Minneapolis Official Calls for End to Car Ownership


Sam Rockwell, president of the Minneapolis Planning Commission, suggested in a recent op-ed for The Star Tribune that in order “to save the planet, we have to get over cars.”

“The way we live our lives is how we got into this climate catastrophe in the first place. Of course we have to change. And that means driving less, not just switching which model sedan we buy. It means transforming how our personal needs relate to stewardship of our Earth and our communities,” Rockwell said in the article.

He was responding to a May 20 article published in The Star Tribune that “paints a picture of an electric-vehicle-filled world,” which he doesn’t think would be enough.

Rockwell pointed to Minneapolis’ “2040 Plan,” which explains that “even with the adoption of electric cars, a 38% reduction in passenger miles traveled by automobile is needed.”

“If we are obliged to reduce car travel—and perhaps even ownership—does that mean we’re stuck with Jordan’s ‘dreary post-apocalyptic future’? Only if you believe Paris, Vancouver, and New York fit that description. These communities and many others are built around comprehensive transit systems,” Rockwell continued. “Success of these systems, and the dense land uses that support them, discourage car travel and facilitate naturally low-carbon alternatives.”

He went on to state that “these transit-centered cities show that the most efficient way of cutting emissions can be to simply cease those activities that produce emissions in the first place—in this case, driving.”

“Yet we’ve doubled down on automobile investments, making transportation the highest [greenhouse gas]-emitting sector in Minnesota and in the U.S. more broadly,” Rockwell said. “We must reverse this trend, and fast. The slower we reduce emissions, the more difficult the path to a stable future becomes.”

Rockwell concluded by noting that he doesn’t believe “electric cars are bard,” but “just that electric cars are not enough.”

“We need to embrace a transformation in social values—not just product types—that elevates stewardship of our communities as our highest priority. This includes promoting non-automobile transportation options and compact land uses that support those options,” he said.

Isaac Orr, a policy fellow at the Center of the American Experiment, said “Mr. Rockwell’s column is perhaps the perfect embodiment of the urban planner who is utterly detached from the desires and needs of the general public.”

“Minnesota is a state where people rely heavily upon cars to get from Point A to Point B. In fact, most households in the state have more than one car, and this trend is especially pronounced in Greater Minnesota, where driving a car isn’t a luxury, it is a necessary part of life,” Orr recently wrote.

“Forcing Minnesotans to make due with less is a feature, not a bug, of plans to radically reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In the end it means fewer options, and fewer opportunities for Minnesota families,” he continued.

As The Minnesota Sun recently reported, Rockwell and the Minneapolis Planning Commission are also looking to ban all new drive-thru windows citywide in order to cut down on carbon emissions produced by idling cars.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].





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2 Thoughts to “Minneapolis Official Calls for End to Car Ownership”


    Ok! Let’s platform the concept and study the socio-economic effects on the “decision maker” class that wants to be a royal ruling class. Mr. Rockwell and your like-minded friends, lets separate you out and remove your autos and see how you feel it works.

  2. William Delzell

    The Minneapolis mayor hit it right on the spot.

    If the U.S. had top notch transit systems as many European cities do, I would gladly sell my car that I seldom use! Think of the money I would save: no car purchase cost; no gasoline; no insurance premiums for my car; no registration renewals; no constant inspections; no excise taxes; no titles; etc. I could save thousands of dollars and use that for more traveling overseas on a tight economic budget.

    If you can set up a good transit system in your place, maybe I ought to move there and sell my car–or possibly donate it to good cause.