Wednesday 4 July 2012

We are at war with 'Imperial Car'

We live in the empire of the car: they are in charge. And behind the car: the car industries. They must feel threatened. What headlines do they fear

  • "closed to traffic" -devalues the car
  • "congestion charges" -increases cost of use
  • "traffic jams expected" -destroys value of car
  • "EU pollution limits" -shows cost of motoring
  • "Car crash kills family of five" -shows cost of motoring and doesn't reduce the blame like "cyclist dies in road accident -not wearing helmet".
  • "Oil prices to rise"
  • "Fuel duties to increase"

These threaten their livelihood -a livelihood that depends on people not just buying a new car every few years, but paying a premium over "car that gets you there" for "car as visible display of status". They have to show value in owning a car, and reinforce that cars are not merely something everyone needs -but something to show of one's status in modern society.

The People's Cycling front hereby declares war on Imperial Car makes a list of threats to these invaders  of our city!

  • Direct cost of motoring. Congestion and Parking fees connect drivers directly with the costs; fuel less so but still tangibly. Electric motoring with quarterly bills would be even better.
  • Opposition to the societal costs of motoring. Death of cyclists and pedestrians, pollution in cities, the destruction of our city centres, death of the high-street. Anything that forces cars to slow down destroys its selling point "speed", restricting access kills its key function "gets you there fast".
  • Congestion. So fucking ironic: cars create their own downfall in congestion and parking problems, problems that parking fees and congestion charges are used to mitigate.
  • Demographics. Cars lived off the baby boom, consumerism and the movement to the suburbs -places where every adult needs a car. Falling populations in western countries and a return to the city cores threatens this.
  • Cultural shifts. Cars go out of fashion. Not status symbols, no more than a bus is. The big risk here is that the (shrinking) youth prefer to be online with their friends over phones than stuck in traffic jams.

We the People's Cycling Front of South Gloucestershire shall fight the invaders! We shall look at all these issues in turn and show how the Empire of the Car is threatened -and what are they doing to fight back.

Before then, look at how they are denying the truth. Here's Audi's "ugly ducking" video

Look at the old footage -villages you can walk around in. People. It would be nice to walk round there, to go to local shops.

Consider what Audi want to sell their customers. A countryside empty of people, animals and bicycles. The car is portrayed as driverless, as it speeds down empty roads -roads that never get seen outside car adverts. Inside the car, in the blue glow of the audi interiors (VW/Audi Group like their blue dashboards), the driver -a man, obviously- warms his oversized buttocks on the heated leather seats. He speaks to his wife on the iPhone via the speaker system, tell her and the family not to wait up as a financial crisis has occurred and he is essential to society because he has to fix it. Then he phones up his (french, naturally) mistress, says the satnav says he'll be there in six minutes, so get the champagne out the fringe and the kimono on.

That is what Audi are selling. Status -and a world that doesn't fucking exist. Yet they promise it, they say "buy our overpriced toy and you can have it". You can't, it's bollocks. Not even your own wife wants to bed you, your kids are bored with your work stories, your colleagues think you are a wanker who can't stop talking about cars, even though carbon road bikes are bling toy of the month. Even you worry about the fact that you aren't getting enough exercise -as is your doctor.

Buying a new Audi will not fix the problems in your life -it will just make you poorer. And it will make society itself poorer, which is where the rest of us have to give a fuck.

Over the next month or two, expect more coverage on these threats -and how to use them.

For now, consider this: the amount of money spent on cycling -all of it- is a fraction of the money spent on car advertising alone. One fucking US Superbowl advert costs $3.5M, enough to put in a decent segregated cycle path in a city where neither TfL or S Gloucs traffic planning department had any influence. Who was prepared to spend that much money? General Motors, in an advert showing how buying a car was the right thing for all patriotic Americans.

In all those adverts -not a single fucking bicycle. Even the pedestrians know their place and keep out of the way of cars. This is where the real motorist training budget goes -not on bluewash from the DfT, but on Imperial Car propaganda saying your life would be better if all the bicycles got out of the fucking way.

1 comment:

  1. "You are part of the rebel alliance and a traitor!"

    Excellent blog post. I especially loved the irony of the Audi advert. It all looked really nice, apart from the fucking car!