We humans like our wars. We have a war on drugs, a war on terror, a war on crime, and now, it seems, a war on cars. The latter “war” has entered the political vocabulary in Vancouver, where city council has been trying to reduce reliance on private automobiles; in Toronto, where the mayor is driving the agenda in the opposite direction; and in Seattle, where bike lanes and increased parking fees have come under fire. In the U.K., they’ve been calling it a war on motorists.
It’s not really much of a war, though. If anything, it’s just a bit of catch-up to create better public spaces and to allow more sensible forms of transportation some room in our car-dominated cities. Let’s take a look at some of the battlefields—and the casualties.
In Vancouver, opponents and local media predicted “chaos” from a bike lane on the Burrard Bridge, which connects the city’s downtown with the West Side. After the chaos failed to emerge, opponents, rather than learning from experience, went on to predict the same thing for other bike lanes in the city, mostly in the downtown core. Despite a few bumps, the chaos has yet to reveal itself. At the same time, the provincial government is spending $3 billion on a new 10-lane bridge and expanded highways to move cars and trucks in and out of the city.