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Re: [carfree_cities] Digest Number 689

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  • Daren Scot Wilson
    (Late night thoughts) Does car-driving resemble smoking? Is it as hard to quit ? Car driving may be practical while smoking isn t, but otherwise I wonder
    Message 1 of 10 , May 3, 2002
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      (Late night thoughts)

      Does car-driving resemble smoking? Is it as hard to "quit"? Car
      driving may be practical while smoking isn't, but otherwise I wonder if
      the same psychological process is behind it - thinking especially of
      short trips where one could walk, not needing to carry anything.

      Suppose we want to reduce car driving by, oh, say 90%. Has any anti-
      smoking campaign ever made that big a dent in smoking stats? Is this
      an interesting or fair comparison?

      --
      Daren Scot Wilson
      darenw@...
      darenw.home.pipeline.com
      --------
      A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.

      -- W. Shedd
    • J.H. Crawford
      ... I think this is an important question. My own feeling is that it is HABITUATED behavior, not really an addictive one. The difference is that no chemical
      Message 2 of 10 , May 3, 2002
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        Daren Scot Wilson said:

        >Does car-driving resemble smoking? Is it as hard to "quit"? Car
        >driving may be practical while smoking isn't, but otherwise I wonder if
        >the same psychological process is behind it - thinking especially of
        >short trips where one could walk, not needing to carry anything.

        I think this is an important question. My own feeling is that
        it is HABITUATED behavior, not really an addictive one. The
        difference is that no chemical changes occur in the body, but the
        mind insists on the reward in a manner suggestive of addiciton.

        To be maintained, a habituated behavior has to offer some reward.
        In the case of cars, I think it's the only time a great many
        Americans have to themselves. People need this time, some much
        more than others, but to be alone is regarded as "anti-social,"
        which it really is not - anti-social people don't EVER really
        want to be with others. People need to understand that it's ok
        for them to make space in their day for an hour or two alone.

        The pity of getting your alone-time while driving is that it's
        such low-quality time. While for most people driving is nearly
        a reflex activity, it does, in fact require quite a lot of
        concentration, so the quality of thinking that occurs while
        driving is lower than that which is possible when spending
        alone-time in an activity that does not become immediately
        dangerous if the mind wanders. I've had for some time the sense
        that many Americans lead an unexamined life, and I think that
        between work, TV, and driving, they've arranged to have very
        little time to reflect on life. I think this is having a
        detrimental effect on American society.



        -- ### --

        J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
        mailbox@... Carfree.com
      • Tom Tromey
        ... My own experience is that the first week of being car free (I bike for most errands; I still have a car but I use it less than once a week) came as a big
        Message 3 of 10 , May 4, 2002
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          >>>>> ">" == J H Crawford <mailbox@...> writes:

          >> To be maintained, a habituated behavior has to offer some reward.
          >> In the case of cars, I think it's the only time a great many
          >> Americans have to themselves.

          >> The pity of getting your alone-time while driving is that it's such
          >> low-quality time.

          My own experience is that the first week of being car free (I bike for
          most errands; I still have a car but I use it less than once a week)
          came as a big revelation. In particular the next time I drove was
          eye-opening -- I had never before realized how tense driving made me
          feel. Just sitting behind the wheel was a noticeable emotional event.

          I think this doesn't happen to the same degree for everyone.

          Tom
        • J.H. Crawford
          ... I go for many months at a time without driving--I only drive in North America. Whenever I get back, I inevitably end up doing at least some driving, and I
          Message 4 of 10 , May 5, 2002
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            Tom said:

            >My own experience is that the first week of being car free (I bike for
            >most errands; I still have a car but I use it less than once a week)
            >came as a big revelation. In particular the next time I drove was
            >eye-opening -- I had never before realized how tense driving made me
            >feel. Just sitting behind the wheel was a noticeable emotional event.
            >
            >I think this doesn't happen to the same degree for everyone.

            I go for many months at a time without driving--I only drive in
            North America. Whenever I get back, I inevitably end up doing
            at least some driving, and I find it exhausting. Two hourse behind
            the wheel leaves me feeling like I've just gone 15 rounds with
            Mohhamed Ali.




            -- ### --

            J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
            mailbox@... Carfree.com
          • James Rombough
            ... Considering how anti-smoking the State of California is, I would say the two are actually inversely related. ;) Besides, smoking is an individual choice
            Message 5 of 10 , May 5, 2002
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              --- Daren Scot Wilson <darenw@...> wrote:
              > (Late night thoughts)
              >
              > Does car-driving resemble smoking? Is it as hard to
              > "quit"? Car
              > driving may be practical while smoking isn't, but
              > otherwise I wonder if
              > the same psychological process is behind it -
              > thinking especially of
              > short trips where one could walk, not needing to
              > carry anything.
              >
              > Suppose we want to reduce car driving by, oh, say
              > 90%. Has any anti-
              > smoking campaign ever made that big a dent in
              > smoking stats? Is this
              > an interesting or fair comparison?
              >
              > --
              > Daren Scot Wilson
              > darenw@...
              > darenw.home.pipeline.com

              Considering how anti-smoking the State of California
              is, I would say the two are actually inversely
              related. ;)

              Besides, smoking is an individual choice that has no
              effect on other people. The same cannot be said of
              cars in cities.

              I don't like cars in cities because they pollute the
              atmosphere, crash into people, and consume large
              amounts of natural resources, such as oil and land.
              It has nothing to do with the personal health of the driver.

              __________________________________________________
              Do You Yahoo!?
              Yahoo! Health - your guide to health and wellness
              http://health.yahoo.com
            • J.H. Crawford
              ... But that s not so--that s why smoking got banned from so many places--the health effects of secondary smoking were found to be serious. And that implies
              Message 6 of 10 , May 5, 2002
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                James Rombough replied:

                >Besides, smoking is an individual choice that has no
                >effect on other people. The same cannot be said of
                >cars in cities.

                But that's not so--that's why smoking got banned from
                so many places--the health effects of secondary smoking
                were found to be serious. And that implies that once the
                case has been put on a sound footing, the same approach
                logically ought to work with cars--like smoking, they're
                bad for your health AND bad for the health of those to
                don't indulge.

                The question will turn on this point: smokers were only
                about 1/3 of the population at the start of the
                anti-smoking crusade. Drivers in California must account
                for about 80-90% of the adult population. Thus, will the
                same tactics work for driving as worked for smoking?
                I tend to doubt it.




                -- ### --

                J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
                mailbox@... Carfree.com
              • Richard Risemberg
                ... An important issue ehre is that the *aesthetic* effects of smoking were more important at the time--people didn t want to semll the damn things. Cars =
                Message 7 of 10 , May 6, 2002
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                  "J.H. Crawford" wrote:
                  >
                  > James Rombough replied:
                  >
                  > >Besides, smoking is an individual choice that has no
                  > >effect on other people. The same cannot be said of
                  > >cars in cities.
                  >
                  > But that's not so--that's why smoking got banned from
                  > so many places--the health effects of secondary smoking
                  > were found to be serious. And that implies that once the
                  > case has been put on a sound footing, the same approach
                  > logically ought to work with cars--like smoking, they're
                  > bad for your health AND bad for the health of those to
                  > don't indulge.

                  An important issue ehre is that the *aesthetic* effects of smoking were
                  more important at the time--people didn't want to semll the damn
                  things.

                  Cars = noise, smoke, frenzy, disturbance, as well as direct health
                  effects. Quality of life. Not readily quantifiable, so often shorted
                  in the US, but it is and has been a factor.

                  Rick
                  --
                  Richard Risemberg
                  http://www.living-room.org
                  http://www.newcolonist.com

                  "Hope cannot be said to exist, nor can it be said not to exist. It is
                  just like the roads across the earth. For actually there were no roads
                  to begin with, but when many people pass one way a road is made."

                  Lu Hsun
                • J.H. Crawford
                  ... I have lost track of this thread. I think the sense of it was more, why do people LIKE to drive. If that s the question, then I think my reply has some
                  Message 8 of 10 , May 13, 2002
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                    turpin replied:

                    >--- In carfree_cities@y..., "J.H. Crawford" <mailbox@c...> wrote:
                    >> To be maintained, a habituated behavior has to
                    >> offer some reward. In the case of cars, I think
                    >> it's the only time a great many Americans have to
                    >> themselves.
                    >
                    >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.

                    I have lost track of this thread. I think the sense of
                    it was more, "why do people LIKE to drive." If that's
                    the question, then I think my reply has some validity.

                    >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
                    >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.

                    As long as the car is by far the best way to get
                    somewhere, people will use it, and when I'm the
                    USA, I use it a fair bit myself, as there is no
                    practical alternative for many trips.

                    >My bad? Maybe. But I don't view it as a moral
                    >choice. While I disapprove the way America
                    >subsidizes sprawl, and the kind of urban
                    >architecture generated by that, I'm going to make
                    >my personal choices based purely on the costs and
                    >benefits that the resulting economic and urban
                    >environment presents to me. And so will most
                    >people. People's driving habits will not be
                    >changed by massive persuasion. They will change
                    >only when the economic and urban environments
                    >present different options.

                    And that's the nut of it--we have to offer those
                    different alterntives.




                    -- ### --

                    J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
                    mailbox@... Carfree.com
                  • turpin
                    ... 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
                    Message 9 of 10 , May 13, 2002
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                      --- In carfree_cities@y..., "J.H. Crawford" <mailbox@c...> wrote:
                      > To be maintained, a habituated behavior has to
                      > offer some reward. In the case of cars, I think
                      > it's the only time a great many Americans have to
                      > themselves.

                      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
                      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.

                      My bad? Maybe. But I don't view it as a moral
                      choice. While I disapprove the way America
                      subsidizes sprawl, and the kind of urban
                      architecture generated by that, I'm going to make
                      my personal choices based purely on the costs and
                      benefits that the resulting economic and urban
                      environment presents to me. And so will most
                      people. People's driving habits will not be
                      changed by massive persuasion. They will change
                      only when the economic and urban environments
                      present different options.
                    • powerwalker
                      Maybe that is part of it. But I think you re missing ... ... I know this is a problem caused by the car culture. In the centuries before the car exist, people
                      Message 10 of 10 , 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
                        strongly.


                        > 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.

                        Louis-Luc
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