Cities in Europe have waged a war against the automobile according to an article appearing in The New York Times. Urban areas in Europe such as Vienna, Munich and Copenhagen have closed many of their streets to cars and motorists in London and Stockholm are forced to pay hefty congestion fees if they want to drive downtown. Cites in Europe are making auto travel in urban areas impractical by severely restricting the number of parking spaces. Could this happen in America?
Transportation policy changes during the last few years appear to indicate that many U.S. government officials seem to think that when it comes to the automobile we should be the “United States of Europe.” Driving in Washington, D.C., and other American cities one is confronted with half of the busy downtown streets designated for bicycles — a constraint that appears to be routinely ignored by motorists. Federal and state gasoline taxes paid by motorists are increasingly being diverted for alternative transportation measures such as non-motorized paths, even though many of the highways and bridges in the nation are crumbling.
The latest anti-automobile measure being considered by the Obama Administration is to drastically increase federal CAFE standards to levels that would substantially increase the cost of cars and force Americans into tiny autos so common in Europe.
Michigan, home to the recovering automobile industry, is particularly vulnerable to government policies that make owning and operating a car more inconvenient and expensive. Anti-auto government policies could easily drive the automobile industry back into red ink.
The mobility provided by the car is one of the greatest freedoms enjoyed by Americans and is the envy of many around the world. This freedom once lost may never be gained back.