I’m thinking about cars a lot lately because I’m in them a lot lately. When I’m not in one, I’m dreading the next time I’ll have to be in one. I’m tired of automobiles. The affair is over.
I have a very nice car that takes me places and plays my music and feeds me news, holds my coffee cup, warms or cools me, and does everything else a car can do to help a person get around, but there isn’t a car special enough to make me fall in love with driving again.
No offense to my perfectly fine vehicle, but I dream of a walking life – some modified version of the olden days when there was a central business district and houses began right there at the edge of town. A person could walk to accomplish most daily errands. For longer trips, there was a family car, but it wasn’t in use all day, every day.
We keep making more people and more cars, but no more space. We’ve already covered so much of the space we have with highways that saturation is nigh. I’m speaking specifically of my beloved state of California. There’s no way we can keep up with the population and the multiple vehicles each family owns. If we cover any more of the earth with highways, there’ll be no place left for us to drive to.
It seemed so natural, the ways in which automobile travel evolved, how new vistas opened the minute we were old enough for a driver’s license, how we defined ourselves by what we drove. Over the past decade or so, something’s changed for me and driving doesn’t resemble freedom in the slightest. What feels free is not driving. That feels independent and progressive and even adventurous.
Will there come a time soon when people will look back at single-person car occupancy as a quaint and uninformed period in our history? Maybe our descendants will laugh at our naivete and wonder at how we ever thought it could work.
Is there on the near horizon a form of mass transportation we haven’t heard about, that can function without creating a new blight on our imperiled landscape?
I expect the future will include mandatory controls about who can drive alone in a car and when. Of course we won’t let go voluntarily, so it will likely be made into law. Giving up the right to drive is such a fraught topic, I don’t expect to live to see a practical solution. Maybe my daughter and granddaughter won’t see a solution either, but I do believe one is on the way.
Ó By Anita Garner 2008