If you’re a regular reader of Jalopnik, chances are you’re a car enthusiast. All of us over here, from the newest staff writers to the most tenured editors, certainly are. But no mater how much we all love the automobile, there’s a truth that’s getting increasingly difficult to ignore: Cars, as a whole, are pretty bad.
Canyon carving may be fun, and crawling your way up a rutted hill in four-wheel-low remains one of life’s purest joys. But, as Ethan Tufts of Hello Road so eloquently explained in a recent YouTube video, everything else around the culture of the automobile can make them more enraging than entertaining — and far more hassle than they’re worth.
Ethan makes a number of points in the video, from costs of ownership to the struggles of maintaining an automotive fleet to the dangers and frustrations of automaker-backed car-centric infrastructure. The video is nearly eighteen minutes long, but it’s worth watching all the way through — on every point, Tufts is right.
Much of the video focuses on American infrastructure, and how it’s established personal vehicles as the only way to participate in society. If you want to get to work, get groceries, or even just visit friends, most parts of the country will require you to use a car. There’s just no other way to get around.
That sort of spread-out, walking-hostile urban planning has ramifications in housing, the shipping and trucking industry, and even community organization. I’ve even touched on the topic before, in one of our famed Twitch streams — cars are fun, but the infrastructure that demands you own one is a big problem
A society that demands personal vehicles for transit, but encourages vehicles to constantly grow in size and shrink in visibility, is one that’s ever more dangerous to simply exist in. Yet, it’s the society we’ve been given, thanks in no small part to years of lobbying from the auto industry.
Cars are fun. Being a car enthusiast can be a great time, when you find other compatriots who enjoy your same niche hobby. But forcing that on the world, demanding car ownership as an ante to exist in the modern day (beyond a few select, expensive cities with competent public transit) is a grave misstep in history.