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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Is Green Public Transit a Myth?

I wrote the following post defending my Morgan ownership some months ago. Today the National Post had a story on rethinking green transportation and what the Post essentially called the clean public transit myth.

This could not be right I thought, and I googled the facts in their story; So far I have found that there is a lot of support for their attack on public transit.

I also discovered that their reporter, Kevin Libin, may not have developed the story on his own. I found lots of sources confirming Libin's position, but these sources are old and one would think Libin should have been aware of them. This may be a case of the MSM ripping off the blogging community.

Here is a post from the blog Brad Ideas and here is a link to the National Post article. What do you think? (I have already received comments and some excellent criticisms.)

My original defence of my Morgan.

It’s not cool to defend cars. They are nothing but polluting, carbon-belching, resource-consuming pigs. For getting to the store, you’re better off walking – it’s better for your health and the health of the world – or so we are told. For getting to Toronto, rapid transit is the answer and not the car.

I found all the above very easy to write as I kinda believe it. The other day I walked home from Westmount Mall swinging my purchase at my side. I like walking but, and it is a big but, I also like driving.

There, I’ve said it. I like driving, and not just any old car – nope – one particular old car. My soon to be 41-year-old Morgan roadster. She’s a feisty one, so I wouldn’t call her an ‘old girl’ and I certainly would never call her a pig. Never. If she overheard such remarks, she might get her proper English knickers all in a knot.

But she is a cheap date. She is easy on the pocket and relatively easy on the planet. Think about it. For more than four decades this car, this hunk of steel on wheels, has been taking me from A to B and delivering great pleasure while doing so.

She is willing to go almost anywhere if asked. She spent a Christmas in Kapuskasing braving winter in the Arctic watershed. She took my wife and me to San Francisco in 2005. She took my mother grocery shopping in the '60s and she takes me shopping in St. Jacobs today. There is one place she won’t go, and I won’t take her, and that’s the auto wrecker’s.

I confess, I have sent quite a number of cars to wrecker’s. I even drove one right to the devil’s door and got nothing more in return than spare change. But, these were not Morgans.

Morgans are special and in ways that may not be immediately evident. Please bear with me as I explain. Morgans are simply made. A steel, ladder frame onto which a strong, wooden frame is mounted. The steel body sections are attached to the wooden frame. They are hand-built.

I know what you’re thinking: “Wood? This car has a wooden frame?” To which I reply, “Yes, and much of the wood in my car is original.” Wood is a fine building material and has been in use in canoes, planes and homes for years. When it does deteriorate, it is easily replaced.

The steel in my car is solid and tough and long lasting – as it is in most cars. Eventually, steel rusts. But steel, if you are skilled, can be repaired – fully restored to original condition. My car has been restored. The rusty, diseased metal was removed and new, fresh metal welded into place.

My power steering has never required repair but then my power steering is an oversized Brooklands Bluemel steering wheel. The large diameter wheel uses the power of leverage – mechanical advantage – and leverage carries a lifetime guarantee. The steering wheel itself is another matter. After 41 years it needs some attention.

I like to say that if you added up all the stuff my car doesn’t have, you’d almost have another car. Power windows, no. It doesn’t even have window cranks. Why? I have side curtains.

Power brakes, no. With a car that doesn’t weigh a ton or a tonne, take your pick, my disk and drum combination works just fine. Power door locks, no, and when used in the winter the exterior door handles never freeze. Why not? You guessed it; I don’t have them.

This summer the Morgan Motor Company is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Yes, they are still making Morgans and they are available in many parts of the world. A tangle of bureaucratic rules keeps them from being imported into Canada and has kept new ones from entering the country for decades.

Being a centenarian doesn’t mean the Morgan folk are not forward looking. They have a fine web site. And they have a new, experimental hydrogen model. Zero emissions model. Cars in the future will pollute even less than my little four-cylinder gas sipper.

Tomorrow’s cars will be close to 100% recyclable. BMW has already publicly stated this as one of their goals. According to an article in the Independent: “Once proper disposal of vehicles becomes legally enforced, financial advantages will be drawn by owners of cars whose producers have invested most in maximising the number of re- useable parts, and in designing cars that are easy to take apart.” BMW plans to be competitive.

In the future, if BMW is correct, cars will encourage the repair and reuse of parts just like my old Morgan does today. Such reuse and repair will create employment for skilled, knowledgeable people. Good folk will get good jobs. The fellows that keep my Morgan on the road are like family to me.

I have logged more than a hundred thousand miles in my Morgan. Being small hasn’t stopped it from being useful. Think Smart Car. It may not be able to carry a family of six but that was never its intention. (I saw my first Smart Car in Nice in the south of France and immediately went looking for a car rental shop. My wife and I needed a car for a day and the Smart Car looked perfect.)

We may have paved over a lot of the earth but please don’t try to foist the blame onto my little Morgan. She hates the large freeways. She’s happiest on narrow, older roads. She delights in finding a way from here to there that is slow but fun. If you are in a hurry to get somewhere, you might be better off taking the train.

That’s right; owning a Morgan actually encourages the use of rapid transit. But it also encourages runs to Shaw’s dairy bar south of St. Thomas for a chocolate malted milk shake or a Sunday morning visit to Telegraph House in Port Stanley for a lovely brunch on the patio.

Oh, one last thing, my Morgan doesn’t do drive throughs.
Cars, small efficient cars like these Morgans have a role to play when taking a green approach to life.

1 comment:

  1. . . . your blog is insightful, informative, pictures are fabulous and your stories on Fiona heartwarming . . . don't let this go to your head but I think you have a brilliant mind . . .

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