Sociology

The Drawbacks of Automobile Dependent Communities



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The primary drawback of living in an automobile dependent community is that we need to be fit to drive our vehicle at any time. Emergencies by their very nature can occur when we least expect them and immediate access to transportation may be critical for dealing with them, especially if we have children. For those of us that like to relax with a few drinks, that can be very problematical when the rapid availability of taxis is not an option.

A simple accident or illness can leave us housebound, unable even to get to the doctor's or fill our drug prescription by ourselves. When we live in an automobile dependent community any incapacity that stops us from being able to drive makes us reliant on others. Asking others for help can be quite hard enough, especially for independent people or those used to being the one others seek help from. If the situation lasts any length of time, are our friends and family going to start trying to avoid our phone calls? None of us like being a burden on those we care about. But feeling as though we are a prisoner in our own home is not much better.

Nowadays, many of us are concerned about the impact our lifestyles are having on the environment, the size of our ecological footprint. Personal vehicle use is a large part of that footprint. Not being able to use alternatives to our car for some of our travel needs limits how green we can go.

When even going to buy some milk and bread requires a car trip, we can get out of the habit of walking any distance. For those of us less interested in maintaining a vigorous and regular exercise regimen, or finding ourselves without the time due to the combination of work hours and the time it takes to get there and back, we may find our waistlines steadily expanding and our fitness and stamina sharply declining.

A reduction in personal time is another potential drawback to living in an automobile dependent community. Most such are relatively new suburbs on the outskirts of cities and therefore have long journey times to virtually everywhere we might like to go. The longer our travel time, not just to work, but to our entertainment venues or sporting events we like to support from the stands, the less time we have for ourselves.

Last but not least, can we really call automobile dependent communities 'communities'? Do we even know our next-door neighbors, let alone the people a street over? When we drive everywhere we go, we have little opportunity to meet the others in what is meant to be our community. We live in a 'community' of strangers rather than a neighborhood.
   

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