The Cost of the Car is a dispassionate but engaging account of the consequences of predicating our habitat on the automobile.
Author: Ian East
The Cost of the Car is a dispassionate but engaging account of the consequences of predicating our habitat on the automobile, largely from a technical point of view. (The author is a former physicist and aerospace engineer.) Treating transport as an engineering problem, the car is first assessed, in comparison with other options, with regard to efficacy, safety, price, and performance. The cost to the wider economy, community, health, and the environment is then also considered. While the extent of its deficiencies become clear, so does the value we place on privacy and control. Three short stories attempt to relate the true nature of road accidents, obscure in dry statistics. Each is an account of real events but substitutes fictional characters to protect the individuals concerned. Only in this way can the aftermath be understood, and the full human cost counted. An introduction to the greenhouse effect and global warming is included, along with a discussion of alternative sources of energy. The root cause of congestion is also explained, along with the nature of the 'modal inversion' that occurred between road and rail in the 1950s. The Cost of the Car represents the first widely accessible collected account of these issues. Lastly, the author considers alternatives to sprawl which, while preserving the freedom to drive a private car, introduce the liberty not to.