Auto Pilots

January 7th, 2010

Four articles from the November/December BAM proclaimed loud and clear that we need to reevaluate our relationship with cars. Professor of Anthropology Catherine Lutz and Anne Lutz Fernandez '84 compellingly outlined the toll that cars take on our health, safety, environment, bank accounts, foreign policy, family time, and land-use policies ("Car Wreck"). Echoing their questioning of the industry bailout, Steven Rattner '74 expressed his dismay at the auto industry's "stunningly poor management" ("Cars & Drivers," In the News, Classes). As an alternative to this auto mess, perhaps we should go the route of the Brown chapter of the Society of Women Engineers and the University's Division of Engineering by making edible autos ("Veggie Hogs," Elms). Or perhaps we could be guided by the beauty and function of bicycles by Dan Goldwater '97, '98 ScM and Bryan Hollingsworth '03 ("You Are What You Make").

Looking forward to more people joining the proud carless ranks!

Riana Good '03
Brookline, Mass.


I was intrigued by "Car Wreck" and hope readers will heed your twelve-step program to reduce their daily reliance on automobiles. I suspect, however, that meaningful and long-term societal change will come only after a critical mass of private citizens and public servants embrace and support the effort.

It is unrealistic to expect individual vehicles to, as you say, loosen their grip on our lives until cheap and convenient first-rate alternatives become available. That will require a huge public investment in mass-transit infrastructure and a grassroots commitment to the New Urbanism, a now two-decade-old paradigm that favors pedestrian and transit-centric city planning over the car-centric development patterns of the past fifty years. Perhaps the article and your forthcoming book by Professor Catherine Lutz and Anne Lutz Fernandez '84 will catalyze that commitment.

Joe Del Casino '78
Boynton Beach, Fla.

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Related Issue
January/February 2010