this remote discussion would not exist either. All of our technological progress stems from the automotive age and the society that grew with it. Technology and the desire to forward that technology shapes and in significant part defines our culture. It is part of who we are. The automotive age was about much more than just the car. But it does not exist without the car.
What do the technologies that make IT and media possible have to do with motor-vehicle and highway building? They are completely different technologies.

And the few conclusions presented in the article correlating such things as income and car dependence do not begin to prove causality. He really fails to establish any substantive link.
Causality is never proven by statistical research.

In retrospect, it isn't hard to make the argument that our society could have handled population growth and the accompanying growth of automotive in a better manner. Hindsight is always 20/20. But that doesn't mean cars have divided our culture. It helped to increase physical separation, but our culture was certainly no less divided before that occurred. Indeed, the automotive culture created the middle class, which arguably bridged cultural divisions (although it certainly didn't erase them). I'd certainly agree that we should have incorporated better public transportation into our infrastructure. The claim he makes is much more grandiose and in my opinion the evidence he presents in support of that claim is poor.
Suburban sprawl was overstimulated by people trying to escape cultural and economic divisions. People have been moving out to the country to get away from urban problems since at least the time of ancient Rome, but the culture of mass automobile reliance created a culture where people don't just move out the country/suburbs, they drive back and forth to the city daily, as well as to other areas, so you end up with sprawl in all directions. Plus the sprawl isn't composed of numerous more-or-less self-contained localities. Instead, employees are living miles and miles from their workplaces, and they are shopping and running errands in other places miles and miles away. It gets to the point where LCF within any single local area is like a form of isolation, and that is what creates driving-dependency. If you had sprawl where each local area has sufficient economic opportunities for people who live in that local area to also work and shop there, then no one is dependent on traveling miles and miles for things. They can if they want, but if they just stay within a couple miles of home biking/walking, they don't feel they're missing out on life and opportunities.
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Old 07-24-18, 10:55 AM
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How Cars Divide America - from Citylab

A major premise of this article is:

“For one, the geography of car use tracks with income and wealth: Car-dependent places are considerably less affluent. Metros in which a higher share of people depend on their cars to get to work are poorer, and those where more people use transit or bike or walk to work are considerably more affluent. The share of commuters who drive to work alone is negatively correlated with both wages and income

Conversely, in more affluent metros, a higher proportion of commuters use transit, walk, or bike.”

I was interested to note that the author is Richard Florida:
Originally Posted by Wikipedia
Florida is best known for his concept of the creative class and its implications for urban regeneration. This idea was expressed in Florida's best-selling books The Rise of the Creative Class (2002), Cities and the Creative Class, and The Flight of the Creative Class, and later published a book focusing on the issues surrounding urban renewal and talent migration, titled Who's Your City?

Florida's theory asserts that metropolitan regions with high concentrations of technology workers, artists, musicians, lesbians and gay men, and a group he describes as "high bohemians", exhibit a higher level of economic development. Florida refers to these groups collectively as the "creative class." He posits that the creative class fosters an open, dynamic, personal and professional urban environment.

This environment, in turn, attracts more creative people, as well as businesses and capital
.
Just this week I got involved in this thread, “More Bike Commuters
Originally Posted by Archwhorides View Post
On my side of Boston coming from Arlington, in many areas along my route the number of bikers is definitely generally increasing. In this nicer weather our numbers are seemingly reaching some sort of critical mass where the bikers may control the negotiations with the cars at points (multiple bikers taking over a lane at a stop light for instance).

It's nice to see so many intelligent and attractive people on the road enjoying themselves, and chat with some every now and then along the way.
Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
Interesting description of the people you like to see riding bikes. Do you care to expound on what are the characteristics that make some bicyclists appear to be "intelligent and attractive"?
Originally Posted by Archwhorides View Post
Aren't regular bike commuters intelligent and attractive by definition?
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
…(Boston is known, besides Beantown, as the Hub [of the Universe] )
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Sample bias.
In a ranking of America's Leading Creative Class Cities in 2015 (link), three of Boston’s inner suburbs rank: Brookline (#5), Cambridge (#7), and Newton (#8).

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 07-24-18 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 07-25-18, 12:14 AM
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I think maybe the author opened a can of baked beans and has no spork.
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Old 07-25-18, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
But I think there are other people, a lot I think, who feel a lot more comfortable and happy to walk/bike in corridors where bike paths and sidewalks are aesthetically oriented toward pedestrians and cyclists. It's like they don't want to be aesthetically marginalized by being a cyclist or pedestrian in what they see as car-territory.
Along the line of aesthetics, when I was figuring out my route to work I wound up taking a major car corridor and one of the first things that really struck me was how ugly it was. I have driven that corridor numerous times before, but it was only once I was on my bike I that the ugliness of it really struck me (mind you, being at the end of my stamina probably didn't help my opinion much). By contrast, the bike paths are much more aesthetically pleasing.
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Old 07-26-18, 07:14 AM
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It may be that cars are not only the chief destroyer of our communities, but are tearing at the nation’s political and social fabric.

This is rather opposite to the truth, and even the most rabid haters of cars could not fully agree with this statement. 99.9% of America exists outside the larger cities, and cars are largely responsible for the creation of literally tens of thousands of new communities around the country. Transportation is a fundamental necessity, and in a country as large as America, the ability for individuals to commute over great distances reinforces the social fabric.

I grew up in the middle of nowhere, in a rather poor community which had little in the way of wealth or resources, but those which we enjoyed were only possible because people could drive through and spend money, and we could drive he 100 miles to the nearest city to spend that money. As bad as things were when I was a kid, a century ago when visitors came by horse or coach, the isolation and poverty of the region was extreme. Cars brought visitors, who brought money and goods, and the quality of life was greatly improved.
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Old 07-26-18, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Sir Lunch-a-lot View Post
Along the line of aesthetics, when I was figuring out my route to work I wound up taking a major car corridor and one of the first things that really struck me was how ugly it was. I have driven that corridor numerous times before, but it was only once I was on my bike I that the ugliness of it really struck me (mind you, being at the end of my stamina probably didn't help my opinion much). By contrast, the bike paths are much more aesthetically pleasing.
Yes, exactly. And I think it's not as bad to drive through these corridors as it is to bike/walk through them because the speed you're going blurs a lot of the ugliness and you have to pay attention to driving and not look around at the scenery too much. It would cost a lot of time and resources to maintain all these corridors to standards that would please people at biking/walking speed. Sweeping methods of motorized maintenance like quick zero-turn mowers and the machines they use to pave long stretches of road make it possible to keep these corridors from breaking down and returning to a natural state, but it doesn't make them pretty.

Even if the corridors aren't pretty, though, if you have to go someplace and that's the shortest route, you just have to bite the bullet and deal with the ugliness and the fact that you don't 'fit' aesthetically as a cyclist. I think there are some people who like to bike, but they are finicky when it comes to going outside the areas that have been polished with nice bike lanes and bike paths and geared toward pedestrians and cyclists.
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Old 07-26-18, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by 50PlusCycling View Post
It may be that cars are not only the chief destroyer of our communities, but are tearing at the nation’s political and social fabric.

This is rather opposite to the truth, and even the most rabid haters of cars could not fully agree with this statement. 99.9% of America exists outside the larger cities, and cars are largely responsible for the creation of literally tens of thousands of new communities around the country. Transportation is a fundamental necessity, and in a country as large as America, the ability for individuals to commute over great distances reinforces the social fabric.

I grew up in the middle of nowhere, in a rather poor community which had little in the way of wealth or resources, but those which we enjoyed were only possible because people could drive through and spend money, and we could drive he 100 miles to the nearest city to spend that money. As bad as things were when I was a kid, a century ago when visitors came by horse or coach, the isolation and poverty of the region was extreme. Cars brought visitors, who brought money and goods, and the quality of life was greatly improved.
I only partly agree with this, and some of it is wrong. Farming and other rural industries were responsible for creating those thousands of small communities, and automation and other economic factors are causing them to disappear. The only ones that are thriving are the ones close enough to large cities to function as satellites, or that happen to have some tourist attraction.

Last edited by cooker; 07-26-18 at 09:34 AM.
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Old 07-26-18, 12:08 PM
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One has to wonder how a person that promoted gentrification has the nerve to accuse a machine of dividing America politically and socially. After his book promotes a new social class of hipsters that would exclude the traditional working class and their political aspirations.

Cars do not divide America anymore than cell phones do. It could be argued that social media has a larger impact on society and politics.

I read the link and see it as nothing more than pure speculation trying to express a belief that has its core in political and social ideology. A urban activist looking for a dragon to kill.

High cost of housing might divide America. Urban tax rates might divide America. Job availability might divide America but cars are not the cause of our political and social divisions. I would challenge Florida to prove there are more conservatives driving cars than liberals or vice a versa. Florida might want to see how gentrification has divided America and what political conflict that has caused.
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Old 07-26-18, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
I only partly agree with this, and some of it is wrong. Farming and other rural industries were responsible for creating those thousands of small communities, and automation and other economic factors are causing them to disappear. The only ones that are thriving are the ones close enough to large cities to function as satellites, or that happen to have some tourist attraction.
Just think about it in terms of a suburb or subdivision, which is basically built as an investment offering. You take a piece of undeveloped land and build a bunch of houses on it. Then, you set an introductory price, e.g. "starting in the mid $100k' you'll see on advertisements. Then, if people can drive between the subdivision and jobs elsewhere, it sets a precedent where others will see that the houses are selling and think, "hey, I can buy into that market and maybe sell for a profit a few years down the line after the neighborhood is established and keeps appreciating." Then, if people are living there, there is also impetus to build businesses, schools, etc. to serve the community.

There's really no agricultural motive for people to build and move out to these suburbs. It's just that they can take money from income and invest it in a new (real estate) stock offering, and then drive back and forth to their place of employment to shuttle the money back out to the suburb (figuratively shuttle it, I mean, because really they are just shuttling it to the bank to pay off the mortgage). So it really is just pure driving-facilitated growth. It is land-waste that destroys the environment and creates sprawl, but it is a way to convert green forests and countryside into green money. It is just one part of the money printing-press that keeps so many investors happy at the expense of the environment and sustainability (and ease of LCF), for those of us who care about that more than (printed) money.
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Old 07-26-18, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
I almost posted this in Politics and Religion but there is so little "bike talk" going on in there that I decided to post it here in Car Free in the assumption that you folks would be most interested in the findings of these studies. I have been car-free since 1989, and possibly falling off that wagon soon due to work changes.

If the mods don't like it here they can move it. My feelings won't be hurt.

How Cars Divide America

https://www.citylab.com/transportati...merica/565148/
Congratulations on your successful troll for more of the same old, same old P&R rants that are without any Living Car Free content. Doesn't seem to upset the mods at all!
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Old 07-26-18, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by i-like-to-bike View Post
congratulations on your successful troll for more of the same old, same old p&r rants that are without any living car free content. Doesn't seem to upset the mods at all!
+1000
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Old 07-26-18, 06:01 PM
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How Cars Divide America - from Citylab
Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
Congratulations on your successful troll for more of the same old, same old P&R rants that are without any Living Car Free content. Doesn't seem to upset the mods at all!
Originally Posted by badger1 View Post
+1000
Actually, I think the OP is germane to Car Free Living, because it purports that Car Free Commuting may actually be a sign of affluence, rather than impoverishment, and perhaps necessity, e.g due a DUI.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
A major premise of this article is:

“For one, the geography of car use tracks with income and wealth: Car-dependent places are considerably less affluent. Metros in which a higher share of people depend on their cars to get to work are poorer, and those where more people use transit or bike or walk to work are considerably more affluent. The share of commuters who drive to work alone is negatively correlated with both wages and income

Conversely, in more affluent metros, a higher proportion of commuters use transit, walk, or bike.”
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Old 07-26-18, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
How Cars Divide America - from CitylabActually, I think the OP is germane to Car Free Living, because it purports that Car Free Commuting may actually be a sign of affluence, rather than impoverishment, and perhaps necessity, e.g due a DUI.
however the idea that the people riding the bus to work in LA are more affluent than the BMW drivers in Beverly Hills and even Santa Monica is pretty far out there.

It makes interesting party fodder for the elite living on the top floors of a co-op building with door security but I would need hard numbers to prove we are divided political and socially by cars. Or maybe a solid idea of what the person thought was car free. Having a company limo and a private jet could be car free to some. Taking a taxi every day to others might be car free to others.

I would need a side by side comparison of Liberal car free people in the Hamptons compared to car driving conservative oil men in Houston. It was the point of the link that people were better off financially by taking mass transit. Yet world wide wealth is demonstrated at what point people can start affording personal transportation.

If someone is going to make the connection between politics and cars ell us what the connection is? Tell us how the car people vote and how the car free vote. Tell us if the very wealthy are car free. Tell us if more doctors or astronomers are car free and if not explain the education claim. If so what is their political bent.

I see it as all rainbows bows and unicorns.
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Old 07-26-18, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
Congratulations on your successful troll for more of the same old, same old P&R rants that are without any Living Car Free content. Doesn't seem to upset the mods at all!
Where's your LCF content?
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Old 07-26-18, 07:02 PM
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Look I know this whole link is not LCF related even if some can find a tenuous connection. But for the link to be true it would have to explain the statements and conclusions on links like this one.

Get Into My Car: The Congested Future of Worldwide Auto Ownership - Freakonomics Freakonomics
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Old 07-26-18, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
I would need hard numbers to prove we are divided political and socially by cars.
It would be more accurate to say otherwise conflicting classes of people are unified politically by cars. After all, as long as the poor/middle-class are buying cars on credit, that gives the corporations paper to trade. If the poor would all LCF, the financial sharks would get irritated and try to get them to sign away their lives some other way, and if they wouldn't, the sharks would get hungry for more income and turn against them for non-compliance.

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Old 07-26-18, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post


however the idea that the people riding the bus to work in LA are more affluent than the BMW drivers in Beverly Hills and even Santa Monica is pretty far out there.
He didn't claim that. He compared "Metros", and presumably Beverly Hills and LA are part of the same Metro. The claim is that wealthier cities have more diversity of transportation while poorer cities only have cars and not much else.
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Old 07-27-18, 12:14 AM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
He didn't claim that. He compared "Metros", and presumably Beverly Hills and LA are part of the same Metro. The claim is that wealthier cities have more diversity of transportation while poorer cities only have cars and not much else.
Beverly Hills has its own Police department, and Mayor. They have different city taxes. I suppose if you expand the circle big enough sooner or later there might be some slight creditably to his theory. But not likely. Still isn’t proof of political or social division. Like I said show us where the wealthy are one political and where cars can change that.

Please a concept of a higher more educated creative class that take the bus? And their political identity seperates them because of cars? I wonder who they vote for? I wonder if it effected BREXIT? Sounds like the man grew up on Dobie Gillis reruns. And yet as soon as people in developing economies reach a higher GDP car sales go up? As that happens do they become politically and socially divided? Have cars turned the Chinese into conservatives? Or does it only happen in America, not Cuba or Mexico?

i would be willing to bet car owners are every bit divided politically as anyone else.

however looking at the OPs posted link I can tell the Urbanist feels divided from the rest of us because he has more in common with some he quotes. And that is a political division.

“Writing from prison in the 1930s, the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci dubbed our modern economic system Fordism—invoking the system of automotive production developed by Henry Ford. On the factory floor, Fordism described the powerful synthesis of scientific management and the moving assembly line, which revolutionized industrial production.”

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Old 07-27-18, 01:58 AM
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Fascism, Fords...I want my Duster back.

Industrial production methods have nothing to do with LCF as a topic. You can apply them to tanks and baby pacifiers equally.

The usual dead end has been reached here. You are on a roundabout with no outlet.
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Old 07-27-18, 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Rollfast View Post
Industrial production methods have nothing to do with LCF as a topic. You can apply them to tanks and baby pacifiers equally.
Cars, bikes, and other vehicles are different methods for producing mobility. When Ford started, they were towing the chassis from one assembly station to the next using a rope. You could say they were working 'conveyor-free' at that point, and the factory was probably organized differently. Then, when they started using conveyors it changed the way they worked, the layout of the factory, etc.

Motor vehicles are basically conveyors for humans and other deliveries. The infrastructure they drive on and where they drive are the 'factory' of human life. The question is what we're producing, how, and why? Some people want to make the factory parts expensive to stimulate business activity and growth. Others want to make the factory produce more green growth, trees, forests, wildlife, etc. by organizing 'the factory' with environmental consequences in mind. Others want to use bikes and walking because we find it easier to stay fit and healthy when we're using our bodies to get around instead of sitting inside a conveyor. Still others don't like the expense/liability of having to be insured operating a powerful vehicle that can do serious damage and cause injury or death. Others just don't love cars enough to want to keep them clean and maintained and would prefer simpler options with less responsibility and maintenance demands.

But however you look at it, motor-vehicles are the equivalent of a motorized conveyor outside the factories, so it really is part of industrial production, even if you don't want to see that way because you prefer an image of the world where industrial production is distinguished from something else that is different somehow.
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Old 07-27-18, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
Congratulations on your successful troll for more of the same old, same old P&R rants that are without any Living Car Free content. Doesn't seem to upset the mods at all!
That’s because every forum needs a little traffic to justify existing. If the thread is busy then optimal readership includes managing content. Otherwise something’s better than nothing. Or at least nothing controversial or new.
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Old 07-27-18, 02:21 PM
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I doubt that the amount of traffic here portends to any death throes.
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