Tuesday, April 24, 2007


The alternative-weekly journalist Stephen George, staff writer for the Louisville Eccentric Observer, certainly is to be commended for his current project. He is giving up his car for a month and blogging about the experience at Share the Road.

But the project also makes me a little sad, and grateful. I grew up in a Southern city near Louisville, Nashville, so I know what Southern cities are like, and I can only imagine the challenges of car-free living in Louisville. A friend tells me that to commute by bicycle in the Music City these days is to invite constant heckling and worse. (Later we can discuss whether Louisville is a Southern city.)

Now, though, I live on the east side of Madison, Wis., mere feet from the bicycle path that I follow to my job downtown. My home is within a couple of blocks of something like 12 bus routes. I live steps away from a fabulous natural-foods supermarket, a pharmacy, a hardware store, a great video store, a storied nightclub, a print shop with roots in the counterculture, and zillions of locally owned restaurants and coffee shops. There is a Community Car Prius permanently stationed in the parking lot across the street from my apartment. My city is hardly a metropolis, but I could live perfectly well without owning a car.

I do own a truck, however, which comes in handy for road trips and movie excursions. But these too would be doable, especially with the Community Car. Just takes a little planning. (Car-free cinephilia is getting harder and harder for Madisonians.)

All of which is to say, wonderful Madison is great town for living car-free, and what's remarkable about that fact is that it is unremarkable, by local standards. Unremarkable enough that no one, I notice, has started a blog about it.

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