Recently I posted an article titled “The Hegemony of Nonrenewable Resources“. I got to thinking about other possible hegemonic structures that exist in our daily lives. In short, a hegemonic structure could be defined as one that holds power over us, or makes people unable to exist in a competing fashion. This week’s hegemony is one of the automobile. They are everywhere. Just take a look at the picture with this post.
If you’ve ever seen Who Killed the Electric Car?, you know what I’m talking about. I’ve mentioned on occasion that I grew up in Los Angeles, home to car culture and the necessity of the car (read: hegemony of the automobile writ large). Without a car, getting around town is exceedingly difficult. Walking anywhere is a joke and trying to take the bus over any stretch of land is a nonstarter. While there have been improvements to LA’s mass transit since I lived there (a bus line that runs on an old train track through the San Fernando Valley and a subterranean train system below Hollywood Blvd, and out to Simi Valley), the car reigns supreme.
Living in a mid-sized city (Denver, CO), I witnessed the further strengthening of the car’s grip on society. Until the past few weeks Denver was the only city I had been to in the United States that had a diagonal crosswalk. (Justin informs me that Chinatown in Washington DC has one). In essence, all car traffic stopped and one could cross an intersection directly through the middle. Orange bags have since covered up the diagonal walk sign and cars have taken back the road. Walking to the park and crossing a major road necessitates risking my life as people fail to pay attention to pedestrians who often have the right of way.
For those of you who have followed us closely, you know that Justin has been without a car for nearly a year and a half, and that I share one with my wife. I am not advocating for government intervention to limit the number of cars per person; that is a nonstarter. However, I do think people need to get out of their cars, walk to the store, and experience what it is like for those of us who CHOOSE to walk when we could just as easily get in a 2 ton vehicle and press the accelerator instead of pounding the pavement.