Once there was a billionaire, who realized the greatest thing he could do for humanity, would be to correct the asymmetry between cars and gentler ways of getting around, such as walking and cycling, or riding a skateboard. So he bought every patent pertaining to seat belts, and denied car manufacturers the rights to use them again. That’s right, there were no more seat belts in cars. And of course, there was mass outrage, our billionaire being branded a monster. Soon though, people stopped taking their children in cars. Indeed many adults said no more to driving. Soon the only people on the roads were those drivers who thought their skills would protect them, and road cyclists like me, who have had no choice but to likewise pretend we’re the Phantom.
As the death toll rose, it became apparent that windscreens, roofs and the side walls of cars had to go. Radios too. And power steering. Drivers needed their wits to survive. But still people were dying. Our billionaire friend wouldn’t budge though, so eventually cars were required by law, to be speed limited. Nowhere in the world, could cars go faster than roughly the speed of a bicycle.
Well of course, car sales plummeted. Why pay for a car, when you could get there quicker by bike? Within time it became normal for children to cross streets without an adult’s hand to hold onto. But then somewhere, a billionaire died, and his estate sold off those patents.
I would be interested to know how you think this story might end. Would city streets be given over once more to high speed traffic? Or would a population on foot and on bicycles refuse such a thing? Perhaps the cars would once again be permitted to go fast in our cities, but only on a select handful of streets. The real question, is what do we want now?