Elon Musk’s ‘The Boring Company’ posits the idea that a city can solve its ‘‘soul-destroying’’ congestion issues by digging tunnels for cars to drive through. The main premise is that tunnelling can make road networks 3 dimensional more easily than going up — such as by flying or building elevated traffic lanes / bridges.

The Boring Company is promoted as a technological advancement — where ‘efficiencies’ and ‘savings’, and ‘innovation’ are making problematic transport issues (involving many private cars) more performant and affordable for cities.

Instead of the extra dimension that Elon Musk espouses as the breakthrough, I propose that…


A meme pic showing the bow of the enormous ship Ever Given with the words ‘Inactive lifestyles and environmental crisis.’ on it. The tiny earth mover on the ground in front has the words ‘Electric cars’ under it.
A meme pic showing the bow of the enormous ship Ever Given with the words ‘Inactive lifestyles and environmental crisis.’ on it. The tiny earth mover on the ground in front has the words ‘Electric cars’ under it.

The following was my written submission to the New Zealand Climate Change Commission in response to their draft advice released in February 2021.

It is encouraging to see the work of the CCC and it’s draft recommendations. Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this. It is beyond time that we were having these important discussions and enabling the opportunity to form a more meaningful strategy for our national response to the ecocidal trajectory of climate breakdown.

The proposed methods for reducing emissions from transport are woefully inadequate and disappointing.

Replacing much of the fleet of cars in New…


A city roadway heat map with an impression of a human heart in the centre. Electric bolts surround the heart.
A city roadway heat map with an impression of a human heart in the centre. Electric bolts surround the heart.
Too many cars are giving our cities (and people) heart attacks around the world.

Unnecessary driving of cars is a major public health issue.

The adverse public health effects of too many cars, and the need for intervention is comparable to the ongoing challenge to reduce smoking.

Watch this post delivered as a talk.

This is not about shaming people who currently drive. Blame and guilt achieves nothing.

It is only now, years later with vastly shifted understanding and perspectives of smoking that it might seem like an attempt to undermine those who drive. I’m not trying to do that.

This is about raising awareness and a sense of urgency to bring change to…


An adaptation for modern battles.

Kiwi Brevet riders. Maruia Saddle Road, Tasman District, New Zealand, 2015.

Half a k, half a k,
Half a k onward,
In the doorzone of Death
Rode the six stubborn.
Forward, the Light Brevet!
Charge for the buns!
” they said.
Following the sharrow of Death
Rode the six stubborn.

Forward, the Light Brevet!
Was there not a resident dismayed?
Even as the cycler knew
Everyone had blundered.
Cars will not make us cry,
Cars will not bleed us dry,
Cars but to dodge or die.
Taking the lane of Death
Rode the six stubborn.

Trucks to right of them,
Cars to left of them,
Parked in front of…


We love cars. Or do we?

Perhaps instead, we just have places to go and people to see and jobs to do. Perhaps they’re just another tool of modern life and have become familiar, habitual, routine.

Many don’t even like driving but have come to rely on cars due to decades of investment in infrastructure optimising their movement.

Compared to driving cars other travel options may seem less familiar, or under provisioned, and be less accessible or convenient. And many options for getting around are severely compromised by heavy flows of private heavy vehicles.


Earth on fire
Earth on fire

Most people are probably aware that cars are bad for us and the environment. Given how much we have come to use them, perhaps most aren’t aware just how very bad they are.

It is not uncommon to see well-meaning environmental initiatives proclaim their effectiveness by comparing their performance to the ‘number of cars taken off the road’. Like this is some kind of official unit of measurement.

Every time this is used it does my head in: Why do they not just take cars off the road instead? They will only be trying to compare one or two aspects…


Memorials at the site of a crash north of Wellington, New Zealand where Gary Smith, Craig Hempopo, and Raumoa Tamoa died in July 2001.

Car blindness affects our lives in many indirect ways. The undesirable side effects of cars have been normalised for so long that they seem invisible to most.

It is normal to smooth the road for cars. We wait to cross streets. Public transport stuck in private congestion is normal. It is normal to walk along wonky footpaths sculpted to make driveways smooth. It is common to expect the law to go easy on those involved in traffic violence incidents. We accept spending unimaginable amounts of collective, intergenerational wealth building and maintaining roads.

Many modern societies prioritise driving cars over keeping…


A mother attaches a sign to her son getting ready to ride his bicycle. It reads: ‘Please Mr Motorist. Watch out for me?’
A mother attaches a sign to her son getting ready to ride his bicycle. It reads: ‘Please Mr Motorist. Watch out for me?’
Please Mr Motorist watch out for me? 1937

Our reliance on cars has affected cultural norms. Where once ‘death machines’ were (rightly) vilified and shunned, now it is a cultural tinderbox to criticise even one aspect of cars at a time.

‘Developed’ societies have embraced a car centric model predicated on diminishing and sidelining many basic human needs. Many sacrifices are made but hardly noticed.

If we actually consider the daily efforts required by individuals and groups to enable people to drive cars, they really start to look anything but convenient.

Car dependency is precarious. The level to which driving has become habitual for many, means we…

Alex Dyer

Passionate about healthy streets and cities for people. On Twitter as @AxleRyde

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store