Friday, May 6, 2011

Auto Nation
Minimalists across the web seem to have a love hate relationship with cars.  While many can say without irony that a sports car is a thing of beauty (all be it wasteful and dirty), yet they insist that no one in the world needs a car.  I think that must be true of large cities that have been well designed and in which transportation has been planned for, but the American car culture is not so easily beaten.  For one thing the entire road system of America was designed for family cars.  In order to keep body and soul together during the Great Depression, the government hired men to pave over nearly everything that would hold still.  Hyperbole aside, this reshaped the face of America and enabled ordinary people to move from coast to coast in their own car.  America is nothing if not fanatical about freedom and this freed the people to move about the country on their own time and in their own style.  With that background in mind it is easy to see how a town or city could design out their boundaries with auto travel in mind.  I for example drive 11 miles (one way) to work each day because that is where I could find a job.  We bought our home in an area where I felt safe raising our children and where we could afford.  The planning out of residential areas was not considerate of foot traffic or bicycling.  The town is (very) slowly changing as more people become conscious of their impact on the world.  A bike lane was put in on the roads down town, which is helpful except for the semi trucks with which one has to share the road.  Small scooters and other forms of transportation have increased in popularity as well.  I have considered seriously trading my car for a scooter, the only downside however, is that when the weather is poor (ie December-March) I would have to take a ride with my husband.  This isn't so bad except he works different hours and in a different direction than I do; making getting either of us to work on time difficult.  I would like a Leaf or Volt or other fancy car once the problem of "refueling" on the go has been solved.  This current limbo in which we find ourselves is exciting and frustrating, but I believe the light at the end of the tunnel is nearing and on the other side is a new smaller, faster, sleeker generation of alternative cars.