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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79. The End of Uber with Cory Doctorow

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Image via Cory Doctorow's Pluralistic.net

Remember when Uber, the taxi-hailing app on your mobile phone, was going to revolutionize transportation, transform cities, and lead us to our glorious robot-car future? That wasn’t so long ago. So, what happened? Where did it all go? Cory Doctorow has some ideas. A prolific non-fiction author, sci-fi novelist, and technology activist Doctorow has been a keen observer and critic of Uber for years now. “Uber,” Doctorow writes, “is a bezzle. Every bezzle ends. And Uber’s time is up.” Plus: Reality has a well known anti-car bias.   

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

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

Support The War on Cars on Patreon for access to ad-free bonus content.

SHOW NOTES:

End of the Line for Uber by Cory Doctorow

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TEASER: Let’s Crush These Dirt Bikes with Alex Pareene

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

The New Republic’s Alex Pareene joined us for Episode 78, “311 is a Joke,” and we had a lot of fun. We chatted about the battle for scarce street space in the big city and the role that municipal government plays (and doesn’t play) in sorting it all out (or not). As often happens when we get going in the studio, our conversation with Alex ran long and some good stuff didn’t make it into the final cut. In this bonus episode, we learn about Alex’s step-dad Chuck from North Dakota and hear from New York City’s now-former Mayor Bill de Blasio as he attempts to destroy a bunch of dirt bikes on Staten Island.

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78. 311 is a Joke with Alex Pareene

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Alex Pareene, a contributing editor to The New Republic and the author of The AP (Alex Pareene) Newsletter, joins the podcast to talk about his recent run of stories on cars, parking and the competition for scarce space on city streets. We discuss 311 — the non-emergency phone number for accessing municipal services — and what it tells us about how government works (or doesn’t work). What message are police sending when they fail to enforce illegal parking? As far as driving is concerned, does anything go? And how does Elon Musk’s insistence on beta-testing Full Self-Driving on public streets relate to it all?

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

***This episode is sponsored by our friends at Cleverhood.***

Support The War on Cars on Patreon for access to ad-free bonus content.

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BONUS: Cars as a Virus with Hermann Knoflacher

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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.***

Perhaps you’ve seen pictures of a person walking around in a large, wearable wooden frame meant to illustrate the space taken up by one person in a private automobile. That’s the gehzeug — or walkmobile — and it was invented by the Austrian civil engineer and professor Herman Knoflacher.

Professor Knoflacher, 81, is the head of the Institute of Transportation at the Vienna University of Technology. Long before the current global pandemic, he compared cars to a virus. It’s a provocative analogy, but Knoflacher makes a compelling case. And rather than searching for vaccines and other ways to fight this particular threat, humanity has actively helped the spread of cars, much to the detriment of the built environment, children’s health and safety and even our future on this planet.

TheWarOnCars.org

 

77. Curbing Traffic with Melissa and Chris Bruntlett

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In 2019, Melissa and Chris Bruntlett and their two children moved from Vancouver to the small city of Delft in the Netherlands. The experience of transitioning to and living in a place that puts people first over automobiles forms the basis for Curbing Traffic: The Human Case for Fewer Cars in Our Lives. The book, the Bruntlett’s second on the lessons offered by Dutch cities, explains the many benefits of car-free and car-lite spaces, from lower anxiety and stress, better social trust, improved health and increased independence for people of all ages and abilities. Plus, as you’ll hear, cities with fewer cars are quiet!

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

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