7.27.2007

Cars are Silly

I love walking to work. If I could both live in the country and walk to work, I'd be set. As it is, I drive about once a week during the summer, and I'm probably in better shape thanks to the fact we now are in an apartment just a mile from work so that I'm able to do this. I'd love to give up my car entirely, because cars are silly.

Why Cars are Silly:
  • They're given too much value. I'm not talking about the thousands of dollars they cost, I'm talking about the thousands of prestige points people are given for driving this car or that. People often judge others based on what they drive, or covet others because of what they drive. Toys, movies and TV series are fashioned around cars. The practical transportation value of the automobile is overshadowed by the image a given car projects. This is silly.

  • They hurt the environment. The use a non-renewable resource to get around (and lots of it!) and spout bad stuff into the air. In my lifetime, fuel economy has not improved. Technology has, and there's a lot of smart people out there. You'd think someone could figure something out. Even with those big pickups with big wheels and thick truck bed liners - there's got to be a way to get more than 7 MPG. This is silly.

  • When obesity is an epidemic in the US, there are more cars on the road than ever. Cities aren't walkable, and at least in this Midwest city, there's not good public transportation- which at least forces people to walk to and from a bus stop. This is silly.

And I haven't even touched on the silliness of the antisocial-ness of cars and garages, or commuting alone, as relates to community. We'll save that for later.

Maybe someday I won't have a car. We'll see. For now, I'm extra-silly, because we have 2 cars, and only one person who drives more than once a week. This will change someday, I know. I'm enjoying my almost-car-free existence for now.

7 comments:

bfine107 said...

Amen to this post!

Anonymous said...

We just got back from NYC and oh how I missed my truck. Try coaxing/carrying a 2 and 4 year old around the subway for a day and a half. Then you'd be screaming for a minivan or something that didn't require so much anxiety on your part!

Daniel & Teresa said...

I agree that cars are very overrated and I enjoy not having one. But I must admit, you realize how helpful they are when you are pregnant and cannot go anywhere, when you have a hard time finding a ride to the doctor's (and are never sure if you will be able to actually go), and I'm sure I will really be missing one next year when I can't go anywhere without walking (unless I take a taxi). But we are going to attempt to continue car-less. :)

Brett said...

The only problem I see is that it's not the cars that are silly, it's people. Like money, cars are tools. People decide not to walk. People decide they want "more power/same MPG" instead of "same power/higher MPG". It's the people put such high values on their cars. If cars are silly, similar things could be said about yards, musical instruments, or even exercise.

Not entirely related:

My father-in-law purchased a 1972 MGB a couple years ago. He has since put countless hours and a decent amount of money into fixing it up. It looks great and we (the family) love that car. On the surface, that's silly. Look a little closer and we see that those hours weren't just spent on the car. Those were hours spent with family. Personally, I learned a ton (welding, painting, wiring, etc) helping out with the car. And my relationships with my father- and brothers-in-law are stronger than ever because of that time. Every minute I helped was a minute spent witnessing to family members.

ashley@twentysixcats said...

I agree with Brett's assessment that people are the silly ones.

Cars can come in handy! I wouldn't be able to come up to Indiana once or twice a year if it weren't for a car. And living at Taylor without a car for three years was difficult when I was trying to get home to see my family, go to WalMart, pick up supplies for my art projects, go on dates with my boyfriend, etc. I've had a lot of happy memories in cars with friends.

Of course I see what you're saying. It's sad that we live in a society where you NEED a car. (Unless, of course, you live in NYC or another city with good public transportation.) In Peru, there were buses and taxis everywhere. We only ever had one car as a family, and often didn't have a car at all. We always got where we needed to go! I miss that. I am grateful for the public transportation that Atlanta DOES have, but I wish that they would make it more efficient. Several of the metro Atlanta counties have prohibited the trains & buses to come into the county, which means we have to drive to the next county to get the train.

Oh, and it would be great if cities were more pedestrian-friendly! I thought it was horrible that the long, windy road leading to my last apartment had no streetlights or no sidewalks. With four apartment complexes off that street, and all four catering to the largely immigrant crowd, we had a lot of people walking in the street! I almost hit a few people when I would come around a curve at night and not see them at all.

Joanna said...

You guys called it- cars are tools. They have their practical uses, I suppose (like transporting small children around New York City or pregnant women to & from the doctor...) People are the problem- when the tools become status and prestige symbols, and a basis for people comparing and competing, and using more resources than they need (because they're driving their 4-person family in a Yukon or Hummer), this is where I see the silliness. I'm lucky that I live in a fairly-walkable area (Thanks, James!), and I know, very soon, that won't be true, and I'll be back to driving to and from places. But I'll still carpool (with Josh) as much as possible.

Matt said...

While I agree completely that people are silly, I disagree that fuel mileage has not improved in your lifetime. the chart you linked shows the CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) of all cars / trucks sold. A new civic gets 15% better mileage than it did 15 years ago despite being larger, meeting stricter emissions requirements and having better horsepower and accelleration. The problem goes back to those silly people. The families that bought compacts 15 years ago are now buying midslze cars. Those who bought compact trucks now buy the full size and those who bought the Suburbans now buy Hummer's. While I agree the car manufacturer's could do a better job of promoting fuel efficient design, we can't blame them becuase the typical American citizen is buying a larger car then he/she needs and driving it more than necessary. Of course, these are the same people constantly complaining about the high price of gasoline!

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