Slow Transportation (part 3)

3. What Slow Transportation Isn’t

It isn’t flying in airplanes.

It isn’t driving over 25 mph except on roadways designed for higher speeds that connect places rather than go through places. For example, the highway to the mountains. But not the stroad arterial in your neighborhood, and never a residential street. In fact, 20 mph is a better number (see Twenty is Plenty).

It isn’t driving your kids to school.

When I ask people why they have a car, they most often answer one or more of three things:

  • to get to work
  • to buy groceries
  • to get to the mountains or the beach

There are solutions for each of these. If one choses to live far from work, or work far from home, driving is almost inevitable. But people do change jobs and housing, much more often than they admit, and could make the choice to be closer. Work and car are a classic Catch 22: I work to pay for my car, I have a car to get to work. It need not be this way. One can choose a job/housing situation allows walking, bicycling, or transit.

People’s grocery shopping patterns lean towards two extremes: 1) driving a mile to pick up a quart of milk; or 2) buying so many groceries at a time that they could not possible be carried by walking, bicycling or transit. But there is a middle ground, making more trips to the store and buying quantities that are walkable, bikeable, transit-able. That is what most of the people in the world do, and it is what we can do. Sure, maybe you do need a car every once in a while for a particular item, but most of the time, no. No. No.

I understand getting to the mountains and beach. I travel to the mountains a number of times during the summer for backpacking. I travel to the bay area about once a month for the ocean and the culture. But for neither trip do I use a car (I don’t have one, don’t want one). I use public transportation, and some bicycling, and some walking. If you are going camping, perhaps you do need a vehicle. Rent one, or find a friend with one! You don’t need that large vehicle sitting in your driveway, or driving around town. And, to be honest, you don’t need to be running to the mountains every weekend during ski season or summer, or the beach every weekend during the summer. Slow down, enjoy the place you live a little more. Yes, Sacramento during the summer can be a little hard to take, but the river is close by, or a cool bar with cold beer.

“You can have a city that is friendly to cars, or friendly to people, but you cannot have both.” —Enrique Penalosa

part 1 | part 2

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