Monday, January 18, 2010
Freedom of Movement
It feels appropriate on MLK day to write about freedom. A reader recently commented on my post in which I gave a brief and totally subjective review of what it was like to live in several cities without a car. Joel's perspective was somewhat different than mine. His bicycling is being done not out of choice, but because his current economic situation prohibits him from owning a car. Without one, Joel says feels like he has lost some of his personal freedom. At the same time, there is a tone of guilt in his comment as if somehow his desire to be able to move around quickly and effortlessly is some sort of sin. It is not. Spoiled Labrador retrievers are not the only ones who like to hang their heads out of a moving car. The dogs and us, we're hard-wired that way for some reason. But there's more to it than the simple joy of mobility, and I'm not sure that my earlier post fully conveyed this point: even in an ideal situation people living in cities such as Orlando (as does Joel) can face very real hardships if they must adapt to a car-free existence. Bike riding amongst the angry cars is inherently dangerous. A number of circumstances - a long commute, a physical condition, family needs - can quickly turn an inconvenience into something more akin to a class barrier. I wonder if we really have a free society if those on the lowest rung of the socioeconomic ladder do not have the same freedom of movement as those on the top.