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Showing posts from September, 2022

Puzzle 102 - Happy World Car Free Day! 🚢‍♀️πŸ›΄πŸš΄πŸšŽπŸš‰

 Thursday, September 22 is World Car Free Day and this puzzle is a celebration of that! The crossword is a little ways down - just wanted to share a few thoughts first! While the Thomases are not fully car free, we are car-lite and we absolutely love it. Never going back. My very informal tracking has us at about 75% of trips (spring-fall) taken without a car. We are pretty proud of pulling that off with a family of four, with two young kids, in a small city in the United States. Before the puzzle, here are a handful of reasons why we choose to walk, cycle, or ride as much as we can - and why you should too!

It's better for our planet! The planet is on fire and driving a car is one of the worst things you can do. Driving and suburbia go hand-in-hand - we should also build denser cities to cut down on carbon emissions.

Cycling is incredibly fun! We have a cargo e-bike and love riding along the river, being able to chat together, spotting all sorts of wild animals (mostly turkeys & deer, but we do get the occasional bald eagle, snake, or bobcat). Check out this video of a kid's view from a bakfiets! (also NJB is essential watching - start here)

All that cycling has dramatically improved my overall fitness and health. My butt & legs look good (sorry no links :p here's a fun video instead). My old pants no longer fit.

Driving is one of the two leading causes of death in kids - and death rates are dramatically higher the more you have to drive. I like keeping my kids further away from 7,000 pound death machines.

Car dependent suburbia is wildly fiscally irresponsible and is bankrupting our cities. Low density sprawl uses more expensive infrastructure (more roads) and brings in less tax revenue (low density) -  it's often not even able to pay for it's own maintenance. Strong Towns aptly calls this the Growth Ponzi Scheme.

People - including kids - are happier and more productive when they don't drive to work/school.

Like many things in this country car ownership and suburbia and freeways have their historical roots in racism and class inequality (I mean holy shit look at this graph!!). Those inequities still persist today.

High car traffic streets have less social interaction (those graphics are from two different studies - one in 1981 and one in 2019). Furthermore, though I don't have any research to support it, I believe car culture is a huge contributor to our societal privatization, polarization, and atomization.

E-biking rules. It is so much fun and removes so many barriers to cycling, especially for families, folks trying to get back into shape, people who live in hilly areas, etc. You can get a great e-bike for under $2,000. Ongoing costs are minuscule - mine costs 2 cents to charge and I've spent about $200 on maintenance this year. Oh, and the cost of getting new pants. Compare that to the true cost of car ownership - both for the owner and society (I swear I've seen a "true cost to society of driving" graph somewhere but can't find it).

The geometry of cars is incompatible with successful cities. They're huge, sit idle 90+% of the time, and require so much space that any place designed for cars is not a fun place to visit. The US has somewhere between 4 to 8 parking spots per person. Think of all the housing we could build there instead.

Oil money funds evil dictatorships.

It absolutely rules being able to hop on a bus for 10 minutes to head downtown if I want to have a drink - and more importantly it's great to hop on a quick bus to get back home. Drunk driving is an epidemic, and when we put our bars in the middle of vast parking oases we are basically mandating drunk driving.

Speaking of buses - kids absolutely love riding the bus and we have always felt perfectly safe - "the bus is unsafe/dirty/for the poors" is reactionary bullshit. Much to the chagrin of my pearl-clutching suburbanite friends, taking the bus is actually far safer than driving.

There are many, many more reasons to drive less (gas tax doesn't come close to funding car infrastructure, why is it normalized to store your private property on public streets?, it really sucks how rich white people drive the most and are most insulated from driving's negative effects, kids don't play outside anymore because the outside is actively hostile, suburbia stifles the development of childrens' independence, why don't we have any vehicular safety standards for people outside the car?, how brutally dehumanizing driving is on a psychological level, and many many variations on the themes above) but I'm tired of copy/pasting links and I think you get the picture.

Ultimately, any time you get behind the wheel of a car, you are making a selfish choice. Driving burns the planet, kills kids, is obnoxiously loud, hogs infrastructure dollars, and ruins cities. You are quite literally making the world a tiny bit worse for every single one of the 8 billion people on this planet other than yourself every single time you get behind the wheel. Not as much of a problem when some people occasionally drive when truly necessary. But when almost everyone drives almost all the time ... all those negatives pile up and everyone suffers together. We need to drive less. We need to build our cities in a way that encourages driving less.

I get that sometimes, a car really is the only solution - especially given the pathetic state of non-car infrastructure in the US. But I'd ask you today, or this week, to find just one trip that you would normally drive and take it without a car. Just one. I'd like you to think about how you could structure your life differently to drive less. And I'd like you to think about how you could actively participate in reducing car dependency in your community. Our current trajectory is wildly unsustainable and irresponsible - both at a personal and societal level - and we need to change.

Anyways, here's the puzzle.

PUZ - PDF - Solution

Puzzle 101 - Themeless #76 (the hungry little caterpillar)

go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners go mariners

I've also updated my seedlist - now with 700+ entries (warning spoilers for this puzzle + at least a couple more in the future will show up in there)

This won't be the last you hear from me this week either :)

PUZ - PDF - Solution