I was walking home from my local shops this morning, the winter sun shining, groceries and a birthday present swinging by my side, and I thought about how much I enjoy not having to jump in the car to run all my errands anymore. When the kids were younger and at school, taking the car was a necessity. The days’ activities ran to a tight schedule and it seemed that the extra twenty minutes it would take me to walk to and from the shops was time that I could not spare.
When my girl got her licence last year, there were some rumblings from the younger people in the house that we may need to add another car to our two-car household. That would have been a COMPLETE waste of their money. We’re fortunate where we live that we have two train stations within fifteen minutes walk, and a tram stop five minutes walk away. The kids get the train to and from uni and to their part time jobs, so WHY would we need another car? I was determined not to give them any ammunition in their car-seeking mission so I decided I would put on my walking shoes or break out the myki whenever any potential conflicting car driving demands could arise.
I remember reading some time ago that our ex-PM, Tony Abbott, wrote in his book Battlelines that we should always invest in roads rather than public transport because people would always prefer to travel in cars because “The humblest person is king in his own car.” Apparently that is because we can choose whichever radio station we want to listen to in our own car. Think earbuds may have blown that argument out of the water, Tony! I can pop those in on my walk, or on the tram or train, and feel quite queenly! On the tram or the train I can read a book which gives me even greater mastery, or mistress-y, of my domain! And I like not having to battle the traffic. Perhaps I am the master of my own car, but this gives me no power to find a path through traffic congestion!
I enjoy not having to always isolate myself in my car. I like getting in and out amongst the people! I like walking along the street, looking at people’s gardens, noticing any changes in my surrounds. There’s a sense of connectedness to the community that comes from walking to do my shopping, or from travelling to and from my activities on the tram or the train. I think about how we’re all heading to our different destinations and going about our daily lives.
I like my car. I wouldn’t give it up. But I like that I can now think ‘Do I need to take the car?’ For that time I’m out walking or sitting reading, watching, listening on the train, life slows down just that little bit.