Too Much Driving

We had a dangerous storm system come through town Monday evening (May 10). It had already produced tornadoes, already destroyed property, and it was sheer luck that the funnels lifted as they approached the city.

So, while the storm was passing over, the US-400 (Kellogg) freeway was a parking lot, jam-packed with people trying to scamper home. Why didn’t these people just look for a tornado shelter where they were? Obviously, they didn’t figure on everyone else in town having the same “flight” reaction. Perhaps they wanted to be with loved ones if this was the end. Perhaps, they felt, like in the old Gary Numan song: “Here in my car, I feel safest of all. I can lock all the doors, it’s the only way in.”

Safe? in a car? In a Tornado?! What I think is happening here is that we are so conditioned by our car-centric lifestyles that we aren’t even _able_ to think of alternative courses of action. And that’s sad. Because it doesn’t have to be that way. We could choose to look for jobs within a few miles of our homes, or we could choose to move closer to our jobs. Heck, huge numbers of people in big cities across the country don’t even bother owning cars.

Can you imagine how much money you could save if you didn’t have a car payment? If you never had to buy gas? If you could walk, or ride the bus, wherever and whenever you needed to go? If you didn’t have to pay taxes for billions of dollars’ worth of “free” ways?

On second thought, don’t think about it. The numbers are just too depressing. Cars and highways: The great American Money Pits.

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