Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Livability Indicator #11 - Angry Cars

Road rage is too easy. People are angry on all roads and not always because of the road itself, perhaps it's the job, maybe some personal issues, but certainly the commute isn't exactly helping matters. Of course, car advertisements (and boy was the super bowl ever full of them) aren't exactly helping matters, as I've said before all car commercials seemingly are set within the beauty of nature or in cities, the two places auto-dependence can be the most destructive.

So we're all led to believe in this myth of a happy motoring society (as Kunstler likes to say) because as Le Corbusier will tell you car ownership and highways on buildings is PROGRESS!!!!! Yay!!!!! If loss of productivity is progress...

[Quality of life in mind]

So, if the people are always angry, when are the cars most angry if the highway and arterial system are designed strictly with only the car's happiness and well-being (person inside be damned) in mind?

Well, I'm glad you asked, because cars are angry when their vessel's brain (the human) is operating the angry voice box mechanism that is the car horn. Typically that is when traffic is slow, cars are trying to switch lanes, making lots of turns, i.e. in the tightly-knit fabric of gridded urban streets with ubiquitous intersections and natural traffic calming in the form of on-street parking, generally narrower streets, things to look at, and [ghasp] presence of people/pedestrians.

Cars are beeping away when they can't speed down the streets (kind of like the drag racing that the valets in Dallas do on a nightly basis on downtown streets...no, exactly like that. Now those are some happy cars.) and perform snazzy s-turns and donuts, etc.; essentially all of the things once again, you see on car commercials or races. Ya know, the times when streets are closed off for private shooting or held on private tracks anyway.

As you can see here, pedestrians can really piss a car off.

Anecdotally, I walk to work. This should be well-known to any loyal reader of this blog, so what am I saying new? Well, I haven't driven to work in the six years that I have lived in Dallas and used to have a longer walk. On the way, it always struck me the vapid and emotionless looks on the commuters faces both before and after the work day (that is unless they were running late and then... woah, pedestrians beware - commuter on the war path).

Here is a list of irritated, awfully beepy pissed-off car places off the top of my head:
  • NYC
  • Rome
  • Copenhagen - except the angry cars have taken MAO inhibitors and have been parked in favor of happy bikes and pedestrians. Don't believe me? Click here.
These places all get a cute, healthy, happy baby.

Dallas and its drag racing valets get scary, interrogation baby.