Episode 66: The One Where They Go Back to the Studio

Aaron Naparstek: We mention it pretty much every episode, so you’ve probably already heard that Cleverhood makes stylish, functional rain gear designed for walking and bicycling. But did you also know that Cleverhood is just a cool company that puts a lot of thought into how to be a force for positive change? They support environmentally-friendly manufacturing, fair labor and small suppliers. And for every Rover Cape they sell, Cleverhood donates five percent of revenue to local advocacy groups working to create safer, more livable and equitable streets in cities across the US. For 20 percent off on a Rover Cape and lots of other great products, go to Cleverhood.com/waroncars, and enter coupon code “waroncars” when you check out. Again, that’s Cleverhood.com/waroncars, coupon code “waroncars.”

Sarah Goodyear: Welcome to The War on Cars, the podcast about sharing space with other human beings and trying not to die in the process. I’m Sarah Goodyear. I am here with my co-hosts, Aaron Naparstek and Doug Gordon. And when I say I am here, I mean, I am here in real space and real time, at the Brooklyn Podcasting Studio with my co-hosts. Hey, guys!

Doug Gordon: This is awesome. We are reunited.

Aaron: That’s right. Back. We had the pre-recording coffee at the coffee joint. We got Josh Wilcox here, our engineer and producer. What’s up, Josh? It’s really good to see you again in person.

Doug: I mean, we are in a sealed room, right? No windows. You can’t even hear outside. Not something that I could have imagined doing a few months ago.

Aaron: The ventilation is off.

Doug: Yes, exactly. [laughs]

Sarah: I know.

Aaron: This might be the last you hear of us.

Doug: Yeah.

Sarah: Yeah. Well, I mean, I think it’s all about trust, right? I trust all of you, and I trust science.

Doug: Yes. Vaccines work.

Aaron: Yeah.

Sarah: Yeah. So, you know, it’s been 15 months. 15 months ago, we went into lockdown, and that was a crazy, earth-shattering event that shattered us, but it did not shatter our podcast. [laughs] We managed to keep going. And we really appreciate all of you who stuck with us through that time. But we’re back in the studio now, and we thought it would be a good time to look back at what has happened—if we can even figure out what has happened—and to look forward at the brave new world that we live in now.

Aaron: Yeah, and we thought it would just be a good chance for us to talk about what has changed in these crazy last 15 months. I mean, we just went through this seismic, earth-shattering, historic event that affected the whole world. And it actually had—strangely, it had a lot of effect on the set of issues that we cover. Like, so much has changed in cities. And we thought this would just be a good chance to talk about what changed, what’s gonna stick around, what might snap back to how it was, and where we are in the war on cars.

Doug: And I think we’re also all dealing with, like, a weird set of trauma and memory that is very hard to process. I can hardly remember March of 2020, and the exact sequence of events that led to us being stuck in our homes. It’s really actually hard to process. I mean, obviously there were some incredible things that came out of this, and I’d like to focus on the positive, but it was really—it was hard.

Aaron: Well, fortunately or not, Doug, we have a lot of that on tape.

Doug: Podcasts live forever!

Sarah: Yeah, I was just listening back to some of what the three of us had to say back in March of last year. And let’s listen to some of that, and see how good we were at predicting.

Aaron: Oh, God.

Doug: What did we really get wrong? That’s what I want to know.

Aaron: Yeah. I have no desire to listen back to this moment. It was so freaky.

Sarah: All right. Let’s take a listen.

[dreamy music fades into…]

Aaron: Can you guys imagine how New Yorkers would respond to the idea that when you walk into a busy public place or a restaurant or a subway station, you have a temperature gun aimed at your forehead to take your temperature by the authorities? And if you’re temperature’s …

Doug: Aaron, why do you hate freedom? Why do you hate my freedom?

Aaron: Exactly. Like, I just feel like Americans are so ill-suited to this. Like, our culture, we would have such a hard time with that. I mean, I personally would love that.

[…dreamy music fades out.]

Aaron: Yeah, so I say “like” a lot.

Sarah: [laughs]

Doug: [laughs]

Aaron: That’s my main takeaway from that.

Doug: Lesson number one of the pandemic: never listen to yourself.

Aaron: It’s terrible. Okay, so that’s interesting. So basically, I’m predicting there that Americans—or specifically, I said New Yorkers at the top—are going to hate the idea of these public health measures that sort of intrude on our personal space and freedoms. And I think I got that half wrong and half right, because I think New Yorkers were pretty good about it, but maybe other Americans less so. That’s my impression.

Doug: That’s my impression. I think you got it flipped, right? That, like, in big cities and in liberal enclaves, there was huge mass compliance, and people were willing to deal with all of these pains in the butt sort of responses to this. But elsewhere, we saw people saying it was an intrusion on our freedom. Like, the Marjorie Taylor Greenes and things like that, yeah.

Sarah: Yeah, and I think that the libertarian streak in the United States in general was strengthened by this pandemic outside of liberal enclaves. I think that people really—it fueled their desire for freedom, and their paranoia that government is trying to take away their freedoms. And that’s playing out obviously in the anti-vax movement most acutely right now. And freedom to die, to own the libs kind of thing.

Doug: I don’t even necessarily want to divide it into a left versus right thing, because I think the public messaging around this at the beginning was so messed up that even if you were willing, no matter what your political leaning, to kind of go with it, wear a mask, get your temperature taken, the messaging changed every day. And I think a lot of people were just scared. So a lot of the responses weren’t, “I’m a Republican and I’m not going to do this,” and, “I’m a Democrat and I’m gonna follow the nanny state no matter what.” I think a lot of it was just, “I’m scared. I don’t know what to do.” And you saw people overreacting and underreacting, and I don’t know if that’s left or right. I think it’s just like, it was scary as hell.

Aaron: I do think there is a sense that, you know, things were so scary in New York in particular in March of 2020. I mean, New York was in such a bad way at the start of the pandemic or at that peak moment, and in a way that didn’t really hit other places until much later in some cases. So there was that way in which I feel like the rest of the country felt imposed upon by New York, by the urban elites, who were like, “Of course. Of course, you’re suffering the pandemic. You’re in that terrible city and …”

Sarah: “You’re all a bunch of diseased people packed together.”

Aaron: “And we’re not like that here in Nebraska,” or wherever.

Sarah: Right. And remember at the beginning, how there was all that stuff about, “It’s density. You know, you’re only gonna see the disease in these places with this high density.” And that was a real theme in the responsible mainstream press. Like, The New York Times really ran with that ball for a long time.

Doug: And meanwhile, places like Hong Kong, Vietnam, they did pretty well throughout all of this, and they are at least as dense, if not much more so, than places like Queens or Brooklyn or the Bronx.

Sarah: And plenty of suburban places in Michigan, for instance, had terrible outcomes, despite being relatively not dense compared to New York.

Doug: And I do think there’s a lesson there for The War on Cars that a lot of this is like, it has nothing to do really with culture or geography. It has to do with policy. If you have good policy, smart policy, and your city or your town is managed well, you can avoid a lot of negative outcomes. And so you hear, “This isn’t Amsterdam. This isn’t Vietnam. This isn’t New Zealand.” It’s like, well, there is a bit more going on than just we’re not that other place.

Aaron: You know, in addition to people feeling infringed upon and having their freedoms taken away, on the streets of New York City, we actually saw the opposite happening in some ways. We saw people finding a new kind of freedom in being able to ride a bicycle safely. We saw this enormous uptick in the use of city bikes. We saw people using the street for purposes other than just storing cars. So we actually saw a new kind of freedom emerging.

Sarah: Doug talked a little bit about that. Let’s listen back to Doug.

[dreamy music fades into…]

Doug: There’s an argument to be made that this should lead to a bigger investment in transit, because what we saw in New York, for example, was our governor and our mayor saying, “Oh, if the train’s crowded, get on the next one,” which we know is impossible due to the frequency of service and the quality of service. So there should be a big movement now to be running buses more, to be building more bike lanes. You know, we saw a 70 percent surge in Citi Bike ridership because of this crisis. And I think bike trips in general doubled in New York City, and we saw big upticks in other cities as well. So, you know, I hope that our movement, people who listen to The War on Cars and planners and advocates everywhere, can really see that we need to figure out ways of moving around lots of people, to give them options and to make cities resilient during a crisis like this.

[…dreamy music fades out.]

Doug: So Aaron was 50/50 in terms of his predictions. I was 100 percent wrong on transit and mostly right on bicycling.

Aaron: That’s 50/50, too.

Doug: I guess that’s 50/50, too. I’m just grading myself. It’s like verbal and math on the SAT.

Aaron: Okay. All right.

Doug: And Sarah? I guess it’s your turn. We need to see what you said. And I’m gonna just make a prediction that you are more right than the two of us.

Aaron: Sarah’s always right, yeah.

[dreamy music fades into…]

Sarah: I mean, I think that what this crisis is doing in real time is it is showing people that underneath the normal reality that they accept without thinking, that there are actually a lot of decisions that have been made about how space is allocated on streets, and who gets priority and who gets to take up room in our cities. And that, just with the way that it’s revealing things about our healthcare system, our educational system and every other system that we have, what it’s revealing about our transportation system is not very pretty sometimes. And it may be that people will see that as an opportunity. You know, that’s the thing that we’re hoping with all of these systems, right? Is that they might be improved.

[…dreamy music fades out.]

Sarah: Okay, I think I actually sound kind of okay there. Like, I kind of got it right. I mean, systemic change is definitely one of the themes that has come out of not just the pandemic, but obviously the Black Lives Matter activism that happened after George Floyd was murdered, and the way that our streets exploded with demands for systemic change in the summer, after I said this, by the way. This was back in March that I said this, and it wasn’t until late May and June that that all started happening. So I do think that the theme of, you know, calling for systemic change—individual action is very important, it’s important to wear a mask yourself—but it’s also really about the systems underlying everything. And they got exposed ruthlessly.

Aaron: I think you’re underplaying your—you should give yourself more credit for that.

Sarah: [laughs]

Doug: That was very philosophical. And it was right. It was 100 percent right.

Aaron: It really did. The pandemic really just laid bare a lot of stuff that was just under the surface. It kind of stripped away a lot of stuff, and showed us what we’re really about as a society. And it wasn’t necessarily pretty.

Sarah: No.

Doug: It’s who has the freedom to work from home, to be safe, who is employed throughout, who was an essential worker—a term that we only really probably used to apply to police officers, firefighters, the military, but now we apply to hospital workers, grocery store workers.

Aaron: Takeout delivery guys.

Doug: Takeout delivery guys on bicycles who, let’s remember what they were doing was illegal before the pandemic, and they were being cracked down on by the cops. And then suddenly everyone was like, “These are the heroes of our streets, keeping our city fed.” You know, I think there’s a danger as we return to normal that the grocery store workers and the hospital workers get forgotten, and we just go back to being like, “Yay, cops! Yay, firefighters! Those are the essential workers.” And we forget about the people we were clapping for at seven o’clock every night. So that is something that I think as we come out of this, we have to be conscious of that. But no. Yeah, Sarah, you nailed it. It’s really about the giant systems at play.

Sarah: But what’s distressing to me now is that just the way that the pandemic ripped away the veil and showed us how all these systems are corrupt and destructive, the veil is back. I mean, I feel like it’s already back, and it’s back in the form of honking, and it’s back in the form of consumerism. “Get out there and shop! Get out there and buy stuff, guys.” And all of the stuff that we saw that was laid bare is now once again becoming obscured, and I don’t think that we did the systemic change thing exactly.

Doug: Do you have national healthcare yet? I don’t. So I mean, like, yeah, exactly. We talked about it for a long time about how important it was, and now we’re just back to like, you’re on your own.

Aaron: Right.

Doug: In some ways, our issues have never been more central to the discussion. How we use public space, all of these people biking, the fact that you couldn’t buy a bicycle for a long time, the fact that cities are changing their streets, those are coming right up against the fact that tons of people bought cars. Traffic has never been worse. Public transit is still in deep, deep trouble. And so, in a way, we’ve never been in a better place for fighting the war on cars, but we’ve never been worse off. And we are at a real crossroads in terms of which of these forces the many thousands of people in our city and the millions who bought cars across the country, and also all the new advocates who don’t know they’re advocates, the people enjoying outdoor dining or dancing on an open street, supporting a local business. So it’s just a question of which of these ideas for our future will win. Which is really sort of what the podcast is about.

Aaron: Do you guys remember how clean the air was in, like, April of 2020?

Sarah: Oh my God!

Doug: Yeah.

Aaron: I mean, that was one of the things that really stayed with me. It was just like the photos that we were getting from, like, San Francisco, and I mean, you name it, every city in the world where basically, like, the traffic had stopped for a while, the air completely became crystal clear and clean. And I would like to have that again, but I wonder how many people still remember that, and liked it and would want it again?

Sarah: And that’s one of the paradoxes of resilience, right? Is that part of resilience is being able to forget what went before so that you can keep going and just carry on with your life, even if you’re in newly terrible circumstances. We’re designed to forget so that we can just live in the present and deal with the conditions that we’re facing. And I think that people have forgotten that. And, you know, when I look across New York harbor now from Red Hook, which I have done, you know, every few days for this whole time, I look across and it’s just a brown sludge on the horizon over New Jersey, which is how it always was before. And I think that people have forgotten that it was blue and clear for a while.

Doug: And there’s also the danger of nostalgia, right? So The New York Times recently did a story about how traffic is back, and they focused on traffic reporters and what new patterns they’re seeing. And there was a tinge of nostalgia in there where people were talking about the honking and the noise and the aggression like it was a good thing.

Aaron: Yeah.

Doug: Now obviously, it is a quote-unquote “good thing” because it means people are going back to work, and people are shopping and going out and seeing friends. But, like, the idea that you could be nostalgic for a time when, like, the air was foul to breathe, you couldn’t hear yourself think and you might get run over, really is not good in my book.

Aaron: That was what was so weird about this situation, though, is because, like, the blue skies and the quiet and the lack of car-choked streets came with abject terror and thousands of people dying.

Sarah: Right. Right. A pandemic nostalgia is just as bad a trap to fall into.

Doug: No, exactly. And I was always very conscious of that when I would see these pictures, I was like, “Yeah.” And obviously, people would make the parallels with, like, well, see? This is what we need to do to fix climate change. And I was always like, you mean get tons of people sitting at home on their butts, other people not able to pay their rent or eat?

Sarah: Yeah.

Doug: Like, that’s not how we’re gonna do it. And, you know, all the racial justice stuff and the economic disparities. Like, there are winners and losers in all of this. We can’t do it this way.

Sarah: That’s the eco-fascism thing that you have to watch out for. And Thanos—isn’t that the guy from the …?

Doug: Oh, there were lots of those. Like, wow, it’s like someone just snapped their fingers. And I was like, yeah, and three billion people disappeared in that scenario. That’s not good.

Sarah: Yeah.

Aaron: Yeah. Not the best marketing for livable streets.

Doug: No. No.

Aaron: So speaking of marketing and cleaner skies and lack of car emissions, another interesting change coming out of the pandemic is we’re seeing more and more of these electric vehicles being marketed by our friends in the automobile industry. So a really big shift is happening among the car makers, and one of the cars that’s been marketed recently is the new Ford F-150 Lightning pickup truck.

Sarah: Yeah, and our president is really into this vehicle.

Aaron: Very excited about it.

Sarah: Yeah, he’s very excited about it. So yeah, do we have the ad for that?

Doug: We actually have the launch promo video, and here’s a listen.

[ADVERTISEMENT CLIP: It’s got a targeted 775-pound feet of torque. It’s targeted to go from zero to 60 in the mid-four-second range. It’s a driving experience that’s pure, unfiltered exhilaration from the moment you hit the accelerator. Oh, and it’s an F-150. Introducing the all-electric F-150 Lightning. The smartest, most innovative F-150 we’ve ever built.]

Aaron: And that’s a word from our new sponsor, Ford.

Doug: Sorry, Cleverhood. Yeah, enter code “waroncars” at your car dealership for 20 percent off the price of a Ford F-150 Lightning. Yeah. So, you know, the funny thing about that video is—well, two things. Number one, like all car ads, if you watch the first solid minute of this four-minute pro-car video, there’s nothing about the actual features of the car. Like, it’s all about acceleration and thrilling and excitement. Like, nothing practical that you would need if you’re buying a truck like this.

Sarah: Wait, but I need torque, Doug.

Aaron: You’ve gotta have the torque.

Doug: Yeah, there’s a lot of mentions of torque. We’ll post a link. You can watch the whole thing. It’s very long. The second thing that they get into in this, so this is a fully electric car with lots of outlets. Like, you could run an entire gaming system, an entertainment system off of this. You could go camping and bring your entire living room with you. But what they get at is that this is essentially a generator that is parked in your garage. And if the power goes out, you could power your house for three days off of one Ford F-150. And I watched this video in the context of the blackouts and the storms in Texas, where people were sitting in their homes freezing because of the failure of essentially a private electrical grid that we have failed to invest in as a public good. So on the one hand, I could imagine a scenario where you are an altruistic Ford F-150 owner, and your neighbor’s power goes out, and you invite everyone over to charge their phones, to take a warm shower, to cook a meal. But I can also imagine a scenario where it’s just like, “Hey, are you wealthy enough to afford your own power? Cool. You don’t ever have to pay taxes again to invest in the public realm.” And now we have the haves who can afford a $50,000-$60,000 vehicle, and the have-nots who can’t afford a $200 electricity bill.

Sarah: Yeah, and I think what it makes me think of is actually somebody defending that Ford F-150 with a firearm to keep people away.

Doug: You got bleak really fast, Sarah.

Aaron: You guys are going full Mad Max here. Full Mad Max.

Doug: Really bleak. Even bleaker, yeah.

Sarah: But I mean, you know, what it actually made me think about was a few years ago, I was in a suburb of New Delhi that’s a very wealthy suburb that basically is a series of gated communities and office parks, almost all of which have their own electrical power systems in place and their own water systems. And in between those gated, guarded communities and office parks, there’s just a public realm that is basically people squatting without any power, without any access to electricity, without any access to clean water, without any access to sanitation. And yeah, I do get a little dark because that does exist in other places. And I think that in this country there are a significant number of people who wouldn’t mind living like that.

Aaron: Well, I’ll take a little bit of a pro-Lightning approach here.

Sarah: [laughs] Okay. Thanks, Aaron.

Aaron: Just to spice things up.

Sarah: As the only car owner in the bunch.

Doug: Yeah, you’re just a shill. You’re a shill for Ford.

Aaron: Exactly. So we need to get rid of gas-burning cars, right? That is essential in the next decade that we just need to get gas-burning cars out of our cities. And we need to get cars out of our cities. We need to get gas-burning cars out of everywhere else. And, you know, in a way, this is the first step toward that. There’s a lot of ways that it could go, and the automobile industry can and likely will continue to do, you know, shit as stupidly as they possibly can, because that is their—that is what they do. But in a certain way, I see this Ford F-150 as a kind of horseless carriage of electric cars. You know, like, the first cars were basically just like horse drawn carriages with a little, you know, internal combustion engine in them. And, you know, it makes sense to me that the first electric cars to be popular with the American public are gonna look like—they’re gonna be the form factor of the old crappy cars that we know and apparently love. You know, this is what Americans buy, they buy Ford F-150s.

Doug: It is the most popular vehicle in America. Not just pickup truck, I think the most popular vehicle in America.

Aaron: But so I think we’re in the phase where, like, I don’t know if your bubbe had this in her living room when you were growing up in, like, the ’70s or ’80s, but my grandmother had, like, the TV that was in the wooden furniture case. Like, the cathode ray tube that looked like a giant piece of wooden furniture.

Doug: With the big knobs.

Aaron: And I kind of hope that this is what the Ford F-150 is. It’s like, we’re sticking some new technology into an old form but, like, in the process of doing that, we’re hopefully figuring out that, yeah, like, we do need electric vehicles. They’re not gonna end up looking like—you know, just like the TV now looks like my phone—that’s where I watch TV, I hope that this moves us toward a place where we start to electrify transportation and that moves us toward e-bike or e-trikes or—you know, and this is just a necessary crappy first step.

Doug: I actually take a kind of bleak view because I actually think that it’s like the Ford F-150 can power your home if the power goes off in your home. I know, why not just live in the Ford F-150? And these things will just continue to get really big especially as, like, I don’t know, most of Florida become climate migrants and can’t live there anymore. Like, I do have a sort of bleak view. I do hope that we—look, there is definitely huge, symbolic value in electrifying, like, the macho Ford F-150.

Aaron: Right, they’re getting macho dudes to, like, get off of gas. Get rid of your coal-roller.

Doug: Get on board. They’re getting on board. It’s not a wimpy little Prius. Like, it’s not this little toy car that they don’t want to drive. So I get that it’s playing into those sort of like American stereotypical masculinity stuff. I just wonder, like, there’s so many directions that it could go in, and some of them? It wouldn’t take much for some of them to be very bad.

Aaron: Yeah. No, I mean, these things, you know, they weigh so much. They’re like a normal, a quote-unquote “normal” truck. Normal trucks are humongous now, too. They’re, like, 6,000 pounds. These trucks are like 8,000 pounds. They’re like four tons. They’re enormous. And it’s because the batteries weigh so much. And there isn’t enough lithium on earth to really create a bunch of these. I mean, I don’t know that much about battery stuff, but I’m pretty sure that’s true.

Doug: I did the math when someone posted how much the battery weighs on one of these things, and with the amount of lithium, or at least the weight of the battery for a Ford F-150 Lightning, for one truck, you could power something like 250 to 300 electric bicycles. So it’s a huge waste of resources. You know, I think also to tie it back to the pandemic, which both exposed and entrenched a lot of economic disparities and racial disparities and every disparity that you can name, I worry that these electric vehicles will do the same thing. Like, sort of getting at the weight problem, it hasn’t solved the safety problem. It’s just, you know, the front grille is just as flat and just as high, if not higher.

Aaron: And even more unnecessarily so.

Doug: Right.

Aaron: There’s no engine there. There’s no reason for it.

Doug: It’s a trunk. It’s a frunk. It’s a front trunk, right? It doesn’t actually have to exist to carry the weight of an engine and keep it cool. So, you know, these things are gonna be really deadly in cities especially. Or in driveways.

Aaron: Yeah.

Doug: So I think all we’re doing is we’re taking a really bad system and, like, dusting it a little bit, but we’re not actually improving it that much.

Sarah: And in terms of the finances that you need to purchase one of these things, you know, now it’s just the entry into the class of people who have the current best vehicle available that can do all these great things, that just seems to—it’s gonna be higher. The debt that people are gonna take on is going to be more. And that’s gonna just further the divide that we have seen again emerging during the pandemic between people who have the financial resources to play along with these new ways of doing things, whether it’s broadband internet or having a battery that will keep your home cooled during the catastrophic hurricane.

Aaron: So from a policy perspective, when I look at these vehicles coming online, I just think it’s more important than ever that cities start to take control of what kinds of vehicles are allowed on their streets. And that’s very hard in the US, because vehicle regulation is mostly done at the state level with, like, your DMV and your inspection and a bunch of laws. And vehicle regulation is also done at the federal level. And cities really haven’t had much say over what kinds of cars and trucks are allowed on their streets. But I really feel like that’s, like, the next big policy fight, is to start to just say, “Hey, look. Your big Ford F-150, your enormous 8,000-pound vehicle—whether it’s run by gas or electric—like, it’s just not allowed in our city. Or if you want to bring it here, you can park it privately and pay a ton of money for it and pay to drive it on our public streets.” But cities need to take control of that.

Doug: Yeah, and I think we saw a real stark demonstration of just how inefficient cars, really of almost any size, are in cities where you would see these before-and-after pictures of an outdoor dining space, where there was one car there, and even a moderate-sized car would suddenly be replaced with seating for 16 or 20 people. And the tax value of that space would go from a $2 or $4 one-hour meter ticket, to tax revenue on dozens upon dozens of meals at eight percent. And I think cities are gonna have to do this calculation, especially as they’re facing massive budget crises of like, how do we reallocate space? So I think that gets at, like, also the hunger that people had for being outside, for doing things like eating, like socializing, like dancing in the street. You know, we have a—around here, just down the street, the open street on Fifth Avenue every weekend. 34th Avenue in Queens—which is not a commercial street—where people just come out and do, like, Zumba classes and skate with their kids or just play and sit in the median. That’s been a really positive thing to come out of this. People who are not us, who are not advocates, are starting to say, “Hey, wait a minute. We can use the street to park 20 cars, or 200 people can come out and play.” That’s a real big discussion. I never in a million years thought, like, I would go out to Fifth Avenue and not see it be a shit show of honking and danger, and instead see, like, a band playing at a bar with 40 people dancing along to it. That’s kind of awesome.

Aaron: All it took was a global pandemic. I mean, but seriously, like, we could have advocated for that for, like, years. And, you know, maybe gotten, like, three weekends in the summer of, like, car-free Fifth Avenue. But it happened and people got to see it, and that, as you’ve said before, Doug, that’s really the best advocacy is just doing the project.

Doug: The project is the process, the process is the project. And you just have to do it. So I think that is a good lesson of, like, yeah, we don’t need to be sitting in a church basement at 6:30 on a Wednesday night debating about, like, whether or not an open street is gonna be the end of business as we know it. We can just try it and see if it works. And I do think it’s been an interesting flip of how we went from, “If you take those two parking spots in front of my business, I’m gonna have to move and shut down,” to, “Oh, my God. Give me those two parking spaces and turn it into outdoor seating.” It’s just been a total 180° for a lot of businesses. And so I guess it just comes down to what we were kind of getting at at the beginning with masks and all the rules that were forced upon us at the beginning of the pandemic, which is, you know, which version of freedom do you believe in? And which version do you want? Do you want the version where you have your massive truck that can run over children, but it powers your house in case there’s an emergency and you can go wherever you want, whenever you want? Or is your version of freedom a place where you can just walk outside and find community, and find an open street, and find people dancing, and find a place to eat and find safety in a different way? And I think that just gets us back to where we started, I think, when we started the podcast, which is like, which version of this future are we going to really push for and fight for, and which side will win?

Aaron: Okay, so that’s it for this episode of The War on Cars back in the studio. Thanks for listening.

Sarah: You can keep The War on Cars going by becoming a Patreon supporter. Starting at just $2 a month, you get access to bonus episodes, we’ll send you stickers. Go to Thewaroncars.org, click “Support us,” and enlist today.

Doug: As always, we would like to thank our top Patreon supporters. That’s Charley Gee of Human Powered Law in Portland, Oregon, the law office of Vaccaro and White in New York City, Drew Raines and Virginia Baker.

Aaron: Don’t forget, our friends at Cleverhood are offering War on Cars listeners 20 percent off the purchase of stylish rain gear for cycling and walking. Go to Cleverhood.com/waroncars, enter code “waroncars” when you check out.

Sarah: You can also pick up all kinds of cool War on Cars merch at our store, including t-shirts, pint glasses and coffee mugs. Visit Thewaroncars.org/store.

Doug: This episode was recorded by Josh Wilcox at the Brooklyn Podcasting Studio, which feels awesome to be able to say, finally. It was edited by Ali Lemer. I’m Doug Gordon.

Aaron: I’m Aaron Naparstek.

Sarah: I’m Sarah Goodyear. And this is The War on Cars.