Wednesday, 9 July 2008

The End of the Automobile Age? Wouldn't That Be Something?

Teenagers are driving less, The New York Times says. La Presse reports that public transit use in the Montreal region is rising considerably. And, let me tell you, after a day spent in the car, I’d think a long time before I moved any place where I was dependent on the automobile only.

Not only is the price of gas skyrocketing--$1.49 a litre yesterday morning or something like $6 US a US gallon—but driving from place to place is such a drag. Yesterday was the day to stock up on all the groceries that are heavy or bulky, there were a dozen books to borrow from the McGill Library, and I’d been promising Lee to get a flat of Quebec strawberries which are at their best right now. It was very hot, traffic was snarled because of road repairs everywhere: in short it was not my best day…

The summer before I turned 16 I got my first driver’s license: because of a quickly-closed loop hole in the regulations if you took a driver’s ed course, you could get your license immediately, which is exactly what I did. Lee didn’t ask me out even though we’d been friends for months until he had a car to take me some place. When we got married he assumed at first that we’d have two cars, as his parents did.

Our kids, however, have grown up in a different world. Lukas, at 28 still doesn’t have a license, and Elin didn’t get hers until she was 26 even though she plays a cello-sized instrument and has to schlep it around all the time. There are times when I think they are a lot smarter than we were.

But we learned so I guess there’s hope for everyone.

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