I recently listened to one of my favorite episodes of The War On Cars podcast — Episode 99 “Car Brain with Dr. Ian Walker.”
In it, Ian makes some amazing points about how people generally see the world and the double standards by which we judge cars versus other things in our life. Some of the most salient ones in his report on “Motonormativity” (fantastic name by the way!)—
Fundamentally, Ian says that because most people alive today have been born into a world where cars rule the roost, people think that that’s the way the world should be.
In my own advocacy work, I’ve come across this often; most people don’t look at the street and imagine that it could be different. They simply accept that if a street is designed only for car convenience and doesn’t have bike lanes, bus lanes, or safe crosswalks, that’s “just the way it is.”
Getting people to rethink a built environment they take for granted is difficult. Inspiring people’s imaginations is challenging. It’s one of the reasons we created Streets For All’s Rethink LA initiative, which allows anyone to reimagine a street in their neighborhood and submit it to us. If we think the idea has legs, we’ll create a before/after rendering, draft a letter of support, and try and make it a real thing with the neighborhood council and ultimately city council.
At the end of the day, the only way we’re going to change Los Angeles is by challenging the very context that Los Angeles was built around — the automobile. It’s hard, but it’s possible and we’re making progress!