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TEASER: Way Too Many Tech Bros

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It sure was a busy week for our transportation tech bro overlords. Elon Musk announced a deal to build another one of his car tunnels beneath the waterlogged streets of Fort Lauderdale, Florida while also admitting that, “haha” the self-driving cars he’s been promising for years aren’t going to happen any time soon. Malcolm Gladwell launched the new season of his “Revisionist History” podcast with an episode that comes across like a demented advertorial for robot cars. And a tech bro named Jason Crawford spent the better part of a day arguing on Twitter that “cars are one of the most amazing and wonderful inventions in all of history.” In this special episode for our Patreon supporters, Andrew Hawkins, senior reporter at The Verge, joins Doug and Aaron for a deep dive into the tech bros and their vision for the future of transportation. Plus: Lance Armstrong! As if it couldn’t get any more bro-ish.

Sign up starting at just $2 per month and you can listen to this episode and lots of other bonus content. Plus we’ll send you stickers.

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67. God Help Us, It’s Really Infrastructure Week

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Breaking News! Following weeks of negotiations, and as a mind-boggling heat wave settled on the Pacific Northwest, President Joe Biden and a bipartisan group of ten Senators stepped out of a closed-door meeting at the White House to announce they’d made a deal. There will be infrastructure! $579 billion worth of it, in fact. The biggest federal investment in infrastructure in more than a hundred years and, according to President Biden, the 21st century equivalent to our historic investments in the Interstate Highway System and the transcontinental railroad. But if you’re a tad skeptical about what this deal might mean for The War on Cars, you have good reason. Federal transportation investments have not been kind to Americans who wish to live untethered from an automobile. And in U.S. political discourse, “infrastructure” has typically been shorthand for “car stuff.” But could this moment be different? Here to help us understand the big infrastructure package and the arcane world of federal transportation policy is Beth Osborne, executive director of Transportation for America. Warning: This episode includes a brief audio clip of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

***This episode was sponsored in part by our friends at Cleverhood. For 20% off of stylish, functional rain gear designed specifically for walking and biking enter coupon code WARONCARS at checkout.***

Support The War on Cars on Patreon and get cool stickers, access to exclusive bonus content and more.

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66. The One Where They Go Back to the Studio

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We’re vaxxed and we’re back. In this very special reunion episode, Sarah, Doug and Aaron return to the studio for the first time in fifteen months. Fifteen months! The COVID-19 pandemic has been a wild, earth-shattering, world-historic event with far-reaching implications for The War on Cars and pretty much everything else. We revisit some of our predictions from the beginning of the lockdown, take stock of what has changed and what has not, and chatter nervously about the lack of ventilation in the studio. Plus: We review Ford’s new, multi-ton. all-electric, pickup truck, the F-150 Lightning. Spoiler: It’s bad. 

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

***This episode was sponsored in part by our friends at Cleverhood. For 20% off of stylish, functional rain gear designed specifically for walking and biking enter coupon code WARONCARS at checkout.*** 

Support The War on Cars on Patreon and get cool stickers, access to exclusive bonus content and more.

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TEASER: Building LEGO Cities with Sean Kenney

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***This is a quick preview of a bonus episode. Become a Patreon Supporter of The War on Cars for access to the complete episode and all our exclusive content. Plus, we’ll send you stickers!***

Sean Kenney, one of the voices in Episode 65, “Where are the Bike Lanes in Lego City?” is an artist and self-described “professional kid” who designs and creates amazing sculpture and other works of art using nothing but LEGO pieces. Sean provided the original episode with a highly informed perspective on Lego’s history and design choices over the years.

In this extended conversation just for Patreon supporters of The War on Cars, Sean explains why he moved his family — as well as his enormous LEGO collection — from Brooklyn to Amsterdam, a city that he described as one that was “fully cooked” before the arrival of the automobile. He also provides further theories as to the longtime lack of bicycles Legoland, dives deeper into the evolution of LEGO cars and trucks, explains the unique design challenges that make adding bike lanes to LEGO road plates difficult and waxes poetic about building his idea of a perfect city.

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65. Where are the Bike Lanes In Lego City?

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Why are there no bike lanes in LEGO City? That’s a question Marcel Steeman, a regional councillor in the Netherlands, asked himself one day in 2016 while assembling some LEGO sets with his kids. As a Dutchman, he thought the lack of bike lanes on LEGO’s thin plastic road plates was weird. Even weirder, The LEGO Group is based in Denmark, one of the most bike-friendly nations on the planet! How could a Danish company not include bike lanes in its city-themed sets?

When Marcel submitted a proposal for new road plates with bike lanes to the company, LEGO rejected the idea, telling him the idea was too political. What’s political about bike lanes? As anyone who’s tried to change a street in a real city can tell you, the answer is everything.

What happens when one of the best selling toys in history doesn’t offer children the tools to build a world where it’s possible to get around without a car? And why does it matter to a bunch of adults?

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

***This episode was sponsored in part by our friends at Cleverhood. For 20% off of stylish, functional rain gear designed specifically for walking and biking enter coupon code WARONCARS at checkout.*** 

Support The War on Cars on Patreon and get cool stickers, access to exclusive bonus content and more.

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TEASER: Meet Mr. Barricade

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Combine a deep love of cities and urban planning with a penchant for wearing stylish suits, smooth dance moves set to Swedish rap music and a curious fascination with drainage and what do you get? Mr. Barricade, an unlikely TikTok star. Vignesh Swaminathan, who runs his own engineering and design firm in California, has built a huge following on the video-sharing platform based on his unique ability to explain everything from how protected intersections work in busy downtowns to the ongoing impacts of redlining and segregation. In this Patreon bonus episode just for supporters of The War on Cars, Doug talks to Mr. Barricade about his viral videos, tricks for successfully fighting racism online and the power of TikTok to help people see and experience their streets and communities in new ways.

Become a Patreon supporter of The War on Cars for access to this episode and all exclusive content. As thanks, we’ll also send you stickers!

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64. The Driver

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This show usually focuses on the victims of traffic violence, and that is where the focus belongs. But in this episode, we hear the first-person story of a woman, Shane Snowdon, who killed someone with her car. 

It happened more than 20 years ago, when she hit an 18-year-old man named Guillermo Venancio on a scenic road in California, ending his life in an instant. It’s a difficult story to hear. But we think it can help us understand the reality of a transportation system built around cars and driving. When people have to use a machine that’s as deadly as a loaded gun to do everything — go to work, take the kids to baseball practice, buy a quart of milk — it isn’t that hard for an ordinary person to become a killer. 

On some level, we all know this. But when we hear about a traffic crash, we think, that’s something that only happens to other drivers. We don’t like to believe that we could be responsible for taking another human being’s life. It’s a worst-case scenario we keep hidden from ourselves. Shane wants people to know that it can happen to them. That’s why she reached out and asked to tell her story on The War on Cars.

This episode was produced by Sarah Goodyear, with editing and sound design by Ali Lemer. The music is from Blue Dot Sessions.

Learn about how the people at Families for Safe Streets are working to fight traffic violence.

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

 

TEASER: The Miracle Pill with Peter Walker

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From cities built for driving at the expense of walking and cycling to jobs that keep people sitting at their desks all day and neighborhoods where children aren’t free to roam, it can be challenging for anyone to get the kind of activity needed to keep them healthy. In his new book, The Miracle Pill: Why a Sedentary World is Getting It All Wrong, journalist Peter Walker chronicles the global crisis of inactivity, the pioneering epidemiologists who first noticed its effects, and the people and places working to get people moving.

The full interview is available exclusively to Patreon subscribers of The War on Cars.

https://www.patreon.com/thewaroncarspod

***Become a Patreon supporter today for access to this episode and all premium content. Starting at just $2/month, you’ll also get free stickers and other goodies.***

You can find the transcript of this teaser here.

 

63. The Emperor’s New Tunnel

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Two years after it was first announced, a tunnel project in Las Vegas by Elon Musk’s Boring Company was finally revealed to the world. Originally conceived as a way to whisk Las Vegas Convention Center visitors from one side of the sprawling complex to the other in futuristic-looking pods, the $53-million project turned out to just be… just a bunch of Teslas in tunnels. Oh, and there were flashing lights. Nevertheless, in a recent CNBC segment, anchor Shep Smith and reporter Contessa Brewer were tasked with making “a highway underground” sound innovative, thrilling and worth the hype. So how’d they do? Not great. Aaron Gordon — senior reporter at Vice’s Motherboard — called the segment, “the most embarrassing news clip in American transportation history.” Aaron, not to be confused with the podcast’s other Aaron and other Gordon, joins all three The War On Cars hosts to discuss the disappointing project, the embarrassing coverage and whether any of it will make a difference in changing people’s perspective on the alleged genius of Elon Musk.

This episode was sponsored in part by our friends at Cleverhood. To celebrate the arrival of spring, listers of The War on Cars can receive 25% off of stylish, functional rain gear designed specifically for walking and biking. Enter coupon code WARONCARS at checkout.

Support The War on Cars on Patreon and get cool stickers, access to exclusive bonus episodes and more.

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

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62. It’s Finally Infrastructure Week

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From “sexy bike lanes” to just what constitutes a “bicycle accident,” transportation is making headlines like never before. Aaron, Sarah and Doug are together again to consider the burning questions filling our airwaves and social media feeds right now. Will US DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg force all Americans to ride cargo bikes filled with Dr. Seuss books and dump them in a compost pile, or is that just a Fox News fever dream? Is New York’s congestion pricing plan, the first in the nation, finally about to get rolling? And is it really part of a de Blasio/Cuomo/Biden war on cars? What can Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo teach us all about the harms of highway widening? What should be done about e-bike batteries? Plus, is America down with VMT? 

This episode was sponsored in part by Cleverhood. To celebrate the arrival of spring, War on Cars listers can now receive 25% off of stylish, functional rain gear designed specifically for walking and biking. Enter coupon code WARONCARS at checkout.

Support The War on Cars on Patreon and get cool stickers, access to exclusive bonus content and more.

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

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