In the past, everything wasn’t better and some things weren’t even different. Although the car made people mobile and independent, it was still a good enemy almost half a century ago. The Club of Rome had published its study “The Limits to Growth” and the exhaust gases were billowing through German cities. This text was written at that time. Much has changed since then, but every word is still – or again – true today. (FAZ)
The year 1972, which is now drawing to a close, brought more defeats than victories for the car. Its position in the transport sector is more controversial than ever. Wherever it is pushed back, the motorist is further regulated, there is public applause. As a handy scapegoat, “the car” has to be used as a collective term whenever local and time-limited problems – be it out of inability or out of real overwhelming – cannot be solved. The simple but effective cliché of the “Moloch motor traffic”, which threatens to devour everything, can no longer be banished from the discussions. Everyone lives with a car, but hardly anyone seems to love it anymore.
Of course, you don’t have to love it to do it justice. It is sufficient to respect one’s merits – for example, to think about how one would get along in one’s own private area without the car. Not only do you have to remove your own car from the bill, but also all the cars that you use without noticing it: when shopping in well-stocked stores, reading the newspaper or when the man comes to run the oil heating repaired.
The fact that it doesn’t work without a car does not, however, rule out increasing common sense in dealing with it. In the next few years everyone will have to think more carefully than before whether a trip to a certain time and place is absolutely necessary. Traffic density is already slowing down the old freedom of movement in many places, and in the future the growing costs of car ownership will also do so. In addition to the desired self-discipline, the unfavorable conditions appear more and more. But even in places where everything currently still seems to be in order, it will soon be part of the civic duty not to drive a car at any price, even if things can reasonably be different.
That doesn’t have to destroy the fun of the car, where it is still there – as legitimate as ever. But the hostility and demands that the car will be exposed to in 1973 and in the years to come must not be countered with just as senseless emotions, but rather, each for himself, with an overview and understanding. The earlier the better.
By Gerold Lingnau, the responsible editor for “Motor” at the time, in the FAZ on December 28, 1972.