In my planning classes I've always found this hilarious. I cram into a room of 60 students, learn about the importance of reducing our carbon footprint and living green, then watch as 59 other students walk out of the class, across the street...to a parking lot. Although funny, it's concerning that even those who are well-educated in the perils of the oil crisis, the coming effects of global warming, the horrors of car-living and suburban sprawl still cannot give up their cars.
Almost daily, I promote smart growth - alternative transportation choices, reduced greenhouse gases, increased housing densities.
It's my business to help Canadians understand and adapt to a future that is different from the past. I am a 21st-century city planner.
Along with fellow futurists, I advocate less vehicle travel, more cycling and transit use, smaller cars and sensible energy consumption. The terms "eco-density," "high-occupancy vehicles" and "environmental footprint" are common currency.
By day I'm committed to radical societal change. But my lifestyle is suspect because I really like to drive. Mostly by myself. Pedal to the metal. Wide-open spaces. No boundaries. Zoom, zoom, zoom.
It doesn't matter whether the vehicle is turbocharged, comes with a GPS or has leather seats. It just needs to be peppy and have a tight turning radius. It's about the essential pleasure of driving, regardless of make, model or colour.
I understand the disconnect between the extravagant past and our frugal future. My lifestyle is unsustainable and I need to change my patterns. But I subtly resist the shift. Perhaps it's the curse of the baby boomers. For our generation, driving has been a lifelong love affair, one that isn't easily surrendered.
My formative years were spent cruising small-town Ontario on sweltering summer nights in my mother's flashy turquoise convertible. A few years later, I was circumnavigating North America in a Volkswagen "shagging wagon."
As a responsible adult, driving became shuttling giggling, gossiping children to preschool, dance lessons and soccer tournaments in an all-purpose passenger van. But whenever possible it also meant navigating 16-lane California highways. Zipping through European roundabouts. Pushing through Albertan blizzards. Always plotting the next trip, whether 200 or 2,000 kilometres.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Canadian City Planner Linda Allen has a dirty secret. Everyday she works to advocate more transit use, cycling instead of driving and every other effort to support sustainability. Her secret? She loves to drive.