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Bike Walk Life

News and commentary from the world of biking and walking.

What warning labels would you like to see on cars?

The city of Cambridge, Massachusetts will soon be the first US city to put warning labels on gas pumps. The goal is to help drivers understand that the gas they’re purchasing is contributing to the climate crisis, the same way that cigarette labels educate consumers on the dangers of smoking.

Kea Wilson at Streetsblog asks, why stop there? Why not put warning labels on the cars themselves? Here are a couple of their concepts:

Car with a warning: "This massive vehicle is six times more likely to kill or injure a small child."

Car with a bull bar and a warning: "These things kill so many kids they are banned outside the U.S."

(Image credit: Streetsblog.)

I’m lukewarm about the Cambridge warning labels. It contributes to the idea that there’s nothing wrong with driving a car as long as you’re not using “bad” fuel to do so, an ethical philosophy that just happens to absolve drivers who can purchase new cars with alternative fuel. In reality, the ethics of car-culture reaches far beyond fuel sources.

However, I also think it’s great to do anything that increases awareness of how dangerous cars are. Cambridge is a starting point, but the Streetsblog ideas hit much closer to the points we need to be making. A great next step would be to do something about car advertising. This isn’t just about the fuel, it’s about the cars themselves.