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An Unsettling Look at the Early Marketing of the Two-Car Household

11:27 AM EDT on July 11, 2011

Around the Streetsblog Network today:

Gender Equality and the Origins of the Two-Car Household: The 1950s were heady days for car makers. Americans had just begun their mass migration to the suburbs, and the promise of idyllic lifestyles came with an implicit tradeoff: complete car-dependency. This had the unintended effect of isolating wives and mothers in each household.

Straight Outta Suburbia flashes back to a car commercial from this time period. In it, the matriarch explains that, without a second household car, a simple afternoon outing with a friend would be impossible:

Unfortunately, 60 years after that commercial was filmed, our built environments still lead us to make expensive tradeoffs. Freedom of mobility for both spouses comes at a high financial price for most middle-class Americans: transportation costs are the second-largest household expense for this group. "The style of the ad is very retro indeed, but the problem it illustrates is at least as relevant today as it was back then," says Straight Outta Suburbia. "It certainly would be nice if we could find more sustainable pathways to achieving that equality."

Delaware Invests Big in Cycling: Some states starve their bike-ped programs, then gut them even further when it's time for rescind money back to the feds. Then there's Delaware. This tiny Northeastern state has socked away $5 million for bike routes in the 2012 budget -- and advocates are elated. Drew Knox, president of Bike Delaware, called the allocation "a tape-measure home run for Bike Delaware." He added, "Typically, those funds would qualify for a 4x match of federal funds, or an additional $20 million, which would be a grand slam in any park."

But the good news comes with some qualifications. The expected matching funds could be in jeopardy if Congressman John Mica's plan to nix dedicated funding for bike and pedestrian projects becomes law.

Bypass Proposal Pits Charlottesville Citizens Group Against MPO: Despite $4 gas and multiple studies showing that adding road capacity does nothing to alleviate traffic, the allure of highway building remains strong. Over the objections of local residents, even progressive Charlottesville, Virginia is considering a $197 million bypass project. The region's metropolitan planning organization is currently holding public hearings to determine whether its long-term plan will allow the state to allocate funding for the Western Bypass. But the citizens advisory committee to the MPO (CHART) has come out against the proposal.

“Without a more realistic description of the true costs and benefits of the revived Bypass project and more precise assurances that the project will not impede other more highly prioritized transportation investments, the community represented by the CHART committee will not support the Western Bypass,” CHART member Russell Lafferty wrote. City resident Stephen Bach went further: “I think it might be a really positive thing if nothing got done,” he said. “The price of gasoline is not always going to be $4 a gallon and I think that the idea that we’re going to have the era of happy motoring forever is just ridiculous.”

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