Bono, Get a Grip — Stop Fetishizing Cars

We heard from a few people over the holiday break who were disgusted by the Jan. 2 New York Times op-ed from U2 front man — and celebrity environmentalist — Bono. In it, the pop star called for the "return of the automobile as a sexual object."

In a blog post today, Streetsblog Network member RIDE Solutions wrote a refutation of Bono’s little fantasy — and nailed the argument:

302118834_8faa6ae251.jpgThis picture wouldn’t turn us on even if all the cars were electric Aston Martins. Photo: sbisson/Flickr

Bono’s creepy fetishization of the automobile is part of the core
psychological problem that has led to the country’s transportation,
energy, and urban design mess. Despite the problems we’re currently
suffering from too many people being in love with their automobiles —
air pollution, suburban sprawl, skyrocketing gas prices  and the
outsourcing of our energy development to hostile foreign powers — Bono
suggests that, in the coming decade, we need to love our cars more, we need to make them prettier, we need to want to spend more time in them and invest more

money in them…. 

Even qualifying, as he does, that "the
greener, the cleaner, the meaner on fossil fuels," the more he’s
aroused, he misses the point that gas mileage is only one small
component of a vehicle’s energy and environmental impact. Even a fleet
of zero-emission electric Aston Martins need someplace to park and
roads to drive on. They still get into car accidents, and require
expensive maintenance and production.…

Bono would have been better off, if he insists on his bizarre
fetishization, to emphasize beautiful and “sexy” urban spaces. If the
idea is to sexualize something so that people want to spend more time
with it, why not emphasize our cities and downtowns? Why not take the
artists and designers he wants to work with automakers and instead put
them on city planning commissions and in city engineering departments? In essence, concentrate design and beauty on where and how we live, not
on the tools we use to go to the grocery store.

Excellent points. If "sexy" is linked to "speed" — which it clearly is, in Bono’s Aston Martin–loving formulation — the last thing we need is more automotive sexiness, even if it is electrically powered.

In case we needed a reminder of how deadly even moderate increases in speed can be, New Haven Safe Streets yesterday posted about an important new study from the British Journal of Medicine that demonstrates yet again how 20 mph speed zones can dramatically reduce casualties and collisions — by around 40 percent — with the number of children killed or injured reduced by 50 percent.

Requiring cars to drive more slowly so that fewer kids die? That’s the kind of idea that gets us excited.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

In Anti-Bike Lane Case, Gibson Dunn Strays From Pro Bono Standards

|
Jim Walden is a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, the kind of white shoe firm where lawyers represent major corporations at rates of nearly a thousand dollars per hour. His name has been popping up on Streetsblog recently because he represents a politically-connected group attempting to undo the redesign of Prospect Park West. According […]

Robert Novak Cited in Possible Hit-and-Run

|
Politico is reporting that conservative columnist Robert Novak, a.k.a. "The Prince of Darkness," hit a 66-year-old pedestrian with his black Corvette this morning in Washington D.C. and then drove away. Some of the facts don’t quite seem to add up just yet — specifically the part about the Novak not knowing he hit someone and […]

NBBL Lawyer Jim Walden on Brian Lehrer This Morning

|
Update 4: Second caller is Michael Freedman-Schnapp from Brad Lander’s office, and the third caller is a mother of three, Megan, who feels safer crossing PPW now that it’s not a three-lane speedway. And that’s it for the callers. Lehrer pops a “pro bono” question. Walden says he took the case pro bono because it’s […]

NYPD Reportedly Lost Evidence Related to Crash That Killed Mathieu Lefevre

|
The attorney representing the family of Mathieu Lefevre has sent a letter to NYPD that raises serious questions about the investigation of the hit-and-run crash that took the 30-year-old artist’s life. The five-page letter from attorney Steve Vaccaro indicates that the NYPD Accident Investigation Squad has all but concluded that crane truck driver Leonardo Degianni […]