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Perhaps you’ve seen pictures of a person walking around in a large, wearable wooden frame meant to illustrate the space taken up by one person in a private automobile. That’s the gehzeug — or walkmobile — and it was invented by the Austrian civil engineer and professor Herman Knoflacher.
Professor Knoflacher, 81, is the head of the Institute of Transportation at the Vienna University of Technology. Long before the current global pandemic, he compared cars to a virus. It’s a provocative analogy, but Knoflacher makes a compelling case. And rather than searching for vaccines and other ways to fight this particular threat, humanity has actively helped the spread of cars, much to the detriment of the built environment, children’s health and safety and even our future on this planet.