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Where art thou, fast-paced future?

Flashback from 20 years ago: there we are, riding in the rather underwhelming cars of those days, daydreaming about a better time when we would zoom around in faster, more powerful and safer vehicles, not wasting hours in traffic inching forward at ridiculously low “speeds”. My first car was already 12 years old when I got it. It was too complicated, too old and the double pumper carb required more maintenance than an F-16 aircraft and finer tuning than any current hybrid system. Nevertheless, I really liked it and a lot of my hopes for a better time came from its sporty feel. But there are also things to miss from back then, and the near-total lack of restrictive legislation comes first to mind. As long as you could afford it financially, flooring it was possible pretty much all the time and, while it’s true that precarious handling and crappy engines were a major limitation, at least you felt you could wrench every drop of power out of your ride. Then came modern laws, bringing penalty points on your driver’s license and stupid speed limits for each and every locality, road, lane or street section that’s longer than a couple yards. And so, the nightmare began. Next thing you know, watching TV was impossible without being assaulted by a gruff-voiced PSA reminding you that “Speed Kills”, completely disregarding that idiots driving on public roads with only minimal training might be to blame. You see, we needed to understand that driving is not and was never meant to be a sport, like we foolishly believed. No, driving is nothing more than a basic necessity, so we had to back off and make room for all the clueless Sunday drivers doing 20 in a 40 or 50 in an 80mph zone. Slowly but surely, speed limits were decreased everywhere, all in the name of traffic efficiency, as if any jams had ever been solved by moving even slower. Next, it was time to bring the Police up to speed, so endless fields of speed cameras grew over night , along with battalions of helicopters and laser speed guns, all placed strategically in the least trafficked areas. Managed to get a ticket? Get ready to be treated like the lowest of criminals. Back to present day: we’re all very civilized, crawling bumper-to-bumper on motorways, rounded up nicely, bored to death and half asleep behind the wheels of mighty 500HP V8 engines. (Not) Surprisingly, this is how pile-ups involving 30 cars came to happen, since driving for hours at the exact same speed is bound to cause trouble eventually. Try it yourself and you’ll see. (Just kidding, don’t do it). Still dreaming of high-speed highway lanes? Have some carpooling tracks instead and enjoy all the (forced) social interaction as well as the heartwarming feeling that you’re saving nature from certain death. Think about it, all you have to do is drive slowly in a very long line, easy as pie! So there you have it: driving legally at 120mph on special lanes (helps if you’ve got hundreds of miles to go and don’t really feel like crashing at a motel) is something that’s best to avoid even mentioning, unless you’re down for some serious counseling. But that’s not all… This madness has driven more and more people (and their cars) to stay inside the city limits most of the time. So the cities got more and more crowded, more and more congested. Have no fear, the bulletproof solution’s here: 20kph speed limits in urban areas. Rejoice! You now have the liberty of crawling on wheels both outside and inside the city. Let’s not forget the reinvention of the bicycle. Use it on your daily commute? Great, you have the eternal gratitude of Mother Nature and the spotted monkey of Watumba, plus complete immunity from all the exhaust gases you’re inhaling while rolling through busy traffic. Meanwhile, carmakers still manage to fight the downsizing trend and put out powerful cars. Too bad they’re way too powerful for what you’re allowed to do with them. Can you taste the hypocrisy here? 700HP cars are confined to speeds even bicycles or a fast runner can reach. And please, do your best and ignore morons suggesting you can just go to a race track: it’s expensive and doesn’t really cut it when all you want is to be able to move quickly from point A to B. Gentlemen, progress means fast journeys, safe pedestrians (think gangways instead of crosswalks), segregated cycle facilities and happy drivers with speed lanes to taste. It’s so simple and yet so complicated. Perhaps it’s time we ask for these rights to be added to the constitution: the freedom of traveling quickly, right next to the freedom of speech. My name is Charles Darveight. I’ve been driving cars for 30 years and I’m still waiting to see and live the future I hoped for…


 
 
 
 
 

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