liveonearth (liveonearth) wrote,

My love/hate relationship with the Automobile

I just got back from a yoga class, to which I drove my truck. Driving anywhere is still strange to me. For the last year my truck was not registered. For several years before that it was registered, but I barely managed to start it up once a week. I ride my bike. I use public transportation. I walk. I have an aversion to the automobile. I think it is part of our demise. And yet, I drive. I just drove all the way to AZ and back. And it was a blessing.

Right now I don't have a trimet bus pass, because school is not in session. When I don't have a pass, the bus seems sort of pricey. A couple bucks, maybe three. Enough that I'd rather bike or drive than pay to ride the bus. The bus isn't always pleasant. During non-commuter hours it is full of the lowest rung of local society, the homeless, the drug addicted, the skinny tattooed men with guitars, the toothless cigarette-smoking shouting fat mothers and their unruly children, the middle aged men carrying trash bags full of cans that they've collected from richer people's trash. It's not easy to have a civil conversation with this population, believe me, I've tried.

Even when I lived in Flagstaff, I used my bike to go everywhere. My truck was reserved for more distant trips to rivers and mountains. I rode into town for yoga classes, and groceries. I commuted to work daily, aggressively, for time. I chose my home location such that I could avoid using the truck. I felt good knowing it was there, and felt great when I didn't need it.

Here in Portland I've done the same thing. I live close to the center of the city, where I can catch public transportation to almost anywhere. Everything I need to survive and get through school is within one mile of here. This is intentional on my part, it is not an accident. A large part of my choice to come to Portland is the city's reputation as a bicycle commuter's haven, a green progressive place.

But when my truck wasn't registered, I felt trapped here. I didn't like that the public transport doesn't go to wilderness. It goes to cities, not to mountains and rivers. I found it depressing. I am glad that I have the ability now to go to the mountains at will. I am grateful to Bill. He fixed my truck when all the other mechanics had written it off. He has an appreciation for simple functional durable machinery.
Tags: automobiles, biking, sustainable, the long emergency, urban

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