Letter: Like Mr Toad, our love of cars is running out of road


We enjoyed Peter Aspden’s review of society’s passion for cars (“The dream machine”, Life & Arts, November 23). In The Wind in the Willows (1908), Badger warns Mr Toad of the dangers of his obsession with cars: “Independence is all very well, but we animals never allow our friends to make a fool of themselves beyond a certain limit; and that limit you’ve reached.” Aspden considers a number of possible futures for cars, including electric power and autonomous driving, but concludes that these options cannot generate “a feeling of command and agency behind the wheel”.

The answer is simple, we have to climb out from behind the wheel and walk. Walking is self-empowering and restores a sense of connection with others. Giving up cars would reduce the death toll from motor vehicles, from an annual worldwide total of between 1-1.25m, and would be a significant step towards preserving the planet for our grandchildren. The biggest single obstacle to abandoning our cars is an ingrained belief that individuals cannot make a difference.


David Jeffrey and Pru Jeffrey
Worcester, UK

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