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Why Automobiles are Central to our Culture

Automobiles are "central to our culture" and a "rite of passage" not because cars are inherently amazing, but because people love mobility. Most people will admit driving to work in traffic is about as much fun as having a tooth pulled. We can thank Federal taxation and transportation-investment policies for this agony.

Since the Federal Government makes such large expenditures on highways, when a state wants mobility they have little other option than to build roads. In too many cases, these highways parallel rail lines which were making profits, but which could not compete with subsidized highways, so went bankrupt and stopped service. These expenditures have narrowed our transportation operations, thereby trapping us in our cars -- severely impacting the ability of children and elderly to get around.

A shift in our national transportation policy to favor bicycling, walking and mass transportation is warranted for reasons of environmental protection and economic vitality.

Dan Convissor

This letter was published on 5 May 1991 in the Long Island edition of The New York Times


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Last updated: 4 April 1999