Wednesday, July 2, 2008


I specifically got a request from Julia to blog today, and I've been meaning to post for a few days anyway. I think I'm going to give a vent to a little frustration I have with Louisville, which is a great city in general.
However, it is a terrible city not to have a car in.
I do not have a car, and I do not want a car. I don't want to live somewhere I need to have a car, and frankly, Louisville is a terribly hard city to live in without one. Especially living where we do, on a very isolated college campus, it's incredibly hard to get to even the most basic necessities on foot, though it's much better on a bike. I don't have a bike either, though, so that doesn't help me much.
Everyone here is very dependent on their cars and reluctant to use any other way to get around. Nick has some horror stories about the general unfriendliness towards cyclists when he's riding downtown, and the roads are not built for sharing. The transit system is old, and while the routes seem quite comprehensive, they don't run very often. For example, the bus I take to work every day comes about once an hour. That's fine for getting to and from work, when you can easily leave at a scheduled time every day. It's much harder if you were relying on the bus to, for example, go to the post office or go grocery shopping.
And while it might seem corny, the car-only mentality here (and most places, really) is exactly the start of the floating blobs of fat that humans have become in Wall-e. (If you haven't seen it, go! Right now! It's amazingly good, and makes you want to hold someone's hand. And walk places so you don't turn into a floating fat blob.)

Moral of the story: cities have to change their patterns, and get smaller in terms of land area so public transit (and really all public infrastructure) is more efficient. People need to invest in that by not driving everywhere. And until then, I'm going to need to live somewhere I can get around by foot/bike/public transit.


Diana said...

yay non-cars!
in my case, driving is really scary since I do it like, 3 times a year and only got my license a year ago. =P
but I agree. I love Europe for its bike support.

also my friend's response to me seeing a guy with a Harvard Div school shirt and another guy with an MIT shirt at the same time at my bus stop was "Smart people take the public transit." :-) but the actual surprise is that usually the people at my bus stop scare me, but not that day...

Steve said...

For the most part, agreed. That being said, I don't think Louisville is much different than most American cities in that they naturally start off as car cities and must purposefully transition into a public transportation city. Given the relative ease-of-purchase/inexpensiveness of cars in the U.S. (i.e. Europe's ridiculously high gas prices and car taxes) and the general trend of cities resulting from "filling in" more traditional, spread-out towns, I think one's options of places to live (for slightly to moderately ambitious Yalies like ourselves) are limited to established major cities that have evolved to the point where interior development naturally increases city density and increased cash monies allow for a transit system to be in place. Sadly, that eliminates a helluva lot of the U.S. The upside is, I do have a bike here and I've met some pretty friendly cyclists on my route because there are so few of us out there.

Jessica said...

it's true! now that i am on the elm city cycling email list, i get to read articles and emails about these ideas all the time. the ecc people are constantly talking to the new haven city gov't about improving the roads for cyclists. we'll see.

Kate said...

That sounds exactly like Corpus. It's simply unthinkable not to have a car here. And it's not going to change. I would love to just walk/bike everywhere, but even if we added bike paths to major streets, this is a very poorly-planned city in general, so the distances would be killer, with all the corn and cow fields in between the actual city-ness. Ugh. I also plan on settling down in a place where I won't need a car.