Cars Ride On The Backs Of Kids And Hummingbirds | Wis.Community

Cars Ride On The Backs Of Kids And Hummingbirds

Cars Ride On The Backs Of Kids And Hummingbirds



... the faces of kids who had no idea what kind of energy pornography website their beautiful faces, good intentions, skateboards, bikes, and smiles would be hired off to sell cars.



Greenwashing used to be BP. Those mag and TV ads - so hip, so green. And today?


Dead in the water ? To wish. Now comes to save greenwashing from its near death experience in the Gulf.


You see, public transportation in Wisconsin is running out the clock. Fourth down came and went in April. No score and so the State of Wisconsin must turn the ball over to the car manufacturers.


Yes, to the car. That consumer of farmland, the unemployed squatter on precious downtown spaces, that indolent 20-hour a day sleeper in your household that gobbles up nearly as much green as your mortgage. The car is now promoted by the State of Wisconsin in a five-figure ad campaign promoting cars. Profits go to carmakers and road-builders and parking lot owners.


And what is the engine to pull the car center stage on www CleanAirTrek com? Our youth, and that smartly road-adverse hummingbird.


I see the optimistic face of a dear friend on one of the posters and I know she did not sign off to let them exploit her ideals as a eco-minded zoologist. I suggest this woman and the youths in the photos are being used.


I see the faces of kids who had no idea what kind of energy pornography website their beautiful faces, good intentions, skateboards, bikes, and smiles would be hired off to sell cars.


The story comes in seven scolds and one wish:


The Language

The Bus

The Situation

The Normal

The Resources

Failing the Workforce


Moving Away From Oil



The Language




"We're smart. We improvise. We get where we want to go when we need to get there. We believe in building vibrant, livable, walkable communities."

We do? We? (meaning the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources?) WisDOT is owned and operated by Road Builders. WisDNR is the political arm of a governor that vetoed public transportation legislation. We? What do you mean "We"?



"We don't always travel in a straight line."

Aimless gas burning - "we" do that?



"We know that slowing down doesn't always mean taking our time."

Speeding? Yup. We speed. We brag that we speed.



"We breathe. Our machines breathe."

Yes, our machines breathe, but juxtaposing my breathing with the machine breathing - why it just takes my breath away. Trek the other way if you see a machine exhaling.



"We celebrate the alchemy of air."

Alchemy? There is a "science" of getting clean air from hot machines?



"Pull money from the air."

Oh, now driving makes us wealthy? Car ownership and car usage is now second only to the mortgage and takes 1/6 of your property taxes whether you own a car or not.



[Posters that] "show real people who improve air quality simply by being who they are and moving through the city the way they do."

Plan for the future with less oil? Naw, be happy.



"We track every mile, every dollar, and every drop of fuel. We love every moment behind the wheel. We think. We look ahead."

Ready to break your romance with cars? Relax. You are doing all you need to do.


'Move through the city the way you do' - a car ride for milk, a car ride for shoestrings, a car ride for a flick.


Sell the Clunker? Heck, no. Just "move through the city the way you do." You Are A Clean Air Trekker.


On an ozone day, you may hear on the radio advice not to walk. SE Wisconsin ranks one of the highest problem areas for ozone in the nation. Not mentioned beneath the glossy CleanAirTrek shellac.


Lame. This language of this website is inept, patronizing, erroneous, and (most obviously) written by well-meaning adults. This website is sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. It was developed by Discovery World, whose owner once had a dream to restore trains to Milwaukee. He's been ignored by governments; his dream been sidelined by his own staff.


The Bus?


And there is not a single part of the lesson plan that suggests a bus ride, or how to find a bus, how to check its schedule, how to plan an outing, how to take the bus to a distant park, how to replace a car trip with a bus trip.


I found two bus statements by drilling (!) into the website about 4 levels beneath the home page. And the stuff that comes out dirties the waters, a thick ooze of consumerism.




"I free myself from the monotony of driving by taking the bus more often. The money I save allows me to buy new things."


Consumer orientation - why not tap the idealism of youth, instead of moving in step with our oil-dependent consumer culture? Kids know the planet is being wrecked by materialism.




"Relax and let someone else drive. Busing gives you some time to read, get ready for the day, or just chill. Save gas. Keep the air clean. And you get to meet all sorts of new and interesting people."


This, of course, will bring hoots of laughter if read out loud in a classroom. The adults among us are ruining the best bus service in the nation.


The "Future Eco Driver" poster sees the bike only as training wheels for driving, with patronizing language that invites derision.


That's it. Their Air Trek Booklet is all about driving, with "bus" mentioned once in a list.


The Situation


I thought I had enough when the Governor vetoed the Milwaukee County bus rescue.


I thought I had enough when the my State Senator sat on Climate legislation.


I thought I had enough when the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County did not stand up to the foes of public transportation to authorize locally governed Regional Transit Authorities all over Wisconsin.


Feeling the stick in your eye? Not yet? Well, to put a sharp point on it, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are now singing that sixties ditty on www CleanAirTrek com: "Take me for a ride in your car-car." (first song I learned on a guitar)


You'd think a Wisconsin website dedicated to clean air and transportation would at least mention the most efficient, award winning bus service in the nation - our own: Milwaukee County Transit System:? For cleaner air, use it. Ride with me and prove you are green.


What Is Normal?


www CleanAirTrek com is our Wisconsin State government blocking upfield for BP which, today, carries the ball - all by itself - carries the ball and the hopes of all oil companies that somehow, somewhere it can fix the pipe, clean up the damage, and go back to "normal." Car sales and oil production "normal."


I don't want "normal."


"Normal" has not worked, and it will continue fail us. Technology will not save us from foolishness. Technology is a measured guide to what is possible, not a talisman for stupid thinking and greed.


Nor will the hybrid car bail us out, but for sure it will make our situation worse, even if we get a hybrid that travels at 1000 mpg.


The Resources


Here is where the sadness of the "BP thinking" rocks the pit of the stomach. The resources posted by www CleanAirTrek com is about expensive hybrid cars. We are to be engulfed (pun intended) by the madness that brought us Oil Rig Down. And you are taking the bus away from people who cannot afford a clunker.


The car sales teams:


Cars and more cars. Not a single public transportation entity mentioned.


*I have asked CNU to comment on its role on this site.


Failing The Workforce


Commuting? Not mentioned by www CleanAirTrek com: Milwaukee County faces a juggernaut: 100,000 jobs will soon be inaccessible to public transportation. How much air can you breathe thinking of that huge number and the economic future of Milwaukee?


Jobless? Homeless? Never mind you're a Clean Air Trekker. You love being outside.


The center stage for clean air is walking, skateboards, bicycles, bike paths, bike racks. The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, thankfully, did not get sucked into this foolish campaign, but the Congress for New Urbanism did, with a link to its otherwise sensible mission.




Finally, what is my problem with the car? And our problem with more and more cars?


Think India, China; think sprawl. Think Milwaukee.


Cars need to be parked. Parked at much as 20 hours a day. Parking happens. It happens on land. And where we provide for parking cars we take away other opportunities to enjoy the land, to earn a living from the land, to farm, to walk, to bicycle, to take a nap in a green, peaceful park.


A car slot takes as much as four times the square footage of a productive office worker.


But for all its bulk, a parked car earns nothing for the owner; it waits patiently to be moved evenings to another parking place in another place somewhere down the road. Mostly it sits, idle.


And as land gets used up for parking cars, as parking lots multiply and push our stores and offices further apart, our need to travel further to get somewhere else increases.


Cars - hybrid or gas - feed on land; they eat land. And land is more precious than oil.


Parking cars is not a plan, any more than willy nilly drilling a mile beneath the oceans surface without a cork to put into a broken pipe. Parking lots happen when businesses fail and buildings come down. We make streets wider and buildings smaller so we can park cars. And the more parking lots we get the less reason there is to go to that part of town.


Wise land-use planning will move people efficiently and bring people, jobs and schools closer together.


And Now For Something Completely Different


Please, Discovery World, Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - please give us a website that speaks to us as intelligent people. Join the cry to turn away from cars and oil.


The people of Wisconsin are smart enough to know we have been shortchanged.


Honor the bus. Honor the driver who chooses to ride the bus. Honor the bicyclist who makes space for everyone else. Honor the skateboarder and roller-blader. Honor the walker. And by doing so, honor our children with great expectations.


Bill Sell





The author is a life-long Milwaukee resident. Founder and principal of a 33 year old downtown Milwaukee business serving editors and authors nationwide. Founding Member Bay View Neighborhood Association. Founder of Transit Matters. Steering Committee Coalition for Advancing Transit. Member Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin. Shepherd Express Community Activist of the Year, 2007. Member, Public Policy Forum. Associate Member, Investigative Reporters and Editors.


June 5, 2010 - 2:04pm