If your city’s transportation plan doesn’t have specific & ambitious mode shift targets, and an action plan to achieve those targets, you don’t have a transportation plan.
— Brent Toderian (@BrentToderian) June 15, 2019
All right, so I’m having ideas and I’m just going to keep talking, because it could be done. For instance, the other day, I was driving over to see friends to have dinner and go to a concert, and I just looked around, and everybody’s driving. Everybody’s out in their cars, going somewhere. Like, this is a problem. We can’t all be in our cars going somewhere anymore, right? That’s a lifestyle that is perpetuating the fossil fuel industry, and we need to stop. We need to shift it. So okay, how would that happen? Well, what if there was a buyback program for cars? They’ve got buyback programs for automatic weapons. New Zealand just did it. The US has done it in places before. So if we thought about personal vehicles actually as instruments of ecological warfare, and understood that we need to turn them in and get around by a different mode of transportation, that would move us a pretty far distance down the timeline of transition.
But then what would happen? Well, why can’t all the cars go to disassembly plants or whatever kind of manufacturing facility can convert the parts into the parts needed for better public transit. Like, that’s what we need, right? People still want to be able to get around. We need a system that allows people to get around together, through public transportation, conduits of trains, rail, maybe some kinds of buses. I mean, the stuff that the Chinese have is… Like, there’s crazy technology out there for mass-moving people around, and there can be enough variety in the routes, in the types and the routes, to make it so you can get pretty much anywhere. We just have to decide that’s what we need to do, and then we just do it, so we retool.
We go on a kind of economic footing like we did for the World Wars, and like we did when 43… Was it 43? 42? Bush. The second Bush decided to go to war against Iran. He used a phrase at that time about the United States being like a bear waking up from slumber, and being an unstoppable force once it gets moving. Well, supposedly lots of people are getting woke, but we haven’t really started moving in any kind of coordinated fashion yet. There are a lot of efforts, but they’re siloed, kind of piecemeal, and not very intersectional. Kind of like the Academy, which has been talking about interdisciplinarity for decades, but still struggles to reward people who are actually doing it.
But that’s what we need to figure out, is a big bold plan. The Green New Deal could easily be a label, a container, for hashing out the plan, or the plans, because there will need to be many. Transportation’s one sector. Education is another sector. Healthcare is another sector. They all need to be integrated to the extent that we know where they intersect each other, and that’s where we need to make the transitions, or the juxtapositions, the intersections seamless. They need to be smooth.
So transportation takes you to where your healthcare is, and education allows you to understand how to use the transportation system and the healthcare system to maintain your own health and wellbeing, and that of your family, as well as finding means to situate yourself in a good housing situation and an income situation, or networked ability to receive enough food to be able to eat well and feed your family well. Like, there are just some basics. If we took those basics as the essentials, and approached them with a long-term view, such as indigenous people have, and have always had, and are trying very much to tell us, if we would only listen, we could do this thing.
It doesn’t mean it will be without disruption. Things will change. But the change doesn’t necessarily have to be for the worse. Conditions are going to get much more challenging, and to the extent that we try to protect the things that cushion us in the old economy, we impair our ability to transition smoothly to the new economy. But if we just engage the reality that things need to change, and then diligently work at how to make sure everybody gets enough, and build that into the… I mean, it could still be capitalist. Build it into the infrastructure of the circulation of money, because that’s what keeps an economy going. It’s not that everybody keeps trying to accumulate as much as they possibly can, although obviously there are always going to be people who are motivated by that.
But an economy only works if the goods are in circulation, and right now, most of the goods, the financial goods, are tied up among an astonishingly small number of people, who are probably sick with this disease of needing to hoard it to themselves, and battling with each other to outmaneuver each other, get a little bit more. And while they’re playing that game with the rest of us, we’re trying to figure out bigger solutions, that shift the rules of the game so that the circulation happens in a more equitable way, a more fair way. It’s just that simple.