submitted 1 month ago by davetapley to c/fuckcars

I'm getting a lot of 'but my car is more convenient' arguments lately, and I'm struggling to convey why that doesn't make sense.

Specifically how to explain to people that: Sure, if you are able to drive, and can afford it, and your city is designed to, and subsidizes making it easy to drive and park, then it's convenient. But if everyone does it then it quickly becomes a tragedy of the commons situation.

I thought of one analogy that is: It would be 'more convenient' if I just threw my trash out the window, but if we all started doing that then we'd quickly end up in a mess.

But I feel like that doesn't quite get at the essence of it. Any other ideas?

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[-] [email protected] 1 points 4 days ago

In my country I think it's $40 and that's it lol

[-] mrcleanup 58 points 1 month ago

Your car is more convenient because they designed it that way. Visit Europe and everyone's like "get a eurail pass, it's so convenient!" But here we don't have the infrastructure so alternative transport sucks, because we decided to make the car, king, instead of building railway lines.

[-] [email protected] 14 points 1 month ago

While I do hope Europe is years ahead of the USA, I don't know any people who say it's convenient to do a eurail pass. Where I live there are the same problems as in the USA, the car is 1,5-2 times quicker than public transport. That's just too much wastes time to be bothered to go by public transport.

[-] [email protected] 6 points 1 month ago

Is your area a big tourist destination? From my perspective on the other side of the Atlantic, Americans treat Europe as a big, culture/walkability theme park. We don't go to the car-centric wastelands that look like the U.S. looks.

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[-] Gradually_Adjusting 11 points 1 month ago

It is political at heart. You just can't pit the "power of the consumer" against industry interests and expect an ideal outcome. The Not Just Bikes guy, from what I hear, has given up hope for America at this point. Whatever happens, I hope other nations can learn from our example: Cave to auto and oil interests at your own peril.

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[-] [email protected] 7 points 1 month ago

You talk to about Europe like it was a monolith. Where are I live cars are hugely more convenient than public transport.

Public transportation may be more convenient if you live and work on city centers, everything else not so much

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[-] FrostKing 50 points 1 month ago

The fact of the matter is, in many places (I'm thinking of America mainly) using a car is far more convenient, if not the only option, and that's the problem

[-] [email protected] 5 points 1 month ago

And speaking from a place where cars are not the most convenient option, they are in fact, not convenient. I don't imagine it's more convenient to use a car in the US than here, except that the US lacks the more convenient options.

Just a few simple examples.

I can also commute to my office job that's an hour away by car. But if I take the train, I can unpack my laptop, and start my workday on the train, having it count towards my hours, essentially meaning my commute doesn't count against my free time. Also, I don't have car payments. One of the biggest monthly expenses most households would go through simply doesn't exist for me, since I can afford not having a car.

If I had a car, I could do all the things yanks use their cars for. But I don't need to. It's also peace of mind. Check engine light on? Car making funny sounds? Never a problem for me! And I'm always better on time since I never get into traffic.

But what if I need a car for some reason? I rent one by the minute, and it's still much, much cheaper than owning one. And I can do that. I have more options.

My point is that the US doesn't make cars the "most convenient" option, they make it the "least inconvenient" one by eliminating or degrading all other more convenient options.

[-] [email protected] 7 points 1 month ago

A really city-centric view mind you. Sounds like something Londoners would say

I live in a country with amazing public transport too, but out in the sticks. Public transport is two buses a day for me, fuck that, it's car or nothing

Happy to drive about in a 1.2 litre shitbox though cos I don't have a tiny penis

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[-] [email protected] 4 points 1 month ago

I think you are stretching the semantics pretty far....the US is primarily rural geographically and urban only in very sparsely spaced cities....where Europe is urban in more condensed areas. The US doesn't make everything 'more inconvenient' for the most part, most things are simple more inconvenient by nature.

On the other hand, within cities themselves, the US does shoot itself in the foot with it's policies and what it subsidizes. Overall, though, most people don't realize how really big the US is, space vs population-wise, compared to Europe or Japan.

[-] FrostKing 3 points 1 month ago

My point is that the US doesn't make cars the "most convenient" option, they make it the "least inconvenient"

That's just semantic. The least convenient is the most convenient by definition. The question is what you want to be the most convenient. We agree that it shouldn't be cars—you're arguing for the sake of argument, not because we have an actual disagreement.

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[-] Schal330 28 points 1 month ago

Cars really are more convenient on an individual basis. It's not ideal for the environment and getting stuck in traffic is a pain in the arse when it happens, but for the individual it provides greater benefits than public transport.

In the UK it's cheaper than public transport, it's much more reliable, it's healthier (not being in close proximity to those who may be harbouring a flu), and it affords people the freedom to travel somewhere that public transport can't get you sufficiently close to.

Personally I feel that the best step is to reduce the need for people to travel. If people don't need to be in offices then don't enforce policies to get them back in. That'll reduce car usage as well as public transport.

[-] [email protected] 21 points 1 month ago

You see this is the exact thing. The point is to FUCKING REDUCE the need for cars, not to shove everyone who has a driving license in gas chambers and mass burning every vehicle.

Concerning that people can't even relay this simplest thing

[-] AA5B 13 points 1 month ago

Not realizing this is my objections to many posts here … too many people just want to punish drivers or car owners, without understanding that you’re needlessly creating hardship for the very people you’re trying to “save”, while also making your “15 minute city” utopias less desirable. The reality is that cars are usually (in the US) the most convenient option from the perspective of the driver. How can we change that? How can we give them other convenient options?

Changing this perspective is important, because getting rid of cars is likely a long drawn out process (and doesn’t apply everywhere). People do need cars most of this time. Let’s work with that, and try to fix our specifies so they use cars less and less

[-] [email protected] 5 points 1 month ago

If more poeople had your perspective, I wouldn't be constantly tempted to block this community. On my other account I did block after about 2 weeks. I have a bicycle, electric cars and work from home, but I can't bicycle my 4 year old to swim lessons two nights a week 25 miles away. I have other kids and other time obligations you know? Doing the best I can, but it takes a car for now.

[-] [email protected] 3 points 1 month ago

And that's not your fault. It's the fault of the infrastructure. It's like trying to blame individuals for where they get their electricity from. Or how their sewage is handled. You as an individual aren't in control of those things that's a problem that must be resolved at the infrastructure level

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[-] [email protected] 3 points 1 month ago

Most folks discussing "issues" on Lemmy are just angry and impotent (I don't mean sexually).

They have no ability to build the world they want, and no way to positively vent their frustrations.

So they come here and just say shit like "guillotine the rich" and " fuck all cars"

Just how it goes, but it doesn't reflect reality.

[-] jj4211 3 points 1 month ago

I agree, the premise of the question is "how can I make them realize they are wrong and their car isn't convenient?" Particularly in an internet context, they are probably right that their car is more convenient, because they are driving places where you may never have been. There are places where cars suck and it's best to find ways to keep the cars out of it, and places where even the best, well intentioned 'non-car' plans are not viable. Just need the right plan for the right context and the right facilities to let people gracefully be able to move between the two.

[-] [email protected] 6 points 1 month ago

I think the convenience very much depends on the journey you want to make. To travel from London to Edinburgh by car means several hours where you can do nothing but hold the steering wheel. If you go by train, you can spend the time usefully ... or sleep. If you're talking about commuting, well, driving into most cities during rush hour means sitting in traffic jams every day, not just occasionally.

[-] Schal330 4 points 1 month ago

I agree it can depend on the journey. Convenience can be different things to different people, if two people are travelling from London to Edinburgh by train that could cost around £240 one way, as opposed to driving which could cost around £80 one way. I'd say the cost savings there are convenient for the two people and depending on their budget could outweigh the convenience of one of them being able to sleep on the journey.

Commuting is another matter, if cost of commuting by public transport was cheaper, reliable, personable and generally a more pleasant experience then more people would do it. Once again it also depends on the journey!

[-] [email protected] 21 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

I think your approach is wrong.

Lemmy has too small a presence to influence the larger populace. You are shouting at a highway from a grass field across town.

People love convenience. So much they built trash chutes in their buildings to throw away their garbage. If someone implemented a system where you could throw out your garbage through the window, it would be an absolute hit.

What you need to do is sell the convenience. Make it cooler, cheaper, easier and/or faster.
People aren't convinced by doing the right thing, that's just masochism.
And they aren't convinced by the "sacrifice now, get paid later" convention... Well, actually they are else scams wouldn't be so successful. Anyway, people are dumb so the key to success is hitting that dumbness the right way to make it resonate in concert.

Build an orchestra of convenience, maestro!

[-] [email protected] 8 points 1 month ago

Yeah, that's pretty much how it is. People will take what they perceive to be the fastest, safest, and most convenient route from A to B, and they don't really think about the long term cost or externalities of it.

Some of it is also about politics, particularly in cases where surburbs and cities share a political "unit". So you get a situation where people in the city want walkability, but surburbanites vote against it so they can continue to drive into the city without any perceived obstacles.

[-] BallsandBayonets 4 points 1 month ago

That's the struggle, isn't it. Public transit won't become what the majority use until it's faster than driving, and I don't see how that's possible in most cities unless parking lots are banned.

[-] jj4211 18 points 1 month ago

It really depends on context.

If you have low population density, then there's no escaping the reality that cars are convenient.

In high density environments, cars can't be "the" convenient option.

Striving for the latter is admirable, but frequently mismanaged. For example around here there is one fantastic walkable development, with a rich amount of offices, stores, residential, and parks. However every other attempt is just appartments with crappy parking and no where to walk to (the commercial properties that get tossed into mixed use are largely vacant because the retail space want taken seriously, because the developers really just wanted to do apartments and the city mandates mixed use in a way that let's them half ass it).

[-] Etterra 16 points 1 month ago

When you live in the suburbs or country (America) the distances to go anywhere relevant get too large to be able to go without a car. Everything is designed around the need for one, has been since the post-WW2 era. Nobody then thought of the disaster they were creating, and the auto companies elbowing out mad transit were too greedy to care.

[-] pHr34kY 15 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

My car does about 5,000km a year, and almost all of it is with a passenger. Taking kids to school and sports. It's also a 930kg car.

It's faster, cheaper, and more convenient to catch a train to the office in the city in peak hour.

However, there's no way I'm going to use PT to lug around a full trolley of shopping or multiple baseball bags with catcher's gear and 3 kids.

Basically my point is - travel less, travel lighter.

[-] [email protected] 14 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

It's on a case-to-case basis and depends on the location and lifestyle of the person. I live in a city with a downtown area that is inconvenient for cars because of the scarcity of parking. So from that perspective, driving is actually more inconvenient than taking a bus or hailing a ride-share. On the other hand, there is little to no public transit outside of the downtown area, so having a car is more convenient (rather, a necessity) in that case.

[-] jj4211 3 points 1 month ago

I think this makes a lot of sense, at least in the US where we have a mix of super dense population centers for which mass transit is the only sane option, but also very very rural areas where mass transit just isn't viable. Find your parking along the edge of the walkable area and take the mass transit to the walkable portion. The big city near me has at least somewhat embraced this and converted a couple of the big streets into 'no cars allowed' and it's made for some good places, and I can go there from further away thanks to parking and taking a bus in. I could go for some more pedestrian bridges and maybe some trams rather than the bus, but at least I see the hint of a scenario where things can come together.

[-] [email protected] 11 points 1 month ago

Not just bikes made a video about that point. The gist: when you spend more than $100B on roads and next to nothing on rail and public transit, well no shit sherlock.


[-] [email protected] 10 points 1 month ago

I think before you get to convincing people, I think you simply have to ask people more questions. What do they mean by "more convenient"? And then, how is their car more convenient? And remember, two people can both think, "my car is more convenient," but have wildly different definitions of what "more convenient" means and how their car fits that definition.

In my experience, when most people say, "My car is more convenient" they mean, "That's what I'm used to, that's what I've always done," as well as all the points you made in the 2nd paragraph. Other people mean that a bike can't 100% replace a car, which is a little easier to argue against because it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Maybe they can commute to work or do chores by bike, and even if there's a day where the weather doesn't cooperate or they need to carry more stuff than they can fit on their bike

However, I think the biggest revelation you have is this is a tragedy of the commons situation. I would suggest you dig into that a bit more and how you can combat tragedies of the commons. In my honest opinion, I think this is a systemic problem and needs systemic solutions. Getting support for these changes is huge and resources like Strong Towns are a good place to start.

[-] [email protected] 8 points 1 month ago

Flip it - instead of "your convenience is inconveniencing the others", frame it as "the others' convenience is inconveniencing you". It's the same thing, but people accept the later better.

Specially because IMO the focus should not be on dictating individual actions, but gathering collective support for political decisions.

[-] [email protected] 6 points 1 month ago

You are stuck in traffic because somebody else is driving. And you driving car makes someone else stuck in traffic too.

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[-] davetapley 3 points 1 month ago

I love this! Really gets at the essence of what I was thinking, thank you.

[-] Iron_Lynx 8 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

If you indeed systemically invest in x as a way of addressing a question while undressing alternatives to x over the course of 70-odd years, then you should not be surprised that your facilities for x are comparatively amazing while alternatives are trash. Imagine if instead of a Federal Highway Act, they passed a Federal High Speed Rail act? The US high speed railway network would have looked better than any European network and you could travel between any two even somewhat decent cities in the 48 contiguous by very fast train. Instead, the US high speed rail network right now is worse than Uzbekistan's. The country with the highest GDP and they cannot figure out how to make a train without a combustion engine, or how to make one go faster than 130 km/h without importing French and/or Swiss experts.

Fact is that making cars the most convenient way of getting about was, and is, a deliberate policy decision. Cities don't just make space for cars, it's given to them. Look at any neighbourhood in Amsterdam built in the sixties and you see six lane dual carriageways. And also, their bicycle network is a separate transport layer and the most convenient way of getting about in most places built both before and after the sixties.

Point is: the car is as convenient as it is because someone with authority decreed it has to be. And someone else may very well have decreed something else.

[-] [email protected] 3 points 1 month ago

There is no way a US federal high speed rail would look anything nearly as successful as ones in europe or other highly populated locations. I think people fail to realize that for the most part the US is very sparsely populated. with the exception of maybe 2-3 'regions' that might look close to the population density and public transportation feasibility of Europe, there just wouldn't be enough people going between each individual point to make it profitable, even if subsidized. Imagine putting up 300 miles of high speed rail that cost many millions of dollars to build, millions of dollars a year to maintain, and thousands of dollars to run each round trip, and then finding out there are only a few dozen people that need to go between those particular terminals each hour. Trying to adjust by running less often just makes things worse because running less often means fewer people yet will find it convenient.....running more often makes it less profitable....so you end up like the US and basically don't bother making routes and stations without enough traffic.

[-] Iron_Lynx 3 points 1 month ago

Here's a few problems with that take:

  • A) This railway network being discussed is going to be built sixty odd years ago. That is enough time for areas of value to form around the nodes, turning the rail network into an investment into future cities.

  • B) What is the direct revenue of the US interstate highway network?

  • No seriously, how much money enters the US budget from the Interstate highways directly? I don't care about facilitated development n stuff, I care only and purely about the direct revenue. If profitability is the point, or the measure of success of transportation system, then freeways - which are, by definition, free at the point of use - are a terrible return on investment and are better off never built.

  • Meanwhile, for one, railway is in this interesting position that as you go faster, it becomes more profitable. And for two, if the US were to invest in high speed rail at the level at which it has in highways, then they would probably run it in a way where, similarly to the highway network, availability and service are more important than profit.

  • C) Nobody commutes from Bumfuck, VA to Nowhere, OR. Even in the US, commuting is a regional affair.

  • A NYC - Chicago - LA high speed rail is not for those major cities exclusively. It is for all the city pairs of places between those cities. It would chain together decent city pairs with a continuing railway line. NY - Chicago would at least stop in Philly, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Fort Wayne. Many of those appear to be a good rail distance apart. In fact, Chicago and Cleveland are a great distance for HSR. Too far to comfortably drive to do anything in a day before returning, and so close that a flight would still be dominated by stuff on the ground. That is the sweet spot for high speed rail.

  • D) The US is quite literally built by the railways and bulldozed for the car. Many places in the western half of the contiguous 48 exist because the railroads bought out huge tracts of land to their west, developed some space into towns, and sold that land, now valuable thanks to the connections offered by the rails, to interested buyers. Then shit was torn down because facilitating parking for a small city centre requires about three quarters of the land being dedicated to storing cars. Houston, TX in the '20s had a great city centre. In the '70s, downtown was a parking lot and little has fundamentally changed since.

  • E) Speaking of land made valuable, the US manages valuable land terribly. Single family housing is notoriously expensive to run, yet it's practically the only housing being built. Big box stores are fickle and could become worthless to city budgets at the whim if one business, while the same area of multiple small businesses is both more resilient and more financially productive.

  • Add to that the fact that if a big box store goes out of business, too many US places just leave it there to gather dust while building something new down the road. If land was used more productively, the store would be torn down and the new thing would be built in its place.

  • All of that is to say that "tHe UsA iS tOo BiG" is restating the problem. You cannot take the problem, put it into different words, and then say that as the gotcha as to why structural problems cannot be solved.

[-] Iron_Lynx 4 points 1 month ago

Re: commuting:

The average commute in the US is about 32 km, a distance decently doable by regional train.

However, if we include daily errands, the median distance of any trip is about 6 or 7 km, a distance perfectly manageably by bicycle.

Back to the national scale, it takes a lot of suspension of critical thought to insist that the USA is too big for a nationwide railway network, while never blinking an eye at the fact that a nationwide highway network does exist, despite highways being more expensive to maintain, more energy-intensive to use, slower, harder to electrify & more dependent on specific energy resources, offering much worse capacity in both number of people and tonnes of freight, and uniquely getting worse in experience if/when upgraded to address induced demand.

[-] meeeeetch 6 points 1 month ago

The car is convenient. Until you have to park. Or, if there's enough parking, until you have to run all the utilities between all the places that are now much more spread out. And do maintenance on all those pipes and wires and parking lots and every widening roads between those destinations.

[-] [email protected] 5 points 1 month ago


Try this.

Explain to me why my car is not more convenient.

I think the issue is that context and circumstances matter and you can't argue against them.

[-] davetapley 4 points 1 month ago

Well that's it, it almost always is more convenient (again, assuming you have one, it has fuel, roads are built and prioritize cars etc.), but that completely ignores all the negative externalities.

Like: it would always be more 'convenient' for me to pee against a wall when I need to go, but if everyone starting pissing everywhere it would be objectively worse for everyone.

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[-] [email protected] 4 points 1 month ago

How's this for an analogy? Why should I bother walking around my house, and my office building, and the grocery store when I can simply install moving sidewalks everywhere? They're so convenient! I mean, I'm definitely not going to pay to have them installed or maintain them. And I'm sure as hell not going to pay a fee to use them.

It's a little convoluted, if anyone can tighten it up, I'd appreciate it.

[-] [email protected] 3 points 1 month ago

Ask them to explain what is less convenient about the alternatives to a car. Usually when people make this argument, you can get them to admit that they've never even tried another way of getting around, and their belief that a personal automobile is more convenient is just held by default because they don't know any better.

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this post was submitted on 09 Apr 2024
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Fuck Cars

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