I’m over the moon at discovering this site – I’m not alone after all! Here in Lincoln, when you tell people you don’t have a car, you tend to be met with a mixture of disbelief and pity!
I never cared much for cars – recently while reading a magazine article where various celebrities were reminiscing lovingly about their first cars, it struck me that I actually have no idea what my first (and only) car was! No clue whatsoever as to the make or model – all I remember is that it was silver! To me it was just a metal box to get me to my first job at a print works. God I hated that job! Not least because we were stuck out on a deserted, ugly, characterless trading estate miles from civilisation (the company had moved out there from the city centre shortly before I started). I made it my mission to find a job in a proper building in a proper city centre, and as soon as I did, I dumped the car. That was eleven years ago.
Of all the myriad problems caused by our car culture, the one that concerns me most is the effect it’s having on the development of our towns and cities. We have swapped proper city streets with proper buildings built on a human scale, for a strange, soulless hinterland of low-rise, low-density “retail parks” and “business parks” built exclusively for the needs of the car, rather than for human beings. Such developments not only make car use more attractive but, more worryingly, actually make the car-free lifestyle more difficult. Every time a new business park is opened, or a shop moves out of town, it feels like an assault on my chosen lifestyle, especially as, according to all the local transport plans and government environmental policies, I am actually doing the “right thing” by not contributing to pollution and congestion. I really don't feel like the Council or Government are backing me up on this!
Maintaining a car-free lifestyle in a place like Lincoln is really not easy - much harder, I imagine, than in larger cities which tend to have much better public transport. My partner and I have only been able to achieve it by buying a house close to the city centre, within walking distance of the shops, bus/train station and our workplaces.
I do, however, worry about the future. What happens when we have kids? Will we be able to maintain the car-free lifestyle or will the difficulties we already occasionally experience as a couple simply become insurmountable with a couple of kids in tow?
There is also another cloud on my horizon – my employer, Lincolnshire County Council is considering moving out of the city centre to an edge-of-town business park. These plans are at a very early stage and it may not happen at all, but it's a worry. Public transport in Lincoln, in common with most medium sized cities, runs to and from the city centre only - how will I get to an out of town office park? Will I have to buy a car just so I can get to work?
Sometimes, the only thing keeping me from just going out and buying a car is my moral outrage at the fact that that I’m being forced into something I don’t want and my pig headed refusal not to give in to what almost feels like bullying. However, I can fully understand why most people just follow the herd – it’s definitely the path of least resistance. And that, in a nutshell, is what needs to change - choosing not to have a car must become the easier option.
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