What is it? How does it work?
Is our choice of transit method political? Would that it
were not so. But in these pages (under construction) I try
to show that the automobile has been uniquely privileged
in the industrial West, to the detriment and exclusion of
those who travel by any other means. Carcentrism is
a social justice issue, not "just" an environmental problem
or a city planning challenge. Under this heading you'll find
writing and resources about "road safety" -- a very political
Did you hear me say "carcentrism"? What a weird, made-up word!
Oh no, not another "ism"... what on earth could it mean?
Sure, cars are very important to our economy and our lifestyle,
but why invent some new "ism"? Is there no end to political
correctness? Read on, and decide for yourself.
- Whose Roads?
- An excellent overview of the problem of pedestrians' and
cyclists' road rights. This paper corrects the misapprehension
that pedestrians and cyclists "don't pay for" the public roads
and therefore have less right to them.
- Is Cycling Really Dangerous?
- People keep telling us so. Here I argue that (a) cycling is
not nearly so dangerous as it's painted, and (b) our ideas about
'danger' and 'safety' are badly skewed.
- Road Safety Articles
- This is a five-part article series on road safety, once again
from a contrarian, pro-bike, pro-pedestrian viewpoint. If you
know little about risk and how risk is measured and discussed, these
articles may be a useful introduction to a complicated and
- Social Justice Scrapbook
- If I told you that most people who kill someone with a car
get away with it, you'd probably scoff. But here's a disorganized
grab bag of clippings from pedestrian and bike advocacy sites,
from discussion in the UK House of Commons, from newspapers,
all saying basically this same thing: people who drive carelessly
and maim or kill their fellow-citizens usually walk away without
- Carcentric Language and carcentric practise
- Language serves as often to conceal or distract as it does
to reveal or illuminate. Prison wardens will say that a riot
ended "with no serious injuries" when they mean that no prison staff
were hurt -- even if several prisoners were shot and killed.
Cops in NYC used to write "NHI" (no human involved) when reporting
the murder of prostitutes. Military jargon abounds in laundered,
anaemic language to disguise the brutality of warfare: official
documents talk about "payload delivery" and the "servicing" of
targets, as if a bomb were a UPS package. Some men still talk about
"seducing" a woman as a euphemism for violent rape. Corporations
now spend millions per annum on "greenwashing" campaigns to launder
their public image and distract the public from their poor labour
relations or environmental crimes. Euphemism and doublespeak are always
to be found where some kind of violence or crime is trying to cover
its tracks. Just so with our official justice and highway authorities
and the problem of the automobile: the language we use, the efforts
to which we go to ignore the problem, are good indicators of how
big the problem really is.
- Carcentric Metrics in "traffic safety"
- When we assess risk and safety, we use various metrics -- ways
of expressing risk in a context, such as lifetime risk, MTBF (mean
time between failures), risk per annum, risk per hour, risk per
trip, risk per distance travelled. The highway/traffic establishment
often leans heavily on "risk per mile" to prove that high-speed
freeways are a good thing and that automobile travel is very safe.
But is risk per mile really a definitive metric?
- Bad Science from the traffic safety establishment
- Powerful decision makers base many of their decisions (those which
are not pre-determined by bribery and influence, that is) on charts
graphs and tables presented by "responsible authority." But how
good is the data analysis that feeds those graphs and charts? The
"traffic safety" establishment naturally tends to spin its numbers in
favour of the automobile. Here I look at just a few very specific
instances of the carcentrism that saturates police, highway, and city
planning offices throughout the industrialized world. When a covert ideology
(such as racism, antiSemitism, sexism, classism, carcentrism) deeply
colours our public process, it warps the entire process of social
research, from data-gathering through data analysis and presentation.
[This article still under construction]
- Bad Science from the "Sound Science" folks
- Even the Union of Concerned Scientists -- folks who have often pointed
out the social and environmental cost of automobile-mania -- finally knuckle
under and publish some very unsound science when they try to reassure
Americans that hybrid cars will solve all our problems. I cancelled my
membership, and this letter to UCS tells why. Typical of the language
used in promoting hybrids and EV's is this
Since most white-collar workers use their
cars to commute, spending around 2 hours a
day in bumper-to-bumper traffic talking on
their cell phones, hybrids are a godsend for
the 21st Century lifestyle.
rather damning quote from
Note that the inevitable consequence of massive automobile overuse,
2-hour commutes to work through gridlocked streets, is taken for granted.
The private automobile cannot be questioned. Except for a handful of
car-free activists (currently considered a sort of lunatic fringe in the US),
no environmental, public health, or road safety initiative is permitted
to challenge the carcentric paradigm.