By Diana Nelson Jones / July 3, 2009
It was a year ago this coming Sunday that I bought my mother's Toyota Camry, somewhat relieved to have a car but mostly with regret. I drove it as rarely as I had driven the sweet old Volvo I sold the previous April. When November rolled around and a friend had totaled his car, I offered the Toyota for sale to him. So if 2008 was the Year of the Two Car Transaction, 2009 has been the Year of Car Independence. I joined ZipCar and am a regular, if infrequent user. I ride my 1970s-era bicycle to my neighborhood Giant Eagle and other short errands and walk or take the bus most everywhere else. I drive for company business but am committed to the Car-Free Friday initiative that several organizations have teamed up to promote this summer.
The bail-out of car companies was the cockamamiest use of public money, and so much of it. That many billions could have gone a long way toward supporting a national mass transit movement that, if it were good enough, could make cars unnecessary.
A website I like is newcolonist.com, maintained by an erstwhile neighbor, Eric Miller, who now lives in Brooklyn. Listen to Eric's interview of Nick Kyriazi on his car-free life at http://www.newcolonist.com/podcasts.html and check out his other conversations.
Being an un-patriotic sort (I love the country but the "nation" business is a little too power-elite-macho for my taste), I will celebrate Independence Day tomorrow as the pure milestone it should be -- declaring independence from tyranny. In my case, it will be independence from the tyranny of those who say what our economy should be.
I will not go out and shop. If I spend money it will be with a local farmer. I will commit to bartering a good and service for another with a neighbor. I will walk and ride my bike. I will ignore the fireworks because they are symbols of the rockets red glare and I believe in peace. I will wear green. And not just for one day, but for as many days as it's possible to be truly independent. The big boys make that awfully hard. But isn't revolution always a sacrifice?
I've been invited to join the streetsblog network, a community of bloggers who write about city living and public policy that promotes sustainable patterns of development, design and growth. Many of the bloggers write about transportation policies and transit-oriented planning, and they are decidedly anti-car. Visit http://streetsblog.net/
Below is an entry that Ben Fried wrote from New York City yesterday.
by Ben Fried
This was the scene at Herald Square yesterday afternoon. It's full of people doing what the Times' Susan Dominus finds so un-New York: sitting down. Some of these loafers are actually putting their feet up, right in the heart of our fast-paced, cutthroat city. It's like they've never even seen The Sweet Smell of Success.
Streetfilms' Clarence Eckerson sent this photo and some others he snapped while shooting footage of the new Broadway. Before we get to those, a few Independence Day weekend notes.
- First, a reminder to tell John Liu that you support the Bicycle Access Bill. This is a big one.
- Second, the Macy's fireworks are switching rivers this year, so instead of the ultimate car-free event on the FDR, we'll have a car-free Route 9A and bike-free Hudson River Greenway. Starting at 4:30 on July 4th, the bikeway will be closed from 14th Street to 68th Street. It's expected to re-open in the wee hours of July 5th, after the cleaning wraps up.
Enjoy the weekend everyone. We'll see you back here on Monday