39. Riding Out the Pandemic

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Recording from their makeshift home studios, Sarah, Doug and Aaron check in with each other, field listener voicemails and reorient themselves to the new normal of the coronavirus crisis. Not a lot of answers in this episode, but plenty of questions: How is the social distancing going? Where would you rather be right now, the city, the suburbs or a remote rural place? And what does a global pandemic mean for The War on Cars? Plus: Treason! 

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Special thanks to our sponsor, Spin Scooters: Working to make streets safe, livable and just.  

SHOW NOTES: 

This episode was edited by Ali Lemer.

Find us on Twitter: @TheWarOnCars, Sarah Goodyear @buttermilk1, Aaron Naparstek @Naparstek, Doug Gordon @BrooklynSpoke.

Drop us a line and let us know how you’re doing: thewaroncars@gmail.com

https://thewaroncars.org

 

38. On the Bus with Pat Kiernan and Jamie Stelter

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Pat Kiernan and Jamie Stelter are the dynamic duo of local TV news. As two of the hosts of “Mornings on 1” on Spectrum NY1, Pat and Jamie do more than just wake up early to deliver the latest updates on current events or the daily commute. They experience New York City as New Yorkers do: by subway, bus, bike, taxi, and foot. Pat, who may be familiar to non–New Yorkers as TV anchor Pat Kiernan in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has been on NY1 since 1997. Jamie has been the traffic—and subway and bus—reporter since 2010. Their time on the air has spanned some of the most significant transformations to the city’s streetscape, including the expansion of bicycle lanes and pedestrian plazas, the launch of Citi Bike, the deterioration of subway service, and the rise of Uber and Lyft. For this episode, recorded in February, Pat and Jamie join Doug on board the M14 crosstown bus to talk about their perspective on a changing city, their own travel habits, what they’ve seen in cities around the world and how they listen to and learn from the “bike people” on Twitter.

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37. Finnish Lessons

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What can cold cities, where people nonetheless bike year-round through snow and seemingly endless hours of darkness, tell us about what it takes to make better streets? In this episode, Sarah reports back from her trip to Finland and the the 8th annual Winter Cycling Conference, held in Joensuu and Helsinki in early February. How does active transportation figure into Helsinki’s goal to become the world “most functional city”? What’s the right way to prioritize transportation modes? And why are most fully grown Americans less rugged than the average Finnish 11-year-old? 

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36. Live in Denver!

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For our first live episode, The War on Cars heads to Denver, Colorado to check in on the Mile High City’s battle against automobile dominance. From the announcement that the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure will install 125 miles of bike lanes by 2023 to the recent closure of B-cycle, the city’s bicycle sharing system, it’s been a year of good news and bad for Denverites. And there’s no one better to comment on the news than our guest, Kyle Clark, the host of “Next with Kyle Clark” on Denver’s 9 News. When Kyle, in a forceful on-air editorial, pushed back against a bout of NIMBYism in his own backyard, the clip swept the Twitterverse and brought the issue of bike-friendly streets to a general television audience. Kyle joins us to talk about the role TV news plays in the fight for a better city and how people waging their own war on cars can work with, not against, reporters. 

Recorded February 10th, 2020 at the Moving People Forward Conference in Denver, Colorado presented by Bicycle Colorado.

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35. Suburbans in the City

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The Chevrolet Suburban is one of General Motors’ most enduring triumphs — the longest-running nameplate in automotive history, to use the industry jargon, and the original SUV. In production since 1935, it’s grown from an all-American family vehicle, perfect for loading up the kids and heading out into the country, into an 18-foot-long status symbol for VIPs — including titans of finance, A-list celebrities, politicians and the occasional drug lord. It’s even the first vehicle to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. While the Suburban used to be about suburbia, it isn’t anymore. In this episode, we talk with Angie Schmitt, a journalist working on a book about the pedestrian safety crisis in the United States, about how the Suburban’s rise foretold the modern SUV boom, and just how dangerous these land sharks can be.

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34. Department of Bikeland Security

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Making change happen in a big, complex, bureaucratic city is really hard. One guy who knows all about that is Shabazz Stuart, the Chief Executive Officer of Oonee, a Brooklyn-based startup company that is developing secure bike-parking kiosks at major transit hubs in and around New York City. For this episode, Shabazz joins The War on Cars crew in the studio and Aaron traverses two rivers and travels all the way to New Jersey — New Jersey! — to lay eyes on the new secret weapon in The War on Cars. Plus, we’re doing some live events. Check out the Show Notes for more details. 

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Rate and review the war effort on iTunes.

Buy a War on Cars t-shirt at Cotton Bureau.

And check out the new podcast from our friends over at TransitCenter. It’s called High Frequency

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33. WCAR Drive Time Radio

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Is the Hyperloop for real or are easily duped elected officials the only people it will take for a ride? Do e-bikes have the power to transform the suburbs? Why should politicians and the press say “crash” instead of “accident”? What’s the best way to convince people to live a car-free life? On this year-end episode, Sarah, Doug and Aaron answer these questions and more from listeners fighting their own local versions of the War on Cars. Plus, what were the best transportation-related developments of 2019? 

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32. Kara Swisher Says Car Ownership is Finished

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Last March, renowned tech journalist and prognosticator Kara Swisher wrote a New York Times opinion piece with the headline, “Owning a car will soon be as quaint as owning a horse.” In it, she declared she would sell her own car and vowed she would never again own an automobile. “The concept of actually purchasing, maintaining, insuring and garaging an automobile in the next few decades? Finished,” she wrote. That column set off thousands of outraged commenters — and activated the radar at The War on Cars. We sat down with Kara at the Vox studios in downtown Manhattan to talk about what it’s like living without wheels of her own, why she loves scooters, and whether we’ll ever get the
Star Trek Holodeck we’ve been promised.

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31. You Get a Car!

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It’s one of the most famous moments in daytime TV history, but what really happened when Oprah Winfrey gave a brand new Pontiac G6 to every member of her studio audience? Leave it to The War on Cars to take that memorable (and very meme-able) moment and connect it to larger questions about mobility, access to economic opportunity and even the perverse way in which Americans pay for healthcare. In a country where everyone needs a car just to be a contributing member of society, what happens when that vital lifeline is severed? Are stories of 12-mile walks to work and individuals who help their fellow employees by buying them a car really “heartwarming,” as local news stories like to say? Or are they instead signs of a society that has failed at the basics? Is anything actually solved when solving people’s transportation woes is turned into a televised spectacle?

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30. The Automotive Police State

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For a century, the automobile has been sold to Americans as the ultimate freedom machine. In her groundbreaking new book, “Policing the Open Road,” historian and legal scholar Sarah Seo explodes that myth. Seo shows how modern policing evolved in lockstep with the development of the car. And that rather than giving Americans greater freedom, the massive body of traffic law required to facilitate mass motoring helped to establish a kind of automotive police state. Is a car a private, personal space deserving Fourth Amendment protection from “unreasonable searches and seizures?” Or is a car something else entirely? It’s a question that courts have struggled with for decades, ultimately leaving it up to the police to use their own discretion, often with horrifying results, especially for minorities. In this revelatory conversation with TWOC co-host Aaron Naparstek, Seo offers an entirely new way of looking at the impact of the automobile on American life, law and culture.

Support the podcast on Patreon.

Rate and review the war effort on iTunes.

Buy a War on Cars t-shirt at Cotton Bureau.

A full transcript of this episode is available here.

SHOW NOTES: 

Buy Sarah Seo’s book, “Policing the Open Road: How Cars Transformed American Freedom.”

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