One of the problems with our country is the way that we have so few options for viable transportation. Sure, we have roads for cars, and technically we have public transportation in some large cities; but largely, if you do not have access to a car, you aren’t going anywhere.
I think this is a terrible mistake. Cars are expensive, and require licensing and insurance that is also expensive. The whole process is very difficult to break into if you don’t have support from someone who already owns a car and is willing to help you. Transportation does not have to be this way, and especially for people who live within a city it shouldn’t be. You cannot “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” if you have no reliable transportation to get to work. Public transportation needs to be both available and reliable, and there need to be lower cost private transportation options.
I used to live in Raleigh; it took three full hours to cross town by bus if I wanted to shop at the mall, and three more to get home again. Taking a taxi to work was prohibitively expensive if you only made minimum wage or did not work full time hours, and you can forget being “on call” the way many retail workers are expecting you to be these days.
As a country, we already invest huge amounts of money into roads and bridges for privately owned cars. It should not be difficult to make the reasonable accommodations necessary to have modest bike parking in our downtown areas, and get the bus system into shape so that it can meet real people’s needs. One of the good things about bicycles is that they do not wear out their roads as quickly as cars and trucks do, they should need less maintenance in the long run. Yes, that means that there needs to be bicycle parking as well.
And there is no reason that our public transit must always be behind schedule. People who work do not get a break “because the bus was late”; we must hold the bus system to a higher standard, and be accommodating in the planning of the routes to the realities faced by those services. It is more important that public transportation be dependable and predictable than it is that it be fast.
Once we stop burdening people with an excessive cost of transportation just to get started in life, or when they are at the end of it, that money can go into other, more productive parts of the economy. We certainly shouldn’t reserve the right to get to work for only those wealthy enough to own a private car. I don’t expect changes to happen overnight, but our country will not have liberty and justice for all so long as the ability to get from one place to another is viewed as an expensive privilege.