Car and Driver Magazine: “We Must Consider Alternative Transportation”

How bad are things on America’s highways? So bad that it has prompted some soul-searching at Car and Driver magazine.

Car and Driver takes stock of America's highways and finds them in a shambles. The magazine concludes its time to consider "alternatives." Photo: Car and Driver

In its July issue, the magazine gave its 1.3 million readers a feature with the subtitle “What’s Happening to Our Playgrounds? The American Highway is Broken.”

Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland was pleasantly surprised to find that the nation’s foremost car magazine has concluded that building more highways isn’t the way to fix America’s transportation systems. Which says a lot about just how urgent the need for reform is:

While I was prepared for a screed about how “bike paths” and other silly things (sarcasm intended) were depleting the highway fund and taking away the precious “playground” of automobiles, I instead found that the car magazine I read as a boy and that has catered to car lovers for 50 years — came to the conclusion that perhaps simply building more roads and maintaining all existing ones is futile.

Check out this excerpt (emphasis mine): “The inevitable conclusion is that we cannot possibly build enough roads to satisfy demand, so we must consider alternative transportation systems … we need to take a hard look at what role highways should play and how they fit into the broader transportation network.”

The article also goes against the ideas in the U.S. House transportation proposal released by Rep. John Mica earlier this month. Most experts read Mica’s plan as an attempt to strip funding for everything but traditional highway projects. One car magazine isn’t likely to influence the national debate; but it certainly shows that the unsustainable expense alone is compelling enough for many people — including those far beyond active transportation advocacy circles — to question our auto-centric status quo.

Now if only our elected officials had as much common sense as Car and Driver.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Active Transportation Alliance announces the results of a ZipCar customer survey that found members walked, biked and took public transportation more after they joined. Kaid Benfield at NRDC Switchboard explains why Atlanta’s Beltline plan is “the most ambitious smart growth project” in the country. And Bike Beat Blog marvels that cars kill more people in the United States every year than guns.