Step away from the car.
Is this article about cities tearing down their freeways for real? Because it fits exactly with the conflicted feelings I’ve been having about the prospect of moving back to the US.
Whenever I think about moving back, I immediately come up against the question: where exactly would that place be? I find myself imagining moving back to American cities that don’t exist—or maybe they used to exist back in the day when American cities still had street cars and trains and pedestrian scale city streets. Where could I find the same quality of life I have found in Berlin, where one of my favorite things is that I don’t need a car? In Berlin, making a commitment to not having a car doesn’t mean relegating myself to one mode of transportation like biking because there are so many options; I can walk, cycle, or ride the bus, the tram, the subway, or the train.
As much as I have loved Portland, it has dismayed me to realize that even one of the most bicyle-friendly cities in the US doesn’t seem so friendly when compared to Berlin. The lack of bicycle lanes—the lack of cyclists—is shocking. The thought of not having a car, even here, seems daunting. And so I slowly realize what I already knew—here is not there and to expect it to be is just a waste of time. If the above article is true, it would be great if it meant returning American cities to what they once were before the freeway. But of course that seems unlikely.
There have been so many things related to all of this that have been on my mind these last few weeks and I haven’t had the time to sort them out or write anything more than what feels like simplifications. All I know is that the other day I went off on my own downtown. It was the first time in weeks that I had walked with purpose, that I had walked more than just to and from an automobile. I felt like I’d been let out of a cage and it was glorious.