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An odd way to go carfree

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  • Mateus Fechino
    Hi, people, this is my very first message here , after half a week trying to post one until I found out I still had to sign in after registering hahaha I am a
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 3, 2000
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      Hi, people, this is my very first message here , after half a week
      trying to post one until I found out I still had to sign in after
      registering hahaha
      I am a 17 year old high school student from Brazil.
      Im going to tell about something very dramatic to me , something I'll
      never forget .
      Ive been reading the carfree pages for sometime , time enough to read
      it all twice. Only then I realized how car traffic kills street life
      and community life up to , Id say almost 100 percent. It was last
      thursday, I was in our apartment on the 7th floor of a building. It
      was quite boring , I had just had lunch and really had gotten nothing
      to do. I went to the balcony and started throwing some tiny rocks(?)
      from my mother's plant down to the vacant lot across the street. At
      this point , I saw some cars parked by the sidewalk and it suddenly
      came to my mind that all that boring feeling could be due mostly by
      these cars.
      And it really is. Noise here is absolutely unbearable, even late at
      night, 2am, 4am , you name it , it seems like the car noise is like
      your heartbeat, you dont know when it began and it seems like it just
      wont stop ( well maybe next oil crisis could finish with it , huh? ).
      Well, then I just began to try some shots ! I tried five or six of
      them, until I finally hit , from up here , a compact's back
      windshield. God , I only wish I hadnt. I was really trying that, but
      that certainly isnt a good way to express a feeling. Well, that tiny
      rock , the diameter of a coin, broke the windshield in thousands of
      small pieces that didnt fall at all, the windshield cracked but no
      part fell off. That's when my neighborhood community spirit proved
      non-existant.
      You are walking up a street, and you see a car with a cracked
      windshield, what do you do? If you arent on a hurry, like most people
      are, you'll look for its owner, right? Or maybe talk to the people
      around about it, of how it could have been a burglar trying to steal
      whatever, or a kid who was playing ball and unadvertedly hit the car.
      One would probably say he had no doubt it was an object thrown from
      my
      building that did such damage to the car. Well, that is what I
      thought. Having to explain to a whole angry neighborhood such
      childish
      act . Having to come home and find a note by the doorman that a car
      was damaged and they were looking for the one resposible for that.
      Well, thats not what happened. About for hours later , having
      returned
      home from some activities, there was just no compact parked , not at
      the place it was hit, nor anywhere else ! I mean, how could the owner
      possibly believe it was a burglar , a boy, or the extreme heat that
      broke his car windshield ? How come the other building's doorman
      didnt
      see anything and asked another's help to find out who had damaged the
      gentleman's or lady's car? How come no one passing by saw that and
      noticed it could only have been something fallen from my building to
      do such harm? I am about to think that there could even be a dead
      body
      there and people would only notice it when it got in the middle of
      the
      street and began blocking traffic ! The fact it, nothing happened, I
      have no idea whose car was it ( it could well be my neighbor's , look
      at that ), or what he thought it was that caused his windshield to
      suddenly crack in pieces on a thursday afternoon . I thought it would
      be quite unprobable that something like this would happen, that Id
      much easier win the lottery than end up innocent in all this. All
      this
      does show also how people are more and more by their own in this
      city,
      and they will get each day less affected by what doesnt directly harm
      them . Perhaps the compact's owner was simply too goofy not to look
      for a reasonable explanation to the fact, but its possible that he
      thought he'd get no answer at all. Few people pass by, most use their
      cars and thats too fast for them to notice anything. Im not sure ,
      but
      I think I will advise my mother not to park by any tall building.

      Mateus O. Fechino
    • Simon Baddeley
      Dear Mateus Thank you very much for your piece to Carfree. I hope it is cross-posted widely. I am 58 and a University lecturer and people of your generation
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 4, 2000
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        Dear Mateus

        Thank you very much for your piece to Carfree. I hope it is cross-posted
        widely. I am 58 and a University lecturer and people of your generation
        understanding what autodependency does to our relationships in cities is my
        hope for the future. I have been a car owner and driver since I was 20 and
        it was not until about 5 years ago that I came to see what you have
        discovered for yourself at 17.

        I do not support vandalising cars and I do not think you do. You were making
        a powerful point about the way we have lost contact with each other in the
        city. I hope you will become politically involved in campaigning for the
        ideas that increasingly are being shared across the world on this and in
        other "web conversations". Please keep posting your views and experiences -
        but make sure someone who owned that car isn't a web surfer!

        Below are some other contacts - several UK based but all interested in the
        international scene, for instance the initiaives being taken in Bogota to
        achieve carfree conditions over the next decade - that you may wish to
        explore where you fill, if you have not already find similarly minded people
        and groups. In some of these cases you will need to "subscribe" in the usual
        way:

        mdbidf@...
        urbancyclist-uk@...>
        traffic_reduction@...
        tara@...
        susan@...
        campaign@...
        princesskeri@...
        Kunstler@...
        info@...
        info@...
        etacarfreeday@egroups.com
        childs-play@egroups.com
        carbusters@...

        ... and I know there are many more.

        Best wishes

        Simon


        Simon Baddeley
        Inlogov, School of Public Policy
        University of Birmingham
        Edgbaston
        Birmingham B15 2TT
        0121 554 9794
        Mobile 07775 655842
        Fax 0121 240 4238
        Campus 0121 414 4999 Fay Wilson <F.E.WILSON@...>
      • Louis-Luc Le Guerrier
        ... ... I feel the same. Rich social environment is anywhere except where there are cars circulating. I said everywhere, even in the forest. Imagine you re
        Message 3 of 3 , Nov 4, 2000
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          > -----Original Message-----
          > From: Mateus Fechino [mailto:mateus.fechino@...]
          > Sent: 3 novembre, 2000 17:56
          > To: carfree_cities@egroups.com
          > Subject: [carfree_cities] An odd way to go carfree
          >
          >
          > Hi, people, this is my very first message here , after half a week
          > trying to post one until I found out I still had to sign in after
          > registering hahaha
          > I am a 17 year old high school student from Brazil.
          > Im going to tell about something very dramatic to me , something I'll
          > never forget .
          > Ive been reading the carfree pages for sometime , time enough to read
          > it all twice. Only then I realized how car traffic kills street life
          > and community life up to , Id say almost 100 percent. It was last
          > thursday, I was in our apartment on the 7th floor of a building. It
          > was quite boring , I had just had lunch and really had gotten nothing
          > to do. I went to the balcony and started throwing some tiny rocks(?)
          > from my mother's plant down to the vacant lot across the street. At
          > this point , I saw some cars parked by the sidewalk and it suddenly
          > came to my mind that all that boring feeling could be due mostly by
          > these cars.
          ...

          I feel the same. Rich social environment is anywhere except where there are
          cars circulating. I said everywhere, even in the forest. Imagine you're
          walking in a trail and pass by another lonely hiker going in the opposite
          direction and he, she, or you happen(s) to slip and fall within 2 metres of
          the other person. The other will have the reflex to stop and offer help to
          the other or just exchange a few words, even if the other is not hurt and
          has already stood up again.

          In contrast, if someone is driving a car on a street, and a cyclist passes
          in the opposite direction and falls off, or another car driver passes and
          gets a flat tire (or another problem), the driver of the first car will at
          best quickly look at what happens, and may even not stop to offer help or
          exchange with the other person.

          Yesterday while getting back home by the metro, I held the door for a woman
          carrying 4 grocery bags, and later on while entering the car, another woman
          also getting in dropped her scarf on the platform. I quickly grabbed it
          before the doors close, and I gave her back the scarf. In both cases we
          exchanged a few words, but there is more than that: the non-verbal
          relationships and feelings. This can happen anywhere in a carfree city, not
          only in the underground or on the sidewalk.

          I hardly imagine if you drive an automobile, how you're going to pick up the
          box that fell off the trunk of the car in front of yours, and if you're
          honest, attempt to reach the other person to give him back. On foot or
          cycle, the whole process is a matter of seconds, and the item dropped will
          remain in good condition unless it's as fragile as a glass bottle or dish.

          Mateus, I understand your feelings when you step on your balcony. The
          outdoor environment is boring. Imagine you're living in the exect same
          apartment in the exact same building, but the street is carfree. I think
          you'll wait to walk to the nearest stream to throw stones, and you'll enjoy
          looking at the rich streetlife going on below. 7 floors is a bit high, but
          since the carfree city is calm, you may recognise a friend, yell "Hello" to
          him and meet him downstairs :-) No cell phone required, and no drive-talk
          danger.

          Louis-Luc
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