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America, The Land of the… Cars?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

You know what? I’m gonna say it, America pi**es me off, and not just because we are an amalgamation of hypocrites, a country of anti-immigrant immigrants, or because we were built upon racist policies, or because we are elitist or included in the “dominators” that produce 83% of the pollution emissions. I’m pi**ed at America because we have terrible urban planning, car dependency and no reliable public transit system.

If you drive through rural America, what you will find is some countryside and sprawling fields and then smack dab in between is a clumsily designed strip mall, a Wendy’s and an Auto shop. Not only existing a living eyesore but also as part of the uniquely unwalkable-America terrain that claims 7,500 pedestrian deaths per year (Governor’s Highway Safety Association). While these numbers may not sound particularly alarming this is the highest it has been since 1981. The root cause of this comes from the poor road infrastructure that was accelerated by the presidency of Eisenhower and his proposed interstate highway system (CNN).

Now there is no “specific reason” as experts say, but I for one think Henry Ford is behind it. We all know the only way that bills get passed and laws get made is if there is a big chunk of money behind it and in the 1910’s Henry Ford was starting to become very successful. If you see where I am going with this, the next part is going to wrap it all up: Henry Ford needed a steady stream of customers and he saw there was a limit of demand. Once you reach the limit how do you continue? You create a need! Bada BANG, the highways start being built, and cars sell and sell and sell.

But you didn’t come here to learn facts… Did you? NO! So here is my open and honest opinion. Our infrastructure set up SUCKS. You are telling me that we would have elected to have suburbs and I-95 if we could go back and choose. No way: traffic is infuriating, cars are expensive, destinations are too far and children can’t even bike. I once watched a video on the Netherlands, and it was about how their city setups allowed children to gain autonomy as soon as they were able to bicycle. This allowed for children to learn responsibility and gave parents a break. I know that for 16 years, my mom and dad slaved away shuttling me and my sister everywhere. From Hebrew school to soccer to friends’ houses, I always had to call upon someone else if I needed to go anywhere. In no way, shape or form is this sensible. How are children supposed to get to and from school and extracurriculars if America is built so that both parents often must work. Why do you think sleepaway summer camps are so popular in America? Parents are exhausted and if the children stay at home for those three blissful months, they can’t do anything on their own. Why do you think graduates reminisce on the conveniences of their college towns? Or why, despite the ridiculous prices, do people move into cities?

Being able to walk where you need to go is a freedom that cannot be offered by a vehicle. Sure, it’s nice to listen to music and go for a drive, but practically cars are a nuisance, because with cars there needs to be space to put them. Don’t even get me STARTED on parking. You are telling me we must spend 30k to get a car because public transit does not exist in most areas of the United States, and then we have to PAY to PARK the car and if you don’t pay, they take away your means of getting around by booting you (Yes, this is a personal experience). It’s downright infuriating, a system designed to make a few people wealthy, and the others cornered. The whole concept sounds, and is, downright stupid. Had government funding gone to building canals or railroads, had cities been designed around such central transportation systems, the thousands of people claimed by accidents would be alive.

On top of accidents, think about how little we move in our day to day because of these vehicles and how that affects our nation’s health and how that leads to debt, illness and death. There are millions of people claimed by the mundane and sedentary lifestyle that exists within America and hundreds of millions trapped in the system designed for anything but us, bipedal, brilliant beings. Eliminate parking garages and replace them with housing, rip up the roads, structure society around what’s important – people, make spaces enjoyable, and cities safe!

You know what? I inspired myself… I think I’m gonna get a minor in Urban Planning.

Also, I just realized I didn’t even cover the oil/gas aspect so buckle up because the sequel is going to be wild.

Natasha is currently a freshman at the University of Florida majoring in business management. She is a new news writer for Her Campus and is excited to spread joy and knowledge to readers. Her hobbies range from backpacking in the wilderness to painting. While she currently working toward a career consulting, she hopes to also explore life as a national forest park ranger. In her upcoming years at University, she hopes to study in Europe, gain friendships, and keep on learning and growing.