My days are spent dreaming of walkable towns and efficient public transit.
When plotting errands, I often turn to my faithful companion Google Maps. I currently live in the suburbs, which has to be the definition of worst-of-both-worlds. We live within a mile or two of some shopping and amenities but have no sidewalks, bike lanes, or buses that enable us to easily reach them without a car. Yes, it’s quieter than the big city, but there’s still no real privacy with neighbors on every side who seem to monitor how often you mow your lawn and will call the municipality to complain if it gets too long. The suburbs are very wearying.
I decided, out of curiosity to see what public transit options Google would suggest for a short trip I needed to make. Here were the travel times:
By car: 10 minutes
By foot: 1 hour, 54 minutes
By public transit: 2 hours, 21 minutes
It was faster to walk than rely on any sort of public transportation option, despite living in a larger town (the largest in our county). So, of course, we are very reliant on cars when facing alternatives like that. This is why most American households need one car per adult. Speaking as someone who has spent years in a one-car family, it’s tough to organize things like work and errands around each other’s schedules.
While cars are often seen as the peak of convenience, after all, you can come and go whenever you want, carry a bunch of stuff with you, and park right next to your destination, I’ve sort of come to despise them.
I spent several years living abroad and traveling to various countries throughout Europe and Asia, never using a car to get around once. I didn’t miss driving at all. Adjusting back to a car-dependent life has been one of the bigger challenges of returning to the US.
Cars Are Dangerous
Someone pointed out the other day that large highways are almost like rail lines with exits being comparable to stops. It’s a thought-provoking comparison. The main difference is that in the US, highways are responsible for 94% of transportation-related deaths. 10% of those fatalities are motorcycles, but nearly all the rest come from private passenger…