Stops Signs in the Chicago Tribune

Stop Signs
Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Ecological Decay

By Yves Engler and Bianca Mugyenyi  

Signs of the times

Are you looking for a stocking stuffer that might possibly reform, or more likely honk off, your favorite gas-guzzling SUV owner? Consider “Stop Signs: Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Ecological Decay” (fernwoodpublishing.ca).

In “Stop Signs,” authors Bianca Mugyenyi and Yves Engler take a carless road trip across North America. They attempt to expose the dominance of the automobile in society and its alleged connection to corporate malfeasance and politically inspired payoffs – even to racism, Third World coups, environmental disasters and war.

In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the first stop in the book, the authors exit a motor coach to find an environment that has good weather for pedestrians yet is almost devoid of sidewalks. People passing by in cars looked at them as if they were crazy to try to cross the road on foot. It was there that Mugyenyi and Engler discovered a species unknown to them, “Homo Automotivis.”

Upon arriving in Chicago, Mugyenyi was happy to find an abundance of sidewalks in a seemingly pro-pedestrian, transit-rich metropolis. Then she tried crossing the street.

“In the past, my presence in the middle of the road always managed to convince drivers to stop. (I mean, they have to stop, don’t they?)” she wrote. “Not in Chicago. When the light changed, there was no hesitation. Cars ripped past in both directions. I stood absolutely still, a human traffic cone.”-Jon Hilkevitch, Chicago Tribune, 2011

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