torachan: (Default)
Bruce saw this on Amazon last week and ordered it thinking it might be interesting. I read the whole thing last night and it was an interesting (and quick) read, but to be honest, it's kind of a waste if you're already car-free or pretty well convinced that's the way you want to go.

It's definitely focused on selling people on the idea, so a lot of the book (especially the beginning chapters) is spent just repeating the same info on benefits over and over. A lot of these benefits were not applicable to me anyway, because they are based on having a quite expensive car and driving a lot. The average figure he gives all the time is 15,000 a year. We owned our car for over five and a half years and when it was totalled, it had 50,000 something miles on it. And that was with driving up to the Bay Area a few times a year and driving across the country twice.

In addition, the largest section is on commuting to work, which is not an issue for me at all. I'm self-employed and work from home, and Bruce is unemployed and going back to school - at the community college that's half a block down the street from us.

There was also a lot about "oh noes, what about my social life!?" with reassurances that you can go places with your friends and that all the nightlife is probably accessible by mass transit and by walking or biking you can talk to your neighbors and make new friends.

I'm...not interested in talking to my neighbors and making new friends, or having any sort of social life that involves things typically referred to as "nightlife". The part about going shopping, etc. with friends is a good idea, but of course most of my friends are not in LA at all. So in terms of getting a ride from someone, it's pretty much my mom or nothing, and I'm fine with that.

It also seems to assume that you really buy into the whole car culture where a car is a status symbol and part of who you are, so again, there's a lot of "oh noes, what will people think of me if I don't have a car!?" and appropriate reassurances.

I'm also well-familiar with alternative modes of transportation, having spent all but the last nine years of my life walking, riding my bike, and taking the bus. My mom did own a car when I was growing up, but we didn't use it heavily. From kindergarten to 4th grade, I walked to school. In 5th and 6th, when I moved to a new school too far to walk to, we carpooled. From 7th through college, I took the bus. I took the bus to work, too. In fact, my first job was picking up a couple boys from school and taking them home. And I didn't have a car or driver's license. I took the bus up to the street the younger boy's preschool was on, got off and walked a couple blocks to it, picked him up and walked with him six or so more blocks to the older boy's school, then we either caught the bus across the street from his school, transferred to another bus, and walked one more block, or we walked a block, took one bus, and then walked another three or four blocks to their house. I also biked (from the time I was about eight or nine, I was allowed to ride my bike anywhere I wanted, either alone or with friends), walked, or took the bus everywhere I wanted to go in my free time. To friends' houses, the library, used bookstores, the movies, the mall, etc. (And once Bruce moved out here, we started taking the bus even further, like to Little Tokyo practically every weekend.)

In other words, having a car and driving everywhere has not been my entire life, but more like a blip in a life that has otherwise been much more about other modes of transportation. So I don't need a book telling me not to be afraid of the bus or to look down on people who take it or not to be afraid people will think I'm poor (HORRORS) for not owning a car.

So yeah. I didn't hate the book by any means, but it's definitely not aimed at me.


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