Sociology the Drawbacks of Automobile Dependent Communities

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"Sociology the Drawbacks of Automobile Dependent Communities"
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Automobile dependency (otherwise known as automobile orientated transportation) relates to transportation as well as land usage, which has one favouring automobile travel. In automobile dependant communities this often has those without their own means of transport having to make do with relatively poor transportation alternatives. Automobile dependency covers cars, light trucks, motorcycles, SUVS and vans. While automobile travel is often deemed a sign of total freedom, it also symbolizes a major increase in travel costs. Automobile dependency communities imposes a host of other costs as well as restraints which can have a major impact on one’s independence, sense of freedom and inner peace. An automobile dependent community requires many things, these being parking facilities, roads, fuel and fuel stations.

All these roads, parking bays etc, make use of land which could be better used for much needed housing estates. Wide roads and heavy traffic ends up degrading any environment. Eventually there becomes a host of barriers to the no motorized traveller. Those who wish for more walking paths, cycling paths, hiking trails and so forth. More land is cleared and more trees and wide open spaces become a thing of the past. This degrades the pedestrian environment so much. Land use accessibility eventually becomes almost non existent and residents then find it an effort to participate in social activities and so forth. Mobility is required otherwise they miss out. Health risks, environmental damage are only some of the side effects of automobile dependency. Add facility costs, increases land taxes, external costs and one soon gets the picture. Non-drivers are already very limited in mobility, automobile dependent communities makes life even harder for these people. Many non-drivers say this leads to “social inequity” and it’s a very appropriate terminology.

One also needs to veer away from the thought of freedom when speaking of automobile dependent communities and face reality. It costs money to finance automobile travel, those living in these areas are often committed to working longer hours to pay the increase in taxes, rates, rent because these roads, parking facilities etc need to be paid for. Those who work further a field arrive home later and sacrifice quality time with their children. Commuting to and from work will take longer. A major increase in automobile ownership is partially responsible for reduced travel options and a hike in automobile orientated land development patterns. The downside to automobile dependent communities are so diverse, increased total traffic, a reduction in the importance of other travel options, a need to own a personal vehicle, non drivers need chauffers, increased traffic congestion and traffic accidents. In fact a myriad of people feel that these specific housing areas impose a ‘compulsory vehicle’ type rule to anyone who chooses to reside in an automobile dependent community. Household budgets increase, fuel consumption escalates while gas emissions do more damage to the environment.

The majority of North American communities are automobile dependent. Most households own at least one automobile, many own two. There are very few resources available for non- automobile owners. There are very few alternatives to driving to get where you wish to go. Non-drivers face a plethora of obstacles, high travel costs and limited travel options. Depending on exactly where you live in the suburbs you could face many difficulties as far as mobility is concerned. Getting to a store or medical office could be a problem indeed. Living in a automobile dependent community increases your car maintenance costs, fuel costs and insurance costs. Families with children may even need to invest in more than one vehicle. This will see you paying two lots of car insurance, two lots of registration and two lots of car maintenance expenses. Once the children have their licenses more cars will be needed.

Another thing to think about prior to moving to an automobile dependent community, is your mobility in the future. What happens when you can no longer drive? Who will run you to the doctors, dentist and so forth? We don’t stay young forever, many of us may need hip replacements, end up with diminished eye sight as we age, become frail, suffer from arthritis and a host of ailments. Who knows, an accident could occur and one may end up confined to a wheelchair, lose a limb etc. Sounds horrid yes, but that’s life. Automobile dependant communities may be picturesque, but one certainly needs to give a lot of consideration to the pros and cons of living in one. The stress could end up being unbearable.

More about this author: Janette Waldron

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