That current state and trends is to me and others one that demands attention. Such reports accurately reflect a system that grew largely unthrottled over such a short span that we are only now getting to the question of just because we could, doesn't mean we should have.
But those grave reports aside, my further case here is that the true societal and personal costs of automobiles are incalculably massively negative when one actually looks unflinching. As a human, my gravest enemy is death. And unbelievably enough in America today, especially for certain age groups, as we've all heard, death MOST often comes in a car. Doesn't that inherently make cars any living human American's greatest enemy? Let's examine more data.
- In current news, Moody's Investors Services estimated total auto bailout could top $125B. Already over $7B given to Chrysler and GM, more planned. /140M taxpayers is $60-892/taxpayer.
- The Associated Press reported in 2003: The U.S. uses about half of the world's gasoline. Cars and SUV's account for 40% of U.S. daily oil use.
Improving the average fuel efficiency of vehicles in the United States by 2.7 miles per gallon would equal all U.S. oil imports from the Persian Gulf. Why not round it up to 3 miles a gallon better? Tell me, why hasn't the industry already done it?!?
- Sadly NYT maintains that higher gas prices don't decrease consumption, reporting that in 2006, gas consumption increased even as prices went up. Americans pay a mere $0.40 per gallon, compared to $1.03 in Canada, $2.07 in Japan, and $4.24 in Britain.
- One David S. Lawyer has pursued the best known thorough study to determine the complete energy cost for power output of bicycling versus cars, including all energy costs to produce the fuel and food, and major factors such as weight, braking, drag, and passengers. Though the race is much closer than you might expect at points, due largely to the sheer weight of cars the final conclusion states: "the auto is 10.4 times less efficient than bikes for mechanical energy on level ground at constant speed"
A twist on this is that cheap calorie dense foods are a quarter the price per mile. $3.72 for a gallon for gas, would take a cyclist over 100 miles on rice and beans.
Furthermore the energy and resources needed to build one medium-sized car could produce 100 bicycles.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics computed in 2001 that the annual costs of car ownership in the U.S. is over $7000. AAA put it at $7,754 in 2003. That's almost $650 a month.
(Principal on car loan: $3579; Finance charges on car loan: 359; Gas & Oil: 1279; Insurance: 819; Maintenance & Repair: 662; Licenses, Parking, & Misc.: 534; Total Yearly Costs: $7,232)
The average American earns about $17/hr., or $14/hr. after federal taxes. So $7,754 in annual car costs takes 554 hours to earn, or over three full months.
- An interesting exercise taking into account average traffic delays and deducting the total hours work required pay for the car itself, the average speed drops to 6.1mph, slower than a bicycle.
- U.S. Dept. of Trans. / Fed. Hwy Admin, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, and the NHTSA have varying estimates that bicyclist are some 4-5 times more to be injured per mile traveled.
This derives from 45,000 injured cyclists versus 6.2E9 total biked miles.
Consumer Product Safety Commission reports helmet use went from 18% in 1991 to 50% in 2008.
More than 80% of fatalities were child bicyclists 14 and under. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
- U.S. cyclists are 3x more likely to be killed than German cyclists and 6x more than Dutch cyclists, whether compared per-trip or per-distance traveled. (Reuters, 2003)
- Fundamentally worldwide, the greater the concentration of cyclists, the lower the fatality rate. (Reuters, 2003)
- But there's a most interesting trade-off; The British Medical Association 1992 report on the Health benefits of cycling, demonstrated that they outweigh the risk by 20 to 1. The study showed the gain of 'life years' through improved fitness among regular cyclists, and thus their increased longevity exceeds the loss of 'life years' in cycle fatalities. Based on exhaustive review of life expectancy of each cyclist killed in road accidents using actuarial data, and the increased longevity of those engaging in exercise regimes several times a week compared with those leading relatively sedentary lives. Even in the current cycle hostile environment. Mayer Hillman, Senior Fellow Emeritus, Policy Studies Institute, and British Medical Association researcher.
- The first US automobile crash occurred in New York City in 1896, when a motor vehicle collided with and killed a bicyclist. Just 113 years ago. I say we mark THAT the start of the automotive era, which is especially true from a cyclist perspective.
- Today according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Auto crashes is the leading cause of death for people under 27. (NHTSA)
As a direct result of traffic accidents, cars kill over FORTY THOUSAND people every year!
Now pause to really consider this as not just a number. Pause to picture 40000 faces, 40000 lost souls, COUNTLESS obliterated families and crushed lifetime dreams. BOTH our president AND vice-president (Obama/Biden) lost NEXT-OF-KIN to crashes!
The NHTSA further reports that and over 2,400,000 (2.4E6) are injured!
TWO MILLION FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND INJURED EVERY YEAR. Think through your friends. If you're like me, yes, more than one percent DID get injured in or by a car last year, in my case that's several people hurt. How can we put up with that?!?
- The NHTSA reported the economic impact of motor vehicle crashes on U.S. roadways has reached $230.6 billion a year -- nearly 2.3% of the nation's gross domestic product or an average of $820 for every person living in the country. In 2000 (41,821 killed, 5.3 million injured!), the agency found that the average single roadway fatality has economic costs of $977,000, while the costs associated with a critically injured crash survivor surpasses $1 million each. The yearly economic costs also include $61 billion in lost workplace productivity; $20.2 billion in lost household productivity; $59 billion in property damage; $32.6 billion in medical costs; and $25.6 billion in travel delay costs. Again, that's $230.6 billion a year.
- In 1993 the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, published a 92 page report titled "The Environmental Benefits Of Bicycling And Walking"
It starts with "By far the greatest environmental benefit of bicycling and walking, is that they bypass the fossil fuel system to which the American economy has become addicted."
It includes chapters such as "Reversing the Marginalization of Human-Powered Transport" and encouraged "policy-led changes", to increase bicycling by a factor of a minimum of 3 by 2000.
Among other things, the report roughly concludes that each percentage increase in cycling almost equally reduces the country's net emissions of all types of greenhouse gasses.
- The American Lung Association states that the automobile is the single biggest source of air pollution, accounting for about (AN ADDITIONAL) 60,000 premature deaths each year. Now the ALA has their angle, but they've done the work. It can thus legitimately be said that cars cost us some 100,000 lost souls each year. Know that 2nd cousin of yours you only see at reunions? Or maybe even your sister? Just in case, say goodbye to them now.
We cured Polio damnit, now I say we must cure cars.