Life in dense cities and larger urban areas is often space condensed. Every square foot counts. One realizes quickly that transit can be highly efficient in such places — you can much more quickly walk to a tram, subway, or electric bus; jump on; and get where you want to go than if you and everyone else had to drive through clogged traffic one car at a time.
Pedestrian life demands a certain athleticism. It can create routine, stable strength and blood flow. Combining the regular walks with semi-regular sprints boosts the body that much more. Recently, I ran to catch a hybrid electric bus in Harlem. I just made the bus. It took me just 30 mins to get to Laguardia Airport. To drive would have taken me at least an hour — possibly more than that. I avoided the increased cost of parking or a taxi fare as well. I moved fluidly and felt my joints loosen. I’m in my sixties. It keeps me limber and offsets cognitive decline to walk and sometimes run briefly to and from transit.
I rented a car in NYC once, as we were leaving the city from work to drive to the coast. It took us much longer to get to work from the apartment than it would have if we had taken the subway. Yes, it might have been more isolated and private. Still, passing other cars by inches and watching bicyclists weave around seemed like an equation for collision (more likely than a subway ride would be).
“Communities that use mass transit enjoy less tragedy. They have about 20% the per capita traffic casualty rate (fatalities and injuries) compared to communities primarily using automobiles. People who do not use public transit still benefit, of course.”
The study The Hidden Traffic Safety Solution: Public Transportation builds on many other such studies. It is worth a read or at least a skim, especially if this is a new topic for you.
Granted, the inside of an electric car is cleaner, more controlled, private (or more isolated, depending on how you frame it). Like most, I enjoy both electric cars and transit. Yet, I pity the “élite,” insulated (fearful), car-dependent traveler. 100% car dependence does not allow for those moments that spontaneously come from bicycling, walking, and taking transit.
Those moments one happens upon in that subway underground: as musicians spontaneously liberate their musical whims like a welcome rain. Likewise, they liberate everyone’s spirit (out of the subway’s underground into a musical feast). The rushing pedestrian traffic pauses and reflects. Perhaps you have to like classical music, soul, and world beat music to experience this appreciation of the underground (a few of the genres I have experienced underground in subways).
Another week of car-free life felt freeing as it always does. Nothing life-threatening tethered to my mind in case I should let it wander as I moved along, no concerns about tickets, parking, or various fees. I found the increased circulation was invigorating in 14° weather in NYC. Even with the city air, I was vitalized and looked and felt younger — more alive and immersed in the culture.
Your North Face parka
Leads me to believe you’re on
A grand adventure
Among other places lacking the happier travelers sentiment is the west coast of Florida.
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