What is Car Culture

By: jwilder

This is car culture.

what is car culture definition

The phrase "Car Culture" is commonly used in a derogatory way to define the problem of urban traffic congestion, road rage, and pollution.

To clear this up, here is the definition of car culture.

Car Culture Definition

Car Culture is the shared beliefs, values, purpose, customs, language, arts, institutions, achievements, etc., of a particular group of people that have an affinity for the automobile.

There is no single car culture. However, some aspects of car culture are shared.

Car Culture as a Scapegoat

Neither the car nor car culture is to blame for urban traffic congestion and pollution.

These are urban planning problems.

The grid-lock seems to be in the way we think rather than what we drive.

Our cities have not stood still on the last 50 years. They continue to grow, and become denser. There is a tipping-point where transportation solutions such as the automobile just don't work.

When a society chooses to create densely populated areas, mobility must be achieved through systems designed specifically for that environment. Even as far as car-free zones where people, young, old, and mobility impaired, can move freely and easily to and from any location within the city and in any weather condition.

Building dense areas filled with businesses and shopping should not be allowed unless there is sufficient investment in a transportation system to serve it. It must be a transportation system that doesn't treat the mobility impaired as second class citizens.

If it's too expensive, too politically difficult, to create a transportation system to serve a densely populated area, then don't build it.

Broadacre City of the Future

car culture Broadacre City Frank Lloyd Wright
Kjell Olsen / CC BY-SA (

Frank Lloyd Wright wrestled with the problem of thoughtless city design. He envisioned a city filled with open green spaces, huge lots to grow gardens and trees, and no downtown density issues.

I love Frank Lloyd Wright and have wanted to explore his vision of the city of the future. I really hope to be able to devote more time to this in the near future.

Maybe it's time to revisit Broadacre City?

Long Live Car Culture

Urban traffic congestion and pollution are not car culture problems. These are urban planning problems.

The car still works fine in small to mid-sized cities.

So don't be a car hater. That's not the problem.

For a more in-depth view of car culture, read my Part II article "Car Culture For Leaders and Influencers."

James Wilder

James Wilder is the owner, writer, photographer, designer, and developer for MOTOR Texas.


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