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"Consumers are more protected when they get a haircut then when they buy, lease, or service an automobile..." - R. Rand Knox

For cleaner air, a healthier planet, healthier environment, & healthier people:
Auto Alternatives
(Dec 2009) Those five year 20,000 mile free service, 10 year 100.000 mile warranties are mouth watering, eh? Or perhaps they would be if one could bank on the company being solvent or even in business a year or two out.
(Nov 2007) See what Coop-America is saying about America's energy future as it relates to automobiles.

The Mercedes mini "Smart ForTwo" 40 mpg vehicle came to the US in 2008.
It still makes sense to go carless, but if you think a small vehicle, with only marginal fuel efficiency for a vehicle of it's size/class (a vehicle in this size/class should be getting 100 mpg or more), then, maybe this is an option.
"Thinking Outside the Car... Everyone benefits (cleaner air, shorter commutes, etc), even--especially us auto addicts, when everyone has auto alternatives available..."
R. Rand Knox
  Zap Powered Bicycles For Auto-motive Alternatives
Zap World's SMART CARS Right-sizing the automobile
Automobillius expensifolia
Automobile Alternatives
We have not given ourselves much in the way real and meaningful variety and diversity in transportation alternatives. Essentially, we have created a monoculture where the auto is basically the only thing going for us. This means that there is hardly any real transportation competition, so we end up paying inflated auto related costs. However, there are some things we can do as communities and individuals to attenuate the high costs of our cars-only approach to personal and public transportation.
Don't Be Fueled
Sierra Club's Auto Oil Freedom Package
Project Bio Bus
Colorado University Bio Diesel Project
VW Lupo Available In Europe 70-90 MPG
SUV Info From Friends of the Earth

1. Support auto-alternatives for others.
2. Drive less.
3. Drive smarter.
4. Drive cleaner.
5. Drive Greener Cars
6. Commute Different - RIDES for Bay Area Commuters
7. Bike to Work Day
8. Go Carless. And save $450,000 over a lifetime of merely average automobile ownership and operation costs.
9. Trip-link.
10. Car and drive share.
11. Support anti-sprawl smart-growth measures for all.
12. Buy smaller and greened cars, and rent up or larger as needed.
13. Base mode on trip distance.
14. Negotiate a 3 to 5% environmental impact education from the auto manufacturer's invoice to the dealer, and donate this to a reputable environmental non-profit for the industry's efforts to water own environmental protection an clean air legislation at state an national levels.
15. Whether you drive or not, drive large or small; write to auto maker CEOs an Boards of Directors and demand that existing fuel efficiency technologies be incorporate into their product lines as soon as possible. These technologies will save SUV drivers the cost of the new technologies by a factor of three in fuel savings. And, these technologies would free the US up from dependence on Saudi Arabian and middle-east oil.
"Planned Carlessnesshood" --
"Don't Have A CAR, Man!"
Invest your $550,000 (the current average lifetime hard, out-of-pocket costs for automobile ownership and operation), in whole or part, for personal needs (reTIREment) or social or environmental charities...
By conservative estimates fraud, waste and abuse (unfair, manipulative and fraudulent auto industry sales and service practices see TRICKS) in auto sales and and service practices costs consumers over $76 billion annually. Think of these 76 billion dollars as 76 billion good reasons to not reward the auto industry for theft from our friends and families.

Abstain! Practice safe Car Deal sex. Many Americans voluntarily go carless. They avoid the expense and trouble of the automobile for personal transport. Consider carlessness options. A well planned life could include car avoidance, selective car use, or complete carlessness -- Planned Carhood or Carlessnesshood. Avoid the down-time of the commute. Smell the roses along the way, -- cough, sputter, hack-hack, cough... Have an out-of-car experience today, and regularly up and down the road... telecommute!

Don't own a car, become a billionaire? Recently it was reported that a self-made (well, relatively so perhaps) billionaire gave away a fortune to charitable trusts (his own as it turns out). This billionaire does not own or drive a car. So, make like a billionaire, try carlessness. Well healed friends have decided that the depreciation costs of new cars are not a good value and have bought pre-owned cars for years now, and this has not impacted their self-esteem or sense of self-worth negatively. In fact, their "worth" has appreciated.

Saving over $550,000
(a very conservative estimate based on government "per diem" reimbursement for mileage rates) on an average lifetime of auto ownership and operation costs is only one personal benefit of the out-of-car auto alternative experience. Break the car addiction, save a bundle, and we all breathe easier and longer. Even car addicts benefit when others do not drive or when they use other forms of public transport. Subsidizing mass transportation is a good value additive to the automobile juggernaut.

IT'S ONLY MONEY - Does money matter anymore? Opps, here it goes, mattering again.

The cost of gas and subsidizing the automobile:
Michael Mechanic on the Opinion Page of the San Francisco Examiner (April 13, 1999) makes the case that auto subsides cost each American man, woman and child an estimated $4,000 in direct consumer costs and indirect government subsidies of the gas, auto and related industries.

He quotes a "Road Kill" report by the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) which concluded that motorists paid 40 to 64 cents per mile based on CLF's study of driving costs in Portland, ME and Boston, MA, published in May 1994. Then the CLF studied the less tangible but no less real associated costs of driving which are born or subsidized by all taxpayers [even the carless] including: the costs for infrastructure and maintenance, traffic-related public health and safety services including police and fire; court expenses, energy subsidies, tax breaks to businesses for employee parking, health costs and economic loses related to air pollution, the impact of noise pollution on property values, and impacts of importing foreign oil;--.these added up to between 79 and 94 cents per mile for solo driver's costs in the Boston, MA area.

Mr. Mechanic (his real name) he also quotes "The Price of Mobility," a 1993 report by the National Resources Defense Council (Co-authored by Peter Miller and John Moffet) which computed the national average costs of 38 to 52 cents per mile for all U.S. drivers. The $4,000 per man, woman, and child total costs for auto use in America adds up to $1.2 to $1.6 Trillion ANNUALLY (every year!!!).

The amount covered by non-drivers was noted to be between $380 billion and $660 billion yearly. This was calculated to be equivalent to an incremental or unit cost of $3.70 to $6.50 per gallon of gas according to Mr. Mechanic of the report's authors. [Note: in other areas of these pages we note a CEEE estimation of the real costs of gas to be between $5.15 and $15 per gallon compared to the price reflected on the gas pump gauge -- so assuming accuracy of delivery and the posted pump prices, say one big THANK YOU to the non-driving carless who so graciously subsidize the horrendous costs of our auto addictions.]

Mr. Mechanic noted that neither study reflected the economic benefits of driving, nor the harder to derive costs of urban sprawl [which the automobile helped spawn] on our quality of life, resultant loss of farm land and open space, wetlands; health and economic impacts of water pollution from oil spills, storm water runoff and leaking underground fuel tanks; and the impacts of industries such as mining, chemical and waste operations which support the auto industry and related auto industrial complex.

[How much more gridlock are we willing to "spring-for" before we decide that more substantive and sustained investment in public transit, trains and similar auto alternatives is a benefit to all of us, even -- especially -- us auto addicts?] [You may find these estimated costs helpful in calculating your real per tankful monthly, yearly, or lifetime of auto and auto related costs. Compare this cost with the benefits of sitting pretty in gridlock in your inanimate, pollutive shiny thin tin, plastic and glass status and sex symbol.]

See Mother Jones' April 1997 issue on Natural Capitalism (Organic Capitalism?) to obtain more information on the inefficiencies (the automobile is not only over-priced and a bad investment, it is whoa-fully inefficient as a mode of transportation), and hidden costs of the automobile.

MJ suggests that if we were to calculate the full costs of gasoline, including our military presence in the Mideast Golf area, that the actual price would be closer to $7 or $8 per gallon. We guess it to be far more when you consider all the costs and factors such as roads, air pollution, health problems, etc. "Natural Capitalism" is a good read and perhaps is as articulate a presentation of the structural problems of our economy as may be found.

So, what's so conservative about "liberalized economic policy" -- or being economically frivolous?

Predatory Capitalism: Eating the competition and smooshing consumers... 'Nothing personal, just business... we're capitalists!' Stay tuned for the Divine Right of Corporations and the Separation of Capitalism and State...

  • Unfortunately, the auto industry has a rather unsavory history in wrecking the trolley system in Los Angeles, California, and 27 other cities around the US. It has been reported that the auto industry: General Motors in concert with members of the tire (Firestone) and oil (Standard) industry worked concertedly to dismantle public rail service in LA and 27 other US cities in order to corner the personal transportation market and to chill public support for public transportation. Free (to plunder) market economics, anyone?

Thinking Outside the Car...

Alternatives to the Automotives

The Mercedes Smart ForTwo 40 mpg vehicle came to the US in 2008. It still makes sense to go carless, but if you think a small vehicle, with only marginal fuel efficiency for a vehicle of it's size/class, then, maybe this is an option.

  • Consider getting a bicycle instead of or in addition to buying a car if you are physically fit and able to ride safely. Bicycles are a good supplement to the automobile for short personal trips or when your car is in the shop (;-(. Consider alternatives to car ownership (which are much less expensive and better investments) such as B I C Y C L E S (negotiate price and profit here too); public transportation (demand political action, funding and support for good and more civilized train and light rail service and public transit); renting or "buying down" (purchasing smaller - less expensive vehicles which meet 95% of your personal transit needs), and renting up for those few special needs and occasions when you actually need a larger or different or special purpose vehicle); communal or shared ownership options; donating used vehicles to charities (Carefully); car pooling; and ride sharing, etc.

Invent an improvement to the automobile, or make it more efficient and less polluting, and less of a drag on our budgets, economy and environments and our communities.

Supplement your auto purchase with a bicycle. Use the bike when the car is in the shop, or when the car is overkill on short trips to the store or around the neighborhood. Find times and list locations where bicycles are preferable to the automobile. Mountain bicycles are superior for commuter and roadway or street riding to the traditional narrow tired ten speed bike. Mountain bikes handle the imperfections in street and roadway surfaces better than the narrower tired bikes. Get a cranium casket, too!

    Employ appropriate technology. Use appropriate transport modes for short, medium and long distance travel needs: walking, bicycling or small electric cars are perhaps best for short hauls or trips: cars, bicycles, bus or car pooling for medium length hauls or trips, and public or private transit for longer hauls or trips. Plan personal travel to avoid congestion and gridlock. Avoid driving during peak commute traffic periods.
  • 20 relatively easy things to do to clean up the air and environment
  • Consider an electric vehicle as an alternative to gas or diesel powered automobiles.

    ABCs of AFVs (Alternative Fuel Vehicles) California Air Resources Board (916) 332-2990, (626) 575-6632

  • Consider the "Think" City Car by Ford (Ford has abandoned this project and has been backtracking on earlier pledges to make it's vehicles more efficient) (Unfortunately, the THINK is no longer available... Thank you Ford?
Check out the, GO-4-Interceptor, made by Westward Industries, Manitoba, Canada (204) 857-8109 (Distributed in the US by White Bear Sales, Inc., POB 16718, Milwaukee, WI (414) 783-6868. You may have seen this three wheel vehicle operated by your local parking control department. There are electric and gasoline powered models available. They are not currently priced competitively as the company making them is small and demand exceeds supply. This vehicle is reportedly licensable as a motorcycle in the US. Even though this vehicle is slightly more expensive than the average automobile, its is smaller, more maneuverable, possibly less expensive to operate (fuel and maintenance) and perhaps better for personal transport in an overly automobiled urban environment.
  • Consider bicycles, renting a car or a bigger vehicle for special needs, car sharing clubs, communal or shared car ownership, public transit, or other auto alternatives as options in your personal life-time transportation planning.
    • Invest your savings from reducing your use of your automobile or from going carless totally, and from adopting appropriate alternatives to the common car for personal transportation. Often only minor changes in one's life are necessary to adapt to carlessness. And it pays great dividends. It adds up quickly -- no new car depreciation costs, no maintenance and operating costs, no pollution -- and more savings when you make your government reward and incentivize less car use, carlessness and efficient and convenient alternatives to the automobile. The average cost for a lifetime of car ownership and operation in the US can exceed $400,000, more than twice the median priced American home. Double, triple and quadruple this amount (or more) to calculate the lifetime costs of luxury or high-end vehicles.
    • Support the funding, planning, design and construction of light-rail public transit systems for commuters to central employment hubs from surrounding suburbs. Even if you drive, you'll benefit when those who do not drive use public transit instead of driving. Our habitual dependence and addiction to the automobile is fouling our nest and poisoning our air and environment for ourselves and future generations.
    • Support the funding, planning, design and construction of a comprehensive system of commuter and recreational bicycle lanes and facilities for promoting bicycle use as an alternative to driving to and from work and from home to shopping and other local events. Even if you drive everywhere, you'll benefit when opportunities exist for alternative transport modes for others. Fewer drivers and lighter commutes benefits everyone, especially those who commute by auto. An important aspect of bicycle commuter lanes is long term maintenance. Support on-going maintenance of at least a workable skeleton of bike ways within your city or county and on inter-city and inter-county commuter and recreational bike paths.
    • Car pool. Share the ride. Pollute less.
    • Motorcycle or motor scooter if you are willing to assume the additional risks. We recommend protective body and headgear. Head wounds suck, too!
    • Pool car-appropriate uses and trips with neighbors and friends. Group and share daily vehicle trips and offer to run reciprocal and mutually beneficial errands between family, friends and trusted neighbors. Shop less, spend less.
    • "Don't have a CAR, Man!", (although even the carless subsidize the auto industry 24/7/365/ad infinitum, the lifetime costs for carlessnesshood is considerably discounted) or Buy down & rent up. Buy the smallest or least "amount" of car that meets 90% of your personal transport and driving needs. Rent a bigger or different vehicle when special driving needs require it. You could save tens of thousands of dollars doing this, especially when calculated over a lifetime of automobile ownership and operation costs. Indeed, consider carlessness and renting or borrowing when other avenues of transport are unavailable. Avoid buying into the current advertisement propelled popularization of expensive sport utility vehicles (SUVs). These vehicles often do not meet minimum Federal sedan safety and equipment requirements, and they are seldom used for their intended purposes. They also consume more gas and maintenance costs are higher for these vehicles. They are not a good consumer value. Some SUVs are reported to be at higher risk of rollover in evasive steering maneuvers. Consider whether higher centers of gravity and shorter or narrower wheel bases (spacing) wouldn't make a vehicle subject to overturning in emergency or evasive steering situations. These vehicles may also be more difficult to steer safely back onto the pavement when they veer onto soft roadway shoulders or when driving on icy or wet surfaces. Put those Michelins on safer and less expensive vehicles.
    • Rental Caution: Recently it was reported that U-Haul may have rented trucks which had severely worn tires and other vehicle maintenance and repair problems or deficiencies. It bears mentioning that when renting any vehicle you should do your own vehicle safety check, or have it checked by your trusted auto mechanic or a public safety officer.
    • Consider creating or joining an auto cooperative where several individuals or families, clubs, neighborhoods, or organizations purchase an automobile or vehicle fleets together and workout mutual usage arrangements. This concept has apparently caught on in Europe. Just do it!
    The Victoria's Secret) Car Share Co-op Site offers good information about Car Share Co-ops and links to Portland's, Oregon, and San Francisco's, California, and other Car Share Co-ops in Canada and Europe. Also see the San Francisco Car Share Program
    Go carless. If not completely, then schedule regular carless days or periods. Impose a car free day on yourself this year, month, or this week. Try not driving on the weekend, etc. See if you can get there by other means.
    Have an out-of-car experience more often, regularly once a month, once a week, or more often. Schedule it today.
  • Take the bus, train, or fly instead of using the car for medium, medium-long, long or long-long hauls & trips.

  • Demand that your government grant meaningful tax deductions or credits for reduced automobile use or carlessness. Even if you are a car addict, you benefit when others are motivated to use their cars less or not at all.
  • Consider the Austin-Healy (British, Now BMW) Mini, and the new Fiat. Now available in the US. Small, miniature car, good for around town errands. Supposedly good mileage. Consider repairability. Really kewl, man!
  • The January 2000 Issue of AutoStyle (A special advertising supplement prepared by the San Francisco Newspaper Agency for the SF Chronicle and Examiner and possible others) reports that the Mini is coming back in 2001. BMW now owns the Mini and will try to capitalize on the small cute car market, apparently in competition with the VW insect, er., "New" beetle. No matter how big or small you are, take advantage of any potential cost savings in smaller cars if the auto fits...
  • Virtually Cars...(?)
    Consider (carefully) other smaller, higher mileage vehicles:
    such as: Suzuki Swift, Geo Metro, Honda Civic, Austin (BMW, now) Mini, Fiat, Etc. - The Yaris, the Fit, the Versa, etc., of the hybrids should help economize in the gasoline and emmission efficiency categories, not as good as carfeedom, but...
    (November 11, 1997) The Marin Independent Journal reported that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety IIHS tested 11 models of small four-door cars and none rated IIHS's "good" crash worthiness/safety rating. The IIHS report rated the Kia Sephia, Dodge and Plymouth Neon and Mitsubishi Mirage as "poor." The Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla/Chevrolet Prism, Ford Escort/Mercury Tracer, Hyundai Elantra, Saturn SL, Mazda Protege and the Nissan Sentra reportedly rated IIHS's "acceptable". The Volkswagen Jetta/Golf reported received IIHS's "marginal" rating. The MIJ report indicated that the Civic and Corolla could have received IIHS's "good" rating with minor improvements.

    Consider an Electric or Alternative Fuel Vehicle. Search the WWW for similar sites. (Shop & Buy carefully, electric technology for cars is not perfected nor fool-proof, and there are some active recalls... heads-up!), AND BEWARE THAT SOME ELECTRIC VEHICLES ARE LOAD LIMITED OR RATED FOR CARRYING CAPACITY.

    Solectria (Electric Autos)
    Sparrow (Electric Vehicles)
    Sierra Club's Auto Oil Freedom Package
    Project Bio Bus
    Colorado University Bio Diesel Project
    Don't Be Fueled

  • OK, get a horse if you have the time, money, and space to keep one or more.
  • If you can't beat'em, join'em. Open your own dealership, or encourage your children to become car dealership owners or franchisees -- at least while the pickings are good. And, there'll always be a market for "Honest John's Auto Sales and Service" shops.

  • Own and use, sell, and service bicycles. Encourage bicycle-safe recreational and commuter resources and facilities as an alternative to the automobile. Even us auto addicts benefit when everyone has handy and efficient auto alternatives. (Less gridlock, and cleaner, healthier air.)

  • Become an Auto-Alternative activist: We all benefit, even, especially us auto addicts, when everyone has viable and efficient auto alternatives: Visit Critical Mass and their Webring in virtual space:

    [Previous Site] [Next Site] [List All Sites] [The Critical Mass Web Wheel Homepage]

      Worldwide Critical Mass Hub...

      Sitting Pretty & Fouling Our Nest[s]

      • Help reduce the size of the urine stain in the sky that we cause by driving and which we breathe in everyday due to our addiction to the polluting automobile. Drive less, save more. More money. More clean air. More life.
      • Ask you local government to reduce or minimize road
        building... minimize the graffiti of asphalt. Lets maintain and repair what we've got and improve public and mass transit as auto alternatives before we make the existing traffic situations and gridlock worse.
      • You may not have heard about the study done recently on bridge toll takers. The sperm of male bridge toll takes who are subject to high concentrations of automobile exhaust was less motile (more lethargic) than was the sperm of a control group of males. If you drive in congested urban traffic, and unless you can shut out exterior air from being drawn into the vehicle by recycling interior air, you may be concentrating polluted road air inside your vehicle. This is especially possible when the air conditioner, the air fan, or heater are operating. Consider the recycle-interior-air option if it's available when buying new vehicles.

      • "Earth to Earth: Get a!"

      • REduce, REuse, REcycle, and REstore; its the Earthy thing to do...

      • Have an out-of-car experience today! Take twelve-steps away from your auto-addiction.


    CARveat Emptor - Tricks of the Great American Car Deal ©
    © copyright 1995-2012, R. Rand Knox, All Rights Reserved.
    Not for use, reuse, sale, resale or fee unless
    so licensed, permitted, or released by R. Rand Knox in writing.
    Happy motoring, wheeling & dealing
    -- virtually and really.


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