04 December 2007

Convergence

First, I can't believe I just used that as the title of my post. Ugh.

Second, this morning at 7:16 EST, Dasha posted a comment on my "Walk Score" post. Then, having thought about a response on-and-off during the day, tonight on Marketplace I heard of a recent study indicating that people in the US like to walk -- and that Gen-Xers should rejoice because this is the first major trend attributed to Gen-Xers instead of Baby Boomers. Hence, "Convergence."

Now some more on walking and driving. A careful re-reading of Dasha's comment makes me suspect that it's comment spam, but it's surprisingly articulate comment spam, so I'll respond nonetheless. First, to move the conversation out of August, I'll post Dasha's comment in full.

"I believe that walk score is cool, but nowadays more and more people prefer to drive cars. Homes are often located in an area where some establishments are easier to get to by car than on foot. I've recently found a type of service on drivescore.fizber.com which is called Drive Score. It shows a map of what establishments are in your neighborhood and calculates a Drive Score based on the number of places within a convenient driving distance. It doesn’t mean that drive score is better than walk score – they are equal and both necessary in the modern world!"

Response(s):

1. This morning my drive score was 68. Tonight it is 75. Hmmm ... You can tweak the settings somewhat, and get walk- and bike-scores also.
2. I surely don't understand why my proximity to a TJ Maxx or Victoria's Secret should influence my drive score, especially given that I'm only 3.25 miles from a Wal-Mart Supercenter (never mind the fact that we shop mostly at Goodwill -- and there are two of those closer than the Wal-Mart Supercenter, one of which is conveniently located beside a CVS pharmacy and a Martin's supermarket). Some further playing reveals that if I exclude the TJ Maxx, Victoria's Secret, and Home Depot, but leave the Wal-Mart and the Gym my score is a 79. If I take away a Gym, my score drops to 73. If I keep the gym but remove the Wal-Mart, my score is 74.
3. "It doesn't mean that drive score is better than walk score - they are both equal and both necessary in the modern world!" They most certainly are not. Equal, anyway. Yes, we in the West live in a society that pretty much requires that we own or have access to a vehicle. This is especially true for those in rural areas. But necessity, or, as stated earlier in the comment, preference, are not in and of themselves justification for walking and driving being equal. In terms of environmental impact, physical and mental health, and societal (that is, community) health walking is vastly superior.

And necessity itself is a little questionable. Most of us choose to live in ways that continue to require the use of cars. No one forced me to go watch Beowulf; I chose to go (only tolerable because of 3D, FWIW). I choose to shop at TJ Maxx instead of Goodwill (ok, I don't, but you get the idea). And because I get in the habit of doing such things I come to view having a car as more a necessity than it really is.

Example: 9:00pm, and I discover we're out of milk. Uh-oh. That means no cereal tomorrow morning. My first response? To jump in the car and drive to pick up a gallon of milk. The store is only a mile down the road. But I have other alternatives that I generally don't consider. We have bread in the freezer -- perhaps I could just have toast. We have eggs in the refrigerator -- perhaps I could have eggs. We even have powdered milk in the pantry -- why not use that? I don't have to get milk, and if I did not own a car I would not even consider it. On the one hand, car ownership is horribly, horribly freeing. On the other hand, it's absolutely constricting.

Just my $.02.

By the way, Dan took a principled stance yesterday. Way to go, Dan!

3 comments:

John David said...

"Convergence." Wow. How po-mo.

Mike+ said...

So did you get the milk or didn't you!?

Blair said...

Definitely was comment spam. Same comment on my walkscore post at imagiNATIVEamerica.com.