(MLwC = My Life w Car, a year long project to become generally conscious of transportation habits.)
B2 had so many good points in his comment to Day 95, I hardly know where to begin. He’s right, of course–most urban and certainly suburban areas in the U.S. are built for cars. Especially here in the western U.S. It’s a sad truth, and changing that feature will be an uphill battle.
Germany gets high marks for its progressive and strong Green Party so it’s not surprising they encourage mass transit, bikes, and walking to the degree they do. But many of the cities are also very old–like really old–and those wonderful cobbled streets simply aren’t made for cars. They’d have to retool the whole city for cars…kinda like what they’d have to do for most US cities in order to make them more pedestrian/bike friendly.
When the mayor of Seattle recently announced his plan to make bikes an attractive alternative transportation option, I recall someone wrote into the local newspaper decrying the idea since, good lord, people on bikes don’t buy anything! Why would our tax dollars go to a group that can’t buy anything? It was a depressing and eye-opening response…not to mention ridiculous. Our entire culture is literally built on going and buying. Everything in our infrastructure makes those two things easy…and other things less so.
My friend Brian said: imagine closing one entire street the length of Seattle and opening it up to pedestrians and cyclists. Imagine the traffic you’d get. And imagine the cafes, the stores, the theatres that could spring up along that route.
Well, I’d love to see it–I could see it in my mind instantly. But we’d have to retool everything.
And speaking of retooling–another conversation later with Yo raised the question of “why do we just automatically think we need to drive?” I’m thinking it’s because we’ve been raised with movies and adverts and pictures of people having the time of their lives, roaring down the coast highway, zipping around gorgeous empty curves overlooking the pacific ocean…and by now we’re hardwired to believe that image over our own experience–of bottle-necked freeways, smog, the price of gas, congestion, noise, maintenance, etc.
Now here’s the real question: isn’t it a coincidence that what we call “cool” just happens to be something that can be commoditized and packaged easily (a car and a lifestyle) while something as normal as apple pie is simply not cool at all, not commoditized, not packaged, not marketable? I’m talking about walking, of course.
Daily stats (Tuesday)
Bike: 10 miles
Bus: approx 1.5 miles
West Seattle Water Taxi: approx 1.5 miles
Foot: approx 6 blocks