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  • Never Owned a Car (or Truck...)

    An interesting article on car culture in the USA.

    I rent a car when on vacation in western Canada, but otherwise have lived without car, truck, or motorcycle -- not out of principle -- just out of lack of need. I injured my left foot after a marathon last May and have replaced walking with running. Walked for 3.2 hours yesterday and covered 22 kilometers, so I can walk the Army 1/2 marathon in Ottawa in a few weeks.

    Watch as walking becomes a 'new' thing in the next two decades as the running population ages.
    sigpic

  • #2
    Re: Never Owned a Car (or Truck...)

    Stopped reading at "privilege."
    "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw



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    • #3
      Re: Never Owned a Car (or Truck...)

      Yes, readers please be careful -- you might encounter ideas contrary to your own beliefs.
      sigpic

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      • #4
        Re: Never Owned a Car (or Truck...)

        @Randy - What is wrong with acknowledging one's own relative position to one another? Is the word 'privileged' so ghastly and offensive that compared to a woman who was convicted of the crime of murdering her child by crossing a road, when the person who hit her son was admittedly inebriated while driving? If so. Wow.

        There is an important story in how some populations do not have the right of walking around in the safety many of us experience. I can walk to nearly any need-fulfilling place within a mile and if not I can catch a pretty cheap bus or bike on some pretty safe bike trails (a wonderful compromise between bikes 'sharing' the road). I know for a fact that my situation is equivalent with everyone else.

        In fact if you come back here at all just please read this quote of the article, its short and 'privilege aknowledgement free':

        @TOPIC

        "When her son was killed, Raquel Nelson was jaywalking. ‘Jaywalking’, the legal definition of which varies slightly by state, is the term for crossing a road at any place without an intersection or designated crosswalk. When Nelson’s conviction for vehicular manslaughter was overturned in 2013, the $200 fine for jaywalking stuck. In her shoes – considering the actual crosswalk was about a third of a mile down the street, her apartment building directly across from the bus stop, and her children tired and hungry – I would have done the same. In fact, when I’m with my children, jaywalking feels safer than dragging their wiggly selves down the kind of sidewalk that serves Nelson’s neighbourhood, with its stingy concrete almost hugging the highway. And, considering the state of the driver who killed her son and the fact that he had two previous hit-and-run convictions, it is in any case questionable whether Nelson’s children would have been safer on the crosswalk."
        I think there is an important point hidden in the details. Much of American life is centered around the automobile and point to point transport via vehicles. There is a reason for this, a lot of recent American development is sprawled out and many states have rural communities that necessitate a personal vehicle. Even on top of that vehicles are necessary for many jobs, career types, and recreational hobbies.

        I grew up in Pittsburgh, it is a pretty pedestrian safe city. Really good public transport options, smaller roads in commercial and residential areas (but has a nice interstate and freeway system as well). During a highschool summer I took classes at a very very distant community college by taking several buses and using the very generous 'free-transfer' option. I've never really been anywhere urbanish that wasn't well serviced by public transit or safe walkways. As I grew up with these options I kind of come from your place of privilege email; only recently am I hurting for a vehicle, but even then I have the good fortune of a nice neighbor who has lent me her vehicle time to time if needed.

        But, digression aside, Pittsburgh is a rare city. Its topography and long history have been the reason why our roads aren't four lanes wide. It also is a very small city in the scale of things - a piece of information that makes me love it so much. But everything I've seen of the West Coast and even South in places like DC or Florida leads me in the opposite direction. Big sprawling cities with huge populations and even larger commuting populations. I'll be honest, I want no part in that. I will not sacrifice my ability to walk or bike safely for a job or a home and I'll do everything I can in my future to see that the cities I live in never compromise this. But its hard to find places that fit that mold, I truly think Pittsburgh is the only one.

        The article has a really important point in the area of transportation and why we more often are taking the SUV down the block to walmart to pick up some milk and eggs than our bodies. For some people that time saved matters (or we feel it does) and for others there are no easy or safe routes.

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        • #5
          Re: Never Owned a Car (or Truck...)

          And to be clear that I am not claiming any higher moral ground here. If I ever win a lottery I have little doubt that I would buy a vehicle to haul all the crap from Costco and Ikea.

          Hmmm, Costco hotdogs . . . Swedish meatballs . . .

          Big Box haute cuisine
          sigpic

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          • #6
            Re: Never Owned a Car (or Truck...)

            He basically says (in many more words) that he lives in a suburb. I didn't stop reading, unlike Randy. At least he realizes his position as he was writing that article.

            Costco hot dogs...hmm, those are so delicious! Now I wanna go to my local Costco just to buy some...

            Here's the thing with where he is, he needs a car. Most suburban areas have little to no public transportation. It's not like living in a bigger city where we could go without the need of a car for most trips (though public transit comes with its own problems). Personally, I have quite a few restaurants and a grocery store within reasonable walking distance. Limited entertainment/enjoyment can be had at a local park just blocks away. Anything more, like a movie theater, would require a bus and train.

            I'm a bit taken back though, he keeps bringing up "white" throughout his article. Is that all there is to the American population in his mind? A bit racist perhaps? What about just "young well-off Americans" instead of "young well-off white people"? Seriously.
            |TG-18th| Acreo Aeneas
            TG World of Tanks Clan Executive Officer
            Former 9th & 13th

            Pronounciation: Eh-Cree-Oh Ah-Nay-Ess
            Still can't say it? Call me Acorn then. -.-





            SSDs I Own: Kingston HyperX 3K (240 GB), Samsung 840 Pro (256 GB), Samsung 840 EVO (250 GB), Samsung 840 x 2 (120 GB), Plextor M5S (120 GB), OCZ Vertex (30 GB)

            TG Primer and Rules

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            • #7
              Re: Never Owned a Car (or Truck...)

              Check your privilege, Acreo! Only white people can be racist, don't you know that!?
              "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw



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              • #8
                Re: Never Owned a Car (or Truck...)

                Interesting point about the possibly pointless use of "white" in the article. On a related note, years ago I was under the impression that the US was highly dependent on individual car commuting (solo drivers not passenger) because of the auto industry's successful lobbying against mass transit options. Then a uOttawa prof spoke to me of how this was a myth. But more recently, new studies appear to confirm a political economy explanation of the American solo commute situation.

                I have no idea how the new driverless car/truck thing will play out. Some suggest that insurance issues will limit its deployment. I suspect the association of freedom and power with car/truck ownership will severely limit driverless in the USA. It will certainly vary country to country and may find high use in the USA among service vehicle where corporations make the decision (vs individual consumers).
                sigpic

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                • #9
                  Re: Never Owned a Car (or Truck...)

                  I "solo commuted" 65k miles last year. I personally own 4 cars. Two of which have no catalytic converters.

                  For every hydrocarbon you save I'll burn three.
                  doYouEvenLuftwaffe

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                  • #10
                    Re: Never Owned a Car (or Truck...)

                    Cougar... I'm not sure what's worse in that statement. The fact that you're owning it, or the fact that you're doing it in what seems to be a proud fashion. I can only hope that what you're saying is sarcasm.

                    It's appalling to me that people exist in the world today that could care less if they are causing global warming. It's appalling to me that people can be so limited in their view that they refuse to see a change in the world.

                    It's incredibly appalling to me that people can somehow refuse to believe that fossil fuels are causing this.

                    There are an estimated 254 million cars in the United States as of 2007. That's 254 million fires burning on the streets of America every day. And that is only the cars; that's not to mention factories or power plants or etc etc etc.

                    To scale that down to your relative size, that's, essentially, the equivalent of me lighting about 10 large fires in your house (depending on your square footage), sealing the windows and doors, and expecting you to continue to be able to breathe. AND THAT'S JUST FOR THE CARS IN AMERICA. You can't even freaking see across most Chinese cities because of pollution.

                    To go a step further, and for those who don't understand... carbon emissions basically create a blanket across the Earth. The gas we emit with our cars traps heat rather than releasing it. This has been proven in science. You know, the same way Einstein and his group of buddies proved that we can nuke Japan and win the war. It's fact cuz it happens every time we test it.

                    Estimates are rough, and hard to track down perfectly... but the number of cars on the road today are estimated to be over or around 1 billion.

                    To put THAT in to perspective for you... imagine you lived in the largest Costco you've been in. Now, light about 100 to 200 MASSIVE bon fires all across the store, seal the doors and windows... and let me know how long your oxygen lasts.

                    It's real. It's happening. And people with the viewpoint depicted by Cougar only serve to take more and more lives away from us.

                    I only get so emotional about it because I have children. I think about fishing at my favorite water hole when I was 16 or trying to dig crawdads out of a hole in my back yard when I was just a boy, climbing the apple tree in my back yard to pick green apples from the top... the peach tree in my first girlfriend's back yard... when I choose to allow people around me to make light of global warming, I'm choosing to take those things away from my son or his son or the son after that.

                    And no matter how you read what I've said here; no matter what you believe... it's not right to NOT do whatever you can to help my son and your son and all the sons of the world have the same dreams and freedom and happiness that we are all lucky enough to have.

                    Mom
                    Games lubricate the body and the mind. - Benjamin Franklin
                    Ever since the beginning, to keep the world spinning, it takes all kinds of kinds. -Miranda Lambert

                    You're a 34, Mom. Thirty. Four.
                    Forever Perplexed

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                    • #11
                      Never Owned a Car (or Truck...)

                      The two catless cars have driven very little. Ones 42 years old and has 20k miles the other being 13 years old with 50k.

                      There is no such thing as public transport for me. On top of the 65k miles driven in 12 months. I would wager I flew commercially twice that number of miles.

                      We all cannot ride a bike to the store / work / school.

                      I'm all for progress in clean transportation. It's just not there yet.

                      Hell the guy your looking to burn at the stake here works for one of the leaders in green tech and energy savings at the city level.
                      doYouEvenLuftwaffe

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                      • #12
                        Re: Never Owned a Car (or Truck...)

                        Originally posted by E-Male View Post
                        Interesting point about the possibly pointless use of "white" in the article. On a related note, years ago I was under the impression that the US was highly dependent on individual car commuting (solo drivers not passenger) because of the auto industry's successful lobbying against mass transit options. Then a uOttawa prof spoke to me of how this was a myth. But more recently, new studies appear to confirm a political economy explanation of the American solo commute situation.

                        I have no idea how the new driverless car/truck thing will play out. Some suggest that insurance issues will limit its deployment. I suspect the association of freedom and power with car/truck ownership will severely limit driverless in the USA. It will certainly vary country to country and may find high use in the USA among service vehicle where corporations make the decision (vs individual consumers).
                        It's still largely a solo-ish commuter driving car experience. I've driven quite a bit here in the city and gosh, I've only seen car pooling maybe a handful of times. Hell, my parents are one of the few people I've seen actually participating in car pooling their co-workers. Now with the advent of ridesharing, maybe we'll see less single-man drives to and from work.

                        Originally posted by Portable Cougar
                        Hell the guy your looking to burn at the stake here works for one of the leaders in green tech and energy savings at the city level.
                        Oh you mean the agency man that touts and spouts how polluting automobiles are to all the newly planted trees in my city and that living green is the only solution to pollution. Then he asks for a gas guzzling (and gets) Hummer so they can parade around the city going "hey man, live green!". Right. I know exactly the type of guy now.

                        That's probably not you, but boy oh boy I had to listen to this prick go on-and-on a couple of years back. Paid for with public money, works for a "Go Green" city agency, AND self-admits that he doesn't even believe in it, much less follows it. Gosh I hate hypocrits in the public sphere.

                        Oh, we have chopper tours now in Chicago. That's first for our city. IF they can turn those birds into ridesharing rides...just think: "Oh I'm late for work...let me hitch a ride on a Huey." :D Maybe they'll start using electric powered choppers given how we're supposedly a entrepreneur's dream city.
                        |TG-18th| Acreo Aeneas
                        TG World of Tanks Clan Executive Officer
                        Former 9th & 13th

                        Pronounciation: Eh-Cree-Oh Ah-Nay-Ess
                        Still can't say it? Call me Acorn then. -.-





                        SSDs I Own: Kingston HyperX 3K (240 GB), Samsung 840 Pro (256 GB), Samsung 840 EVO (250 GB), Samsung 840 x 2 (120 GB), Plextor M5S (120 GB), OCZ Vertex (30 GB)

                        TG Primer and Rules

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                        • #13
                          Re: Never Owned a Car (or Truck...)

                          I think Cougar has the biggest point. We just don't have the infrastructure to accommodate even a significant portion of the US population being 'car-free'. Its also a self feeding problem that can only be solved with a societal shift away from the way we view traveling. But to do that we need to have visionary people willing to take chances and be different against the crowd which is inherently against change.

                          On the subject of those prickish bandwagoners - we need to call them out more often and publicly. Doing so would help begin that societal shift. It should be easier to get rid of a public official than a private one. That public official's hypocritical behavior can be the basis for their removal or at least a foundational change of the agency which says more than the feedback into the private sector.

                          (I think the point of claiming whiteness is a tangential digression that wealth is largely distributed in white families. Its not universally true and its not all for the same reasons but its brought up because the family mentioned here is of minority status - and with that they had an inferred higher probability of being in a 'less privileged' state to use the author's wording. Its wholly tangential but it is relevant because even back in the 1840s the French aristocrat Toqueville stated that concepts of race are wholly different in the US than elsewhere. Being basically biracial - but outwardly white - I can speak truth to observing a difference of interaction between myself and more 'fuller' persons.)

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                          • #14
                            Re: Never Owned a Car (or Truck...)

                            Sad, but I would like to know what it would take to improve the rail infrastructure of the US?



                            Interested in listening to guitar playing and a good conversation, look for me on TS.

                            "Hope is for the weak. I hope for nothing. I work for things. That is the only way for events to unfold." -Cleverbot

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                            • #15
                              Re: Never Owned a Car (or Truck...)

                              Originally posted by BeSiege82 View Post
                              Sad, but I would like to know what it would take to improve the rail infrastructure of the US?
                              I think the change would be deeply cultural and political. Ever ride the rails in France, Germany, or Spain (and many other areas of the EU). Leaves Canada (pitiful) and the US (no direct knowledge but...) in the dust.

                              What it would take is a deep change in cultural values and political priorities, a shift from individualism to collectivism, and billions of dollars.

                              Even the urinals are better in France . . .
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