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Re: [carfree_cities] Greetings from hiber-nation (was: selfish Americans)

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  • Mike Morin
    I was born with my hands attached to a steering wheel..., boy, did my mother complain! They re asleep at the wheel (and I m not talking about great Texas
    Message 1 of 1 , May 2, 2005
      "I" was born with my hands attached to a steering wheel...,

      boy, did my mother complain!

      They're asleep at the wheel (and I'm not talking about great Texas swing)...


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Andrew Hitchcock" <mail@...>
      To: <carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Monday, May 02, 2005 11:49 AM
      Subject: Re: [carfree_cities] teenage car culture (was: selfish Americans)

      >> The car also plays a crucial role in the rites of
      >> passage celebrated in American mythology: it's where high school kids
      >> first make out, it's what proud middle-class dads give their offspring on
      >> getting into college, it's what husbands give their trophy wives to
      >> parade
      >> in.
      > Being a recent high school graduate from a suburban high school, it is sad
      > how much truth is found in this statement. Younger high school students
      > look forward to turning 16 so they can finally learn to drive and increase
      > their mobility. Getting a drivers license or car is probably the biggest
      > event in most teenagers high school career. My suburb was fairly affluent,
      > so most people had cars, but they were then angered because there were not
      > enough places around the school to park. The farthest house in the school
      > district from the high school was only five miles away, yet very few got
      > to school under their own power. Most opted for school bus, car, or
      > carpool.
      > Most teenagers I met viewed getting a car as the start of their
      > independence. When I reached this age, however, my animosity for cars and
      > driving began. I did, unfortunately, drive for a few years, but this
      > reinforced my belief that I was shackled to the car. It was hard to get
      > anywhere without the car, since my neighborhood had minimal public
      > transit, and the distances were so large. Half way through senior year I
      > finally got fed up and vowed to bike ride whenever possible. I tested the
      > time to high school... 45 minutes. Well, I wasn't sure exactly the best
      > route, so that'll probably come down. And it did. By the end it was only
      > 15 minutes to bike, which is maybe five minutes longer than if I had taken
      > the car and parked close, or about the same time it would have taken if I
      > had to park farther away. Instead of a car for graduation, like I'm sure
      > many people got, I made it perfectly clear that I didn't want one.
      > Instead, I asked for a bike and actually got it before graduating, to make
      > my daily commute nicer.
      > Most of my peers would spend a great deal of time talking about cars...
      > much of that time about how theirs broke, or their latest accidents. The
      > most alienating thing about teenage culture, in my opinion, was
      > 'cruising'. I tagged along a few times with my friends when they went
      > 'cruising', but I must say I couldn't really see the allure. Most of the
      > time this consisted of either driving around with no destination, or
      > leaning on cars hanging out in parking lots. Parking lots! I can't find
      > anything worthwhile in this activity, yet it was a huge part of many of my
      > colleagues lives at that point.
      > Someone we need to move the American (suburban?) idea of right-of-passage
      > away from the automobile. If we can do this, hopefully we can raise a
      > whole generation that isn't married to their car. Better public transit
      > would help tremendously, but that isn't feasible in most suburbs (chicken
      > and egg). If pre-teens and younger teens are able to be mobile without a
      > car (using bikes and/or public transit), then getting a car wouldn't be as
      > such a big deal. Perhaps someone here should write a teen movie set in a
      > city with transit and where none of the teens have cars :)
      > Hopefully I didn't wander too much off topic. Coming from a suburban high
      > school (where I still have some ties), I can see first hand how bad
      > teenagers are car obsessed.
      > Andrew
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