Mark Steyn writes:
There is a — drumroll, please — demographic element to the automobile question. Europeans often ask, “Why do Americans need those big cars?” The short answer is: Because Americans have kids and Europeans don’t. So Italians and Spaniards and Germans (and Japanese) can drive around in things the size of a Chevy Suburban’s cupholder because they’ve got nothing to put in them.
If you’re a soccer mom schlepping three kids plus little Jimmy from next door around, you need a vehicle of a certain size. In the old days, you could just toss ’em all in there and they’d roll around as you took the hairpin bends in fourth gear. But now you can’t stick kids in the front and you need baby seats for the youngest and booster seats for the oldest and soon nanny-state regulation will require every American under 37 to be in a rear-facing child seat, which is a pretty good metaphor for where the country’s going.
And, if you mandate small cars and child-seat regulations, don’t be surprised if the size of the American family starts heading south, too. The difference between U.S. and European vehicles isn’t an emblem of environmental irresponsibility or American corpulence but of something more basic and important.
It’s great to be pushing small cars that go about as fast and park almost as easily as a tricycle. If people want to pay extra premium for the privilege of driving around in a glorified beach buggy, it’s their affair. But it’s not for everybody. Families, people with huge karate bags (those sparring pads and shoes sure are bulky), and those who generally like to drive at decent speeds in relative comfort, deserve options, too.
Here’s what Andrea is pushing: The Couchbike. Affordable. Comfortable. And Green. Who could ask for more? (Room for your karate equipment somewhere on the sofa, Brigitte.)by