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Car Magazine Editor Says 'Drive Less'

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  • Lanyon, Ryan
    It s not often editorials like this are run in car magazines: http://www.wheels.ca/Stories.cfm?storyID=6125 Shifting Gears by Jeremy Sinek The joy of (not
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 16, 2002
      It's not often editorials like this are run in car magazines:

      http://www.wheels.ca/Stories.cfm?storyID=6125

      Shifting Gears
      by Jeremy Sinek

      The joy of (not always) driving

      Since you're reading this magazine, I'm going to make a giant leap of logic
      and assume that you love cars and you enjoy driving.

      Not for you the notion of a motor vehicle as merely an appliance or "a tool,
      personal transportation, for the use of." Cars, to you, are intrinsically
      interesting. Driving is an act of emotion, not mere motion.

      That being the case, I have a proposal that may shock you.

      Drive less.

      Am I nuts? The editor of a car magazine telling people to cut back on the
      driving? No, I'm serious: if you're serious about how much you like to
      drive, do it less.

      What this planet needs more than anything is fewer cars on the road. We need
      fewer cars crashing into each other, cleaner air in our cities, less carbon
      dioxide heating up the planet. We need to reduce our dependence on the
      foreign sources of oil over which future wars may be fought.

      At the same time, what we of the auto-enthusiast persuasion need is more
      quality in our driving, not quantity.

      Put these two needs together and what we have is an opportunity for
      enlightened self-interest. If we're going to benefit from reduced traffic,
      we who like to drive will have to do our part. But there are personal
      spin-off benefits from leaving the car at home, say, one or two days a week.
      And on the days we do drive, we'll enjoy it that much more.

      On many of North America's busiest highways, traffic already grinds along so
      slowly that it would be literally faster to ride a bike to work. How much
      longer before walking becomes the faster alternative?

      It's not an issue only of journey times. The greater the traffic congestion,
      the nastier the driving experience becomes. The fact that you have zero
      opportunity to enjoy your car's scalpel-sharp steering and spine crushing
      acceleration is the least of it. Stop and go driving is tedious, frustrating
      and mentally draining. Hell on your car, too.

      Worse, you're trapped in the company of people behaving badly. The heavier
      the congestion, the worse the behaviour. I don't know about you, but I
      normally go a long way to avoid being near aggressive, selfish, boorish
      people who get what they want by pushing and shoving.

      Don't think you're exempt if you're the one who's behaving badly. What do
      you think is happening to your stress levels, to your heart rate, every time
      you cut off another driver so that maybe you can get home seven tenths of a
      second earlier than if you had stayed in the other lane? Of course, if
      that's the way you drive the chances are you're also blowing a wad every
      year in traffic tickets and inflated insurance premiums.

      Let's face it, this whole concept of personal mobility that the automobile
      represents is a wondrous privilege and luxury that we abuse and misuse
      shamefully. And I don't mean misuse in the sense of driving badly, though
      Lord knows there's enough of that going around. I mean it in the sense of
      driving inappropriately; driving when you really should not be driving.

      Last Saturday night - a warm, dry night in early May - a neighbour invited
      us to their house party. My wife and I walked the entire 150 metres to get
      there. Two other guests, each of whom lives less than 300 metres from the
      venue, drove to the party.

      C'mon folks, this is not OK!

      Another example. Go to any mall, and even in the nicest of weather you will
      see drivers circling around looking for parking as close as possible to the
      mall entrance. Sometimes people even get into fights over empty parking
      spots. Meanwhile, maybe 100 metres further away, there's acres of empty
      parking. People spend five minutes burning gas and spewing emissions so they
      can save themselves a one-minute walk.

      Then there are all those rugged, outdoorsy SUV drivers. Have you noticed how
      it always seems to be SUVs parked illegally in the fire lane right outside
      the mall entrance because their "active-lifestyle" (pah!) drivers are too
      lazy to walk 50 or 100 metres from a legitimate parking spot?

      Or how about this for the height of absurdity? Suppose we need a to pick up
      carton of milk or rent a movie. We put on our $200 "athletic" shoes, brush
      past the bicycle in the garage to get into the car, and drive to the plaza
      0.9 kilometres away. If we think about it at all, maybe we justify it to
      ourselves in terms of time saved.

      But then, maybe later that same day, we get into the car again and drive a
      few kilometres to the fitness club, for which we pay hundreds of dollars a
      year in membership. There, we spend the next hour or two doing totally
      artificial exercise on a bicycle or a treadmill going absolutely nowhere.
      And on the way home afterwards we stop to fill up our tank and bitch about
      the price of gasoline.

      Now you tell me who's nuts.

      (Here's a thought: imagine how much energy could be saved and pollution
      avoided if every exercise machine in every gym was hooked up to a generator
      that fed electricity back into the hydro grid. Remember, you read it here
      first).

      Quite aside from oil crunches and global warming, there's another crisis
      facing our western lifestyles: growing levels of obesity and declining
      physical fitness. Surveys show that not only are we getting fatter, so are
      our kids.

      Could there be a connection between the obesity epidemic, dirty air, global
      warming ... and the number of mothers I see every morning chauffeuring their
      1.7 children to neighbourhood schools in nine-seater Chevrolet Suburbans?
      D'ya think?
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