- a collection of notes and reflections on urban living from the perspective of a family of five in Tokyo. My epiphany was many years ago, but being hit by a motorbike and seeing my life flash before my eyes caused a sudden change that slowly made me reflect on whether American style auto-centric urban transportation of the Roosevelt era really is a capital G "Good Idea" for civilized modern cities in the 21st Century. This blog explores the good and the bad in urban planning and design, here and elsewhere. The goal is simple - not "death to all cars," just more walkable communities, quiet tree-lined streets, good public transport, traffic calming, Velib style bicycle sharing and a bit of common sense. The bolg is mostly theraputic, so I don't go wanting to throttle every dangerous driver I come across, but partly also out of a real desire to see positive change. This blog explores how it can be done, the people who do it, and how, in many small ways, this very old idea may at last have found its zeitgeist. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

"No" to Bailout for Automakers

Reuters poll results on the question "Should the Government bail out US Automakers?"

Yes: 25%
No: 75%

That's three to one. I dare the Democrats to try. They will regret it. But lets look at this level-headedly here -there is no reason to support an industry that has had plenty of opportunity to change since they saw the writing on the wall in the 70's but they didn't for one reason or other (selling cars and SUVs was making so much money!). Well now they are paying the price. And if people don't want as many cars anymore, there's no point paying the companies to keep making them just like they were 5 years ago. We must simply accept that there will be consolidation and pain in the industry and let's do what we can to help the workers find something else to do. And the sooner the better. Build trains. The Japanese do it. The French do it. The Chinese do it. Why can't Americans? Build roads and towns that are walkable and don't even need driving. Imagine if your 10yr old kids could walk or ride a bike to school without you having to worry for their life. Imagine if you could walk to schools, shops, pools, tennis, library, doctors etc without having to get in your car everytime. Instead of being wide, open high-speed rivers of steel, exposed to the elements, imagine if most roads in the city were narrow tree-lined lanes with a canopy of tree cover, to protect pedestrians from the wind, sun and all but the hardest rain.



Tania said...

And I found absolutely regrettable the fact Obama asked to -still- president Bush all the possible support for the automotive industry. It's a very bad first sign from "the president of The Change".


Anonymous said...

Yes - I cannot agree more. This does not bode well. The decline of the US "automobile nation" is not a short term phenomenon coming out of the credit crunch that can be fixed with a few cheap loans and all will be hunky dory. It is, I am convinced, a fundamental world-wide rethink of the long term viability of the whole automobile economy with US automakers at the epicentre. People may still want to ignore it, but it's happening already - auto has become a sunset industry in the US, Japan, and most of Europe, and my bet is it may very soon be worldwide for reasons totally unconnected with the credit crunch. There might be an argument for US handing out helicopter loads of federal money to permit an orderly decline rather than collapse of the industry in 6-months, but just remember, "you're gonna pay tomorrow" as the song goes. Even if they manage to retool, any hybrid or EV market that develops will be a far cry from the scale of current auto markets. Government money will not be well spent propping up these industries that are failing, and frankly should be allowed to fail.