Tuesday, 30 June 2015

How to escape the tyranny of others' thoughtless car-centrism

Summary: I’ve already fully escaped from car-dependence and the accompanying costs, hassles, stress, health impacts and wasted time. I don’t use a car at all unless absolutely necessary for trips out of town, such as camping. If the trip is genuinely worthwhile, I’ll make the effort to organise a car through the best car share option I can find (currently Car Next Door). Unfortunately, sometimes family, friends or acquaintances arrange plans that presume we all own or use cars, and don’t mind hours of pointless driving or taking very expensive taxi rides. I've now quit accommodating these thoughtless demands. Rather than have to explain my justification in depth to each person, I wrote this post so I could just send it to those most aggrieved. Feel free to use it yourself; the case is watertight!

Flickr CCby2.0 - Sakeeb Sabakka

Sometimes family, friends or acquaintances arrange plans that presume we all own or use cars, and don’t mind hours of pointless driving or taking very expensive taxi rides. I have some disturbing news for such people: I hate cars. I dislike driving or even just being stuck in a car. I detest long, pointless car trips. If you’re planning an event you want me to attend (which could have been located flexibly) you’d better make sure I can at least get there on public transport, if not bike.

I received the following invite (see map below) to a wedding celebration where the vast majority of invitees live in Melbourne. Honestly, I burst out laughing when I looked up the address of the wedding venue. A few years ago, when my values and priorities weren’t so clear, I would have found a way to make this trip. Now, the insanity of pointless car travel is jarringly obvious, and it takes all of two seconds to dismiss such absurd expectations. I simply declined to attend this wedding.

Committing to a bike-based life and simple living will inevitably cause social friction when other’s norms and presumptions are challenged. However, unless these norms are challenged, the status quo persists. If you accept thoughtless car-centric decisions and expectations, you’ll have to accommodate them forever. I didn’t escape the tyranny of a car-centric life only to subject myself to the externalised costs of other’s car-centric lives. That’s like quitting smoking but then hanging out with smokers who blow it in your face.

It's time to properly read the memo folks: I quit pointless, miserable, needlessly-expensive car travel – for my activities and for everyone else’s too.

Destination on the wedding invite I turned down

Further Info:
Wikipedia: Simple living


  1. Almost four years ago I gave up on cars too. I was tired of spending money in trying to keep the car running (it was at that time 18 years old), and every month it was dead due to a motor structural failure too expensive to get fixed. I was tired of being part of that traffic that made me consume 45 minutes for an 8 Km ride, I was tired of knowing myself part of the problem, guilty of polluting my mountain air, ashamed of supporting the oil industry. I got a bike, I got happier, I got healthier, and I got everywhere in it and if I wasn't able to do that or comfortably by public transportation, I won´t be there. Then I moved, from the mountains of tropical America to the plains of the big city by the La Plata river, and yesterday I got a bike given to me, it needs new tires and a good cleaning, but I'm happy again, soon I'll be free again...


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.