How do you imagine a life without automobile?


How do you imagine a life without automobile? There may be another possibilities for day-to-day drivers to have much better quality of life when they get off their cars. Timothy Beatley illustrated such possibilities in his book “Native to Nowhere: Sustaining Home And Community In A Global Age” with the example of the snowstorm in East Coast in February 2003. Basically, natural disasters are just harmful for us but the snowstorm made people realize another possibilities of life without automobile. To live in a place where vehicles do not exist and people walk in open spaces, there are some benefits for those who drive daily basis. First, it is no danger from any car accidents. Not only that, a place in which many people walk and do something itself provides security so-called “eyes on the street”, in Jane Jacobs’s word. Expanding these safety and secure realms would be crucial for people who cannot drive such as children, elderly people, and people in disabilities. Moreover, such an environment makes people easy to interact and socialize one another. It would be very difficult for drivers to have any interactions with others while driving because of being isolated. By contrast, sitting down and watching beauty of its landscape for a while, people can enjoy socializing with others naturally in such an open space. Therefore, people can bring vitality to the common realm.

Cities in which there are plenty of place where people walk without vehicles have unique cultures.  For example, Osaka, the second largest city in Japan, proudly has many unique cultures such as cultures of food and comedy. People in Osaka prefer to eat at many restaurants, walking around the town. They are also all skilled comedians. In fact, some Japanese consider Osaka as a “foreign city” in Japan because of its otherness. It is said that one of the sources of the uniqueness, I think, is the number of “arcaded streets”. There are 173 of arcaded streets in city of Osaka while there are only 32 in 23 wards of Tokyo. The longest arcaded street in Osaka called “Shinsaibashi-suji” has some 2.6km (about 1.6 mile) in length. Many people in various generation and diverse income always do something and walk unbelievable long distances daily basis on the arcaded streets. Actually, many of local shopping avenues in Osaka can keep vitality with unique cultures generated by people there while many of such streets in other city are suffering to revitalize the streets. People in Osaka might instinctually know “walkable realms without a car” can generate good cultures that fit with and are favorable to them. You don’t need to wait another natural disasters for a trial of life without automobile. Just get off your car, walk around your neighborhood, greet your neighbors and rediscover the possibilities of your place.