Monday, October 13

No need to be drastic

The Washington Post ran a front page article on a growing trend in insurance fraud: setting your car on fire. Apparently, more and more people are getting in over their heads with car payments, gas prices, and the overall burden of owning a vehicle. Some motorists are driven to the point of igniting brand new cars into blazing wreckages just to escape from repossession and bankruptcy. I learned from Lee Huang last week how much car ownership really costs, in comparison to using public transit. (For the Washington area, the APTA estimates over $10,500 a year). These charges all seem to go on in the background - a couple hundred here and there - and, like taxes, we take for granted that they just need to be paid. At least for the last few decades, this has been a non-negotiable cost in most of the United States, simply the entry price for participating in society.

The good news is that car ownership is not an all-or-nothing deal. There's no need choose between owning your own car and burning the car to the ground. We can own a fraction of a car - that is share. Instead of each member of a family owning their own car, families can try to get by with just one. In urban areas, Zipcars are becoming increasingly popular. I noticed three separate Zipcar lots wandering around Washington D.C. this weekend. Right now there are a full spectrum of ownership levels available, and as our nation's infrastructure (hopefully) evolves to allow us the opportunity to ease away from the automobile we can incrementally own a smaller fraction of a car. Political will and personal choices always move forward in tandem, step by step.

5 comments:

Dave said...

The bigger problem that this points out is that car ownership for the poor is a significant hurdle. That when we don't properly fund transit we make it difficult for the poor to simply get by.

bill mcneal said...

In DC, eh? Feel free to stop by and say hello if you're up here again...

Steve Davis, SGA

Daniel Nairn said...

I agree, Dave. It really is pretty sad when these situations come up.

Bill, I think I will look you up next time I get up to Washington. I'm growing a deeper appreciation for the city. I grew up going to the Air and Space museum a billion times, but I never really ventured much into the rest of the city. This weekend we went all over, and I felt like I got a much bigger picture.

bill mcneal said...

Tons to see in DC. The neighborhoods and the rest of non-monumental DC are some of the best parts for sure. Read greatergreaterwashington.com if you want to keep tabs. Buzz me if you want a tour. -Steve

J.W. said...

I agree, I went to D.C. a month ago and walked around Georgetown, which is a spectacular example of preserved rowhouse development.