The Stranger: If Safer Streets Mean War, We’re Ready for Combat

Image: James Yamasaki / The Stranger

Under the headline, “Okay, Fine, It’s War,” Seattle’s weekly newspaper, The Stranger, this week published a manifesto “of and by the nondrivers themselves.” They’re sick of being called “militants” for caring about pedestrian safety, and they’re tired of the specter of a “war on cars.”

We heartily recommend that you read the whole thing, but here are some of our favorite parts. Like this, from the first plank of the manifesto: “The car-driving class must pay its own way!”

For cars we have paved our forests, spanned our lakes, and burrowed under our cities. Yet drivers throw tantrums at the painting of a mere bicycle lane on the street. They balk at the mere suggestion of hiking a car-tab fee, raising the gas tax, or tolling to help pay for their insatiable demands, even as downtrodden transit riders have seen fares rise 80 percent over four years.

No more! We demand that car drivers pay their own way, bearing the full cost of the automobile-petroleum-industrial complex that has depleted our environment, strangled our cities, and drawn our nation into foreign wars. Reinstate the progressive motor vehicle excise tax, hike the gas tax, and toll every freeway, bridge, and neighborhood street until the true cost of driving lies as heavy and noxious as our smog-laden air. Our present system of hidden subsidies is the opiate of the car-driving masses; only when it is totally withdrawn will our road-building addiction finally be broken.

They go on to demand better, more expansive transit, safer streets and sidewalks, and traffic calming. And this:

This antagonism [between car driver and nondriver] traces directly to the creation of the modern car driver, a privileged individual who, as noted, is the beneficiary of a long course of subsidies, tax incentives, and wars for cheap oil. But the same subsidies that created this creature (who now rages about the roads while simultaneously screaming of being a victim in some war) can—and must, beginning now—be used to build bike lanes, sidewalks, light rail, and other benefits to the nondriving classes.

That’s the kind of manifesto we can get on board with.

After the manifesto, The Stranger goes on to report on the rising numbers of crashes between cars and cyclists, the violent anti-bike rhetoric being spewed by car drivers that are the  “victims” of some imagined war on cars, the massive disparity between funding for car infrastructure and everything else, and the heroes of the non-driver, beloved both for their advocacy and their tight asses. Read it, read it all.