Wondering about a world with fewer cars

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. I’m worried about gas prices (again.) The love affair is fading, but breaking up is hard to do.

I drive 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 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.

The love affair with my car evolved the way most do in the good old U.S.A. It seemed so natural at first, the car seducing the teenager, promising new adventures as soon as the driver’s license came in the mail. For a brief moment, as grown-ups, we defined ourselves by what we drove. (Okay some still do) but 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.

Some people believe a time is coming when people will look back at single-person car occupancy as a quaint and uninformed period in our history. Will our descendants laugh at us for turning our lives into such car-centered productions? Will they wonder how we ever thought it could work? Before we can get out of our cars, we’ll need additional forms of mass transportation that can function without creating a new blight on our imperiled landscape. Maybe they’re being designed right this minute and we just don’t know about them yet.

If so, the future will perhaps include mandatory controls about who can drive alone in a car and when, because most drivers won’t let go voluntarily. Giving up the right to drive is such a fraught topic, it’s likely to include a bitter battle. I wonder if my granddaughter’s generation will define “freedom” without including owning a car.