The Chainlink

Chicago & Stop Signs: Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Ecological Decay

Hi Chicago bike activist. I am co-author (with Bianca Mugyenyi) of the just released  Stop Signs: Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Ecological Decay. We plan to be in Chicago May 30, 31 and June 1.  Would you be into helping us set up event for one of those days?
By the time were are in Chicago we expect to have had few good reviews circulating and to have been on democracy now so hopefully that would help with turnout.
 Here is our website, which we are slowly getting together. http://stopsigns.fairtrademedia.com/

yvesengler@hotmail.com
thanks and take care
yves

Authors offer 14 ways North America’s automobile-dominated transportation system is irritating, irrational, irresponsible and increasingly inhuman

 

The I-14

1.    Cities have been torn down, remade and planned with cars’ needs as the overriding concern.

2.    Behind the wheel it’s me, myself and I.

3.    Only three percent of the car’s fuel energy actually moves what needs to be moved.

4.    Cars encourage sprawl and the privatization of space.

5.    Car-burbs are infertile ground for the social movements necessary to tip back the scale between rich and poor.

6.    The car’s insatiable appetite for space crowds out bikes and pedestrians.

7.    For every mile of travel, the car is dozens of times more likely to cause death and injury than the train, bus or airplane.

8.    Cathedrals are built to worship the automobile.

9. A quarter of our working lives are spent paying for cars.

10. Automotive pollution kills tens of thousands annually.

11. Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent every year to subsidize off-street parking.

12. Driving brings out the beast in the newly evolved human, Homo Automotivis.

13. Auto-dependent development is pushing oil extraction into increasingly sensitive environments.

14. A model of transportation that relies on individuals hopping into two, four or eight thousand pound metal boxes to get from one place to another is utterly unsustainable.

  

 

In North America, human beings have become enthralled by the automobile: A quarter of our working lives are spent paying for them; communities fight each other for the right to build more of them; our cities have been torn down, remade and planned with their needs as the overriding concern; wars are fought to keep their fuel tanks filled; songs are written to praise them; cathedrals are built to worship them. In Stop Signs: Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Ecological Decay, authors Yves Engler and Bianca Mugyenyi argue that the automobile's ascendance is inextricably linked to capitalism and involved corporate malfeasance, political intrigue, backroom payoffs, media manipulation, racism, academic corruption, third world coups, secret armies, environmental destruction and war. An anti-car, road-trip story, Stop Signs is a unique must-read for all those who wish to escape the clutches of auto insanity.


"Mugyenyi and Engler's Stop Signs is at one and the same time an entertaining, fact-filled anthropological tour of the land of Homo Automomotivis, and the first all-out global ecological critique of the American automobile addiction. Not since Jane Holtz Kay's Asphalt Nation has a book appeared that so clearly exposed the auto-irrationality of the most car-dependent country on earth."
John Bellamy Foster, editor of Monthly Review and co-author, The Ecological Rift
 
"This book is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the impact of the private automobile on our urban transportation options."
David Cadman, Vancouver City Councillor, International President ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability
 
"In Stop Signs, Mugyenyi and Engler take readers on an insightful, fact-filled journey through the primary habitat of the car-dominated species they call Homo automotivis. With wit and originality, they weave travel tales into a convincing argument against the auto economy, culminating with a fresh call to leave car culture behind."
Katie Alvord, Author, Divorce Your Car! Ending the Love Affair with the Automobile

"Mugyenyi and Engler illustrate the relationship between cars and suburban living. You come away shaken, but ready to roll up your sleeves and contribute, however modestly, to constructing a new world in the twenty-first century."
Richard Bergeron, Montreal city councilor, urban planner and author

 

Yves Engler has four published books including The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy (Shortlisted for the Mavis Gallant Prize for Non Fiction in the Quebec Writers' Federation Literary Awards)

Bianca Mugyenyi coordinates campaigns at Concordia University's Centre for Gender Advocacy

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What kind of help do you need, Yves? Could you please be a bit more specific? Time and place, etc. Thank you :)

If you could come on May 27th that would be Critical Mass Friday an event with 1,000-2,000 cyclists that are mostly pro-bike/anti-car.  If you can make this, I can post announcements to the Critical Mass forums for you and you could sell your books at the ride.  I would volunteer my PA system if you wanted to make an announcement at the ride.

 

On Sunday May 29th is Bike the Drive.  A much bigger event, 15,000-20,000 cyclists.  Many if not most though drive to the event.  On the other hand, they are more in need of your message and are probably a bit looser with their money than the Critical Mass crowd.  If you are interested in this, you should contact the event's organizer http://www.activetrans.org/contact-us

Unfortunately we are in Pittsburgh on the 27th and in grand rapids on the 29th.  It would be amazing if someone could leaflet those two events regarding our speaking engagements in Chicago.  We are set to do an event at open books (http://www.open-books.org/) on Wednesday June 1 at 6pm and would like to set up something else, hopefully in another part of town, for May 31 if possible.
Any help is greatly appreciated
take care
Yves

Todd Allen said:

If you could come on May 27th that would be Critical Mass Friday an event with 1,000-2,000 cyclists that are mostly pro-bike/anti-car.  If you can make this, I can post announcements to the Critical Mass forums for you and you could sell your books at the ride.  I would volunteer my PA system if you wanted to make an announcement at the ride.

 

On Sunday May 29th is Bike the Drive.  A much bigger event, 15,000-20,000 cyclists.  Many if not most though drive to the event.  On the other hand, they are more in need of your message and are probably a bit looser with their money than the Critical Mass crowd.  If you are interested in this, you should contact the event's organizer http://www.activetrans.org/contact-us

Since I posted that I confirmed with open books (http://www.open-books.org/) to do an event there on Wednesday, June 1. It will be a PowerPoint presentation.  We would still like to set up something else, hopefully in another part of town, anytime May 31 if possible.  If you have any ideas for a café, classroom or book store that might be into organizing something either May 30 (evening) or 31 (anytime) that would be very helpful.  Asides from that we would be looking for help in terms of spreading the word about the events [we have a template callout, poster and leaflet that we can add event details into] and help in terms of contacting left or establishment media [we have a couple template press releases].  Finally, we are doing this book tour with two month Greyhound passes and no financial help from any corporate publisher so we are looking for an extra bedroom to sleep.
Any help is greatly appreciated
take care
Yves

Serge Lubomudrov said:
What kind of help do you need, Yves? Could you please be a bit more specific? Time and place, etc. Thank you :)

We will have to make the best of your unfortunate timing.  Just two weeks later is the World Naked Bike Ride another great event for selling your book with perhaps 2000 cyclists riding for nature against cars, oil, wars, etc.

I'll suggest to BreakTheGridlock http://breakthegridlock.org/ that people come here and help brainstorm an event for Tuesday May 31st.  Unfortunately most of their sweat may be focused on their own fund raising event, Urban Assault, coming up May 22nd.

As for flyering Critical Mass there should still be time to contact Willow the editor of the Derailleur, the free zine distributed at Critical Mass. For Bike The Drive, the best bet would be to get stacks of fliers to any sympathetic groups that will be attending the event, such as the Chicago Cycling Club, West Town Bikes, Albany Park Bikes, etc. and of course Active Trans.  Will need to nail down the specifics of your events first.

Another possibility if you're interested is I have a friend who I assisted in the construction of an electric cargo bike for his magazine distribution business.  He's also recently expanded into distributing/selling books to bike shops and other businesses where appropriate throughout Chicago and the nearby suburbs.

 

As for a place to stay, I'll email you direct if I can arrange something.

While I applaud your devotion to the velo-religion, perhaps not all the people who read and participate on The Chainlink and enjoy riding, owning, and using bicycles share your core political assumptions or agree with all the 14 planks of your personal manifesto.   A number of them are outright fallacious.   I, for one, do not spend anywhere near a quarter of my income on my automobiles.   Perhaps those that do make poor consumers  choices and/or have difficulty earning/handling money.  I could go on.

 

 

 

 

Your 14 points are of questionable validity and, in a couple of cases, personally offensive to me.

 

What vehicle out there has a curb weight of 8,000 pounds?

 

I think about others when I drive.

 

I do not spend anywhere near a quarter of my income on cars.

 

ASSuming the suburbs are not a fertile ground for activism is dismissive of those who live there.

 

Hear! Hear! I am pro-bike and pro-car.  I use my bike to relax and exercise, and I use my car to get things done.  While I appreciate that car culture has negative effects on society, it also enables people to do a lot of things they couldn't do using bikes, walking and public transportation - for example, if you live in Elmhurst and work in Northbrook, your commute each way by car is 29 minutes using Route 294.  Your commute by public transportation each way is 2 1/2 hours.  If you're the parent of three or four children, how do you shuttle kids from school to the doctor to music lessons using bikes, walking or public transportation when it's 20 degrees out and snowing?

 

James Baum said:

While I applaud your devotion to the velo-religion, perhaps not all the people who read and participate on The Chainlink and enjoy riding, owning, and using bicycles share your core political assumptions or agree with all the 14 planks of your personal manifesto.   A number of them are outright fallacious.   I, for one, do not spend anywhere near a quarter of my income on my automobiles.   Perhaps those that do make poor consumers  choices and/or have difficulty earning/handling money.  I could go on.

 

 

 

 

It's a shame I've misplaced my Whack-A-Troll mallet.

 

Anyway, James and others, the author's post was simply to solicit help in facilitating their book tour Chicago stop.  That doesn't mean all Chainlink readers need to be interested, because they have brilliantly succeeded in coming into contact with Chicago anti-car zealots such as myself who are out to destroy your way of life.  Not that we need to work very hard at it...  Have you checked out gas prices lately?   :)

Todd,

 

No, it doesn't mean that all Chainlink readers need to be interested, but offending people with some list of supposed evils isn't a good way to endear people to your cause or convince them to help out.


Todd Allen said:

It's a shame I've misplaced my Whack-A-Troll mallet.

 

Anyway, James and others, the author's post was simply to solicit help in facilitating their book tour Chicago stop.  That doesn't mean all Chainlink readers need to be interested, because they have brilliantly succeeded in coming into contact with Chicago anti-car zealots such as myself who are out to destroy your way of life.  Not that we need to work very hard at it...  Have you checked out gas prices lately?   :)

Yves,

 

Are you familiar with the phrase "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar."?

 

I find it counterproductive to make people feel bad about their choices when you're trying to sway their opinions and decisions.  If you're really thinking about promoting your book at Bike The Drive this year, then slamming people who drove into the city (or from the far reaches of the city, or because they have x amount of bikes and kids to transport, or...) to come ride a bicycle on Lake Shore Drive isn't going to help you with forming an attentive audience. 

 

If I were you, I'd reconsider my approach, unless you want to be preaching to the already converted.  And if you want that, then you're doing nothing to reach the people who you really want to hear your message.

 

 

The list comes from their book.  They are soliciting help for the book tour so it makes perfect sense to tell what the book is about and a book which doesn't offend anyone is likely a pointless book.

 

They are out of towners just passing through.  They probably found the chainlink via a web search assuming they might find some help here and are unlikely to be drawn into an extended flame fest.

 

BTW, the Hummer H2 fell into the over 8,500 lb GVW class which excluded it from CAFE regulations.  And the point that 25% of American's working lives support cars doesn't mean it applies to each and every individual.  It's an average.  Can't speak to the accuracy of the statistics behind the claim but for an individual to dispute it based on the sole sample of themselves shows a disturbing lack of critical thought.

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