I have chosen to live without a car for many reasons. Some that are most important to me: cars' detrimental impact on human health and on both the built and natural environments. Cars contribute to (and I would argue, cause) sprawl, which replaces our remaining forests and farmland with roads and car-dominated communities. Communities created for cars are almost always inconvenient and dangerous for walking, which means that the people who live in them are more likely to be socially isolated and/or obese. Close to 40,000 people die in traffic fatalities in the US every year. In the 20 years since the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Puget Sound has experienced 10 Exxon Valdezes--due to runoff from cars and trucks. And don't get me started on global warming. I know that my choice to live a bus-based life will not stop sprawl or save Puget Sound--or even make a real difference in Seattle's traffic problem. But hey, we've got to start somewhere, right?
And yet, because I am car-free and therefore require convenient access to transit and services, I live at the intersection of two very busy -- and not in a good way -- streets. If the noise isn't enough of a reminder that my family is contaminated with the exhaust (et cetera) of thousands of SUVs every day, the soot that regularly accumulates on our windowsills is. Don't get me wrong, I love living in the city -- specifically, this one -- and I don't mind dealing with the associated activity/chaos. I just wish it was a city that wasn't so -- well, carist ("The Paving of America," May 31