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Rome Chooses Green (Cars)

May 8, 2012

I biked over to the convention on Sustainable Mobility this morning.  I wasn’t the only one; there were at least three other bicycles on the bike rack there, plus a very cool white bike (I’m not sure if the color was intentionally a reference to cyclist mortality as white bikes have become worldwide) with a Copenhagen wheel produced by Ducati Energia.

Otherwise, it was all about cars. The sponsors were car makers, the discussion was about fuel for cars. Outside, under the shade of beautiful trees of the gardens of the San Sisto Aranciere, men (why is it always men) in suits were fondling shiny new cars.  The message was clear: cars are here to stay, but it would be better if they pollute less and consume fewer fossil fuels.

I disagree.  Richard Register, in a wonderful book called Ecocities, says that clean cars are worse than dirty ones because they give us an alibi to prolong the automotive culture which has devastated our cities. Smog is not the only problem; the decline of quality of life cars have caused is also about danger, inefficiency, enclosure of public space, visual pollution, social blight and more.  And the electricity for electric cars has to be produced somewhere, using which renewable sources?

The Copenhagen wheel version Ducati Energia (not the same as Ducati motors I learned).

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