I’ve been holding a driver’s license since 1999, but rarely ever used it. If I’ve driven more than 7.000 kilometers since then I’d be surprised, and this includes 3.000+ kilometres on one single trip to France back in 2000, and another 2.000 kilometres just three weeks ago, from the most-Northern part of Germany all the way down to the South, 30 kilometres from the Austrian border.
The trip was wonderful – but, once again, it also confirmed to me the surprising stupidity of Germany’s favorite hobby.
Sure: Even with a pretty standard car, you can – in theory – travel at 180 km/h on our autobahn. In practice, this only works if there aren’t too many trucks on the road, no general speed limits imposed, no construction sites to stop you, or simply slow-moving traffic. But even then, your driving experience will vary widely, depending on the weather (Rain? Snow? Hail?), lighting (Night? Annoying headlights. Day? Too much sun in your face!), and road conditions. And when all these conditions are perfect, it’s still tiresome and stressful to drive at these speeds for hours. Not to mention the danger of being among thousands of tired, angry or distracted people who are driving at 180 km/h themselves while making salary negotiations on their phones.
That’s why I prefer trains.
On a modern train, I can pee standing up while traveling at 200+ km/h. Excuse my example, but the running smoothness of an ICE high speed train really is astounding. You can read, chat, eat, work, sit at the bar, walk around or, yes, use the bathroom, and you almost won’t notice any movement (or noise) at all. I have a hard time figuring out why anybody would prefer driving on their own, when they can have all this comfort and quietness at a very competitive price.
With this introduction, an interesting article on why L.A. should get rid of the car, how achieving it could spur an artistic revolution, and in which sense all this may already be happening. Be warned: The article is a bit long-winded. But there’s a nice pay-off, including stats like these:
For every 30 years LA continues to spend money on cars, we could build out […] 1,800 miles of subway. This is the equivalent of building a subway under every freeway in LA County (527 miles), The NYC Subway (223 miles), The London Tube (250 miles), The Tokyo Subway (121 miles), Shanghai Metro (287 miles), and Seoul Metropolitan (327 miles) combined.
If you’re an artist and believe that a car is necessary for a happy life, I recommend you to read it, pay close attention, and ask some questions, for example: How much work, money and energy do we dedicate to our cars and how much would be used better for our art?