Date: 2006-10-07 21:36:00
urban living
Amy and I live in a pretty dense area of Christchurch. As I was walking to the dentist the other day, which is literally around the corner, I was thinking about all the things we have within just a few minutes of walking time. Here's what I can think of off the top of my head:

Less than two minutes: bus stop, pharmacy, dentist, 24 hour emergency medical
Less than five minutes: mailbox, dairy (convenience store), dry cleaners, chiropractor
Less than ten minutes: grocery store, hardware store, doctor, butcher, bakery, post office, bank/atm, community pool, takeaway food, video rental, bookstore
Less than twenty minutes: downtown, so pretty much anything else: retail shops, library, restaurants, cathedral

Remember, those are walking times (one way). In comparison, our place in Texas was in the middle of a big suburban block. Things you could walk to numbered about two:

Less than five minutes: mailbox
Less than twenty minutes: community pool

Furthermore, most of the year you wouldn't really want to walk very far outdoors in Texas since it's so hot. On the other hand, we didn't have a car at all here for just over four months, and survived perfectly well.
The US used to have nice walkable cities. After WWII cities started being redesigned with the idea of separated zones (residential, work, school, etc). That plus intentionally crippled mass transit caused dependence on cars. Check out the excellent book "Suburban Nation" for lots of fascinating information on the (often nonobvious) causes and consequences of this unfortunate change (which is spreading to many other parts of the world).

One of the things I'm enjoying in my new life is not needing a car. All the stuff I normally need to do is within walking distance, or a tram ride away (and one doesn't have to wait a long time for a tram or bus to come).
I detest subdivisions. If you're going to be stuck living in a (relatively) dense setting, you should at least be able to walk to shit.

My parent's house is 2 long-blocks away from 2 major streets, each of which had numerous stores on them. The butcher is gone, and the supermarket had to specialize to stay open (it's mostly ethnic food now, iirc), but there's still a few restraunts (2 I think), at least 2 dry cleaners, a wallgreens, 7-11, subway, brown's chicken, a baker, a pub, florist, barber, I think a hardware store, drug store (with some doctors and dentists... it's a "medical building"), and some other shit I'm forgetting because I never actually went there. And this is in an area that's just as nice as where I live now (though the housing prices are higher... look up 8210 Karlov, 60076 on that real estate pricing site).

This is why I've pretty much given up on urban life of any kind and want to move into the country.

BTW, what's the icon say?
"Quo vadis USA" It's a photo of grafitti I saw here in Wrocław.

"Quo vadis" is an oft-used Latin phrase and coincidentally the name of a classic Polish novel, which I will probably read in Esperanto long before I can read it in Polish. It's also a good boardgame I used to play a lot. :)
I don't even know what to say to the fact that you'd never, ever see such enlightened graffitti in the US...
Wikipedia also says it's the name of a Polish death metal band. Maybe they're going on tour in America. :)
One of the reasons for me to move from suburban NW Austin to Rosedale was to be in a more urban setting. However, it's not the panacea that I was used to in Europe

Less than two or five minutes: nothing
Less than ten minutes: pharmacy (People's), grocery (Central Market), restaurant (EZ's and Waterloo).

So, for pretty much anything else, including going downtown, we still take the car. And we even take the car to the pharmacy when it's hot outside...
Less than two or five minutes: nothing
*cough*Draught House*cough*

Actually, I'd much rather bike than walk anyway...
OMG how could I forget :)
Well, just s/walking/driving/g and you've got Texas. :)
Greg Hewgill <>