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4739RE: [carfree_cities] Why do people drive? (was: Digest Number 689)

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  • powerwalker
    May 13, 2002
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      Maybe that is part of it. But I think you're missing
      > the simpler and more important fact: where and how
      > most people now live, driving is their fastest
      > commute to work.
      > Let me use myself as an example. I purposely live
      > inside the city, partly because I prefer walking to
      > all other modes of getting around. The last two
      > places I worked were 3 miles and 4 miles from home,
      > and I either walked or took the bus. Alas, my
      > current client's office is out in the burbs -- too
      I know this is a problem caused by the car culture. In the centuries before
      the car exist, people were working at a distance they could travel to and
      from each day (if they travelled). Now that's not always true. If it's not
      risky for your job, you may require clients to be at a distance you can
      travel yourself, or at least near a transit stop.

      It was better, even in the early 20th century. If we take for example my
      town: a 40km suburban area outside Montreal. 50 to 75 years ago,
      Vaudreuil-Dorion was a small town. People living there were working there,
      there were more shops on the main street. The neighbourhood near the train
      station was made of weekend-summer cottages (houses not meant for living
      year-round during the winter). They were owned by people living in Montreal
      during the week, who were going to the cottage during vacation/weekends,
      mostly by train. Those people presumably were working in Montreal. So for
      most people then, travelling from Vaudreuil to Montreal was seen as a long
      distance trip, a commute too far to be done each day, unless perhaps you're
      living next to the train, of if you're the trainman. Even within Montreal,
      distances were seen far. There was no metro, just trams downtown and in the
      surroundings, some people living at the edges if Montreal island were like
      in another town and most of them were working at a distance they could walk.
      And a walkable distance was maybe 30 minutes or more for a single trip. The
      economy regionalised, not centralised into "mega cities" like it is today.

      Today, yes, there is more transit, but still too few people use it even
      though it is full at rush hours. The rest of people are in their metal/glass
      shells morning and end-afternoon. We start losing green spaces and woods,
      even in Vaudreuil, because new housings are built each year. Many people
      find Vaudreuil to Montreal is not far even if it is in reality. If people
      want to retire to nature in a weekend/summer cottage, now they have to go
      even farther to enjoy the "same" amount of quietness they had 50 years ago
      closer to the metropolis, thus again, requiring a car because some of our
      few train and long distance bus lines died in the last decades. The
      scarceness of local shops and those "mega stores" selling packages so heavy
      you can't carry more than one at once don't help the case. They are too much
      concentrated, therefore too few of them exist, and you're more likely to be
      too far from any of these "depot" stores to think about shopping there.

      I guess the best is to search a job downtown, shop downtown, live downtown
      or close to a transit stop. I hope we'll build new suburban housings close
      to transit, and not let all the land next to transit stops be invaded by
      parking lots.

      Today's thought is good for any North American city. Some changes have to be
      done to correct serious mistakes done in the past 50 years.

      For my job, I could afford searching 1 year (while on welfare with low
      income), and refusing some opportunities until I found one I can accept and
      continue to live carfree. Today I find a better life quality, and feel
      rewarded for my patience, so if you can afford to do the same, I suggest it

      > far to walk. Sometimes I have bicycled, but it
      > takes 45 minutes, and one of my knees doesn't like
      > that much bicycling. Driving takes 10 to 15 minutes.
      > Maybe 20, if the freeway is jammed. So I usually
      > drive. The pay-off is obvious: an hour saved each
      > day.
      I hope your knee gets better, do your best to solve the problem. You should
      try daily quadricep (thigh muscle) and hamstring (back of knee) stretches. I
      do this quite often to keep the muscles stretched, especially before long
      bike rides or downhill hikes. I started to do this after my knee badly
      flamed during a downhill hike. I had a hard time walking home that night.
      But keep fast walking (soft for knees), if you can't cycle much for now.
      This is good for health and keeping activities will help curing health
      problems faster, as long as you don't do the activity that hurts you, for
      now. A sports doctor will give you good advice on what to do next.

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