stuff gets examined.

Once Again in the Realm of the Most Ruthless and Self-Absorbed of Humans

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car pros and cons

Once again, I find myself working and trapped in one of the ass-ends of the city, which always means a place where the needs of pedestrians are not well considered. Sidewalks randomly swerve into high-velocity roads and peter out or don’t exist at all, bus stops are few and far between, and crossings rare and ignored. The winter makes all of this worse. There’s nothing like walking on a snow-narrowed shoulder in the half-dark as cellphone-yakking bobbleheads zoom by with the typical Canadian regard for speed limits (i.e., none), splashing slush and snow all over the hapless walker.

I was able to discern a pedestrian crossover the nearby highway that led to a transit station in the distance, but it took a lot of random walking and backtracking to figure out how to get to it through the tangle of curvy little streets and fenced-off parking lots.

Regular readers will be familiar with my views on habitual car users. Places like this, where car use is assumed and transit is provided as lip service to the young and very old reinforce that low view.

I’m not optimistic on the likelihood of mass car use ending at any point in the near future. The car is really the apex accessory of the navel-gazing lifestyle we North Americans have spent so much time building for ourselves and are now making other parts of the world covet. We have spent decades starving off old-style downtowns where small businesses served walking-distance customers, moving to far-flung suburbanoid developments where a car is a necessity, and concentrating all our commerce into economy-of-scale, corporate “big box” malls on the fringes of our cities. We’ve smeared the landscape with roads and vast expanses of parking lots so everyone can park their personalized transport device. It’s difficult to walk away from all this when car use is so darn convenient, and so many monied players have an interested stake in their continued use (Would Walmart survive in a world where people walked, biked, or transited  everywhere, thereby reducing its customer range/count/carrying capacity and ability to offer “low low prices?” ).

It’s a shame that such a change back is unlikely, for a lot of the ills of modern society can be traced to this car-fed change: the loss of small businesses to poor quality giant corporate stores, the death of downtowns and communities at large due to the loss of commerce and local activity,  the disruption of traditional community configurations, such as small towns and “village” neighbourhoods. In other words, many of the things conservative politicians and voters pine for while they support the rights of the corporations paving everything and building the big stores.


Written by balloonhed

March 2, 2011 at 10:01 pm

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