The War on Cars

The War on Cars has a long history. Once the story hits NPR, you know it’s real, or maybe the existence of the #WARONCARS hashtag proves it. While the debate continues, I have determined the The War on Cars is real. If you really love cars, you’ll be surprised which side of the war you should be on…

In Minnesota, we love to drive everywhere, but we really don’t have a “car culture.” It’s not like Vegas, LA, or San Diego where you can find thriving car clubs for many models.

Most of this has to do with the weather. A mentor once told me “If you can live in Minnesota, you can live anywhere. We have 140° total difference between winter and summer.” It’s true. Then there is an ongoing joke that in Minnesota we have two seasons: Winter and Road Construction – which is more of a reality than a joke. Because of the rigorous freeze/thaw cycle, the pavement is very susceptible to the dreaded pot-hole, and it’s a widespread problem. Driving around in my Subaru – with stock suspension – I can’t even sip a coffee without it splashing in my face.

Our lack of car culture could also be due to our penchant for being practical. Driving a high-horsepower rear-drive car year round here isn’t exactly practical. Are you going to put snow tires on your Nissan Z? They probably don’t even make snow tires for that size of wheel. Besides, I’ve seen the salt we put down rust out a car that is less than a year old.


Good luck, have fun!

At some point every Minnesota resident just said, “F**k it, I’m getting a Buick.” It’s inexpensive and cushy – who cares if it gets rusty.

So if you really love cars, you will want to be part of the War on Cars. But you really have to love cars. If you modify them, race them at the drag strip, enter them into car shows or competitions, drive them in parades, do autocross or road racing, and truly enjoy the car itself and not just the convenience, I’m talking to you. The side you will want to be on is the side that will get all of the Buicks and Camrys out of your way.

If you have a nice car you may have some disposable income. Would you pay to have less cars on the freeway? I would. Congestion pricing could do just that.

If you are a true car lover, you respect your vehicle enough not to drive it in the Minnesota winter. But instead of buying a winter beater, take the bus, and put your one car under comprehensive insurance only. You’re probably already paying for premium fuel which isn’t getting any cheaper. The fuel and insurance savings over the winter should be more than enough to cover your bus pass and congestion pass. You might even have some extra cash leftover, go buy yourself a fatbike for Christmas. It won’t fit in the rack on the front of the bus, but it will be awesome to ride around the paddock at the racetrack.

To the others that think they’re car lovers (but are really posers in love with the convenience, not the machine) – I’ve noticed you’re starting to trade your Buicks in for Priuses. I applaud the environmental effort, but I don’t want to see the streets crowded with hybrid cars. I’d rather they be crowded with hybrid buses and taxis, bikers and walkers. Think London, not the “mini Los Angeles” that our sprawl currently resembles.

Justin Foell

About Justin Foell

Justin is an aspiring urbanist stuck in suburbia. He enjoys cycling, beer, yo-yos, computers, and other geekery. Closet railfan.

5 thoughts on “The War on Cars

  1. Adam MillerAdam

    Sure, but can you put your trombone on the back of your bike? 😉

    One of the beauties of not driving to commute is that you can have a car that you can’t or shouldn’t drive when it’s snowing. Because there are no days when I absolutely must drive to work, my G35 does just fine once the streets have been plowed.

    1. Justin FoellJustin Foell Post author

      You can carry a trombone on a bike easily with a good gig bag.

      I saw a guy using his Chrome messenger bag to tote a full-size keyboard(!) on his back while riding. It was astounding.

      I’ve also seen musicians on trains with a double bass. Not everything requires a car if we will just give it a try.

      1. Walker

        In Copenhagen one day we invented a game called orchestra to see how many orchestra instruments we could see carried on bicycles. I think we fully covered woodwinds and brass. Missed any bass from strings (actually ended with an over-abundance of cello’s though) though and, surprisingly, did get a harp (small, on a long-john). Timp’s and piano were the only other missing instruments though if we cheated a bit we had a selection of electronic keys.

  2. Walker

    Go Subaru! I’ve had three and my wife two. Great cars (especially in MN).

    I confess, I’m in to cars and bikes (the other kind). Or at least use to be. I still follow F1, but read Green Car Reports far more often than R&T. I raced SCCA and Motocross, and still would if I had the time. I still occasionally ride enduros or borrow my buddy’s Harley. I’ve also been chided more than a few times for riding my bike (opafiets) to the local auto parts store or running to the gas station to fill up 5-gallon cans in my bakfiets (I can carry 15 gallons—photo in my next post).

  3. Jeff Klein

    This article makes a nice distinction between people who truly love cars and those who simply don’t want change. Despite not even owning a car and beign a daily biker, I have never really lost my boyhood fascination with cars and motorcycles and the internal combustion engine in general. And I agree – those folks should be on our side, because they appreciate the car as a special thing and not necessarily a daily thing. Our future will have plenty of space for the odd hobbyist who lovingly restores and races some classic or for the weekend motorcycle ride. What I hope bikes and transit and to a lesser extent electric cars will replace is those Camrays and Buicks, and nobody should shed a tear over that.

Comments are closed.