What would change if we all stopped driving?

I know what you’re thinking, but it wasn’t me.  I didn’t post this.  I wish I would have, but I didn’t.   It was one of my new neighbors…or someone heading on up to the end of the block and paradise.  Either way, I like it.  We’re going to get along just fine, Ogden and me.

27th and Fillmore, Ogden. I didn't do it.

27th and Fillmore, Ogden. I didn’t do it.

Now that I know it’s here on the corner of Fillmore and 27th, I’ll make it a point to ride by regularly.  It makes me smile.  It forces me to think.  What would happen if we all stopped driving?  How would our communities be different?  How would our lives change?

Some changes are obvious.  It would be quieter without revving engines, car horns and alarm systems.  The air would be cleaner as well.  Kids could walk or bike to school without parents worrying about them being run over or lured into a stranger’s car.  That garage out back?  Can you say cabana?  Mine would have a pool table and tiki bar with a hot tub and fire pit off to the side.  I actually saw this setup once at a house in New Braunfels Texas.  It was the coolest garage ever.

Other changes would be less obvious but even more important.  All of those parking lots littering our cities could be repurposed.  Some could be built on. Others could be turned into parks.   I think the whole big box retail scene would disappear.  Overnight.  So would strip centers.  That model doesn’t work without cars.  Instead of shopping at Wally World, we could all buy locally from our neighbors.  Ever notice how that’s the way it is in truly bike friendly places?  Cause, meet effect.

Bloomington is Indiana's most bike friendly city.  It's also the place where you're most likely to shop local for things like groceries and hardware.  There's no parking lot here.

Bloomington is Indiana’s most bike friendly city. It’s also the place where you’re most likely to shop local for things like groceries and hardware.

Saudi Arabia and OPEC could keep their oil if we stopped driving.  We’d be energy self-sufficient overnight.  Big Oil would become NotSoBig Oil.  They could stop drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and use the money they’d otherwise spend to figure out how to wring more energy from the sun and wind.

If we stopped driving, we wouldn’t need cars.  According to Consumer Reports, it costs $9,100 a year to own a car.  The amount goes up every year.  Last year it was $9,000.  If you own two cars, that’s $18,200 per year, every year.  Over the forty years between college and retirement, that’s three quarters of a million dollars.  If you stopped driving, you would be in the wealthiest 1% of all Americans.

Without cars, we wouldn’t need as many roads as we have now.  Instead of cul de sacs, we’d have trails and paths accessing our homes.  Instead of looking out the window at a parking lot, we’d see birds and trees.  Not building roads would save our cities and states billions of dollars.  Budgets would balance.  Our taxes would go down.

I know all the reasons why it would never work, but here’s the thing…it does work.  It works for approximately 2% of all Americans and significantly more Europeans.  What’s more, it not only works but it actually works really, really well.

When I started this, I figured there would be some sacrifice involved.  There wasn’t.  There was an adjustment period.  It was short…about two weeks.  Now it’s over and I can honestly say that I would rather bike than drive a car.  My car has been parked since I arrived in Ogden four days ago.  I don’t need it and I prefer not to use it.   I still own it, but now I get the feeling that someday soon I won’t.  It will be redundant so I’ll get rid of it…

…and get to work on the cabana.




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