Friday, June 27, 2008

My Year Without a Car in South Africa

And why we all need to imagine what it's like

Take a triathlete, add a propensity for suffering, the capacity to endure, and a governing psychology predicting a never-ending oil famine, and you have the perfect volunteer for this assignment. But bidding your car farewell still means plenty of gnashing of teeth.

Woe betide the world when we suddenly wake up to discover: Ooops. Not enough oil for the world to get to the next station. And the world is some project. There are thousands of cities with black stuff running through their veins (pretty much symbolized by complex grids of glistening tar roads radiating into suburbia.)

I mean, just think about the daily demand of just a couple of cities out there with 30 million plus people (like Seoul, Tokyo and Mexico City). Everyday those people have to go to work. There's suburban sprawl everywhere, from Jozi to Jericho, that depends on cars swimming in and out to keep it fed.

Living without a car is a snap if you don't live in South Africa, or rural Australia, or most of the U.S. and Canada. I lived in a satellite of Seoul for four years and you know, I didn't even want a car. London was harder, since taxis are so expensive and buses just aren't nearly as ubiquitous as they are in the Far East. Living without a car in South Africa is about as fun as chewing on someone else's toenails. No, not something anyone would cheerfully volunteer for.

So how did I do it?
Read the rest - inclufing 10 insights drawn from the experience - here.

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