The Ornery American (are you more or less likely to read it knowing it’s Orson Scott Card?) has a new piece up titled “Life Without Cars“.
I disagree with a lot of what he says. I don’t like talking to my neighbors and I would love to live on a street with even less traffic. I really do want to live on an island and hardly see anybody (except those I want to see, natch).
Here’s an excerpt:
“We got our wish. We no longer live in cities. We don’t live in towns. We don’t live in the country, either. We don’t live anywhere at all. Just island neighborhoods in splendid isolation, with roads so convoluted that half our driving is just to get out of the island and onto a road that goes somewhere.
“You want to take a walk? No sidewalks in most places, and nowhere to walk to. You just walk around looking at other people’s yards and houses. The only people you see are the other walkers — or the yard guys working on other people’s lawns and shrubs.
“You’re at WalMart. You want to go to Home Depot. You can see it from where you are, but please don’t be stupid and try to walk there. Our streets hate pedestrians. You have to walk all the way out to the street — or cut through prickly hedges or climb fences.”
I was quick to relate to his complaints about not being able to walk from WalMart to Home Depot. But when I thought about it, I remembered a big-store type strip-mall we frequented while living on the outskirts of Minneapolis. Home Depot, Target, Cub Foods, and some smaller stores like Staples, all with separate entrances, but sharing one long building, one long sidewalk, and one long parking lot. A person could easily walk from one store to another, getting almost anything they could ever need from a retail store all from one parking lot. But I do believe that on a number of occasions I would park in front of one, load up the car, and then drive to park in front of another one. It seems lazy in print, and I assure you, I was being lazy. I guess I disagree with his complaint there too.
And I have to say, my neighborhood is nothing like the modern islands he describes. My house was built in 1931, so you can see it isn’t very new. I’m not downtown by any means, but I can still put my daughter in the stroller and walk to the hardware store or a playground. And I’d love to move to one of these suburban islands if they had more trees and I could afford it. Even better, I’d live in the country if I could afford it (my wife would require a country home to still be very close to the city, so price becomes a large factor again).
Anyway, I’m losing momentum and focus here. The article is a quick and interesting read if you’re bored, and there are some good points despite my criticisms above.