Cyclists Be Warned, the New Acura Is Coming to Town

Acura_ZDX.jpg

It always makes my skin crawl when I see a car commercial shot in a city with a sporty sedan hurtling down the street, promising ersatz liberation through reckless driving. But the conversation Joe Eskenazi at SF Weekly had with an Acura PR representative today is hilarious. Or terrifying, you decide:

When folks from Acura called up and asked if your humble narrator planned on covering some sort of unveiling of their 2010 ZDX here in the city — it was a thanks but no thanks moment.

As a courtesy to the out-of-town driver, we kindly suggested she "look out for bicycles."

Silence. Dead silence.

"Shouldn’t it be the other way around?"

(Buries head in hands). Welcome to San Francisco, PR person.

  • JohnB

    So, I have to ask. Is this the “I hate cars” Forum?

    I can like planes without hating boats.

    I can like trains without hating buses.

    Why can’t folks here like bikes or buses without (seemingly) hating cars?

    Cars can be freeing and fun. That is what ad’s like this tap into. Isn’t there room for ALL forms of transport in a transport website?

  • JohnB,
    Here’s the Streetsblog boilerplate from the right-hand margin of the site:
    “Streetsblog is a daily news source, online community and political mobilizer for the Livable Streets movement. We are part of a growing coalition of individuals and organizations in cities around the world working to transform our cities by reducing dependence on private automobiles and improving conditions for cyclists, pedestrians and transit riders.”

    I don’t personally hate cars: I ride a bicycle, a motorcycle, the bus, light rail, subways and I occasionally drive. But I do oppose the complete monoculture of cars for transportation (more than 99 percent of trips in the U.S. by car). The existence of this blog, starting in NYC and expanding to other cities, is to call attention to the imbalance and to advocate for improved safety, accessibility and parity for those in cities who choose other options for travel.

    Right now, there isn’t room for all forms of transport in the U.S. and that’s what the movement for Livable Streets/Cities is trying to change.

  • Well put Matthew. Also, the purpose of this post was to point out how out of touch with reality car advertising is. The ad has the Acura shooting down empty streets in a downtown. I believe at one point the car is going 30 mph then shoots to a scene of the car “gunning” it. Is one suppose to believe it is ok to drive 40-50 mph in a dense urban environment because your car is so awesome that everyone else just disappears? This line of thinking is dangerous.

    Yes a car is all well and good, but when we continue to shape our landscape to ONLY serve cars, everyone suffers. San Francisco can serve all modes, but right now cheap parking is skewing the transportation landscape. Also, continuing to build garages in dense neighborhoods is ruining the urban fabric – street scape, loss of housing, congestion, air pollution, the list goes on.

    There are many outlets for those who are car enthusiasts, but very few for those of us who are trying to live a different way. You shouldn’t have to own a car to be a productive member of society – I must of missed that in the preamble.

  • tea

    I don’t see how the original post is hateful towards cars, but here, put me down as someone who hates cars.

    “Cars can be freeing and fun.”

    The problem is, cars don’t exist in a vacuum. We live on a planet with finite resources that are getting increasingly scarce, and it’s hard to think of bigger resource and money hogs than cars. Someone else always pays for this “freedom and fun”. Be it the people / bikers /animals run over by cars, be it all the people whose aid and programs are cut so the massively expensive freeway system can continue to exist, be it the soldiers who die in oil wars, be it those who go hungry because biofuels make grains scarce and/or expensive (subsidized again by your taxes), be it the people and ecosystems who are poisoned by the manufacture of the parts and I certainly could go on. The whole world basically pays so that American adults can “play” and feel “free”.

    But you know what I think is truly freeing and fun? Riding my bike, propelled by nothing by my own power. Have a nice day! (And yes, watch out for bikers.)

  • JohnB

    Well OK guys.

    But right now the Feds are giving a $7,500 tax credit for anyone buying a new electric vehicle, and Sacramento is throwing in another 5K apparently.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/green/detail?entry_id=59274

    Is that something we can all get behind?

  • I agree. The original post had nothing at all to do with hating cars. It was simply against reckless driving.

    You can see what’s involved if you substitute “pedestrians” for “bikes”:

    Tell someone driving through a busy city that they should look out for pedestrians.

    The person is shocked to hear it and says: “Drivers shouldn’t look out for pedestrians. Pedestrians should look out for cars.”

    That person is obviously a reckless, irresponsible driver.

  • JohnB,

    Electric cars are a nice dream, but still take a lot to produce and some to drive – unless there is a plan to power them via lighting strikes. And those cars still need roads and parking. Which is mostly why we are in the situation we are now, because we’ve moved everything so far apart to make room for the cars. Now housing is spaced at ridiculous distances from where people work and then more distance to where they shop and eat.

    Sorry, can’t get behind electric cars, just delaying the inevitable.

  • That’s great news and a great image. I’m one relieved biker.

  • ZA

    @JohnB – To reiterate what Mikesonn and others have said, the car is just not a very efficient use of limited space and limited resources. What was fantastic & freeing in 1908 is a mundane menace in a world of 6 billion+, many of whom have two perfectly good working legs.

    If it’s worth it to government to forego $12,500 to move 1-4 people in a vehicle electrically, it should be worth at least $162,000 to move 52-61 people with the same energy source.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCC_streetcar

  • lol.

  • JohnB

    ZA,

    I really like streetcars (unlike buses which I generally avoid). I also love planes, boats and trains.

    But my family of four spend their days in 3 different Counties and, since there isn’t a street car (or even a bus) from San Mateo to Mill Valley, nothing but a car (actually 2 cars) is going to work.

    I love public transit (no really, I do) but even the most avid public transit nut has to realize that it only works for people who live, work, shop and entertain all within densely populated urban areas with decent transit routes.

    Meanwhile, 40 years after “peak oil” was first mooted, there are now more estimated unrecovered energy reserves than in 1970. With oil shale, tar sands and coal, it has been estimated that the US has 200 years of conventional energy still underground.

    While nuclear and other methods can potentially fuel electric cars for millenia.

    So noble as your intentions are, I don’t think it is realistic for the 90% plus of people for whom public transit is not a practical reality.

  • patrick

    JohnB,

    1) Your first post is clearly trolling, you are just trying to get people’s goat, stop doing that. Unless you are 12 it’s immature.
    2) Most of us regulars here don’t hate cars, just dislike the obsession (dare I say addiction) most people have with cars.
    3) There may be no streetcar to San Mateo, but there is Caltrain, and BART.
    4) Gasoline is not the only problem with cars.

    The gasoline issue is actually the most easily solved problem with cars, just change the fuel source. There are plenty of alternatives, it’s just an infrastructure problem, it takes time to roll out.

    Much more important to me are the 40,000+ people killed every year by cars and their drivers, and that cars are the number 1 killer of children. Most children injured and killed at or near school are by parents of other children, yet instead of banning cars, children are banned from walking or biking to school. That people seem to accept this and treat it as the cost of doing business is truly amazing to me. Those 40,000 people killed every year do not have to die.

  • maaaty

    It’s not the type of energy that fuels the car that’s my problem.

    It’s the width, the girth, the metal. It’s the 1,500 pounds to move my 150.

    When I wake up in the morning, I don’t hoist my mattress frame* with me into the bath and then on throughout my daily motions. No, I leave it in the bedroom because I don’t need the square area of a triceratops to shuttle me, paned glass and all, to my rituals.

    *I haven’t had a mattress frame in 10 years. Chucked those too. Too noisy during intimate moments.

  • ZA

    @JohnB –

    “But my family of four spend their days in 3 different Counties and, since there isn’t a street car (or even a bus) from San Mateo to Mill Valley, nothing but a car (actually 2 cars) is going to work.”

    One would think the Bay Area was a patch of isolated villages before the advent of the car. Actually no, we managed just fine without them, with a combination of trains, ferries, and different time expectations. The northern counties are long overdue for a BART connection, probably to San Quentin from Richmond.

    “So noble as your intentions are, I don’t think it is realistic for the 90% plus of people for whom public transit is not a practical reality.”

    No, not nobility, rather a hardnosed calculation that we literally cannot afford a car for every man/woman/child. I also think that assuming public transit is not a practical reality now, with the implication that it will never be a practical reality, is defeatist.

    “Meanwhile, 40 years after “peak oil” was first mooted, there are now more estimated unrecovered energy reserves than in 1970. With oil shale, tar sands and coal, it has been estimated that the US has 200 years of conventional energy still underground.”

    The supply of the energy is only part of the problem. The atmospheric waste is at least as significant, to say nothing of the inefficiency of how we use that energy at a scale of 6 billion+ people.

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