What does your education teach you about cars? Usually nothing much. I never did the road safety course which are supposed to be conducted in every Singaporean school. I do not remember what happened but it is likely I was unwell the day my class went for the course. What I do remember is that there were people on bicycles, people who were pedestrians and then people driving little cars. Those driving the little cars were seen as the privileged ones.
I often hear that with a car, one feels free – perhaps that one can just drive anywhere. For me, I don’t like to drive and so the real value of a car to me, is that it’s basically a huge mobile cabinet or storage that I can bring around with me. I can put different attire in it and be able to change out more easily without having to lug a huge bag with me. And of course, this mobile storage actually can carry me with it.
But what are we really doing to the world as we indulge in the ‘freedom’ of driving around and moving a mobile cabinet around an urban space? We are holding a lot of urban possibilities hostage, while also causing pollution, emitting more carbon into the atmosphere, sustaining yet more businesses that are digging oil out of the ground. It is shameful, to say the least.
So what should we do about private transportation over short distance? I have some ideas, which can be implemented together in some cases:
- Charge people for driving within urban areas – charge them on a per km basis and with slight decreasing marginal costs.
- Don’t allow people to own cars, operate car rentals that work as part of the public transport network.
- Reduce and even eliminate the need for buildings to provide parking while putting a cap on parking charges.
Close more roads on weekends, allow weekend street markets to bloom.