From Publishers Weekly
A long-time advocate for transportation reform, Alvord prefers getting around on anythingAher own two feet, mass transit, bicyclesAbut a car. In this affable history-cum-how-to, she tracks the dramatic, negative impact of automobiles from the early days of the 1900s to the present. Among the evils are severe pollution levels, high rates of death and injury in car accidents, a decline in other modes of transport and sprawling highway development. Meanwhile, some cities around the world are in fact quite friendly toward nondrivers: Toronto has a great subway system and encourages bicycle riders; Copenhagen and some other cities have "free bikes" that allow people to leave a deposit and borrow a bike; San Francisco has pedestrian-only roads. Perhaps the book's best section is the last third, in which Alvord offers detailed, practical advice on how to avoid using a car, along with lists of the benefits of doing so. Walking around, for example, helps reduce stress and prevent osteoporosis. Crime rates go down in areas with increased pedestrian traffic. And the average speed of a commuting car (22 mph) isn't much faster than that of a bicycle (10-20 mph). Even for readers who are not ready to permanently abandon their auto, this book provides a wealth of ideas for unbuckling the seat belts and enjoying the fresh air. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In spite of America's enduring love with the automobile, there have always been those who have said it wouldn't last! Or at least there have been those who have suggested that it shouldn't last. Recent arguments include Jack Doyle's Taken for a Ride: Detroit's Big Three and the Politics of Pollution
and Jane Holtz Kay's Asphalt Nation: How the Automobile Took Over America and How We Can Take It Back
(1997). Most critics have looked to public policy or planning initiatives for solutions. Alvord, though, offers practical remedies available to anyone. She traces the history of America's dependency on the automobile and details why we should reconsider the relationship. The reasons include pollution from auto emissions and oil spills, the expense of car ownership and its hidden inconveniences, and the grim consequences of traffic accidents. She then examines substitutes for driving, such as walking, bicycling, shared ridership, public transit, alternative fuels, telephone, and e-mail. Alvord writes with good sense as well as humor, which should help her win converts. David RouseCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved