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85. Infiltrating the Auto Show II

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The New York International Auto Show was back and bigger than ever… and so were the cars. Our intrepid correspondents Sarah and Doug braved the crowds and sensory overload to hear straight from auto industry reps about the giant SUVs and muscle cars that will be prowling cities and suburban parking lots in the coming years. From the “menacing” and “in your face” Ford Bronco Raptor to the 800-horsepower Dodge Charger, what do the people who sell these vehicles to the public have to say when confronted with questions about safety? Plus, with e-bikes and scooters ascendant, will they one day take the auto out of the Auto Show?

This episode was sponsored by our friends at Cleverhood rain gear and Radpower Bikes.

Become a Patreon supporter of The War on Cars for fun rewards and exclusive ad-free bonus content.

Aaron infiltrated the 2019 New York International Auto Show in Episode 17.

How big is the 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor? “The Raptor is a lane-filling 9.8 inches wider than the base Bronco,” according to Kelly Bluebook. Plus, it’s so tall that even the fenders “will be shadiing cars in the lanes beside you.”

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84. They Paved r/place and Put Up a Parking Lot

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From the joy of the “Just a Minute” campaign in San Francisco to the members of a colorfully named subreddit creating a digital parking lot, there’s a lot of news in The War on Cars. We hear from listeners around the country and across the Atlantic. Is it possible to be more chill about people riding the wrong way in a bike lane? Should public transit be free? Why is it so hard to find a good bicycle with all the accessories you need for regular transportation? Plus, quick dispatches from the hosts’ trips to car-dependent parts of the United States.

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

Learn about what makes a good, walkable city from author and urban planner Jeff Speck at the Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education, June 13 & 14.

This episode is sponsored by Cleverhood. Receive 20% off anything in the Cleverhood store with coupon code HAPPYCOMMUTE now through the end of April.

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83. The Pedestrian

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Back in 1952, the great American science fiction writer Ray Bradbury published a short story called “The Pedestrian” in a small antifascist publication. The story, which was based on Bradbury’s own experience of being hassled by the cops while walking the streets of Los Angeles, imagined a world in which automobile dominance was so complete that walking for any purpose would be seen as a sign of mental illness. We take a look back at Bradbury’s dystopian vision, and talk with four people — paleoanthropologist Jeremy DeSilva and writers Garnette Cadogan, David Ulin and Antonia Malchik — about how walking contributes to our essential humanity, and what we lose when we build environments that make it impossible for people to walk.

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

This episode is sponsored by Cleverhood. Receive 20% off anything in the Cleverhood store using the coupon code HAPPYCOMMUTE.

Support The War on Cars on Patreon and receive exclusive access to ad-free bonus content.

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82. Pain at the Pump

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Spurred by post-pandemic demand and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, gas prices surged past $4 per gallon last week and Americans are suddenly freaking out about “pain at the pump.” What a big surprise, right? Not really! In this episode, Slate’s Henry Grabar joins us to argue that when it comes to the inherent instability in the global oil market, Americans have the memory of goldfish, locked in a ruinous cycle of dependence on fossil fuels and the authoritarian oligarchs who sell them to us. Have we become a nation whose domestic politics and foreign policy are held hostage to its SUVs? 

This episode is sponsored by Radpower Bikes and Cleverhood. Receive 20% off in the Cleverhood store using the new coupon code announced in this episode. 

Support The War on Cars on Patreon and receive exclusive access to ad-free bonus content.

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

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SPECIAL: Ghost Train

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Back in 2004, Denver-area voters supported one of the most ambitious transit projects anywhere in the United States. The plan called for a network of new rail lines that would let commuters glide past traffic and transform Denver into a world-class city in the process. But almost two decades later, an uncomfortable truth has emerged: Denver’s sprawling metropolitan region is as gridlocked as its ever been. This is Episode 1 of Ghost Train, a four-part mini-series from Colorado Public Radio. Hosted by transportation reporter Nathaniel Minor, Ghost Train dives deep into the question that we ask here at The War on Cars: What does it to take to move American cities away from automobile dependence?

SHOW NOTES:

This episode was brought to you by Colorado Public Radio

The remaining three parts of the Ghost Train series…
Part 2: The Mission
Part 3: An Unexpected Solution
Part 4: Waiting On A Train

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TEASER: The Godfathers of Disinformation

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***This is a preview of a short bonus episode for our Patreon supporters. Become a Patreon supporter of The War on Cars for ad-free access to this and all our exclusive content. And we’ll send you stickers!***

Journalist and producer Amy Westervelt joined us in Episode LXXXI for our annual shredding of the Super Bowl car ads. While we had her in the studio we absolutely had to chat with Amy about her outstanding podcast series, Rigged. In it, Westervelt takes us on a deep dive into the history of the public relations industry and the incredible cast of mid-20th century characters who invented it. We live in a world awash in spin, disinformation, and mistrust of institutions. Rigged helpus us understand how we got here.

 

 

81. Vapor Bowl Tailgate Party with Amy Westervelt

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Dr. Evil and his cronies help fight climate change in GM’s big game spot.

What do robot dogs, Meadow Soprano, WeatherTech bumper protectors and Dr. Evil have in common? They were al featured in ads during Super Bowl LVI, that annual celebration of American consumerism. In what’s become a War on Cars tradition, we analyze car commercials that aired during the big game and try to figure out what they say about the future of streets near you. This time, we’re joined by journalist Amy Westervelt, whose podcasts cover everything from climate change to the history of propaganda and public relations. Amy helps us connect the dots between early PR efforts by oil companies, tobacco companies and the marketing techniques used by car companies today.

***This episode is sponsored by Radpower Bikes.***

Support The War on Cars on Patreon and receive exclusive access to ad-free bonus content.

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

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TEASER: Jessie Singer on the Problem with Public Service Campaigns

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***This is a preview of a bonus episode. Become a Patreon supporter of The War on Cars for ad-free access to this and all our exclusive content.***

Jessie Singer joined us on Episode 80 to discuss her new book, There Are No Accidents. We had promised Jessie she’d get a chance to explain the problem with public service announcements and why educational campaigns don’t do much to prevent accidents.

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80. There Are No Accidents with Jessie Singer

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What do we mean when we say something is an “accident”? When a motorist kills a pedestrian or cyclist it is often described in the press and the criminal justice system as a “car accident” — even when there is a clear cause such as a driver who was drunk, distracted or speeding. According to a new book by journalist Jessie Singer, events that most people describe as accidents are anything but. Singer argues that who lives and dies by accident in America is not random but utterly predictable. Using the word, she says, protects the powerful and leads to “the prevention of prevention.”

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

***This episode is sponsored by Cleverhood rain gear.***

SHOW NOTES:

Purchase There Are No Accidents at Bookshop.org

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What Uber Hath Wrought [Rerelease]

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[This episode was originally released on October 16, 2019. We are re-releasing it in anticipation of the premiere on Showtime of the original dramatic series based on Mike Isaac’s book. More new episodes are on the way!]

For a few years after Uber launched in 2009, it seemed like the on-demand ride-hailing service might be an advance in the war on cars — a way for more people to share fewer vehicles and to reduce overall automobile dependence. Fast forward a decade, and the rise of Uber (along with Lyft) has instead resulted in increased congestion, reductions in transit ridership, and the exploitation of a precarious workforce that the company would love to make obsolete altogether. In this episode, we talk with New York Times tech reporter Mike Isaac about his new book, “Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber,” in which he chronicles the rise and fall of Uber’s co-founder, Travis Kalanick. We hear what Mike has to say about the cult of the founder and the way Kalanick’s winner-take-all mentality has negatively affected the streets of the world’s cities.

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

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