Sunday, July 23, 2006

Day 23: Other people, you know, non-Americans, walk

My cousin Julia, who studies Russian linguistics, I think, at the University of California Berkeley, has traveled more than most and pointed out even small towns in Europe generally have reliable forms of public transportation.

She sent me this thought:

I was thinking about how even when I lived in a small-ish city in
Russia (Vladimir) there was an excellent bus & trolleybus system. Never had to wait more than five minutes for something to come. And people walk a lot, even old grandmothers. Yet Americans are so forward-thinking, right?!!

She pointed out later that she's a little hypocritical, even driving to her favorite running spot.

I'd like to point out she's not alone, hypocritically speaking. When I'm driving, I drive to the gym. And most mothers around Normal drive to the playground. Everyone who lives in a big city has had a "friend," or maybe just a friend, who opted to travel six blocks by car rather than hoof it.

But I liked her general idea.

3 Comments:

At 12:29 PM, Blogger Librarian Mom said...

I have just caught up with your posts, having heard about you from Grist.org (which I heard of from last week's Newsweek). I love your writing! I have really enjoyed reading about your experience. I am in a similar situation: 33 year old stay-at-home mom to two preschool-aged children, living in a small town, and very concerned about environmental issues.

I think you've done an amazing job thus far in being car-less. There is no way I would subject myself to the torture of taking my kids to the grocery store in the July heat via public transportation. You really need to give yourself more credit for what you have accomplished. I really liked the other poster's ideas of simply cutting down to one car. I think that is a much more workable solution when one has a family and does not live in a big city with REAL public transportation.

I wanted to comment on today's post by showing you an article I found on cnn.com:
http://money.cnn.com/2006/07/07/technology/
newvillages.biz2/index.htm

This article is talking about the "next big real estate boom" which they describe as villages outside major cities. These villages are self-contained and stress sidewalks, so for instance you can actually walk to the grocery store without getting run over. They are connected to the major city with a public transit hub such as a train depot.

I was talking to my sister about this and she said "Well that just sounds like Long Island. Big deal!" (I live in a small town in the South). But to me it reminded me of my pre-kid travels in Europe. I would love to live close enough to walk to stores or amenities. Where we've lived, such housing is possible but it comes at a major cost premium.

But I liked the way the article points out that Generation X doesn't aspire to McMansions as much as it does this "new village" model. Boy, I hope that's true.

 
At 5:00 PM, Blogger iwanagain said...

When I read this comment, I almost openly wept.
I had another trying day and was feeling all doom and gloom. When I read this, I again felt like maybe I'm not totally crazy.
Thank you.

 
At 6:31 AM, Blogger melissa said...

I too found your blog through Grist, and while I'm not all caught up yet, I agree with Librarian Mom, you need to give yourself more credit!

My first public transportation experience was as a foreign exchange student to Russia (Perm) when I was 15. Until then I really had never been on a subway or public bus. For such a poor area, the quality and reliability of the transportation system is exceptional. The subway in Moscow really is quite an experience. The family I lived with had 6 children, and those who did not take the bus to school used cross country skis.

Now as an adult, after a few years of 98-mile-one-way commutes I'm determined to revamp my life. My husband and I purchased our first home (a condo, houses in our area are out of reach) and I love it. I love being surrounded by the community of neighbors. Granted, I have great neighbors. I work from home, and only drive when necessary. My only wish is that the grocery was within biking distance so that I could use my car even less.

 

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