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Divorce Your Car! : Ending the Love Affair with the Automobile Paperback – June 1, 2000
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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 Rouse
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Driving a car can obviously be very beneficial, but at the same time, it can also be very destructive. The worst part is that cars kill thousands of people each year, many of them children. Secondly, the environment is becoming more polluted, leading to global warming. But besides the physical effects, driving can be emotionally draining as well. As more and more people use cars, traffic and congestion is becoming a huge problem. Driving can be a very frustrating experience, mainly during rush hour and when there are road constructions. If people spend too much time cooped up in a car, their frustration and anger may come out while they are driving. Therefore, these negative effects along with others, are what made Katie Alvord decide to divorce her car.
It is clear throughout the book that Katie Alvord is in favor of divorcing a car. She constantly argues that the negative effects of driving outweigh the positive effects. Divorce Your Car! is thus a guide to help people find alternate ways to get places. These alternate modes of transportation such as walking, biking, and using trains and buses, will then effectively reduce our auto-dependence. It is evident that the author put a lot of time and effort into writing this book. I really enjoyed Divorce Your Car! because I also feel that people unnecessarily use their cars at times. I have to admit that I drive to save time, even if the place I'm going to is only a 10-minute walk. But there are many reasons why I have to drive, one being that places are so far away from each other. I am willing though to change my ways and get some exercise in the process. Katie Alvord does a great job in convincing readers that "divorcing a car can be fun, healthy, money-saving, and helpful to the planet" (Alvord, back cover). I find this book to be incredibly useful and I'm sure that others will feel the same.
Katie Alvord begins her book with by explaining what divorcing your car means. She compares the relationship people have with cars to marriages and divorcing a car is much like divorcing a spouse. Then, she describes how this marriage or dependency between people and cars was formed, starting from when the car was introduced into society and finishing with the conditions of the present. In the next section of the book, Alvord discusses reasons why we should divorce our cars. That is, why we should consider trying to live a car-lite or even car-free life. In the final section of her book, she goes into detail on how living a car-lite or car-free life is possible. She addresses how individuals, communities, and societies can accomplish the goal of becoming car-free.
The main argument that Alvord makes is that anyone and everyone can go car-free or at least car-lite and they should in order to improve the condition of this world. This can be done by using other modes of transportation such as walking, biking, buses, trains, or car-share programs. She suggests that people gradually move in to a car-free lifestyle by first trying a car-lite lifestyle. This consists of using the car less or as little as possible, maybe for long trips only. Alvord even states that going car-free may not be possible for some so a car-lite lifestyle is the best idea in those situations which might include people living in rural areas. Alvord backs up her car-free argument by providing multiple reasons as to why people should use cars less. They cause overcrowded streets, health problems, indirect and direct pollution, and they are very expensive.
Divorce Your Car is a very good and convincing book. It not only makes and case for abandoning cars but it explains how this can be done. Alvord addresses each issue of her car-free idea in depth. She gives the reader history, evidence, and the how to. Another very impressive aspect of the book is that it is not preachy or condescending. It simply tells you the facts and what your options are. In approaching the argument this way, I think more people will be open to the idea of attempting a car-free or car-lite lifestyle.
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Favorite Quote: "...not driving simplified my life....Read more