Friday, September 19, 2008

Friendship, Cars, and Carfree Families

Josh Hart has done research in the UK on the impact of traffic on community life. His research shows that on streets with heavy traffic, residents have dramatically fewer friends in their neighborhood and their sense of what neighborhood space belongs to them is greatly decreased. It would be great to see similar research focused on children. It is much more difficult for children to leave their neighborhood (since they often require adult supervision and can't get into a car and drive away), so I wonder how heavy traffic flow impacts a child's quality of life and friendship networks.

Last week this piece in the Boston Globe focused on Cambridge's own Janie Katz-Christy and other local families who are living car free. My favorite quote from the piece is from Melissa Glenn Haber in answer to how you live without a car:
"The same way you live without a jet pack," she says. "It's just a matter of getting used to things, a slight shift in expectations. I can't cram as much into a day as someone with a car. I have low blood pressure."
I couldn't have said it better myself. (Thanks to Marc for the tip!)