"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer

4.2.11

Dib this

I can't believe this is my first post since December - "the Don, rest his soul, was slippin'" - but the current situation without my comment is untenable.

Keep your mop bucket in the closet and give your old crutches to Goodwill. Claiming "dibs" on a shoveled out parking space is the most egregious act of self-entitlement since you bought the goddamn car in the first place:


Since when did the public right of way become storage for your private property?

In Andre Gorz's 1973 screed, "The Social Ideology of the Motorcar," he proposes an analogy of private autos to beach houses. The car is still a luxury in a very real sense - like a beach house (or for my purposes here, a time share) - and only makes sense when few people own them. Or when a lot share a few. Cars become more devalued the more people own them.

"The automobile is the paradoxical example of a luxury object that has been devalued by its own spread," says Gorz. I'm not anti-car, I'm anti-car culture. Cars are incredibly useful tools - I have an I-Go membership and use it all the time - but nobody ever thinks about how much space they use until snow takes it away. Space - like energy - is a precious resource that must not be abused or wasted.

So currently, while cars are still an ideological luxury, in reality they've become an addict's fix because we've completely adapted our environment to their use. This in turn breeds a sense of self-entitlement and "fuck everybody else" impatience that turns us all against one another. Yesterday, on my ride to work (throughly enjoying myself on the wide open roadway) I noticed several side streets choked with snow, unplowed. Yet, even then, some asshole had decided he absolutely had to dig out his car RIGHT NOW - even with so many public transit options within less than a quarter mile...then promptly got it stuck, and had to abandon it right in the middle of the street. What then of the other people that have been waiting until a plow came through before digging out?

Fuck 'em.

Well I say, "fuck them." The suburbs, built for cars and with no viable alternative at all, are dead as oil appears to be more or less permanently above $100 a barrel.

But, imagine how much more livable and enjoyable Chicago and other big cities with viable transit and walkable neighborhoods would be if mass-private ownership of cars died. Think of how much more space we'd have; how secure we'd be riding our bikes and crossing streets.

Think of how healthy and relaxed we'd be - how much better we'd treat each other - if "exercise" was no longer such a loaded word because we walked and biked everywhere...if so many weren't dying from diabetes and obesity and depression and stress...and the rest of us weren't rushing to the gym to get our mandated 30 minutes of running in place while staring at a glowing rectangle because we spent the rest of the day driving and sitting on our ass.

Dig yourself out and claim "dibs" by getting rid of your car.


5 comments:

Jennifer said...

I, too, sometimes drift off and dream of a car-free city...and then i snap awake when i realize it's been a (3) hour commute to get home (35 miles), consisting of (3) trains - each one delayed - being stampeded into the brown line by the herd that is too anxious to wait for an immediate following train and, in turn, getting sucker punched in the ribs by someone congregating in the doorway. patience is nowhere to be found in our congested city. i'm a big fan / supporter of shared cars (zip, etc), but i do like to have my car when i need it. maybe i'm an asshole for that, but i just finally got rid of cable, so perhaps hold the judgement on car owners being self centered and un-evolutionary.

brianfmorrissey said...

Please don't think me an asshole for asking this, but where do you live that you have a three hour commute and why the f--- would you do that to yourself? Is it the burbs? Of course you have a car. That's my whole point about the car being an addict's fix. Yes it makes it possible to live in places like that, but once you do, good luck giving it up. I don't want to hear about not being able to raise kids without a car, or in the city. It's not that bad, and I know a lot of public school teachers in Chicago who are good, competent people.

The heart of car-independence is living in neighborhood where everything you need is within walking distance. Our combined household income is less that $75k/year, and we live pretty well dammit. We don't belong to a gym because we get all the exercise we need biking to work or walking to transit. All the rest is gravy. Especially the time we have together instead of worrying to get a workout in to counteract all that time sitting on our ass.

Patty and I are having a baby this summer and we're staying car-free. We're also getting bakfeits, but how awesome is THAT?

Bill said...

I bought a 20 year old car this year just to drive my bike to races. It's worth less than any one of my bicycles. I also haven't worried about dibs, as I haven't turned on my car since December 4th. Hopefully it's still running in April when I actually need it.

brianfmorrissey said...

Amen. Again this post was car-hate, it's "I-drive-EVERYWHERE" hate.

A Midnight Rider said...

Some day our country will put more focus on GWB (General Well Being) over GNP. Then we all win.

I hope.