Vision Zero is a multi-national road traffic safety project that aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries involving road traffic. It started in Sweden and was approved by their parliament in October 1997.
This aim, if one takes it seriously, is, of course, an effort to deny and defy the laws of physics, which dictate that massive, independently steered boxes careening past one another on open pathways must always pose severe collisional dangers to both their occupants and other human beings.
One might also note the effort in this stuff to reduce the topic of harm to collisions, which thus become a macabre distraction from the issue of automobiles’ huge and inherent problems of pollution, energy waste, and distributional elitism.
In any event, Vision Zero was and is an effort by Sweden to perpetuate the Volvo Group‘s car business. The fact that it was passed by the Swedish parliament is merely a sad statement about the weakness of social democracy (aka socialism) in that nation-state.
Vision Zero is a cynical “social marketing” ploy by corporate capital.
If you doubt this, consider the main corporate sponsor of the especially laughable American version of this Orwellian gesture:
Meanwhile, here is the current spiel on the Volvo website:
Notice the word “in” there in the penultimate sentence. Notwithstanding the question of how Volvo proposes it could ever be satisfied in its phony goal, the question remains: What about people killed or seriously injured BY your products?
Since at least the early 1960s, quasi-official doctrine has insisted that “Americans are having a love affair with the automobile” is all anybody needs to know about the making and meaning of transportation in the United States.
The barely disguised purpose of this longstanding hypothesis is to squelch consideration of how and why it is actually our business class, not our great masses, that has the intractable romance with cars and trucks.
DbC mentions this because, if you bother to look into the facts, the evidence is quite overwhelming: Democractic preference has a rather different relationship to U.S. transportation outcomes than love affair dogma would have you presume.
Consider this graphic showing results obtained by Transportation for America and other groups in a November 2019 survey of 1,029 U.S. voters:
Let’s spell out what this shows about the actual transportation preferences of ordinary Americans, shall we?
Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Americans want policy to focus on fixing existing roads and adding capacity to public transit.
Seventy-two percent (72%) of Americans want to fix existing roads before building new ones.
Seventy-three percent (73%) of Americans want to require states to ecologically justify any new roads.
Sixty-one percent (61%) of Americans want there to be a ten-year moratorium on the construction of new automotive roads.
This is all without any sort of political leadership, so is pretty close to actual spontaneous public preference.
This is mighty peculiar stuff, if you think there’s a popular love affair with automobiles…seems like somebody might want a divorce?
So, the straight dope is that the whole Keystone XL protest gesture did not keep a tablespoon of tar sands in the ground. And the expansion of fossil fuel use continues very much apace.
[By the way, a point-of-information for the kiddies: This fuel gets put onto railroad cars when gesturers block pipelines.]
The only two ways to change fossil fuel use are 1) business-as-usual/eco-social collapse or 2) radical alteration of the structure of everyday life — not just the mode of fuel deliveries — in our modern, corporate capitalist order.
The hour for McKibbenite posing is getting very, very late.
If you remember your Physics 101, you know that F = m*a. Force-of-impactequalsmasstimesacceleration, that is.
Mass being what we non-physicists call “weight,” what this means is that this supposedly wondrous new vehicle — the “electric” version of what has long been the best-selling automobile model in the United States — will now be roughly 2,000 pounds heavier than the current gasoline-based F150.
In other words, when this thing crashes into an old-school (pre-SUV-diktat) “car,” it will be carrying an additional 2/3 of such a “car” into the collision. When it hits a pedestrian or bicyclist, well…
One major sub-clause in this Douglassian sociological rule is the reality that, for some people, it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.
Include in that group the International Energy Agency (a sub-unit of the OECD). Here is their new chart of one major feature their vision of a sustainable future:
What this graphic depicts is a world where all new cars sold in the world 8 years from now will be powered by electric engines.
DbC is tempted to accept large wagers from folks out there who think this stands a snowball’s chance in Hades of coming true.
The larger point, of course, is whether a world premised on selling 60 million new automobiles every year can ever be sustainable. Electric cars are not composed of pixie dust. Electricity is not magic generated by human will-power. Cars-first transportation also requires geographic sprawl and a vast, elaborate material infrastructure.
Here at DbC, one of our pet hypotheses is the claim that EVs are a capitalist Trojan Horse, an effort to stave off discussion of what green living would really look like. Thus, the sooner we start to oppose EVs, the better.
This is the basic hypothesis of Death by Car: Automobiles are the lifeblood of corporate capitalism. Without them, the system implodes, due to demand shrinkage (aka efficiency). Hence, they have been and are *dictated* to us, no choices or even coherent discussion allowed.