Based on a recommendation from our friend Shek Mukherjee (and others), I picked up a copy of Divorce Your Car: Ending the Love Affair with the Automobile by Katie Alvord (Gabriola Island, B.C.: New Society Publishers, 2000).
This book is a detailed look at how the motor vehicle has affected all aspects of life, particularly in the United States. Ms. Alvord spent a lot of time researching this book, and it shows — the text is packed with details (32 pages of notes plus a long list of suggested resources and further reading on the topics at hand). The book is loaded with facts that will curl the hair of the most jaded anti-car advocates among us…details on the environmental, socio-economic and health impacts life with motor vehicles has left us with.
But that’s not all: after illustrating the many ills motor vehicles have visited upon us, the author goes on to discuss the pros and cons of alternatives to driving a car, from alternative fuel vehicles to telecommuting to using a bicycle as transportation. She points out that some of these alternatives really aren’t as good as we might imagine…particularly the use of some of the gasoline substitutes and hybrid-vehicle technology, which may offer cleaner tailpipe emissions of some substances as compared to a gasoline-powered vehicle, but little in other smog-producing compounds, not to mention no reduction in gridlock and road congestion.
Ms. Alvord’s book is not intended to be a one-stop resource in the practical aspects of saying goodbye to the car — merely a stepping-off point and food for thought. Her resources pages can definitely assist someone seeking to go car-lite or carfree, though. A few months ago, I reviewed Chris Balish’s How to Live Well Without Owning a Car, and in many ways, Balish’s book could be considered a companion work to Divorce Your Car: Ms. Alvord tells us why we should divorce the car, Balish tells us how.
Despite the exhaustive research and documentation that went into this book, it reads well — full of humor and amazing facts and is never bogged down by all those endnotes. I highly recommend this as the first of several books someone considering a car-lite or carfree life should read, as it is eye-opening and inspirational. Thumbs up from this reviewer!