In my recent work to reduce the personal automobile's impact on modern life, I have presented some ideas to a public that has spent its whole life in a world profoundly dominated by cars, and these kinds of changes can be threatening, especially when people have no way to imagine something new.
That is why I think it is important to take it slow. And even though my position is perhaps a radical one, I understand that it might be best to introduce people to a more car free, walkable, livable, and non planet destroying transportation system by starting small.
That is why I have been behind a recent proposal to make my local library car free.
But even this small proposal has received a great deal of community pushback, and both the general public and some of my co-workers at my library think I am going too far, too fast. This is why I have decided to answer some basic questions to explain what this library car ban might mean. Too often people hear that we are thinking of eliminating cars within our library branch and immediately react:
"So you want me to walk all the way from the non fiction section to the mysteries?!!"
But the issue is more nuanced than that. And that is why I am hopeful that I can put some of the community's concerns to rest by answering some basic questions about this possible change to how people get around in the library.
1. Does this mean I won't be able to drive to the library and will have to take a bus with... other people?
No! Our parking lot footprint will remain seven times larger than the footprint of the actual library. You will still be able to drive to the library and park your car outside. You simply will be unable to drive your car into the library.
2. What about disabled people? It is not feasible for a disabled person to get around in a library without a car!
Through the use of wheelchairs, elevators, people movers, and a hook and hoist system, disabled people will be able to still get around the library and may find it easier to select materials and use our devices now that they won't have to get out of their cars to do so.
3. So you want me to walk all the way from the non fiction section to the mysteries?
If you find that the 145 foot walk to cover such a distance is too much we are planning on installing a Disney Ride-like buggy system that will visit all main areas of the library.
4. Is this just some kind of a trick to stop global warming?
Not a trick, exactly, though that could be a benefit. Rather we are hoping to redress the 127 carbon monoxide deaths at our branch during the 2022 library operating year.
5. Why are you going after cars? Cars stay in their lanes! It's the bikes that are the real hazard in libraries.
Then you will be pleased to learn that bikes will also not be allowed to operate in the library.
6. This all seems suspiciously anti freedom! How do we know that you won't ban open fires in the library next?
Rest assured that the library has no plans to ban or limit open wood fires in the library. Our Winter marshmallow roast is still the most popular library event!
7. You say you want to take it slow. Couldn't you just ban 18 wheeled commercial trucks?
We do not believe this would address the problems. Of the 85 fatal car accidents involving children in the children's room, none involved commercial trucks.
8. How many involved bikes?
Two bicyclists were crushed by SUV's. But please remember, we are also banning bikes.
9. Would it be possible to have stricter enforcement of jay walking violations instead?
As there are no roads, technically, in the library, we feel this would be difficult to enforce.
10. Since we can't drive in the library will we at least be able to drink in the library?
We have always allowed drinking in the library.
11. After people stop dying of car crashes and carbon monoxide poisoning in the library will we be able to resume driving in the library?
It will certainly be something the library board can take a look at.