The War on Cars

Is there really a “war on cars” in Seattle?

Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

Posted by Jim Brunner

Has Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn really declared a “war on cars?” Or is that just a manufactured right-wing talking point?

At the blog of the green think tank, the Sightline Institute, Eric De Place has a fascinating blog post today investigating the origin of the term “war on cars.”

De Place traces the popularization of the phrase to the conservative Heritage Foundation, suggesting the term has been parroted by a network of conservative bloggers, who borrowed some of their ideas from a transportation controversy in Toronto.

“So thatai??i??s the origin of Seattleai??i??s ai???war on carsai??? tempest in a teapot: it was a low-level ai???memeai??? that circulated for a decade or so; bubbled up in Toronto; was then picked up by a few right-leaning national pundits in the US; and was then parroted by the Seattle-area noise machine.”

Of course, if there were a “war on cars,” you can bet Sightline Institute wouldn’t enlist on the side of General Motors.

Still, De Place thinks it’s silly to cite proposals to increase parking rates as evidence of a Seattle “war on cars” when most local leaders are supporting two car-centric mega projects: the new waterfront tunnel and 520 bridge.

He concludes:

“There’s something almost laughably overheated about the “war on cars” rhetoric. It’s almost as if the purveyors of the phrase have either lost their cool entirely, or else they’re trying desperately to avoid a level-headed discussion of transportation policy.”

It’s worth a read, whichever side of the war-or-not-war you are on.


2 Responses to “The War on Cars”
  1. zweisystem says:

    In Europe, if there isn’t a proven modal shift (30%-40%) from car to a new LRT/tram line, then the project may be rejected until it is built to attract the motorist from the car.

    Why spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a new transit line if it fails to achieve new ridership?

  2. Stela says:

    I have lived in lower Lonsdale for over eight years now and would like to share how I see the increased deoelvpment in RANT. When CN took over from BC Rail they took over wanting to expand and increase rail activity in partnership with good old Port Metro Vancouver. They knew at this time that they would have to fight a community at-large to get what they felt they were entitled to, our Low Level Road. The only gem missing from them expanding their port tomorrow. It was the anticipation of this battle that was the cause for the demand in increase of OVERALL rail noise and port activity, and essentially running the train whistles to the letter of the book became the mandate. If one was to look over the stats for calls to the Waterfront Noise Pollution committee, one would clearly see that this really only became a problem shortly after BCR became CN. Just like Port Metro Vancouver tried to spring and shove through their Low Level Road Project basically behind the community’s back, they also took advantage of a quiet, long standing community by trying to push us to the edge with their increase in noise levels. Little did they know how committed we are to our homes, our neighbours and our neighbourhood. They will be back, no doubt sooner than any of us want them to be, but it would be in both CN’s and PMV’s best interest if they cooled their heels on all fronts for awhile now and focused on aligning themselves with the fact that we are a community not a business and if they want speical priviledges through our special neighbourhood, then they better start behaving like a neighbour and show some respect.PMV is in dire straights with the people who live down on the Fraser River too, they just don’t get it do they?