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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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Top Customer Reviews
The first two parts of the book cover the history of the car and the American "marriage" to it, as well as the reasons that same marriage has turned into a disaster. The third part then offers practical solutions for non-car travel, going into great detail about walking, biking, mass-transit, ride-sharing, etc, and providing plenty of information on the benefits, drawbacks and availability of each, as well as how to get in contact with alternative travel associations in your area, or how to start your own.
It's a slim volume, but the quality is evident. This book really woke me up to something MAJOR I could do to improve my own quality of life and the planet's. My fiance and I currently own one car between us, and though we've been doing alright with it, we'd been planning to buy another! After reading DIVORCE YOUR CAR, we're realizing we really don't need to have more than one, and we're now planning ways to use our bikes and mass transit more, and actively discouraging each other from taking trips we don't need to take by car. It's already making a big difference, and someday we hope to go entirely car-free, with this book (which I've since purchased from Amazon) and our creativity as guides.
Thank you, Katie Alvord, for such an excellent wake-up call!
That Americans are deep in a love affair with the automobile is not news to me. Reading Alvord's very readable and well researched background on how that auto affair began (we tend to think of cars as coming out of Detroit, yet they were actually invented and first driven in Europe), how it was consummated, how it is sustained and encouraged, and how it is leading us (quite purposefully by those who have something monetary to gain) into increasingly dire straits, held my attention to the very end.
Alvord, after all, doesn't just appropriately horrify us with the damage done and being done. She also offers ways to extricate ourselves, divorce ourselves, if you will, from this toxic relationship. One after another, she takes apart every argument and point of resistance. A resident of Houghton, Michigan, in the state's Upper Peninsula, she walks the talk and shares how that's working out for her. It's inspiring. Freedom really can be delightful ...
In sections entitled "Love's Been Blind: How We Ended Up Married to Cars," "Grounds for Divorce: Why Our Automotive Marriage is on the Rocks," and "How to Divorce Your Car: Let Me Count the Ways ...," Alvord discusses the proliferation of roads and suburbs, the role of marketing and advertising (ever notice how much of automobile marketing is about seduction and romance?), oil spills and other damage done to our environment, the real cost of cars (eye opening), the toll of car crashes and road rage, and finally moves into alternative lifestyles--walking, biking, public transportation, ride sharing, telecommunications, alternative fuels (not as grand as you might think), and breaking free of auto dominance.
If you think this might make for dry reading, I promise you it is anything but. If at first glance, I thought yikes, lot of graphs and charts! sidebars and lists! glossaries and notes! then at second glance, I was so fascinated by the story that I found myself carrying the book along as I walked, generally running into walls and forgetting to eat. Second glance took me through to the end, emerging with a newfound resolution to become "car lite" if not eventually free of those tires beneath me.
"If enough environmentally concerned North Americans responded to the finding that car driving is their most environmentally harmful activity and decided to divorce their cars, going either car-lite or car-free, we might move a long way toward ... a shift like this could make the world look quite different in 20 or 30 years. It could give us a world of compact, convivial communities, with distinct boundaries, surrounded by green space, connected more often by rail. It could contribute to a more relaxed pace of life, clean the air and water, and restore a blessed quietude that has otherwise all but disappeared behind engine noise. We would be healthier, walking and cycling down streets in the shade of trees planted where asphalt used to be. Children and the elderly would feel safer on the streets and have more independence without having to rely on others to drive them places. We'd have billions of dollars worth of infrastructure that could be reallocated to other uses ... we would save money, and we would save lives." (Pg. 241)
Freelance writer Katie Alvord is best known as the author of Divorce Your Car! Ending the Love Affair with the Automobile. Her non-fiction work has appeared in numerous publications, including the Boston Globe, E Magazine, Orion Afield, The Progressive, Utne Reader, and more. She also writes fiction and poetry. A former librarian, she has worked with non-profit groups and served on local environmental and bicycle advisory committees. In 1993, she was recognized as a San Francisco Bay Area Clean Air Champion for "making a difference" by going car-free and writing about the experience. More recently, her series on climate change in the Lake Superior basin won the 2007 Science Journalism Award for Online Reporting from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She has lectured frequently on environmental topics in the U.S. and Canada. Born and raised in northern California, she now lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. An author interview with Alvord appears in the Winter 2011-2012 Issue of The Smoking Poet.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Favorite Quote: "...not driving simplified my life....Read more