The Washington Post had an article about America’s fading car culture. Until the last paragraph of the article (which is usually ignored by most readers), the entire litany of explanations is discussed: economic, a shift towards urbanism, more interest in other technologis, as well as the ‘kids today’ complaint. But there’s a very obvious reason–as an experience, driving sucks:
But I think there’s another important factor: driving isn’t very fun anymore. Admittedly, urban areas and rush hours have never been enjoyable. But, I would argue that ~15-20 years ago, in the suburbs, there was a lot of nice, relatively traffic free driving to be had (again, not during rush hour and so on). When I lived in Connecticut, weekend mornings in the summer (not at the crack of dawn), I used to drive to the shore on the backroads en route to the beach. It was a nice drive. But now most places I drive–and rural areas are an exception–the driving is pretty miserable. Every time I wind up back in Long Island, the traffic seems to have become worse. The DC area has also become more congested for more hours every day. It doesn’t help that road maintenance is in decline too.
So driving just becomes a way to get from point A to point B. If you live in a place where you don’t need to own a car to get to either work or basic necessities (e.g., a grocery store), a car becomes an expensive pain in the ass. Why waste your money, then, on a car?
We see this reality reflected in the culture:
So why would car culture, in the traditional sense, thrive? Consider car commercials: most either show amenities that are useful in traffic or else feature driving late at night or in rural areas (e.g., truck commercials). They almost never feature 0 – 60 mph times, which were a mainstay of ads twenty years ago–when the hell are you ever going to accelerate like that?
How can a culture be built around something so pedestrian? (pun intended).