September 24, 2009 at 1:00 am

Manny Lopez

Car-free crusade is absurd

Summer officially is over, marked again by pool closings, an earlier sunset and World Carfree day.

That's right, World Carfree day -- every Sept. 22.

Maybe you missed the memo.

"When people get out of their cars, they should stay out of their cars," the World Carfree Network implores on its Web site. "It is up to us, it is up to our cities, and our governments to help create permanent change to benefit pedestrians, cyclists, and other people who do not drive cars."

Listen, I walk and occasionally ride a bike, but I don't need these folks "working" on my behalf.

And I certainly don't need the government getting involved. It's already so far into our pockets the lint has been picked clean.

Activists, however, need to save and convert everyone who doesn't live by their elitist codes and self-indulgent preachings.

"I consider all cars as clunkers, flopped vehicles failing to meet any criteria of sensible means of transport," Tanja Eskola from World Carfree Network, writes on the group's Web site.

An invalid point

The absurdity of that statement diminishes any feeble case that the group could have made had they had a valid point. (A spokeswoman for the organization didn't return calls for comment.)

"There is no betterment of mankind by government policies trying to get people out of cars," says Sam Kazman, general counsel of the non-partisan Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is opposed to the anti-car group's crusade. "I'm not even that sure it's a fine and dandy notion (to be car-free)."

Kazman rightly points to the fact that the automobile is one of the reasons society has evolved into the efficient and dynamic entity that it is. Few other technological advances have helped individuals and nations improve as much as the automobile.

That's not Detroit talking, it's just plain ol' fact.

But that's lost on activists who want governments to mandate what light bulbs can be used, what kinds of cars (if any) are allowed and myriad other holier-than-thou philosophies.

Planet is not melting

Clearly, we should conserve and recycle and there's nothing wrong with trying to get your friends and colleagues to do more.

But cars and trucks account for a fraction of the pollution that activists claim. The planet is not melting.

Thankfully, Tuesday's global anti-auto rally was largely ignored.

News reports online show that there was a gathering in Toronto and a few other international locales, but there's nary a news report about an event in the U.S.

Last year's rally in Seattle was canceled because of rain and other communities called them off because it was too cold.

You see, car-free doesn't work in the real world, but clearly these activists aren't living there anyway.

mlopez@detnews.com">mlopez@detnews.com (313) 222-2536 Auto Editor Manny Lopez's column runs on Thursday.