Monday, January 23, 2006

Driving Force

I have to make a resolution to post here at least once a week. (At the very least, twice a month.) Things have been pretty boring. Most of my time is taken up with work, which leaves me with little time to do anything else. The big problem that I have is that I don’t drive.

It’s not that I hate taking the bus. It’s that having a car would be so much easier. Not having a car limits what I can do and where I can go. I would not be able to go south of the Miami downtown area and get back before the buses stopped running. I also can’t make any physically big purchases since I have to bring them back with me. The nearest bus stop is a quarter of a mile away, which means that I’d have to drag or carry something a quarter of a mile.

It’s also difficult being a pedestrian. The greater Miami area isn’t really a region that’s set up for pedestrians. You don’t really feel compelled to leave your car behind if you have one. When I go down to Dadeland Mall, I have to walk a good distance from the Metrorail station to the mall and there aren’t a lot of sidewalks. It’s not a lot of fun to walk through a parking lot that isn’t pedestrian friendly.

At the intersection by where I work, one of the buttons that you press for the crosswalk is broken. I’ve already reported it, but it’s not like anyone respects a pedestrian’s right of way anyway. Whenever I cross with the light, several drivers try to make a turn, even though they’re supposed to yield to me. I’ve even gotten dirty looks from drivers.

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all been pedestrians at some point. What is it about being a driver that causes us to lose perspective? I think that part of it is that being a driver in Miami causes people to think little of others. Miami arguably has some of the worst drivers and some of the worst driving conditions in the country. If I recall, Broward County (the county to the north of us) has the most dangerous intersection in the nation.

We also have a pathetic transit system. Miami-Dade County has a rail system that’s just one line. Granted, the county is working on several other lines, but those aren’t due to open for a while. Even then, I’m not sure that anything will come of the proposed line near my house. In order for me to use rail, it has to be accessible.

The same could be said of the buses. There’s one line that runs within a mile of my house. That’s fine if I want to go south. If I want to go north, I either have to transfer (which costs an additional 50¢) or walk a mile to the next-nearest line. The cost of the transfer is on top of a $1.50 fare. I don’t feel like paying $4 round trip if I can avoid it and get some exercise at the same time.

I find it hard to believe that the fare was raised last year after the county voted for a half-cent sales tax to support mass transit. I’ve actually started using the bus less, preferring to do stuff closer to my house if I can. That’s three dollars to go to the library to get a book and another three dollars to return it, assuming that I don’t use a transfer. It would actually be about as expensive for me to go to the dollar store and buy six books. (I’d actually be better off because I could keep the books.)

What am I going to do? I’m going to have to buy a car and start driving. First, I have to get my license.

No comments :