Great perspective from Gracy Olmstead with Why Walkability Matters:
[I] wonder whether the decline in home and/or property ownership has only made the car more important to Americans: because at least traditionally, it’s the home that we would associate with these feelings of pride and autonomy. But fewer Americans own property—and of those who do, fewer regard such ownership with the same sort of long-term allegiance. Owning a home is often a commercial endeavor, a rung on the ladder to bigger dreams and more square footage elsewhere. Thus, cars often help us express our sense of autonomy and personality in a way home ownership may have in the past.
Yet in the decline of walking—and correspondingly, in the decline of walkability—there are certain elements of community and culture that we may lose. Because despite its inefficiency or tediousness, walking provides several goods that the car cannot.
Intuitively this feels right, that as ownership of bigger things like homes becomes less attainable, we shift to attainability of the smaller things like cars.
I haven’t regretted once the decision to sell my car three years ago. When I made that leap of faith it was partially with the hope that technology would bridge the gap. Uber has been the bridge for me from cities to small towns to even suburban areas, and is way less for me than car ownership ever was. I want a lifestyle and a home that negate the need for car ownership except as a true luxury. Other than maybe a Tesla eventually, I never want to own a car again.
This isn’t simply because of financial cost, but also because I know I was paying and producing massive social costs with ownership, and I wasn’t comfortable with either side of that coin. Walkability is key.
“The more we insulate ourselves from those around us,” Olmstead points out, “the less safety and community we are able to enjoy.”