KIRO NEWSRADIO OPINION

Ross: Are we killing car culture? Or is car culture killing the US?

Mar 25, 2024, 7:23 AM

car culture...

In an aerial view, the exterior of the Tesla automotive company manufacturing facility is seen on September 18, 2023 in Fremont, California. (Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)

(Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)

It’s looking like electric cars are becoming an election issue. President Biden is pushing electrics as a way to further restrict carbon emissions, which has prompted Donald Trump to claim that Biden is out to kill the auto industry and assassinate jobs.

But it seems to me that if you want to really get morbid about cars, you also have to bring up the rising highway death count. And the assault on our mental health caused by urban commute systems that can be paralyzed by a single crash – such that some of us keep a pee bottle and emergency rations just in case.

More on cars in Wash.: As cars release driving data to insurance, is your driving my business?

There’s also our casual acceptance of what to me is the single most shocking driving statistic – that every gallon of gas you burn dumps 19.6 pounds of CO2 out of your tailpipe — approximately triple the weight of the gasoline itself.

I don’t think the question here is whether any politician is going to “kill” our car culture. The real question is can we stop our car culture from killing the U.S.?

I hear many complaints about the billions of dollars spent on light rail, but highways aren’t a bargain either. And for all the highway construction, the newly built lanes quickly fill up and all it takes to bring the whole thing to a stop is one bad wreck in the wrong place.

And I don’t think it’s going to get better any time soon. This year marks the beginning of the 10-year Revive I-5 project, which is a great thing. If you’ve ever come to a stop on I-5 and taken a close look at the pavement you know it’s long overdue.

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But it means that over the next 10 years, there will be 11 major I-5 rehab projects just between downtown Seattle and Lynnwood. Not counting fish passages and noise walls. These projects will save the highway from crumbling, but they won’t add any more capacity. And during construction, there will be less capacity.

This tells me it would be wise to elect politicians who understand that driving the same old way in the same old vehicle is a dead end.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5-9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: Are we killing car culture? Or is car culture killing the US?