Why I Refuse to Buy a Car and Be on My Merry Way
People are always asking me why I’m a vegetarian, but not a lot of people ask me why I’m car-free.
Don’t you want to know?
Maybe you heard the story of my car’s death and figured I’ve just never been able to afford to get a new one. And your figuring would be at least partially accurate. I was earning a non-profit organization salary, so any purchase over $1,000 would have to involve a fairly intricate payment plan. But there was more to it.
I lived in a city where public transportation and parking tickets were both in good supply. I believed I had a responsibility to minimize my negative impact on the environment to the best of my ability. I suspected I wouldn’t miss the extra expense of gas, insurance, and maintenance. Still, all of these things are secondary to the real reason I’m car-free:
I really don’t like cars.
Sure, there are a lot of great things about cars—convenience, speed, road trips, drive-in movies. But, for me, there aren’t enough great things about them to off-set the great idiocy they’ve brought to our world. Here are just a few examples:
- Highways carved out through trees that were growing and supporting life hundreds of years before the combustion engine was even thought of
- Populations of people who never raise their heart rate above 75 beats per minute
- Populations of people who drive their car to the gym to get their heart rate above 75 beats per minute
- Daily routines that involve fewer than 10 minutes outside of climate-controlled containers
- Urban infrastructures so unconcerned with pedestrians that you have to drive your car to the Wal-Mart even though it’s right across the road from your house
Cars are not the enemy, but they’re certainly not very good friends, are they?
I’m not alone in thinking these situations, all part of our car-centered culture, are absurd. There are a lot of other people who are with me in the belief that we are capable of something better:
- Natural areas touched only by hiking boots and tent stakes
- People who can go for the full-fat Ben & Jerry’s, because they rode their bike to work and walked to the grocery store
- Daily routines that involve time outdoors and actually make us want to get out of bed in the morning
- Cities where we can walk to a department store without engaging in a game of human Frogger
I realize that not everyone can be car-free. But a lot of us can, and for every one of us, we’ll be that much closer to a world with less Frogger and more Ben & Jerry’s.