By Alina Ostrovsky
“Vroom, vroom…”—you hear the sound of your car as the driver while sitting inside of it. The pedestrian outside of it sees the flatulence of the car’s gas-emission, exhausted through its curious pipe. At this point, the pedestrian knows that this creature has been ‘woken’ for which reason he might need to exercise caution. These interior and exterior occurrences from the vicinity of the car happen simultaneously by a simple twist of the car keys, reviving its operations. Upon the car’s revival, the gates leading to the kingdoms of the West, East, North and South open up ajar with an aura of magnificence. While opening, those gates sweetly summon you into their world of renewal, entertainment and even business, each supplying its due course of opportunities.
When the car came to be
In 1908, the Model T, the forefather of all modern automobile models, first appeared amidst the very well horse-trodden streets of Detroit, Michigan. As the launching of the Model T proved to be successful, Henry Ford, its ingenious engineer, scribbled in his notebook. With an indicative gesture of finality, he noted: “The horse is DONE”. The times of automobiles being disproportionately expensive, reaching out exclusively to the elite, had turned to become ancient history. With the invention of the Model T, a new era had begun. Henry Ford made car ownership affordable that it came into the grasp of the common men. It was affordable because of its mass production by factory assembly lines. Its production increased the employment rate. Yet, after a while, when the Model T rose to exponential numbers of sells, Henry Ford started to regret its invention. He nostalgically “yearned for the rural world he was helping to destroy”.
All aspirations spiralled downwards
Soon after the creation of affordable automobiles, in the early 20th century, many people developed an auto-phobia. In 1929, a Russian writer, Ilya Ehrenburg, addressed the issue of human casualties, caused by what he blamed to be ‘reckless driving’. He stated as follows:
“At first such things were known as ‘catastrophes’. Now people speak of ‘accidents’. Soon they’ll stop speaking altogether. Silently, they’ll haul away the victim and, silently write down the number. Sentimental neighbours wipe their noses, of course, and philosophically minded people argue about the ‘new peril’. Commissions discuss protective laws. But the automobile keeps right on doing its job…It only fulfils its destiny: It is destined to wipe out the world.”
This is an extreme example of an individual exuding a sense of dread and derision towards the idea of an automated form of transit. Sadly, however, people resorted to violence against automobile drivers as a way to express their disapproval. Violence is a form of disapproval not only expressed through words, which raises concern for both sides—the drivers and the pedestrians. Some unhappy campers tied an invisible string around two parallel trees that helped channel a pathway. Since back then the car models did not have rooftops, the string beheaded the approaching automobile drivers. The speed of the car helped contribute to this atrocious outcome. Also, many people complained about the dust it stirred around the area of every auto-mobile passing. This was an early form of pollution. The dust instigated respiratory problems in people and their livestock. This problem lasted until road pavements have been created.
Pedestrians versus automobile drivers
In 1909, a contributor to a German motor magazine expressed what he observed in regards to these blatant protests. He said those words in sorrow rather than in anger, dictating as follows:
“A large proportion of accidents happen because the other users of the street refuse to acknowledge and adapt to the changed circumstances brought about by the appearance of the car. The heedlessness with which the public still crosses the busiest streets is beyond belief and many parents let their children use the street as a playground as if streetcars and automobiles simply don’t exist.”
Through these opposing views, it is possible to understand the pressure that each side had to face. The non-automobile citizens, pedestrians, had to adjust to this sudden change that the invention of the automobile imposed. It influenced the life of the pedestrian forever. No longer could they run around wherever their hearts desired at any times they wished. They had to be at the right time and at the right place in order to be allowed to do what they pleased. While the pedestrians took their time to get used to these new conditions of the road, the automobile drivers had to overcome the headstrong resistance against themselves. Until havoc calmed down, the lives of the automobile drivers had been in danger. They had to wait until streets were built in such a way to promote driving conditions. However, the life of the driver and the pedestrian became a lot more secure only after universally concrete driving laws had been implemented. This eventually mended the relationship between the pedestrian and the driver, but that had to take some time.
A wind of change
Once the car has been accepted, it started changing people’s lives worldwide. Ownership of a car put individual whimsies in a higher priority than family-oriented goals. It brought freedom to people in such a way that they no longer needed to be answering to the authority of others. They no longer needed to be someone else’s liability as well. The car changed the role of women. They were no longer confined within the parameters of the kitchen. The car allowed women to compete for those jobs that were typically granted to men. This promoted more gender equality and it altogether changed the role of women in society. Trains no longer became popular as they used to be. They became more vacant and vacant as the car gained popularity. Not only did the car provide a means of transportation, but it became an outlet for entertainment.
However, with all those lifestyle improvements, there has been a major drawback since the invention of the car. It has been the leading cause of pollution. In fact, “Studies made in Jaipur, India, indicate that there is a high rate of occurrences of respiratory, digestive, ocular and skin problems amongst the traffic policemen. A significant number of them become victims of lung disorders in the very first few months of their posting to a traffic department.”
Restraints against modernisation
One of the concerning factors caused by car ownership is the defragmentation of family values. The Amish people, for example, gave up on the idea of a motorised form of transport altogether. To this day, they use the horse-and-buggy as means of locomotion. They are very intimate people amongst themselves, where large communities live in the US state, Pennsylvania. They are a religious sect of people to whom communal values bear the highest priority.
There are four main reasons why the Amish people denounced the car. The first reason is that they want to slow down the pace of life. The convenience of a car turns everything into hurriedness to the point that life just passes by you in a blink of an eye. Second, Amish people want to preserve the family and communal values, the essence of unanimity. Advanced technology is the culprit of all distractions. The car is considered one of those “advanced technology” pieces that is the worst of them all—it gives access to cities that are places of sin and temptation. The third reason is to maintain distance from the world. “The Amish feel that true Christians should not follow the ways of the world. Holding fast to the buggy is a one way to distinguish themselves in a world obsessed with newness”. Last, but not the least, the buggy represents a symbolic value: “Widely recognized, the Amish buggy embodies Amishness in a way that a national flag denotes one’s patriotic alliance, or a sports uniform declares allegiance to a particular team”. They are the advocates of a simple life. We have a lot to learn from them.
Cars and stress: Numbers increase daily
In fact, lately, it turns out that a huge percentage of millennials are not in a rush to get a car. Unlike the early days when everyone was rushing to meet life milestones, such as marriage, jobs, kids and so on, the millennials are in no hurry. When there are no milestones to meet, there is no urging necessity for a car, which concerns car industries. Although a carless life doesn’t appeal to everyone, they are many unthought-of benefits. Being stuck in traffic may cause a lot of stress for the driver. Dan Bellack said: “Life is too short for traffic”. Granted, public transportation is a major inconvenience, because it takes longer to get from point A to point B, but the travel is a lot safer and less harmful to the environment. Not to mention, a lot cheaper. It is extremely beneficial for people who live in the city since public transportation is everywhere. It is a lot less beneficial for people living in the suburbs.
Still, Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet.”
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