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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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TEASER: Lessons from Copenhagen with Mikael Colville-Andersen

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Mikael Colville-Andersen is an urban designer, TV host and writer whose name is practically synonymous with Copenhagen, bicycling and smart urban design. Doug had a chance to interview him for this special bonus episode.

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

https://www.patreon.com/thewaroncarspod

***Become a Patreon supporter for access to this episode and all premium content. Staring at just $2/month, you’ll also get free stickers and other goodies as well as a discount on merch in our official store.***

You can find the transcript of this teaser here.

61. Jamelle Bouie Has Seen the Future of Transportation

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New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie has been riding an electric-assist bicycle around Charlottesville, Virginia for almost a year now, and he is convinced: E-bikes are the future of transportation. Not only has the e-bike transformed his own personal mobility, it has changed the way he looks at his city and gotten him more deeply involved in local planning and policy-making. In this one-on-one conversation, Jamelle and Aaron start off discussing e-bikes and end up talking about what it’s going to take to push America’s sclerotic political system to solve increasingly urgent housing and transportation crises in U.S. cities. Plus, Jamelle offers some helpful advice to anyone accused of waging a war on cars or fanning the flames of America’s culture wars.

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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60. The Power of E-Bikes with Congressman Earl Blumenauer

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Electric bikes shorten commutes, flatten hills and make cycling accessible to anyone who might need a boost. They’re also great tools for replacing car trips and fighting climate change. Unfortunately, they’re still a little pricey for some people. That could change thanks to a new bill in Congress: the Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment Act. Co-sponsored by Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, the E-BIKE Act would offer a tax credit of 30% of the price of an electric bicycle, something that could bring the joys of e-bike ownership within  reach of more Americans. Congressman Blumenauer joins The War on Cars to discuss the bill, why commuter benefits ought to apply to bicycle sharing systems, and the economic, environmental and social benefits of bike commuting in general. (Spoiler alert: cyclists typically don’t murder each other over parking.) Plus, he offers his thoughts on Democratic control of the House and Senate and the recent appointment of U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. 

***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 — and 30% off their new anorak rain jacket — 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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59. Housing for People, Not Cars

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What would it be like to walk out of your home and see other people instead of cars? Can you imagine opening your door and letting your kids run around outside independently? Residents of Cully Green — a 23-home community in Portland, Oregon developed specifically to encourage a car-free or car-light way of life — don’t have to imagine it. They’re living a life more akin to the idealized version of the suburbs of the past than the reality often found across the country today. Why are developments like this so unusual? Because in most of America it’s illegal to build thanks to single-family zoning. So is Cully Green the kind of thing that could only work in Portland because, you know… Portland? Or is this a model for building better cities and better communities all across the country?

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

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58. Episode LVIII

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The Super Bowl is more than a football game — it’s a massive opportunity for the automobile industry to inject slickly produced propaganda directly into the eyeballs of over 100 million television viewers. In these trying times, how did car companies handle the task of making their pitch to the public? What do these ads, dripping with nostalgia, say about America, politics and the future of our planet? What does Will Ferrell have against Norway? What was up with that Bruce Springsteen ad for Jeep? And what about all the ads that weren’t directly about cars but had everything to do with car culture? Aaron, Sarah and Doug critique this carnival of capitalism and consumerism.

You can find the complete transcript of this episode here.

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57. Test Driving the 2021 Cadillac Escalade with Andrew Hawkins

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If you’ve ever spent time leafing through a car magazine or, god forbid, watching car reviews on YouTube, then you know that most of what passes for “automotive journalism” is indistinguishable from automobile marketing. That’s why it was so refreshing to read journalist Andrew Hawkins’ review of the 6,000-pound, 18-foot-long, 2021 Cadillac Escalade in The Verge last October. Rather than simply cooing over the latest high-tech doodads and distractions, Andrew reviewed the $80,000+ luxury truck from the perspective of the people who will be walking, biking, and trying to live their lives on city streets with this gargantuan SUV and its distracted driver in their midst. Aaron chats with Andrew about his stressful test drive of the new Escalade, his confrontation with the product managers at Cadillac, and the role that journalism can (or, perhaps, can’t) play in compelling policy makers and the automobile industry to change for the better. 

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

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