THE END OF THE ROAD: The Transition to Safe, Green Horsepower
Xlibris Corporation, Feb 22, 2010 - Business & Economics - 248 pages
The End of the Road is a controversial call to reconsider our American infrastructure, right now before our "stimulus package" is lost on projects with little long term value. As a society, we have not yet noticed the true direction and dire consequences we are forced into by our choices in infrastructure past, present and future. The implications affect almost every area of our lives, from our physical health to that of our economy to our social, ethical and political relations with neighbors whether they are local or across the globe. Whether our goods and services come to us from near or far away.
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Sunday, August 29, 2010The End of the Road Franz Marc, Red and Blue Horses, 1912. Cover picture of "The End of the Road: The Transition to Safe, Green Horsepower
“Our years of rational thought, our instinct to do good, the advantage of education, and a clear reading of history tell us that the internal combustion engine and the vehicle that it powers is killing us. We need to change behavior collectively and make some common sense decisions about life. We need to change the way we live and the way we move.
“This is the beginning of the end of the road.”
Joseph McKinney is a fascinating business leader and an "out-of-the box" thinker.(1) He is CEO and president of Oregon Roads, Inc. headquartered here in Eugene. Oregon Roads specializes in auto fleet leasing but sells individual cars as well. Joseph is also a fierce advocate for change in his industry, specifically toward a greener, more sustainable future.
I recently completed reading The End of the Road: The Transition to Safe, Green Horsepower, a book written by Joseph and his co-author, Amy Isler Gibson. Joseph and Amy argue that focusing on improving the technology of automobiles alone is shortsighted and will not adequately address the challenges posed by the realities of peak oil and global warming. They are ruthlessly critical of the automobile industry – its history, development, and current status – and of the politics that have sustained it. They contend that continued extravagant spending on improving and expanding roads to support a system based upon internal combustion powered vehicles is sheer folly.
Joseph and Amy believe that the infrastructure of American transportation and energy systems must be radically altered to accommodate new, healthier types of transportation and vehicle use. They propose solutions they deem to be achievable, imperative, and locally adaptable. Their vision is of communities with roads that are restructured to encourage and accommodate new, healthier types of transportation and vehicle use.
The key concepts associated with this vision are:
Reassessing what it is we truly need to get from Point A to Point B
Differentiating and distinguishing between appropriate transportation options
Developing “village vehicles:” small, lightweight, zero-emission cars as an interim step toward a car-free future
Transitioning to a transportation infrastructure that makes village vehicles safe to operate (including decommissioning of urban roads to become “greenways” limited to use by pedestrians, cyclists, and village vehicles)
In the book, Joseph describes how a shift to village vehicles and roads that can make them safe can reduce carbon emissions by 25% in the near future.
Of course, recognizing that we are at “the end of the road” and realizing Joseph’s and Amy’s vision will require a momentous shift in how we all regard our beloved automobiles. Joseph and Amy are optimistic that Eugene is exactly the kind of community that is amenable to and ripe for the changes that are necessary. I’m not so sure. As progressive as many would like to believe that Eugene is, I see plenty of evidence to the contrary.
Americans (and a majority of Eugeneans are no exception) have a love affair with their cars, the convenience they provide, and the freedom they afford. I’m afraid that only dramatic changes to our circumstances – such as crippling hikes in the price of gasoline or overwhelming, immediate evidence of destructive climate change – will wean us from our addiction to the overweight, over-powered, greenhouse gas-spewing transporters that monopolize the current automotive marketplace.
If village vehicles are to become accepted, they initially will have to be able to hold their own in the company of conventional automobiles, SUVs, and trucks because a comprehensive