Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Car Dependency and Safety Nets

Last week, my old car kicked the bucket in annoyingly dramatic fashion. I was headed down the highway at 6:30 am, commuting to gym + work, when that damn automobile just stopped accelerating, despite the best efforts of my right foot. Arggghhh! I said, as I moved towards the rightmost lane. By the time I reached the shoulder, it was smoking inside and out and I truly believed it would explode. I leaped out the passenger side and stood on the grassy berm beside the freeway, watching the smoke mix with billowing steam in the degree weather, and calling the fire department.

My car did not explode, yay. It was most definitely incapacitated, though. If I were living in an unfamiliar town and didn't have a strong social network, things would have started getting real hard right there. I would have had to decide whether to pay for cab fare to and from work or just take the taxi home and risk missing the day. So early in the morning I can also tell you I didn't feel particularly safe or warm standing by the side of the road, though it wasn't an issue because the super nice guys from the fire department gave me a lift to the nearest coffee shop (the one cool part of the situation - getting to ride in a fire truck).

Sadly, Sebastian the trusty Ford Focus is no longer. His engine was kaput and not worth replacing, so he has been consigned to the junkyard for the ages. So once again - if I didn't have parents to help me out with juggling vehicles and carpooling, I would have been in rough shape. A day of work lost for every day you don't have the wherewithal to buy a new car!

Because I live in Detroit and work in Brighton - so there is no way in hell I'm getting there by public transit. (Believe me, I've googlemapped the options to no end, including bus to Novi area and then bike the rest of the way...?)

Not everybody has strong and flexible safety nets. An incident like mine can ruin somebody's life in a region so car-dependent as ours. Who wants to bet everything on a finicky machine? So, this is all to say that a vote on funding the Regional Transit Authority is coming up this fall, and it's the chance you have this year to participate in reshaping the region . Let's make it happen!

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