You Don't Own Your Car

Comments

1
...and somewhere, Yakov Smirnov is laughing.
2
If you are putting 25% of your untaxed income into your car, you're doing it wrong.

At my job that would mean I get to buy a $150k car every 5 years! S550s for everyone!

Thanks for the usual round of shitty morning links. Now go fly somewhere, shut up all day, and come back with pictures of bathrooms tomorrow.

Goddamn will you please quit The Stranger and go full time at MTV already? This city is so sick of you.
3
Two hours a day? Worth it. I pay much less however, because I drive my cars into the ground. As long as the stereo system works I'm OK with a crappy and cheap ride.
4
There are so many obvious fallacies in this article, I don't even know where to begin. So I won't.

Also, @1: Thanks for the chuckle.
5
Mr Savage, how much did you shell out to travel for work last year? What's the total distance you traveled for work? Very curious....
6
Ooooh, bicyclist activism disguised as car owner sympathy.
7
@2 This is an average across America and it is not talking about car purchases alone. These data concern yearly car ownership costs which average to ~8000/yr. Read the article, don't just be reactionary.

A larger point though, Dan or whoever. A lot/most of lower income people rely on their cars to even have jobs. It's not the car that owns them, but rather the lack of affordable housing in cities and the lack of public transportation outside of urban centers. The car 'culture' cannot be isolated from these problems.
8
Dont own a car, never had, dont even have a license ,never bothered to get one. Im a slave to nobody, doing far more for the enviornment than half of you anti-tunnel asshats.
9
Sure, if you're po', but I'm not. So apparently Dan is wagging his finger at the lower classes. Wag away Dan, it only helps us when we need to get them to vote against things like an income tax.
10
Well, since you make the big bucks, Mr. Savage, I doubt that the car Terry drives you around in all the time costs you that high a percentage of your income.

Those averages are crazy! If I had to sit in my car for 48 minutes each day, I would go insane.
11
My transportation costs every month come to $104, a sharp increase from the $72/month that I paid less than 4 years ago, but still cheap. Being able to rely completely on the MTA for transportation is a wonderful thing.
12
I tell you Dan, nothing gets the working class to listen more than having a tv-hungry, preening, effete, college educated, arugala-eating, rich white homosexual living on Cap Hill waving his little finger at them.

On behalf of everyone who voted against a state income tax, I thank you for your help.
13
Unless a very nice friend buys you a car...then it's free and you are only paying for gas
14
It's all well and good, but a lot depends on where you are. In southern California to not have a car pretty much means no job, nothing. Home ownership hurts this too -- far less possible to relocate easily to be near one's job. Throw in children or dependents, and you don't want to tie up any more time in transit than you have to (I grant you that a longer bus ride may be offset by sitting in rush hour traffic).

I applaud the sentiment, I support efforts to move to mass transit, but that day ain't here yet :-P
15
@13 Yeah, mine was a hand-me-down from my grandparents. To be fair, it's blue book value is only $400.
16
The article is just pointing out that cars are expensive. This should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, and I really don't understand why people are taking offense. Even if you own a cheap car, gas is expensive, maintenance is expensive, insurance is expensive, licensing is expensive.

The reactions that I am reading to this article are analogous to the hardcore gun owners response to an article that simply points out the dangers of having a gun in the house.

Nobody is trying to take away your car, take a deep breath, and relax.

Better? Now go buy a bike ;-)
17
I really don't understand the automatic knee-jerk nastiness of the pro-car crowd. I know that we've all been conditioned to believe that our cars are an extension of us, and show how sexy we supposedly are, but why are people so defensive? Are you really so threatened by the idea of not having a car, or at least facing the fact that the industry is largely a scam?

And lest anyone accuse me of being a pro-bicycle activist, we have two cars (one old and paid for, one new and not) an elderly truck, an RV and a boat. I haven't ridden a bicycle since 1990. It's ridiculous to have these many vehicles, particularly as Mr. Vel-DuRay works about 1/2 mile from Chez Vel-DuRay, and I take link to work, but that's the way it works around here.

And Dan, I don't presume - like others - to speak for the entire city of Seattle, but I can say that I'm not tired of you. But I'm not a neurotic car queen, either.
18
my bikes own me, that is for sure, I can't leave them alone outside for more than an hour without getting worried.
19
ah, 16 and 17, what a breath of fresh air. cheers.
20
@16, hospital stays are expensive too. Riding a bike is dangerous. I should know, I was hit twice when I rode.

Your facts are off. Gas is cheap, as cheap as it's ever been. Insurance is dirt cheap if you don't have points on your driving record -- I last got a ticket more than 30 years ago. Maintenance? I pay AAA, who give me a jump every once in a while -- I'm forgetful -- but it's hardly anything.
An oil change costs $30. I've had to replace a couple of tires, last year. Licensing? Surely you're joking; Tim Eyman has ensured that it's practically free.

My crappy car cost very little to buy and even less to run; I'd estimate I spend about three hours a MONTH paying for it.

For the vast majority of Americans, a car is what allows them to have a better job that makes ordinary life, including car ownership, possible. A car allows you live fully in your community. There's a reason why the first thing poor immigrants do when they get here is scrape up enough dough to buy a car.
21
My car costs considerably less than that annualized amount to maintain, but then it's 35+ years old, paid for ages ago, generally only driven once or twice a week at-most, and even then its used almost exclusively for short-distance trips to transport things I simply can't lug around on my back or on the bus.

So, I guess that puts me somewhere between the two extremes: I own a car, and acknowledge a sort of grudging dependence on it for some things, but at the same time, I'm not so slavishly dependent on it that I can't recognize other forms of transportation as being viable, even fundamentally superior, alternatives.
22
My 96 Corrolla doesn't own shit.
23
A car doesn't *have* to cost $8000 per year. Buy used (no payments), buy fuel efficient (there are lots of non-hybrids that get 30+ MPG), and live near where you work. If you view it as a tool rather than a status symbol, these choices are not hard to make.

A very generous calculation of my car-related expenses comes to about $3300 per year, over half of which is the premium on rent in Cap Hill that includes a parking space. And my wife and I share it.
24
Adding to the predominance of cars: if you have a family but not a high income, there's a much lower bar to finance a car than to finance a house in a neighborhood where you won't need one to get to all the good things in life. So people with x to spend sometimes will choose a house further out and a car vs. no car and a house closer in. In Dan's neighborhood the assesed house value is 800 grand or so.

Some people choose the mortgage there so they can super easily take transit, ride bikes and take cabs. To get as big a house in a half-quiet neighborhood others might have to pay $300K for a mortgage in, say, Greenwood. Then they take a tiny part of that $500K remainder to finance a car and pay for its ongoing costs to zip them to Pike/Pine and back for the big Saturday night at Elliott Bay/Smith/Molly Moon's.

I'm not saying it's how it should be, but it is what it is. You can't sell people on the idea that cars are more expensive than bikes without taking housing costs and household size into consideration.
25
@ 15...Free is Free:)
26
@17- It's the smug, self-righteous attitude displayed by many of the pro-bike people that makes those with cars immediately defensive. You know, it works for them, so it should work for the rest of us and if we're not biking WE'RE DESTROYING THE WORLD. Sometimes the pro-bikers demonize car owners, when we really should all be focused on the issues of affordable urban housing and availability of reasonable public transit.

I, for one, would love a viable alternative to driving to work, but it just doesn't exist for me right now, mostly because of the particulars of my job. Even if there was rapid mass transit, or I was close enough to walk/bike (this would involve living in Mountlake Terrace-- *shudder*), there aren't enough fleet vehicles to go around, meaning I have to use my personal vehicle for work.

Yes, cars are fucking expensive. Routine maintenance is not that much, but wait until your clutch goes out, or the head gasket gets blown, or you need to replace your timing belt. Then you're talking at least $1000. And, the older the car, the bigger the money-pit.
27
Not having a car really restricts your options for work, travel, and entertainment. I'd love to be car-free, but it's not possible if you don't have a steady, long-term career (I've been asked in job interviews whether I own a car-employers don't always want you depending on your bike/buses to get to work) and if you live anywhere but a decent-sized city with good public transit. I've got a crappy old car I drive a few times a week- not much of an expense for a large benefit (I can zip off to a city 100 miles away to visit relatives, spend the day hiking on my favorite trails 30 miles from town, drive to the grocery store and pick up a 40-lb bag of cat litter, etc.).
28
I've owned outright this entire century.

I think you mean that you work 2 hours a day for your car - my car works for me.
29
I've been car-free for 10 years, and get around by bike with the occasional Zipcar or bus or ride from a friend. I have saved a good deal of money -- the insurance and a parking space (I live downtown) alone were costing me $175/month. But it isn't the money so much as the hassle. There are times certainly when it would be more convenient to own a car, but overall, I felt liberated when I got rid of it. And riding my bike everywhere has been just great, for the most part. I actually looking forward to getting on my bike. I never looked forward to sitting in traffic or trying to find parking or filling up the tank. Maybe others wouldn't feel that way, but that's been my experience.
30
18 years car-free. It's really not that difficult in Seattle. There are a few things I can't do, but I would never go back to being a driver.
31
This article is really bad. First let's contemplate how awful communting on a bike is for 2/3 of the year in the northwest. How many people want to show up to work covered in sweat and dirty road spray? I used to bike to work in the summer, but only because my building had a gym / shower facilities in the basement. Most professional jobs won't be cool with you stinking of BO all day from your morning commute.

Second, in many places the extra time associated with public tran sport makes it not cost effective. Oh so I work 2 hours a day to pay for my car? (Which I don't, its a bit less than 1) but taking the bus would add an hour to my commute, and with the limited # of hours in the day, my time is more valuable than that.

Finally, one of the greatest joys in life is drivin a fast car with the windows down on a nice sunny day, let that engine purr & blast some tunes!
32
The two times I've seen Savage in Seattle he was getting into taxis (once at the airport...I guess the train is for little people).

I guess for Savage taxis are 'public transit'.
33
"one of the greatest joys in life is drivin a fast car with the windows down on a nice sunny day, let that engine purr & blast some tunes!"

You forgot about the blow job you're getting. Try getting head on a Schwinn.

Why do you all hate America?
34
A friend helped me buy my car. I made payments on it for 2 years then he wouldn't accept payment anymore ( I still owed more than 20 thousand.)
Now I am obsessed w/ keeping it on the road as long as I can...approaching 200 thousand miles. It smells like dogs and spilled lattes but it is a great and free car:)
35
@30, and I didn't own a car until after I turned 40. I too would never go back.
36
My car owns me - so do my kids, my wife, my lawn and my leaky roof. Freedom is an illusion I can no longer maintain. It was nice while it lasted.

On another note - jeez, trolls, calm the f*ck down. If you can live (well) without a car, you should. But most people can't. I think Dan and any other half-intelligent person realizes that much. It's just a plug for bikes, no big deal.

Yeesh, some people.
37
Maps dear, maybe if you had better reading skills, you would have a better job and wouldn't have such horrible car woes.

Go back and read what I had to say, and concentrate this time. Anyone who looks at me could tell instantly that I am not a biker. And just what sort of pro-bike person has five vehicles in a two-person household?

All I'm saying is that the industry is a scam - maintenance, insurance, sales, financing, marketing, etc. And the reactionary attitude of a lot of Americans when you presume to even question this "lifestyle choice" is pretty funny. We're all suckers in the name of consumerism. We just prefer to call it "freedom".
38
Dan probably expected more hits with his bikes vs. cars troll bait. Better luck next time dickhead.

Soooo booooring.
39
@ 29 (and presumably @ 30, and anyone else bragging about living car-free), that's the thing. You can't live without a car unless you live in the center of the city. Which means that you probably dedicate a hell of a lot more of your income to housing than the national average. (Unless you were one of the lucky ones to buy something before the 1997 or so.)
40
I wonder what a horse team and buggy would cost?
41
I didn't mean to include the word "the" toward the end of my last sentence @ 39.
42
I don't understand why it always has to be either or; a lot of reactionary car owners seem to think that owning a bike precludes owning a car. The most logical and realistic first step in the national commuting issue is for more people (not all) to commute by bike or mass transit more often (not all the time). A car-free utopia is unrealistic, but a world where some people drive less that has less congestion, less pollution, and lower car ownership cost (from less wear and tear) is realizable without drastic change in infrastructure.
43
@ 20 You must have been doing something wrong if you got hit twice. You can't expect other people to watch out for you, you know? Especially not if they all have the same car-centric attitude that most US and Canadian car owners seem to have. Apparently, they forget that what they bought is the car, not the streets they ride on.

I spend most of the year in Mexico City (21 million people, 4.5 million motor vehicles), I live in the city center (densest traffic), ride my bike everywhere, don't even use a helmet, and I feel safe. Why? because everyone there knows that you have to SHARE the road with everyone else.
44
And I forgot to mention @ 43 that Mexico City has an extremely poor biking infrastructure (although they're working on it).
45
@37- Easy, there. I didn't say *you* had a self-righteous attitude. I was commenting on the tone some pro-bike people take, including Dan at times, though not in this particular post. You asked why people get immediately defensive; I provided an answer. Go take a Valium or something. Sheesh.
46
As for people who point to the dangers or BO factors of biking:

If you don't want to be dirty or sweaty when you get to work, buy a $20 set of fenders and throw on a pair of gym shorts and a t-shirt and change at work. If you ride at a gentle pace and coast occasionally, you shouldn't be that sweaty (or sweaty at all during cooler months).

To the other point, yes biking is more dangerous, and you're more likely to be more seriously injured than in an equivalent car accident. If you wear a helmet and ride clear of the door-zone from parked cars, you can lessen that risk. Plus, with more people biking, drivers will get more accustomed to dealing with bikers and the roads will be safer.

Biking is a sacrifice for a lot of people, and for some it's not a feasible option. What's important is that there is definitely a group out there that could bike (or mass-transit) occasionally and that this would take a chunk of cars off the road.

I live off-campus and bike year round on a newish road bike I got on craigslist for $250 (by college student standards, a very "nice bike"). That's an investment some people out there could make and it's one that has paid off for me. Even ignoring finances altogether, if nothing else, my ass was worth the investment (which my girlfriend - or Dan for that matter - could vouch for).
47
What the College Dude said. Between me and TFMDrA we have five licensed vehicles and three bicycles. We could never go car-free, but we commute by bus (her) and bus+bike (me). My employer, luckily, offers showers and my twice-a-week ten mile commute is also a nice workout. But we coexist with our vehicles and could never go car-free. But what we have works, the money we save on gas and downtown parking can go toward toys and things like fun weekend out-of-town trips in the sports car.
48
Back when I was carless, the bus system owned *me*. I couldn't get anywhere in less than a half an hour. If the bus was late, or didn't show, or was packed with schoolchildren and couldn't let on more passengers, I could be a half hour or more late for work. If I had to be somewhere on time (like for an appointment), I would have to leave a half hour early (and that was on top of the bus taking two to three times as long as a car to get somewhere). It was a nightmare if my doctor's office or a business or whatever fucked something up and asked me to stop by to fill out more paperwork; something like that would eat up at least an hour of my time. When the bus got stuck in bad traffic, it would easily take an hour for me to get home (the actual commute was THREE MILES).

Owning a car is immensely freeing. Worth every penny.
49
Of course, the funniest thing is, Savage doesn't take bikes or buses to get around Seattle, or around the cities he flies to every week. Do you think Savage takes the bus in from LaGuardia or hop a taxi like normal people? LAX to UCLA, bus or car?

Remember, rich boy Savage thinks taxis are 'public' transportation.
50
Of course, Savage's carbon footprint with all the flying and taxiing around he does is probably ten times that of an SUV driving, McMansion loving redneck from Snohomish county.

But Danny Boy's allowed to do that, he's more important than the little people.
51
@43, what was I doing wrong? You're the expert on my transportation needs, so you tell me. Both times I was right-hooked by someone who sped up to pass me on my left and then turned right directly in front of/into me. This is I believe the most common bicycle-car accident. I have a coworker who was doored, ran straight into the EDGE of the opened door, and was nearly killed.

Anyone riding a bike anywhere, cars or no cars, without a helmet on is a traumatic brain injury waiting to happen. Come back to me when you've been doing it for fifty years, smart guy. I knew a guy in Boston who popped his head open like a melon on a curb and died. No helmet = STUPID.

I've also been to Mexico City, and absolutely adore every inch of it, but your characterization of it as a place where cars willingly share the road is laughable. In Mexico City, it's legal and customary to RUN RED LIGHTS, at night, as long as you blare your horn and flash your lights. The power of pedestrians there comes from sheer numbers; if you are on any street with no other pedestrians, you are at extreme danger -- cars frequently drive up on the sidewalk to get past, speed the wrong way backwards down one-ways, park in crosswalks, etc. etc.

And, while Mexico City has an admirable bike-sharing program, the best in the world, in fact, it's still unusual to see bicyclists anywhere (aside from the green covered pedicabs) -- much rarer than here, for instance. And El DF is one of the most car-choked places on the face of the earth, which rather invalidates your argument. People in Mexico City have generally outstanding public transit, a huge network of taxis (including bicycle taxis), but they all buy cars the instant they can afford to.

People EVERYWHERE buy cars as soon as they can afford to. The magic cutoff is a GDP of $5,000. The fastest-growing car country is China, which recently passed that mark. India is right behind them. When several billion people are desperate to do a thing, it's probably not wise to suggest that they're stupid. It probably means they know how to improve their lives.

@48, one hundred percent. The bus system owns your soul if that's what you have to rely on.
52
#51 - You should go see Bill Cunningham New York at Harvard Exit (if you can find parking around there, I know it's not easy). He's been doing it for 50 years, in New York no less. And still is. He is 82 and probably looks better than you do. ;-)
53
" Bill Cunningham"

Another childless, millionaire homosexual like Savage. What about regular Americans?
54
@ 51 - Is forty years long enough?

What you were doing wrong is this: you weren't careful enough. As a rather vulnerable element in traffic, all cyclists must be constantly aware of everything that's happening all around them, and never ever trust drivers. The fact that the law grants you priority doesn't mean that everyone else on the road will. Everyone thinks they're the king of the road. Putting your safety in their hands = STUPID.

We all know these things can happen. Indeed, what you described (cars cutting you off, doors opening) has happened to me countless times. But I never ride so fast that I can't stop on time or avoid them. And I'm constantly looking around. Surprise: I've NEVER had an accident.

As for your comments on Mexico City, well, this is precisely what all foreigners say (as I did), until they actually try to see it "from the inside". If you don't apply your limited perception of how traffic should work and you start to function within it, to "feel" it, you soon get the hang of it. Until then, you remain a tourist, and you go away terrorized because no one "follows the rules" - which is silly, as they obviously all follow the same rules, just not the ones YOU are used to.

Saying that people are "at extreme danger" only shows how incapable you are of adapting to a system that's different from yours. Considering the volume of traffic, there truly aren't that many accidents in town compared to many other places I've been. Accidents tend to happen (in disproportionate numbers) in smaller towns and suburbs, where people foolishly assume they're safe.

And I don't see how the number of cars (which I've mentioned) or the absence of cyclists invalidate my argument. Quite the contrary: even though there truly aren't that many of us, drivers respect me a lot more than elsewhere. They will slow down to let me pass if they realize it would be dangerous for them not to, instead of "trying to teach me a lesson" as US and Canadian drivers very often do. Because Mexico City drivers are also constantly on the lookout for anything - taxis, buses, pedestrians, motorcycles, scooters, trucks, delivery bikes and whatnot - that might just suddenly appear around them.

Oh, and one last thing: in most case, Mexico City drivers don't blare their horn or flash their lights to pass through a red light. But everyone knows that, no one expects them to, and they all act accordingly: by using their ears, their eyes and their brains.

55
it seems to me that the article isn't saying everyone can live car-free.

rather the opposite - the problem is that American lifestyles and infrastructure make this impossible. if there were more bike paths and showers at offices, for example, more people could cycle to work.

a lot of people are really defensive, as though this is a personal attack, rather than an attack on the system!

as someone who is car-free after moving overseas, i love the low stress, compared to having to have a car in the US. but it's only possible because of the excellent public transport.
56
The real shame is that so many places in this country don't have public transportation systems. I haven't owned a car for 21 years. I don't own a bike either. Buses and subways take me places. (And it's lovely, 'cause there's none of the stress of driving... I can just read a book till I arrive at my destination).
Last summer I had to visit relatives in Florida and it really blew me away that there was literally no way to get from one place to another. This, in a retirement community chock full of people who absolutely should NOT have been behind the wheel of a car.
Instead of people screaming at bike activists and the like, people should really be screaming at those who are unwilling to commit to public transportation infrastructure. Private cars are simply a dumb, inefficient, expensive, dangerous way of organizing transport.
57
@54, again, I thank you for your important lecture on what I was doing wrong twenty years ago in a place you've never been to. So valuable to hear that it was my fault the car hit me, both times. Because only you know how careful I am or am not being. Only you have the perception to know that I think I'm king of the road. You should go on Dr. Phil. It's also good to know that I'm not using my brain, which you can tell because you're a very powerful psychic. I'm guessing.

The real reason you've never had an accident is because you're lucky, period. And the more convinced you are that you're "feeling" it, the more likely you are to miss the one that kills you. As I said, you don't even need to hit a car to bash your brains out, fool.

@52, OK, there's one. Now, here, on my side I've got 1.5 billion car owners.

58
@ 57 - I said "Everyone thinks they're the king of the road". As in: "be wary of everyone else". Reading comprehension fail.

I didn't say it was your fault the car hit you, I said you weren't careful ENOUGH, i.e. sufficiently to prevent it. That's rather obvious, since if you had been careful ENOUGH, you could have stopped on time. It's your safety, it's your life. If you expect people to take care of it for you, this is what happens.

And you must be the psychic one, since you tell me that after 40 years of riding a bike without an accident, it's because "I'm lucky, period". Actually, it's because I'm careful ENOUGH, period.

Now If I had said that you're not using your brain - which I actually didn't - you certainly would have proved me right with that post.
59
Sorry, I stand corrected. You win, Dan.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
60
Fnarf;

Normally I agree with what you have to say (particularly when you are busting on WiS, but that's not really relevant). It sucks that you got hit 20 years ago but that seems like a pretty poor reason to discourage folks from riding their bikes around town. Also, using anecdotes as evidence makes for crumby arguments. If I were to play by those rules I would say 'well I commute 21 miles from Wallingford to Everett every day so everyone should do it." It's an idiotic argument. Not everyone can, and very few would want to.

I'm not faulting anyone who drives a car and I'm not claiming to be better than them. What I am saying is that if people are willing to make the effort (and it is an effort and an inconvenience at times) to get rid of their cars, it can be done. It can save you money, it can get you in better shape, and yes it can get you injured, but injuries are the exception, not the rule.
61
Huh. I have both a car and a bicycle, and I almost never use the car, unless I'm going more than 20 mi or so. Are the rents within 10 mi of the available-employment and/or entertainment sections of Seattle really that high? Do the buses lack bicycle racks? I was considering moving to Seattle in a couple years, but if the people citing housing costs as an issue are correct, I may have to reconsider. Living in Milwaukee, I'm only about 5 mi outside of downtown (3 mi from work/school and 10~15 mi from the places I would/do want to frequent) living in one of the lower-rent districts.

Anyway, bicycling is not practical for everyone all the time, but it's practical for many more people than do it, and it would be even more practical with infrastructure design focused on enabling cycling or cycling/public transit hybrid transportation schemes instead of automobile transportation.

@7: That's part of infrastructure design, though. With light rail running longer distances (e.g. commuter routes between cities) and cheap-and-fast buses and bicycle routes in cities, the 'need' for a car to get to and from work is drastically reduced.

@26: The fact that one's comfort/survival depends on driving a car doesn't mean that one isn't destroying the world; it may simply be the case that one's comfort/survival involves destroying the world, because driving a car is necessary and destroys the world. Most of the cycling activists I know aren't demonizing people who need to own a car because they have 30 mile commutes every day, based on the only places they can find jobs and the only places they can afford housing with those jobs, they're demonizing people who drive a mile or two (that's walking distance, including here in Wisconsin, in Winter), who have decided that their comfort or desire to not engage in any sort of physical activity for the five minutes or so it would take to bike the trip is worth the environmental degradation that goes along with driving that far (as the first 5 mi or so of a car trip are the dirtiest, before the catalytic converter heats up). They're demonizing the people who choose to live tens of miles from where they work and socialize (and I mean really choose, in the sense that they have perfectly comfortable and affordable options closer to work/school/social scene) because they want lots of land or to not live near Black people or Latinos or something.

@48: Okay, but the article is arguing for better public transit infrastructure and bicycle considerations. I mean, your 3-mile commute is less than a 15 minute bike ride at the relatively slow pace of 15 mi/hr. Your story isn't an argument for car ownership specifically, it's an argument against public transit being shitty. A better bus system would have helped, and a bicycle - especially with dedicated lanes/trails, would be significantly faster than a car during bad traffic.
62
#57 Haha Fnarf, you make it sound like car drivers don't ever get killed! Are you kidding? No, I don't think you are. I have encountered this attitude so many times -- people who think I'm insane to ride a bike, but never think twice about getting behind the wheel. Doesn't 40,000 deaths per year in car accidents (and lord knows how many non-fatal but serious injuries) count for anything?
63
Well then Maps, I do apologize, and I hope you will forgive me. Not that it's any excuse, but I had a dreadful cruise ship experience over the weekend, and now I have an even more dreadful cold, and the whole thing has made me cross and snappish. I don't have any Valium, but I just now did a shot of tequila. If it doesn't make me better, it will at least make me feel like I am feeling better. Tequila has powerful medicinal qualities.
64
Weak. Without doing the math for comparison groups this analysis is meaningless, unless the goal is to push some anti-car propaganda and give bikers yet another excuse to congratulate themselves.

Everyone who works commutes (Unless you work from home), so the relevant figures are relative, not absolute. To wit, how do drivers' commute times compare to cyclists' and public transit riders' times? How much more money do people spend on their mortgage/rent for the privilege of living close enough to their work to not need to drive? et cetera.
65
@63- No sweat. *Any* cruise ship experience would make me snappish. Hope the tequila is working.
66
@61: Wow. I'm blown away at the comments that a mile or two is walking distance during a Wisconsin winter, that you can bike a mile or two in five minutes in the winter, and that 15 mi/hr is a "relatively slow pace."
67
I love Dan's post and the comments on this thread. And Dan's post. It's the inspiration I need as I finish my first week of bike commuting here in Cincinnati, the town with the world's worst drivers. And Mr. emma's bee and I have two cars, so you won't hear me bashing car ownership too much. I just hope I have a better experience on my bike than Fnarf did. (and Catalina--sorry you had a lousy cruise. I do hope it wasn't anything dreadful like Norwalk...)
68
@61,

The article slams car ownership in general. With better infrastructure, you might be able to convince people to commute via transit, but the overwhelming majority will keep their cars, because it's an incredible pain in the ass to live without one completely. So the point of the article (that car ownership is a burden) is moot. Gas is not the most expensive part of car ownership. In my case, it's cheaper to drive to work than pay $5/day for bus fare.

And improved transit will never match the convenience of a car. Even when I lived in Manhattan, grocery shopping and shopping for large-ish electronics were a major pain in the ass. It's great if you can afford Zip Cars and cabs, but that cuts into the savings of foregoing car ownership.

Also, thanks for the patronizing "advice," but my old three-mile commute was/is insanely dangerous for bicyclists (in a way that can't be improved with better infrastructure) and also extremely hilly.
69
Y'all bakers be toasting in a roll bread.
70
I did some simple math. With a 4 year-old hybrid, including gas, servicing, and insurance, it amounts to a half-hour's wages of my work day. For my work and my family's needs, WELL worth it.
71
@ 70 Did you take into account the price of the car?
72
this is one of the awesome-est comment threads in a while. But wow, way to miss your target market. 90% of Stranger commenters are not even close to this demographic: either too rich to care, or too Hipster to admit it.
73
And as the owner of 7 registered vehicles and 3 bicycles, i'm in the "Who Gives A Shit" camp.
74
Right now My car eats better than my children.. Fuel efficient car still takes 75.00 to fill a 15 gallon tank. ( and a full tank only lasts 2.5 days for me because of a busy schedule) It only costs 45 to fill my 2 kids, my husband and I at a local restaurant.
75
@26- "I, for one, would love a viable alternative to driving to work, but it just doesn't exist for me right now, mostly because of the particulars of my job."

You go on to point out that it's because you have a job that requires driving around, which makes you quite a rarity.
76
@48- Do you have some mobility issue? Cause it takes about an hour for an average person to walk a three miles, and it's a hell of nice way to travel compared to the bus.

Basically, I'm saying the bus didn't own you, your laziness owned you.
77
@31 "First let's contemplate how awful communting on a bike is for 2/3 of the year in the northwest. "

It's pretty awesome, actually. I used to do it in Boston and that was really cold and icy for several months a year.

You're just a wimp.
78
@68- "Even when I lived in Manhattan, grocery shopping and shopping for large-ish electronics were a major pain in the ass."

A) You buy large electronics/appliances more than once a year?
B) Grocery shopping isn't a problem unless you're lazy.
79
@ 78, what part of town do you live in? Just curious.
80
@79-Mapleleaf.
81
Actually, my job owns me. That's why I have a car.
82
@76: Maybe in good weather conditions, with comfortable shoes, without any streets to cross, and if you're walking pretty fast, you can walk three miles in an hour. I've clocked my walking speed and it's about 1.5 mph if I'm walking normally. 3 mph is much faster than people normally walk. And crossing busy streets is going to add a lot more time to your commute. Not to mention those ridiculous places unsuitable for human habitation where water in various forms actually falls from the ground, or the temperature is low enough to make your hands freezing, or hot enough to cause dehydration if you're outside for an hour walking quickly.
83
@82- You have a disability. Most people walk twice as fast as you. I walked two miles with my daughter when she was six and we made it in an hour including stops to observe ants and dandelions. (I usually don't measure our walks but I know the distance from her school to my home.) Why would you ever wear shoes that aren't comfortable? I've never lived anywhere where water falls from the ground in any form. Walking for an hour in all but the harshest weather (which doesn't happen in Seattle) will not cause you to become dehydrated. It might make you thirsty, but that is different.

Honestly, it seems you live on a different planet than the one I'm on.
84
@83: Nope, no disabilities. If I were to run, I could do 3 miles in 25-30 minutes or so, but walking is, by definition, slow. However, I did look it up and apparently 3 mph is an average walking speed: maybe I just walk really slow, or maybe I miscalculated/misremembered.

Why would you ever wear shoes that aren't comfortable? Because most jobs require it. Sure, you can bring shoes and change, and carry a backpack, but that's a hassle and extra time and slows you down.

You've never lived anywhere with rain, snow, graupel, or hail? I envy you. Where on Earth does that happen?

And walking in temperatures over 90 or 100 can easily cause dehydration. I've experienced it many times.

85
@84- "Why would you ever wear shoes that aren't comfortable? Because most jobs require it."

No they don't. Only jobs that require formal clothing, which the vast majority of people do not have. And even formal shoes don't have to be unwalkable if you're a man. So only a minority of people (all of them women thanks to sexism) need to wear shoes they can't comfortably walk in to work in. And they can leave a couple pairs of shoes at their office/strip club/whatever and walk back and forth in sneakers. No backpack needed. If you need to go to multiple locations in a day and have to wear heals at each, you really can carry a bag of some kind. It doesn't have to be a ratty backpack, it could be some fancy leather thing with a big V on the side that costs more than a TV. But of course, then you are falling into the tiny minority of people for whom a car becomes essential.

You said nothing of rain, snow, etc... You said the water fell from the ground. I was joking about that. Sorry. I have no trouble walking in the rain or snow. Our ancestors used to do it just by wrapping leather bags around their feet and stuffing them with moss, nowadays we have much better shoes which make it hardly an issue. Ice can be a bit more problematic, but they do make some cool grippy straps to go over regular shoes which make walking on ice like walking on dry pavement. Or you can just walk carefully and slow down to 2.5 mph or so.

I'll say it again, thirst is not dehydration.

We should not be planning our transportation infrastructure around shoes that cripple a small minority of people, nor the small minority of people who really need a car to do their job.
86
@85: I'm all for better infrastructure for walking and biking, but most people are not going to want to walk a couple miles every day, especially in rain or snow. It's a pain. Cars are incredibly convenient. If you have no problems walking a few miles a day in rain, that's awesome! But a lot of people find that unpleasant.

And I have yet to find dress shoes that are comfortable enough to walk a mile in. But I have weird feet and I'm poor.

And if you're in Seattle you probably don't have to deal with this, but it is very easy to get dehydrated in hot weather (not just thirsty). Nausea, headaches, diarrhea.

Only jobs that require formal clothing, which the vast majority of people do not have.

One of the many things wrong with this world today... the only excuse for not wearing formal clothing at a job is if you're an auto mechanic or construction worker or something.
87
Ah, there's Doorknob Danny once again making excuses for the fact that he can't act like a grownup and LEARN TO DRIVE. Nobody's saying that you have to own a car, Dannyboy. But the fact that you're an adult man who can't even drive? Pathetic. Just...absolutely...PATHETIC.
88
@DASYUS: Nobody said that you have to open up your mouth to utter stupid comments in order to compensate for your peanut dick and your rice grain testicles, either. Why not stick to the muscle car forums that you've obviously migrated from in order to troll here?