- a collection of notes and reflections on urban living from the perspective of a family of five in Tokyo. My epiphany was many years ago, but being hit by a motorbike and seeing my life flash before my eyes caused a sudden change that slowly made me reflect on whether American style auto-centric urban transportation of the Roosevelt era really is a capital G "Good Idea" for civilized modern cities in the 21st Century. This blog explores the good and the bad in urban planning and design, here and elsewhere. The goal is simple - not "death to all cars," just more walkable communities, quiet tree-lined streets, good public transport, traffic calming, Velib style bicycle sharing and a bit of common sense. The bolg is mostly theraputic, so I don't go wanting to throttle every dangerous driver I come across, but partly also out of a real desire to see positive change. This blog explores how it can be done, the people who do it, and how, in many small ways, this very old idea may at last have found its zeitgeist. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


There. I said it. Are you happy now?

My next door neighbors recently moved to New Zealand. The other day Mrs. Neighbor admitted to me that actually she enjoys driving. I think she was expecting me to put up a fight with her or something - to try to talk her round or something. But you know, I will freely admit to anyone that OF COURSE driving can be convenient. It is easy; it keeps you dry; there is a radio, you can carry your luggage and your friends just about anywhere; the roads are well kept and you get to blast down the middle of it noise and smoke trailing behind you while everyone else looks on jealously from the sidelines. Sure, they are probably more likely to be angry - but you can wind up the window and pretend they are just jealous.

All that is beside the point. A smoker will always enjoy his cigarette. Enjoying it doesn't make it a good thing. I choose to not drive simply because I finally admitted that car culture is out of hand and that I can personally do something about it. It is as simple as that. I smoked cigarettes for a little while, but gave up smoking when I was 21 and said to myself - "You can give up smoking anytime, but whatever you do with your life after this, giving up smoking HAS to come first - the other stuff can wait until after you do that." And it is amazing how following through on that one decision can change your whole outlook. Good things just seem to flow from a good decision like that. I was able to get fit again, lose weight, get along better with healthy non-smoking people etc etc. I feel the same way now about driving. Once you take that plunge that you know you really probably should, it can really be quite liberating and literally change your world for the better. I find that I meet more locals and bump into friends more often when walking or cycling. I get to work in a better mood. I feel better and healthier. It would be great if lots of other people gave up driving too, but I understand that not everyone will or can do that - not just now anyway.

I would probably give up beef steaks too if I could, but I can't - not yet.

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