Two adults; one car
April 30, 2012
Cars have never enchanted me, and driving seems like another chore. Maybe that’s why I’m comfortable being in a one-car family.
It’s fairly rare to be a member of a two-adult household with only one gas eater in the America of 2012, but it is not so uncommon in our neighborhood.
Bay View’s proximity to downtown employers and the availability of multiple bus routes makes two cars less of a necessity. At different times, my husband and I have each been regular Milwaukee County Transit System riders. He currently takes Route 15 a few days per week and uses the time to zone out or read. I used to rely on the 48 Flyer and enjoyed chatting with other frequent passengers.
Easy public transportation isn’t a new neighborhood asset: our senior citizens remember the precursor to the bus, the streetcar, which they rode to work, to shop on Mitchell Street, or watch a show downtown.
We currently make it to work, school, daycare, the grocery store, the gym, swim lessons, and church, plus tedious appointments and fun events, by combining trips or cooperating. We use our car, the bus, a bike, or just our feet. With these options, owning one car is unusual, but not totally out of the norm the way it would be in some of our city’s suburbs.
Mindset is a factor, too, in bucking the one-car-per-adult trend. We’re in a social circle that considers bus riding normal, and locals don’t ask the same questions that my suburban relatives do. They wonder how I survived taking the bus when the wind chill index went below minus 10. (We got creative and my husband drove me to the bus stop and waited until my bus came so I could stay in our warm car. Then he drove to his job, which was then in Oak Creek.) The suburban set wonders how close the bus stop is to the office and might be surprised by the reality that it’s nearer than many parking structures.
Maybe a practical reason for our neighborhood’s mindset lies in the backyard. Our apartments and houses don’t all have garages, much less garages with room for multiple cars.
Many Bay View acquaintances brag about living in a fairly walkable neighborhood and where many of us can buy food basics, even get a haircut or visit a doctor, without driving. Walking for errands burns calories and decreases gas bills. Along the way, we see friends or smile at strangers, and I think it incrementally draws us closer together. I’m glad our daughter is living in an area where walking to a friend’s house or hoofing it to buy eggs is feasible and normal, whatever the price of gas.
The author is a freelance writer and mother of one. Reach her with comments or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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