There Are Too Many Cars in Seattle, But There's No Way I'm Getting Rid of Mine

Comments

1
My parents live in a small town, 3 hours from Seattle, which is not served by public transportation. As they get older, I worry about them and need to go check on them more often. There could be an emergency and I could need to be there ASAP. That's my excuse for owning a car.
2
Don't sweat the small stuff. You're living in a city, taking transit when you can, and, presumably, making good choices in general and voting in ways that advance the cause. Purity is not required and guilt is broadly counterproductive.
3
Why not get a Leaf, or at least a Prius, and reduce your Carbon footprint that way? You can also do laundry less often, and eat less meat, use less water, lower your thermostat etc.
4
Y'know, none of the nanny-having Seattle moms I know would be willing to give up their cars, either.

The vast majority of transit users have cars, too, so you're not alone in that regard, either.

Going without a car tends to happen in the intersection of high neighborhood density and low household income. In Seattle, of course, high density tends to correlate with higher income,* so it shouldn't be too surprising that we're still a car-owning city-- or that policies like "road diets" and parking-policy reshuffling don't seem to make much of a difference.

* (The converse is not true of course-- low density does not correlate with poverty in Seattle).
5
I sometimes wonder how Seattle would cope if even a fraction of the population heeded The Stranger's advice and ditched their cars. The city only has, what, 40 miles of light rail track? ST3 is decades out, the buses are already overcrowded and don't run on time, and they canceled the streetcar project. Build the transit first, THEN force people to use it.
6
It’s easy to screech and squawk at cars and their owners when you can’t afford one and won’t look in the mirror.

- Didn’t drive mine from Christmas til March, then went back outside.
7
You really should consider a different neighborhood. Parking is easy there.
8
It says a lot about the puritanical streak shown by the Stranger staff towards environment and urban development policies that you felt compelled to even write this. While I agree with the positions the Stranger champions, boy do they scold anyone that has the temerity to own a car.
9
@3: Heavens no. They're a menace to pets and humans - yes they are required to sound a small hum - but it's still dangerous. A life is not worth a couple of brownie points off your carbon footprint.
10
Automobiles will not go away until the need goes away. Decades away.
11
Jeez, nobody cares that you own a car. Do what you want with your life. But don’t insist that you should be able to store it in a transit friendly neighborhood that has never been parking friendly, with limited capacity for your driving needs, just because you’ve suddenly arrived. Don’t build your parking cubby holes where people want to live and don’t drive up rents because you you can’t figure out how to move it from its storage space to your vacation home in wine country 3 times a year. We could build half a million little car storage spots on Capitol Hill for your habit, but wouldn’t that be easier in wine country? Nobody cares that you need your car. We care about the values you impose on the neighborhood you want to drive it out of.
12
Sentences don't start with 'And'
13
@12, Yeah, but I'd like to sometimes when my sentences are incomplete.
14
@11, Such anger.
15
We need a wall around Seattle to keep people and their cars out.

We need to round them up and send them back to where they came from, even if they came here as children.

Let's make Seattle great again!
16
Amen, sister. You be you. As Seattle used to be.
18
It’s not anger. I just have strong eyebrows. I’ve clipped them before but that only made it worse!
19
Cars are never going away. Not in our lifetime. No way would I consider going back to a less effective mode of transportation.
20
Nothing wrong with owning and driving a car. They're necessary for most people, and public transportation in most places is a joke.

That said, I simply wish people would drive less. If there's a starbucks a few blocks from your place, fucking walk. Don't get in your car and use the drive thru.

Also, if you're parked and diddling your phone? Turn your fucking car off.

/rant over
21
Cars are a nessesity until Seattle and the region gets serious about public transportation. And you can't take public transit seriously when ST3 (which was sold as an urgent need) is decades away. That doesn't sound like it's that urgent.
22
Finally! An easily cited article proving that wealthy people are more hypocritical as well. I'll be using the hell out of this.
23
I hate cars. I do. They are a remnant from the 20th Century that ultimately won't belong - like those cute little festivals in cities of 50,000 people that aren't so cute anymore when the town grows to 750, 000. I think they are greasy, polluting symbols of pure evil. But here's the thing: Time is money. You have errands to run on a Saturday and can get them done in two, maybe three hours in a car - the grocery, the laundry, shopping for new bedding, the hardware store, etc.. Using public transportation to do the same errands would take ALL DAY and then some. Waiting for the next bus, or missing your connection eats up time. So really, there is no option right now for lots of transportation needs - and of course, I think that should be priority number one. You'll never get people out of their cars unless they can travel economically and clean and safe and as quickly.

I haven't owned a car in many years. I chose to live downtown so I could walk to work (there was a time, children, when you could afford to live downtown!). I wonder though - those people who have cars....how do they afford it? Holy shit, the average car payment these days is around $450/mo plus hundreds in insurance and taxes and gas and parking and maintenance. How do they manage? Do people live on ramen to make car and insurance payments?
24
Has Charles tied car ownership to being racist?
25
Thank You! As a married person, my car is my freedom space, the only space that can be clean, dirty, quiet or loud entirely to my unchallenged whim. Seattle City Hall will not prevail forcing freedom out of my hands. They might try positive incentives instead -- like safe on-site parking for my vehicle while I bus/walk to work.
26
This piece is written like a confession but reads like a not-so-humble brag.
27
@23

My greasy, polluting etc etc truck pays my cost of living, as a contractor, and gives me enjoyment in a job I quite like. My clients get jobs needed or wanted done well at a reasonable price. All impossible without the truck.

My greasy polluting etc etc convertible on a sunny weekend up Chuckanut or over Chinook are part of what makes making a living worthwhile. Just in the driveway it's enjoyable to look at or get hands greasy (though not polluted) tinkering with. Pinan Farina was a master at automotive styles you can't walk by without admiring and this Tom Tjaarda design is among his most attractive in quite a career. It is, in it's way, mobile art.

But we can agree on some things. My sister spends $1750 a month to run 2 family cars, in all those costs you list. My whole cost of living is about twice that. Her money but not a choice I'd ever make.
28
@ 23: "Those people who have cars....how do they afford it?"
--
Most people I know, out there in the working class world, pay cash for beaters. That's how.
29
@23: I can afford to own a car because I have a full time job and am responsible with my finances. I hope that answers your question.
30
As a society, we've buttered our bread; now we get to lie in it.
31
Why would you lease a car that you barely ever drive? Such a waste of money. Buy a 10 year old car with 100,000 miles and only get liability insurance on it.
32
My job requires a lot of travel, I drive about a hundred miles a day.
I bought a plug in hybrid about a year-and-a-half ago. It's a Ford C-Max, and I have to say that I am totally satisfied with it.
It averages about 54 miles per gallon over the course of a year. In the summertime, when the ICE/generator doesn't need to come on just to stay warm, my gas mileage goes up into the 70s, and I can get over 900 miles out of a single tank of gas. (About 13 gallons)
On the days I don't work, I can drive the car as an all electric car. The plug-in battery has a range of about 20 miles, depending on driving conditions.

The money that you can save in gas is more than enough reason for me to recommend a hybrid to anyone.
For those who are interested, the non plug-in version, Ford C-Max hybrid, gets about 45 miles per gallon. If you live in an apartment or you just don't have anywhere to plug in a charging station, it will still save you some gas money.
33
This is one of the best articles I have read in this publication. Have a car, drive it moderately, and use public transportation when its feasible. I am sick of this issue being presented as an either-or proposition.
34
For those who just moved here, do the research 1st. Traffic has been an issue here for years.. Certainly in the 70's and 80's road trips to Portland, Canada etc were effortless.

Around the late 90's Seattle became "thee" place to live. That migration never really stopped. You combine that with the latest gold rush so to speak and we have what we have. Many are also moving here to escape bad weather, Texas, Florida etc. Ironically the bad traffic and rental prices might just be the thing that gets many to move back home.

I talk to at least 100 people a day due to my job. Most of them feel that Seattle has not lived up to their expectations. Even though its not hard to blame these newer transplants from moving here all wide eyed and aw struck, I still find myself dumbfounded as I watch someone from another state, trying to navigate their lifted, tricked out monster truck through downtown traffic, parallel park or head the wrong way down a one way street.

Some of us Seattle natives don't want to share. When you see over time, what has happened, it can be just a little nauseating no matter what your religion.
35
@21. you think shit just magically falls out of the sky fully engineered, designed, and built, including miles and miles of tunnel? WE PASSED THE TAX LAST YEAR WHY THE FUCK ISNT THE 60 MILES OF TRACK BUILT YET YOU INCOMPETENT FOOLS?
36
People move to Seattle largely because of the outdoors, and the parks/beaches/mountains/etc. that are easily accessible. This is why we are never going to get rid of cars. There is really no reason for most people to commute by car, but lots of people will keep them so they can do the other stuff. There are areas like downtown where it is so dense that trying to park a car is crazy. But the fixation on building housing with no parking is making it much harder to get the kind of density we need in other areas. Half the reason neighbors hate to see apartments come in is that they know it will bring another 10, 20, 50 cars in with nowhere to park except the street, which makes the area much more congested and really amplifies the impact on the neighborhood.

For getting around the city we need to build a real goddamned transit system NOW.
37
The author has a freakin' baby. You don't judge people with babies for owning a car and you don't suggest they should move out the neighborhood; you just don't. Okay?
38
@27- it's Pininfarina, btw.