Cross-posted at Strong Towns Network.
Compact, walkable development reduces municipal infrastructure costs, builds the tax base, and allows for efficient, green, car-free transportation. On the other hand, it has been argued that compact walkable housing does not reduce traffic, because people who live in such developments still drive cars all the time. Locally, this idea is completely contradicted by data on how people get to work, but there is still a persistent belief that cars are essential for the majority of journeys. How, for example, could you go to the supermarket without a car?There are a several potential answers to this question:
- Take the bus. Or share a ride with a neighbor.
- Get large goods home-delivered by a service such as Peapod.
- Just don’t go to the supermarket! Shop in your neighborhood instead, spending your money with small, walkable grocers and merchants instead of corporations. The goods might be somewhat more expensive, but owning a car costs over $9,000 a year. That pays for a lot of cans of tomatoes.
- Load all the stuff from the supermarket onto your bicycle and cycle it home. Unimaginable? You clearly haven’t seen these bikes, which are designed to haul large grocery shops or even a couple of barrels of beer.
In short, there are ways and means of doing things without cars. Here’s another example: why use a car to haul a Christmas tree? (see Note 1 below) It creates greenhouse gases and you’ll still be picking out needles that drop off the tree from your back seats next July. Instead, stroll around to your neighborhood tree dealer, select a tree, and pop it in a cart such as the one shown above. (Cart available from Target for $31.49 – add twenty bucks of extra goods, and they’ll ship it to you for free, saving you another drive! See also Note 2 below. And if that cart isn’t good enough for you, maybe try a VersaCart, as promoted recently in the New York Times!). With a cart, you can easily pull a large tree home. It doesn’t take any more strength than is required to take a yellow labrador for a walk. And next week, you can use the cart again for another walkable trip!
- Note 1 – other bulky cultural / religious artifacts are available.
- Note 2 – other retailers are available.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever moved without a car? Do you think you could move a Christmas tree without a car? Or is this the sort of thing that the Ford F-150 was invented for? What about the cart- would you prefer to cancel Christmas than be seen in public with a ‘granny cart’?? Have your say in the comments section below!