By Jack Meeks
The movement to ban cars on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley blocked traffic with live music, street art, and lively discussions January 28 to celebrate how life could be without the presence of automobiles. It was a young crowd led by Telegraph for People and there were many discussions about how transportation could work on a non-auto Telegraph with bikes, skateboards, foot powered scooters, walking, running, etc. We also discussed accessibility for all as not everyone is a bike rider, recent trips to mass transit sites such as the new Chinatown light rail in San Francisco, and how much time participants had without driving. The new heroes are the ones who have never actually driven — yes there are some. Another idea is removing parking spaces on the streets. In cities like Dallas and Houston something like 70 percent of urban land is used for parking purposes and cars are not used 95 percent of the time.
The new $7,500 tax credit for electric cars was also discussed. A big strain on the environment is fabrication, operation and destruction of automobiles, whether they be electric or not. Even after cars’ lives end, the material continues to pollute our environment. Lead, nickel, and other hazardous materials are in car parts and batteries, which leak into the ground in landfills and junkyards. About a third of US greenhouse emissions comes from transportation sources.
San Francisco has a partial ban on cars on Market Street which prohibits private autos, however public vehicles like taxis are ok — not quite what we are looking for here in Berkeley.
A very small minority of people here in the United Sates live without cars, like 7 percent of the population. Yet it is not just about not having automobiles, it is the safety and quality of life that is gained by not having cars on the streets. Clean air, less noise, more people getting exercise walking, no road rage, and perhaps a new sense of community as more of us get to know each other in the neighborhood.
“Cars and Capitalism go together, destroying lives, poisoning the air, and chewing up space, all in the name of profit”
More info telegraphforpeople.com