Cars are in our DNA

For a lot of people, driving a car is stressful. Red is stressful.

Like the junkie looking for his next fix, we’re hooked on driving cars. Society puts up with car fatalities (30-40,000 a year), serious injuries, the high cost of ownership, air pollution, noise, traffic, and more.

And like the junkie, we want to quit, but we can’t. The Mineta Transportation survey confirms what we all know is true.

89 percent of respondents agreed: “I need a car to do many of the things I like/need to do.” 87 percent need their car for shopping or to carry other people.

What’s interesting though, not unlike the junkie, drivers aren’t exactly crazy about the activity, with only 67 percent agreeing they enjoy driving.

Car commercials make me ill when I watch them, because they depict a false reality — you’re the only driver on the road. Driving in the Bay Area, pre-pandemic, sucked with all the traffic. Retired people are prisoners in their homes half the day when traffic is bad.

Commuters spend half their life in slow-moving traffic. There’s nothing pleasant about driving around here. 40 percent agreed that their daily travel is stressful. It’s higher for certain groups.

51 percent said they drive more than they want to. Not surprisingly, Trump voters scored lowest on not wanting to drive more, at 35 percent, and Clinton supporters at 59 percent.

When it came to admitting that driving too much is bad for your health, only 53 percent agreed.

Car ownership costs much more than people realize, but even if they do, it’s so essential to a successful career that 65 percent said owning a car is affordable for them. It isn’t for everyone, but Santa Clara Valley is a wealthy place and most people have enough income to cover the costs.

When I commuted to work by bicycle I enjoyed a stress-free ride, for the most part. There were a few places, like the 101-Trimble Road overpass, that caused some discomfort.

Rather than arriving home or at work feeling wasted, I felt refreshed and looked forward to a day in the office.

2 Responses to “Cars are in our DNA”

  1. Robert Neff Says:

    My top reason for not driving is that driving makes me feel like my life is wasted. I might as well be dead for those minutes. So not driving gives me back the time that would be like being dead in a car.

    101 – Trimble, Daily??!! I’m impressed. My one time across there recently was full Yikes! mode. VTA is rebuilding it, and there will be a 2-way trail from the Guadalupe Creek Trail to Central, including either grade separation or signals at the interchange,

    • Ray Hosler Says:

      Main problem was the dual merge lanes to 101. Guadalupe River Trail was an occasional diversion, but a mile out of the way. Dirt back then but good dirt. Caltrans site says construction starts next year. Even with improvements, I’m skeptical that more cyclists will consider it safe. Something like the local creek trails are needed in many locations to be a game changer.

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