Tag Archives: driving

Debunking driving & transportation myths

1 Feb

I read a lot of transportation blogs (there used to be so few, and now there are too many to keep up with!), and over the past few weeks I’ve read several posts that debunk the myth that driving a car is the best way to get around. I ditched my car about a year ago, and maybe these posts will convince you to do the same.

Myth 1 – Cars are faster: 295bus, down in the South Bay, tells a story of opting for his car instead of his bike because it was raining. He thought it would be quicker, but it turned out to take longer.

Myth 2 – Driving is the best way to clear your mind: Readers at The Overhead Wire share their experiences of relaxing while walking and doing deep thinking on the train or bus.

Myth 3 – Widening freeways makes traffic move more quickly: The Pedestrian debunks this myth, explaining that car drivers are actually better off driving on city streets. Freeways are congestion magnets.  This post is followed up by another detailing success stories of removing freeways in the Bay Area.  Anyone up for some freeway removal in Oakland?

Myth 4 – BART sucks: Well, I’m not always a BART defender, but 125 BART employees spent their Saturday cleaning up downtown Oakland, and I can get behind that.

Myth 5 – For business people, driving is the most efficient way to get around: Now that it’s illegal for drivers to text message and to use cell phones without a headset, it’s easier to get work done on the bus or train. And soon, BART will be offering wi-fi access, for a fee. One day, when high speed rail is built, hopefully they’ll offer wi-fi too.

Myth 6 – Public transportation is too heavily subsidized: This couldn’t be much further from the truth. Driving is subsidized much more heavily than public transit is; if the funding was even close to equal, I can only imagine what our transportation systems would look like. Eric details how the funding breaks down in the MTC’s regional transportation plan, and Yonah at The Transport Politic details the breakdown in the federal stimulus bill (which has changed since this post was written, but still heavily favors highways).

Myth 7 – Life would be so much better if there was more free street parking: Debby at Today in Montclair got a parking ticket and wondered whether parking on the streets in Montclair should be free, but her readers respond and argue that it would make much more sense to walk or bike. Debby must have been convinced because she followed up with a post about biking to Montclair Village.

Carless in the O

18 Feb

Last weekend, I finally gave up my car. My sister drove it down to LA, where she needs it a lot more than I ever did.

I’m not sure I can explain how much of a relief it is to no longer be a car owner. I don’t have to worry about flat tires, parking tickets, car insurance, or engine malfunctions. I no longer have to obsessively pay attention to rising gas prices. The best part is that I’m forced to drive less, which really makes me a happier person. I do still have access to my girlfriend’s car most of the time, but I’m trying to become less dependent on driving.

I already take the bus to and from work everyday, but besides that commute, I’m trying to walk more. For some errands, that’s easy. I already walk to the farmer’s market nearly every Sunday. But I’m quickly realizing that walking isn’t always realistic.

Yesterday I walked down to Whole Foods on Telegraph and Ashby and tried to be careful not to buy too many heavy items, but I guess I didn’t try hard enough. As soon as I picked up my bags, I realized I’d have to take the bus to get home. So I waited ten minutes for the 1, lugged my bags to the only open seat at the back of the double bus, and then had the doors close on my bag as I tried to get out.

A part of me thought about how convenient it would have been if I had driven to the store, but another part of me just became more determined to improve our transit system. Crowded buses on Saturdays make no sense. Running just one more 1 bus per hour would make a huge impact on the speed and quality of bus rides. BRT would be even better.

I’m still confident that letting go of my car was a good decision, but I’m guessing yesterday’s experience won’t be the only one that leaves me longing for my car.