July 29, 2006

THAT IS THE PARADIGM (via Raoul Ortega):

Carlessness (Philip Dawdy, 7/27/06, Seattle Weekly)

This week, our paper has a cover story about bicycling in Seattle, and especially about commuting by bike. I mention this because a little over a year ago I decided to go carless and try to do the good prog-liberal thing and see how it worked out. [...]

I am here to tell you at the liberal paradigm is, in this respect, an abysmal failure. Or at least it was for me.

My social life went down the tubes. If a friend of mine lived outside of Capitol Hill, downtown, Belltown, the ID, or Pioneer Square, I was screwed. I have a lot of friends who don't live in those places, and suddenly I wasn't being invited to pop over to a friend's house for impromptu barbeques and parties. That sucked. And if I needed to run an errand to, say, Best Buy at Northgate, it would take an hour-plus in each direction to get there—and with Metro's schedules, don't try that in the evening. Besides, you cannot carry more than a couple of shopping bags on Metro.

Not having a car got in the way of work, as well. I am the kind of reporter who prefers to meet people in person, if possible, and I suddenly had to resort to doing a lot of phone interviews unless I did a lot of planning for taking transit—and giving up half an afternoon for a half-hour interview. There were also public meetings I wasn't able to attend, either, all of a sudden—unless they happened to be downtown or somewhere close by.

In other words, he had to make friends with his own neighbors, stop running pointless errands, and do a job by phone that should be. It worked.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 29, 2006 9:49 AM

Pretty soon he can have or have access to a little electric car so he can make it to the barbecques, etc. It's starting to fall into place.

I used to have to drive close to 100 miles per day for work through awful traffic. I purposefully lived in a community where I could spend the entire weekend without getting into my vehicle. Food, groceries, restaurants, post office, church, were all less than 1/4 mile away. It was a great experience.

Posted by: JAB at July 29, 2006 11:37 AM

I guess a 500cc motorcycle was out of the question.

Posted by: Pete at July 29, 2006 12:37 PM

The Left used to maintain a monopoly on the "on-size fits all, and it's my size" solution to all social problems while accusing the "Right" of just that.

He never says no one should live without a car, just that if you choose to do so, you need to understand the consequences. One of which is that you may be exchanging one kind of freedom for another. Choices have consequences. (Is there a Law of Conservation of Freedom maybe?) This guy tried a solution (to a non-problem, actually) and found it wanting for him. A Leftist or Juddite would then conclude that everyone should then be forced to buy cars and live like him. (And I wasn't disappointed this time, either.)

motorcycle: Seattle, where summer means it's only overcast but bright for 16 hours, not damp and drizzling and dark.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at July 29, 2006 12:46 PM

Raoul, I'm glad there are still signs of sanity around here.

But I love it that OJ's car-hatred is so great that he recommends this guy get a whole new set of friends, never buy anything bulky, and give up face-to-face contact while doing his job, and thinks it's all a small price to pay to get rid of one of the things.

If only I knew the Bible well enough to somehow prove that cars were squarely in the Abrahamic tradition....

Posted by: PapayaSF at July 29, 2006 5:36 PM

Taxis are public transportation too.

If Mr. Dawdy wanted to pop 'round to his friends' impromptu barbeques and parties or shop at the Best Buy at Northgate, why not call a cab ?

If taxis are somehow verboten, then ought not busses be as well ?

Posted by: Noam Chomsky at July 29, 2006 5:42 PM

Papaya: This is just the transition phase until we're all forced to live on the trains.

OJ: I guess the unhappy bike riders are our allies just like Iran and Hezbollah.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 29, 2006 5:56 PM

Yes, they'll adjust.

Posted by: oj at July 29, 2006 6:03 PM


Yes, freedom is a means, not an end. The ends he got by having less freedom were desirable.

Posted by: oj at July 29, 2006 8:41 PM

Who needs friends anyway! After riding the commuter train crammed with sweaty, talking people every day, you will be happy to be alone. Happy!

Posted by: wf at July 30, 2006 4:05 PM