BONUS: Origin Stories

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In this bonus episode just for Patreon supporters of The War on Cars, we reveal how Aaron, Doug and Sarah get mobilized into the war on cars. What made them this way?

We dive deep into our own pasts and reveal how our personal experiences with cars drove us to activism, research, writing…and ultimately, The War on Cars podcast as you know it today. You’ll learn how Doug dealt with a soul-crushing commute in Atlanta and how Sarah drove recklessly on the California coast. You’ll also hear the words of wisdom Aaron’s father imparted during their first driving lesson.

With cameo appearances from the Chevy Nova (pictured above in malaise beige) and the Chrysler LeBaron.

***This is a preview of a Patreon-exclusive bonus episode. For complete access to this and all of our bonus content, become a Patreon supporter of The War on Cars.***

114. John Bauters, America’s Bike Mayor

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Mayor John Bauters, a man wearing a T-shirt and shorts, stands astride his cargo bike on a bridge, with his big white dog in the bucket.

 

Since he was selected mayor in 2021, John Bauters has gained an international reputation for his work to transform transportation and housing in the tiny city of Emeryville, which is wedged between Oakland and Berkeley on the shores of San Francisco Bay. Emeryville, population 13,000, is only one square mile in area. But it’s home to some big employers, including Pixar, and several big box stores. It also has I-80 blasting through it, and it is a major hub for Amtrak, regional rail, and freight rail. It’s a challenging environment in which to create a green city with a great active transportation network. But that’s exactly what Bauters has been working toward for his whole term. We visited with him, rode some of the great bike and park network that Emeryville has been building, and talked about the kind of political will that’s necessary to make real change.

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

***Support The War on Cars on Patreon and receive access to ad-free versions of all our episodes, exclusive bonus content and stickers.***

This episode is produced with support from Cleverhood. Listen to the episode for the latest Cleverhood discount code. Read More

113. Dark PR with Grant Ennis

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In his new book, Dark PR: How Corporate Disinformation Harms Our Health and the Environment, Grant Ennis — a lecturer at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia — identifies the “nine devious frames” that corporations such as automobile manufacturers and road builders use to advance their interests, manipulate the public and maintain a status quo that harms human health and the planet. Dark PR is a thought-provoking book that shines a light on the tactics used by major industries to lock in an unhealthy, unsafe and unsustainable status quo. Ennis offers some food for thought for safe streets advocates as we try to improve our world and fight back against these powerful interests.
Special thanks to Cleverhood for their support. For the latest discount code on the best rain gear for cycling and walking, listen to the episode.
You can find the full transcript of this episode here.
***Support The War on Cars on Patreon and receive access to ad-free episodes, exlusive bonus content, stickers and more.***

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112. Unintended Consequences with Steven Johnson

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This year, 2023, marks the hundredth anniversary of the invention of leaded gasoline. Of all the many harms that the automobile has imposed on the environment and humanity over the last century, the effects of leaded gasoline have to be pretty close to the top of the list.

Science and industry were well aware of the dangers of lead in the 1920s. But adding small amounts of tetraethyl lead to motor fuel made internal combustion engines work better, and that made it possible to turn the automobile into a viable mass market product. As a result, pretty much every American born between 1960 and 1980 was, to some extent, poisoned by lead.

Back in March, bestselling author Steven Johnson wrote a somewhat mind-blowing essay in the New York Times Magazine titled, “The Man Who Broke the World.” In it, Steven told the story of Thomas Midgley, Jr., the chemical engineer who not only invented leaded gasoline — he also invented the chemical compound that made modern refrigeration possible. As with lead (branded as Ethyl to sound innocuous), Midgley’s miraculous chlorofluorocarbons unleashed an almost unbelievably destructive set of unintended consequences. Four decades after their invention, scientists discovered that CFCs were burning holes in the ozone layer of Earth’s upper atmosphere and quite literally threatening human life on Planet Earth.

We’ve been wanting to do an episode on leaded gasoline for a while now. This conversation with Steven accomplishes that and goes so much further, weaving together so many different threads. It was a lot of fun and we hope you enjoy it.

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

***Support The War on Cars on Patreon and receive access to ad-free versions of all our episodes, exclusive bonus content and stickers.***

This episode is produced with support from Cleverhood. Listen to the episode for the latest Cleverhood discount code.

LINKS:

The Man Who Broke the World” by Steven Johnson for the New York Times Magazine, March 15, 2023.

Find more of Steven Johnson’s work on his website.

Subscribe to Steven’s newsletter, Adjacent Possible.

Find all thirteen of Steven’s books here. War on Cars fans will enjoy The Ghost Map — it’s a page-turner of a mystery/thriller about urban planning and epidemiology. You can buy Steven’s books at our Bookshop.org store.

Interested in digging deeper into the history of leaded gasoline? Check out Toxic Truth by Lydia Denworth.

Buy official War on Cars merch at our store.

Find us on Mastodon, Bluesky, Instagram, Facebook, Threads, and whatever godforsaken new social media platform pops up next.

Follow and review us on Apple Podcasts.

TheWarOnCars.org

Check out this episode!

BONUS: Celebrating Your Wins!

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In this bonus episode just for Patreon supporters of The War on Cars, we do a quick news roundup before getting to the thing that matters most: WINNING.

Last month we reached out to our liteners and asked them to send us their wins, from policy and infrastructure victories to cultural changes they helped usher in, even at just the individual level. Let’s face it: it’s a tough world out there so celebrating victories big and small is really important. Thanks to all of you, we are making progress in The War on Cars one parking space at a time.

***This is a preview of a Patreon-exclusive bonus episode. For complete access to this and all of our bonus content, become a Patreon supporter of The War on Cars.***

111. Why Congestion Pricing Matters with Diana Lind

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Gridlocked Manhattan street

After 16 years of slogging its way through municipal, state and federal government and every imaginable form of public process, congestion pricing is finally on its way to New York City. If all goes as planned, then anyone who wants to cram a car or truck into Lower Manhattan south of 60th Street is going to have to pay somewhere between $9 and $23 per day starting next spring. And all of that money will go toward supporting and improving New York’s transit system. There are still lots of details to iron out and we should never underestimate New York’s ability to blow it when it comes to transportation policy. But Diana Lind of the Penn Institute for Urban Research thinks congestion pricing is a big deal that will fundamentally reshape the relationship between the car and the city, not just in New York but all across North America. “The next 20 years,” Lind writes, “will be the beginning of the end of the private car in cities.”

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

***Support The War on Cars on Patreon and receive access to ad-free episodes, exclusive bonus content, stickers, and more.***

This episode was produced with support from Cleverhood. Listen to the episode for the latest Cleverhood discount code.

LINKS:

Read Diana Lind’s essay, “Why New York’s Congestion Pricing Plan Matters” and subscribe to her newsletter, The New Urban Order.

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BONUS: Coach Balto’s Bike Bus Lessons

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Sam Balto, a young bearded man wearing a bike helmet and reflective vest, stands in front of a bunch of kids with bikes who are part of a bike bus in Portland, Oregon.

While working on Episode 110, Back to School with the Bike Bus, we spoke with Sam Balto, a phys ed teacher in Portland, Oregon, who goes by @CoachBalto and who’s become one of the most visible advocates in the global movement for active transportation for kids.

We used some of his comments in that episode, but our conversation was so juicy we knew we wanted to share it in full.

Sam does a great job of explaining why bike buses are so much fun and so good for kids, and why you might find yourself tearing up when you watch his videos: “We want our children to thrive. And the bike bus movement is sort of the first story of children thriving since the pandemic.”

Sam’s Portland bike bus is getting national attention. You can follow him on InstagramTikTok, and that other platform.

Maybe you’ll be inspired to start a bike bus or walking school bus where you live!

***This is a preview of a Patreon bonus episode. To hear the full episode and for complete access to all our exclusive bonus content become a Patreon supporter of The War on Cars.***

110. Back to School with the Bike Bus

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If you’ve never heard of a bike bus—or a bicibús, as it’s known in the Catalonian capital of Barcelona—it’s a beautifully simple idea. Kids and parents ride their bikes to school along a pre-planned route, picking up classmates along the way, just the way a school bus would. Except because it’s bikes, it’s way, way more fun. Sarah and Doug rode along with bike buses in Barcelona and suburban Montclair, New Jersey, to see how it works, and we talked with organizer Sam Balto in Portland, Oregon, to find out why kids who ride with bike buses get to school feeling happy and energized.

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

***Support The War on Cars on Patreon and receive access to ad-free versions of all our episodes, exclusive bonus content and stickers.***

This episode is produced with support from Radpower Bikes and Cleverhood. Listen to the episode for the latest Cleverhood discount code.

LINKS:

See what a “Kidical Mass” ride looks like in Barcelona.

This half-hour documentary takes a deeper look at the bike bus and Kidical Mass movements in Barcelona (with English subtitles; costs €1 to rent).

Sam Balto’s Portland bike bus is getting national attention. You can follow him on Instagram, TikTok, and that other platform.

Learn more about the Montclair Bike Bus.

Buy official War on Cars merch at our store

Find us on Mastodon, Bluesky, Instagram, Facebook, Threads, and whatever godforsaken new social media platform pops up next. 

Follow and review us on Apple Podcasts

TheWarOnCars.org

 

109. Inclusive Transportation with Veronica O. Davis

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In her new book, Inclusive Transportation: A Manifesto for Repairing Divided Communities, Veronica O. Davis — the Director of Transportation and Drainage Operations for the city of Houston, Texas — takes a hard look at the ways in which planning a world for cars has harmed communities and how that affects anyone working to change things today. How do you repair a system that continues to divide communities? In a world where “equity” can sometimes just be a buzzword, what does equity truly look like if we can achieve it?

Davis tells her own “transportation story,” asks readers to think about their own, and urges transportation professionals to consider past injustices and do the hard work that results in more than an idea and a catchphrase. She also has a lot of advice for how to approach community engagement and the different types of “stakeholders” who can make or break a street improvement project.

***Support The War on Cars on Patreon and receive access to ad-free versions of all our episodes, exclusive bonus content and stickers.***

This episode is produced with support from Radpower Bikes and Cleverhood. Listen to the episode for the latest Cleverhood discount code.

LINKS:

Buy Inclusive Transportation: A Manifesto for Repairing Divided Communities, and books by other guests of The War on Cars at our official page on Bookshop.org.

Learn more about Veronica O. Davis.

Pick up some official podcast merch at our store.

Follow and review The War on Cars on Apple Podcasts. It helps people find us!

TheWarOnCars.org

TEASER: Chaos in the Bike Lane with Aaron Gordon

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The rising problem of mopeds and motorcycles in New York City bike lanes is impossible to ignore but the solutions are anything but simple.

Recently, journalist and friend of the podcast Aaron Gordon wrote an essay for his newsletter titled “Biking in New York City Has Gotten Worse,” in which he laments the change that’s happened in recent years of larger and faster motorized vehicles using the city’s bike lanes. We’re not talking pedal-assist e-bikes and cargo bikes or even the Arrow e-bikes that have long been preferred by New York’s delivery workers. We’re talking full-on mopeds and motorcycles—electric and gas-powered alike—many of which are unlicensed and, even if they did have the proper registration, generally do not belong in bike lanes.

In this coversation, we talk about how and why this problem has grown, largely due to the major food-delivery app companies which wash their hands of any responsibility for providing their workers, all of whom are categorized not as employees but as contractors, with fair wages, benefits, and even street-legal vehicles.

Can government force the app companies to step up? What should people who advocate for safe streets and bike infrastructure do? It’s complicated.

***This is a preview of a Patreon bonus episode. To hear the full episode and for complete access to all our exclusive bonus content become a Patreon supporter of The War on Cars.***