Automobilus runoverus

A piece from several years ago that I recently revised.

Automobilus runoverus

An invasive species has taken hold in Earth’s northern and western hemispheres and is rapidly increasing in the southern and eastern.

The creatures race through Homo sapiens settlements in herds, scooping up large numbers of them and forcing others out of their way. Eventually they come to temporary rest, occupying spaces that the H. sapiens build for them.

Their preferred habitat, however, is on the edges of the settlements, where they burrow into and occupy large portions of sapiens homes.

The creatures travel rapidly on narrow rollers that slowly wear away and are shed and replaced. The discarded limbs are foul smelling and serve as breeding grounds for insects, but dirty the water when buried and the air when burned, so the sapiens invent new uses for them, such as playground equipment for their offspring.

The creature’s preferred diet is comprised of decomposed plant and animal matter, cured for millions of years underground and extracted at great cost and labor for them by the sapiens. They’ve also, however, been known to consume french fry grease, corn liquor, and juice from electric fuel cells.

They don’t hibernate in the winter, but do sometimes slow down and increase their intake of salt. Some grow large shovel-like snouts that they use to remove snow from their paths. The paths are made of asphalt and concrete, byproducts of their preferred diet that they shit in wide strips. The offal hardens and becomes impenetrable, creating problems for the soil and waterways needed by the sapiens to grow their own food.

The creatures also pass a variety of gases—some that change the weather and others that cause the sapiens to choke.

If the species continues to reproduce as rapidly as it has, it’s unclear where they’ll go and if it will be possible to bring the sapiens with them.

—Bridget C. Brown

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What we talk about when we talk about pedestrian deaths

Tomorrow, August 7th (hopefully there will be a recording)!

From their website: “Smart Growth America is hosting a webinar on why Americans are dying while walking and how we can talk about it responsibly. The program will feature Eric D. Lawrence of the Detroit Free Press and Angie Schmitt from Streetsblog USA and will be moderated by Emiko Atherton, Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition.”

How’d we get here?

When automobiles were first hitting the streets (and pedestrians) 100 years ago, they weren’t considered “normal” traffic or catered to. The auto industry had to work hard to reshape laws and landscape to their liking, as documented by Peter Norton in Fighting Traffic.

But here we are. Do we continue rolling out the asphalt carpet for the next 100 years, or do we design and support better options?