>The US car fleet shrunk by 4 million in 2009! This is the first time the US fleet has shrunk since WWII (we also haven’t had a recession quite like the current one since WWII). The reduction in the size of the US fleet is clearly linked to the sour economy, but Lester Brown writing for Treehugger.com says that this might be the start of a larger trend away from cars in the US – www.treehugger.com. Let’s hope so, but I am not so convinced at least in the short term. Our whole way of life is built around automobiles. Our towns, suburbs and many cities are built using the car as the dominant form of transportation. Furthermore, public transportation in most areas of the country does not exist. Even if people wanted to get rid of their cars in rural and suburban areas they couldn’t because they would be stranded like a car without gasoline. Speaking of gasoline, energy companies like ExxonMobile, Chevron and Shell would not like to see the largest market for their products to suddenly disappear. These realities make it difficult to find alternative forms of transportation.
One encouraging sign which Lester Brown discusses is that many cities are expanding their public transportation systems to make cars unnecessary. This is exactly how we are going to kick the car habit. Make them unnecessary and obsolete. Still, there is nothing like the open road and the freedom that a personal car can bring. That is why moving to an American dream which includes a bike and a bus pass rather than a two car garage may prove more difficult than some optimists may believe.