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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.

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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.

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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.***

 

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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56. Humane Streets with Anil Dash

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In a sense, cars are a bit like the internet comments section of the real world. Driving, like leaving a reply on a message board or posting something on Twitter, can be done anonymously, dividing people from their fellow human beings and even leading to aggressive behavior… if not the complete corrosion of polite society. With custom details and bumper stickers promoting political ideologies and pithy slogans, cars are also outward expressions of personal identity… just like one’s social media presence. To unpack the similarities between the sprawling systems of online communication and personal transportation, Doug talks to Anil Dash, the tech entrepreneur and pioneering blogger who’s served as a sharp and thoughtful critic of the industry in which he has spent most of his career. Is a better, more humane internet possible? If so, what lessons can be learned for people who want safer, more humane streets? And what would Prince think?

Find the complete transcript of this episode here.

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55. Mayor Pete at the Drive-Thru

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The best thing you can say about 2020 is that it was the year that, well, was. In this year-end roundup, Aaron, Sarah and Doug take some listener voice memos and respond to the stories that flew across the War on Cars news desk. Is it a Good Thing or a Bad Thing that Mayor Pete Buttigieg has been named the next Transportation Secretary? What will it mean for the future of the “third space” now that fast food restaurants are ditching indoor dining and retooling their parking lots and drive-thrus to cater to online orders? What’s the connection between a massive diesel tampering scandal in America and a landmark public health case in the UK? And what will it take to sustain the pandemic-induced bike boom into next year and beyond?

Find the full transcript of this episode here.

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