” …car-centric suburban neighbourhoods with multi-level homes and scarce sidewalks are a poor match for people who can’t climb stairs or drive a car.”
Here’s a feature that profiles a boomer-age man in a subdivision dating from what appears to date to the 1970s through 1990s. Like millions of other people in the United States and Canada his mind is turning to the latter stages of life when such things as income and mobility go into decline as health and social services needs go up. Such a great turning is bound to influence our communities in every possible way. Some thought and planning has gone into this realigning of things but we get the feeling it isn’t yet enough. This item does a very nice job of setting out the basic proposition with a brace of statistics and writerly turns of phrase. Recommended reading.
Two strong features from the US that show us car-dependent sprawl is configured quite deeply against those with low incomes.
No Driver’s License, No Job? Conservative policymakers urge those in need to get work. But for those without driver’s licenses—who are by and large people of color—that’s not such an easy task
Poor people pay for parking even when they can’t afford a car
Image: alden Jewell via Flickr/CC
A semi-disposable Internet moment caught suburban-poverty.com’s attention yesterday. It illustrates succinctly one of the themes we’ve come back to often.
Seems a young woman in Western New York ran afoul of the sheriff for having to resort to making her own license plate. Her cardboard plate looks like something a kid would do in art class. Even has the little New York state map in the middle of a crooked row of letters and numbers. It’s kinda cute.
Mainstream media networks picked up the story. This “going viral” prompted Erie County resident, Amanda Schwieckert, to come forward and tell The Buffalo News her side of the story. Looks like she struggles a bit to get by. Insurance, registration fees and a parking ticket had whacked Amanda financially. Yet, she could not keep her hotel industry job without her car. The state took her plates. Amanda made her own.
This kind of moment is straight from the pen of Barbara Ehrenreich or Linda Tirado, two popular writers chronicling how tough it is for working people to get by in America these days. Amanda exemplifies the dual nature of working class motoring. The expenses for a set of wheels often take things from bad to worse, can be unpredictable and enormously consequential. Amanda is facing some steep charges including felony counterfeiting. Ouch.
We can’t help but think that a little Jane Jacobs would go a long way in the life of Amanda and the millions of workers like her. Community design, or the general lack thereof, reinforces poverty. So much of North America is so totally car dependent its inhabitants cannot function in their native landscape without cars. Many cannot even intellectually conceive of life organized at any other level than that of total mediation by automobile.
Hopefully Amanda’s resourcefulness is a sign she’ll be okay.
Whoa! we knew it could be rough out there but this is nasty, depressing (and familiar) reading. Ten hours a week of commuting would be about the same as a twelve week leave of absence.
The astonishing human potential wasted on commutes
image: staci myers via Flickr/CC
Once you’ve actually done this kind of wearing, multi-hour, multi-modal trek you have an idea how awful they can be. In the last of a four-part series on the US south join an Atlanta woman making her way from a homeless shelter to a potential employer. Two hours one way for the possibility of a job. As a daily commute covering that kind of ground would be a job in itself.
See also: (732) Long ride home
image: CTA Web via Flickr/CC
Is job sprawl “the defining issue of our time”?
image: Daniel Oines via Flickr/CC
Vancouver sometimes seems to have taken such an awful turn into economic weirdness it is hard to know what to do with it. Transit hubs and higher densities are supposed to be helpful things, markers of adaptation. In Vancouver’s real estate-driven reality they are causing harm.
Perhaps if a jurisdiction hasn’t got tens of millions for transit infrastructure it could still come up with funding for something like this: a car-sharing service accessible to lower income working people. Why not mix such a thing into a broad mobility strategy, even as an interim step?
See also: (487) Ridin’ poor no more
image: Justin Pickard via Flickr/CC