When I first saw this book I almost passed it by. The title, 'Car Sick' made me expect a book filled with the usual complaints about all the problems that the automobile causes. Then I noticed the sub-title, 'Solutions for our Car-Addicted Culture.' This made it at least worth picking it up.
People don't want to change their driving habits, but as gasoline continues to increase they will have to. $3 a gallon gasoline cause a bit of complaining, but no real changes. $5 a gallon gasoline in Europe causes a lot fewer SUV's. I don't know if it will take $10, $25 or $50 a gallon gasoline to make real changes but it will happen.
The encouraging thing in this book is that Ms. Sloman offers a number of solutions that have been implemented in various places and dramatically reduced the number of cars being used.
Two things she mentions:
The Walking Bus. Each morning a parent of the two children living the most distance from school puts on a safety vest, grabs a small wagon (excuse me Ms. Sloman is a Brit - it's not a wagon it's a trolley), and starts leading the two kids to school. Along the way other children join the parade. Their heavy backpacks or school bags go on the trolley, periodically another parent joins the parade. They walk the kids to school. They don't use gasoline, everyone gets exercise, it's a social event for the kids - and for the parents who wind up getting coffee (Ooooophs, England again, tea.).
Car Clubs. I drive a pickup, but I've organized my life that it only gets started a couple of times a week. (I drove it 2,000 miles last year, including a 700 mile trip.) The rest of the time it sits idle - depreciating, consuming insurance premium, etc. Car clubs are where a group of people buy a vehicle and share the expenses. For a look at a commercially set up car club go visit the FlexCar web site.
One of the most encouraging books I've read in years.
There are a number of books out there that describe how bad it is that we have created a car dependent culture. This book goes a step further and offers solutions. It's good to see that she also comes from a rural environment and offers solutions to those living in a rurual environment-this is often times a hard area to go car free given the distances between bulidings and homes.
Lynn Sloman was Assistant Director of the environmental group Transport 2000 for ten years and now runs a transport consultancy business, helping the government and other groups find ways to cut down on traffic and car use, so her Car Sick: Solutions for Our Car-Addicted Culture comes not just from ideology but from one who has many practical years helping people through gridlock. From how to make a transition from car-oriented choices to alternatives to the larger picture of how less cars work in places of traffic, it's a winner.