the mass produced auto

bill_hMarch 5, 2006

the mass produced automobile, the greatest invention ever made for man? or the greatest evil ever unleashed on mankind? thoughts? the older i get the more i lean toward the latter.

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Hello Bill_H :

Mass production of the automobile put the ownership of a car within reach of the middle class, and to some extent, lower class parts of our ecomonic society. The rapid development of the US from 1920 onward rode on the wheels of the auto and imporved roads. But, this forced other changes that may, or may not have been good for our society as a whole.

Without the private auto, we'd still be riding buses and trains. Personal travel for touring would have been lessened. However, passenger trains are few today, and so are buses. I'm undecided if the trade-off was a good one, however, I definitey like having a personal mode of travel since it permits me much enjoyment and convenience. For example, I am planning to go see my daughter for her birthday and she lives 3 states away. Other activities are planned for this trip as well. This would not be done without a car. My daughter's location is too remote for practical public transportation, and like in "the old days" when a trip was too great of an endevor, it was not done, and people made do with letters and phone calls. Without the car, family visits were rare unless they lived within a 100 mile distance. So, is the auto "good" or "bad"? It's mighty nice to have, although there is a price to pay in terms of energy, environment, and resources.

There is a downside as we get older. Some of the older population would use public transportation for personal trips if it were available, but it is not. It can not compete with the mass use of the car.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 1:43AM
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Unfortunately, the automobile has turned into more than transportation. It's now a status symbol, a business writeoff, self expression (not in itself a bad thing), and a reason to go in debt!
I'm the first to admit that I could not make it without my car. However, if there was convenient, economical mass transit available, I'd jump on it. So to speak.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 1:06PM
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Mass transit makes sense when conditions are really crowded(England, Japan) and where the system is designed around the mass transit, maybe this will be the future, deep future for us as well.
For today, and tomorrow , I'll take my ten year old Saab.
But I can see Bill's point - the traffic must slow down some, and the drivers must be more respectful and courteous..

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 3:32PM
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the traffic must slow down some, and the drivers must be more respectful and courteous.

I just don't see that happening. Cars today are so much safer than cars of even a generation ago that today's higher speeds mean little in terms of injury. And people are increasingly conditioned to now -- microwave ovens, fast food, instant-cash machines, computers and the Internet, movies when you want to see them ... Darn few will willingly go back to slower. I see "respectful and courteous" in the same light -- the increasing coarseness of society shows up on the road, as well. I suspect the best answer lies in automating driving so that driver involvement is no longer necessary. Not that I want to see that day, but I know many others do.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2006 at 8:57AM
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steve o now that would be great! get in, sit down, shut up, and leave the driving to intel! man i could live with that.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2006 at 7:43PM
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But I have found the big rig drivers to be by far the most courteous, the ones who make others happy to be on the road.
Car drivers should emulate them...

As far as slowing down goes, if the government would first set up realistic laws ,then enforce them, the problem could be solved..

Several hundred $500 fines for tailgating in a short time in one county could make a lasting impression.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 12:11PM
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As far as slowing down goes, if the government would first set up realistic laws ,then enforce them, the problem could be solved.

"Realistic" is a slippery term here. There's an Interstate highway not far from my house. It was built in the last 20 years, to typical Interstate standards, so 60-80 mph is not unreasonable on this road -- except that, since it cuts through a city, the government decided to limit speeds (and the resulting noise) to 45 mph to keep the folks near the highway happy. It's a waste of a great piece of road. And 45 is almost totally unenforceable here.

Besides, as they're busy chipping away at the payroll at the police departments, I'd rather they spent their time on DWIs and accidents, not speeders.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 10:26PM
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Lewis Mumford, writing about urban design issues, had a lot to say about cars and the infrastructure they require, like superhighways and parking lots. This was back in the 1950's, and into the 60's, I think. His vision for healthy cities has not, in general, been realized here in the USA. Clearly, he was swimming against the current.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 12:37PM
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