Monday, 1 March 2010

The cost of cars

Look around most suburbs of Australia, particularly the new ones, and you see a number of things in common. You will find the shopping centre in the middle with the obligatory car parks. These days, there will be a couple of token bike rails near the entrance but people still somehow have to negotiate the car park to get to them and they do not enjoy the sort of attention to detail you find in bike friendly places to help them get there, least of all a separate bike route.

Even now, new suburbs are spread out quite far and, with some notable exceptions, do not tend to encourage walking to friends' houses, to the shops, etc. Suburbs are still built for them to be traversed in cars as easily as possible. The consequence is what we see every day: huge proportions of children being transported sometimes quite short distances to school in the backs of cars, people driving a few blocks to get to their local shops to buy the Sunday paper and some milk, etc.

It is no surprise that we are one of, if not the, fattest nation on the planet. The cost? According to, a cool $56 billion a year.

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