No Cars Go: A Safe Streets Anthem

Every Sunday approximately 1.5 miles of JFK Drive in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park is closed to cars. You will frequently find me biking this stretch of road and blasting "No Cars Go" by Arcade Fire on my UE Boom. It's a powerful, orchestral song with few words but a lot to say.

 
 Neon Bible - Arcade Fire

Neon Bible - Arcade Fire

 

We know a place where no planes go
We know a place where no ships go

Hey, no cars go
Hey, no cars go

Arcade Fire begins by telling us that there is, in fact, a place where no ships, no planes, no spaceships, no subs, and (of course) no cars go. This first part of the song is very clear: we're going somewhere and there will be no cars when we get there.

Hey
Mom, Dad
No go

Hey, us kids know
Hey, no cars go
Where we know

This next section of the song tells us the story of a generational gap. Millennials are at the center of our rapidly changing transportation infrastructure. While our parents are more likely to choose a car for all transportation, millennials are multi-modal. Products like ZipCar, bike shares, and Google Maps have enabled millennials to move around in new, more efficient ways that result in car-free or car-light lifestyles.

Women and children
Let's go!

Old folks
Let's go!

The song concludes with a powerful crescendo and the song's most traffic safety aware lines. It's widely known that children and the elderly represent a disproportionate number of pedestrian fatalities in the US and other car-oriented societies. In a world where no cars go women, children, and old folks can feel safe walking to the grocery store or school.

So when you are celebrating the closure of a busy road to the death machines, crank up "No Cars Go" and sing the chorus to your fellow humans.