When was the last time you heard someone mention that they wanted to live in a more walkable neighborhood? For me, it was last night at the cookies-and-wine festivities I look forward to each year. A woman my age with four children (going on five) is living with her family in Eastown in Grand Rapids – when they were looking for houses, they just really wanted a walkable neighborhood. Eastown fit the bill, and their kids go to Potter’s House, a private Christian school, to make it work. (I LOVE this neighborhood by the way; I lived here right after college and think it’s one of the best in GR.) Another friend has just sold her house and will be moving further out of town so both she and her husband can be nearer to work – but is struggling to find a place that fits the bill without being out too far. “We really want to be close to downtown,” she said, “We still like to go down there a lot. But the schools…” It’s a real, multidisciplinary problem that our cities have. Are we listening?
Along these lines, The U.S. Public Interest Research Group recently did a study indicating that Millennials just don’t want to drive as much as previous generations have. This isn’t necessarily a revelation, but while conventional wisdom has held that this has been because of the recession, driving is down even among those who ought to be able to afford a car. Zipcar corroborates this, though you’ll notice from this slideshow that it’s not just Millennials that are driving less – the trend seems to start with Gens X and Y already. I read these articles and wonder if we’ll wake up in thirty years, looking at our nine-lane roads and itty-bitty sidewalks, with a “what-were-we-THINKING” hangover.
The cargo/family-transport bike search continues. I was recently tipped off to the Xtracycle, which is a kit you use to modify an existing bike frame to make it into a longtail bike. Eugene Bicyclist has a great entertaining post on how exactly that works. This video shows it in action. Wild!
I’m inspired – I especially like the Hooptie, which holds the kids on the back… but I’d need it for three kids, and think a bucket bike might just be easier.
Finally, and on a completely unrelated note: this life is such a gift. Completely insane on many, many days – spend ten minutes in my house and you’ll know that I GET this all too well – but a tremendous gift nonetheless. Head over to FreeSet if you feel like you need a little perspective in the middle of the insanity. Freeset is an NGO in India that buys women out of prostitution. I don’t have the words to express the power of this. A last-minute Christmas gift, perhaps?
Have a wonderful, wonderful weekend. No matter where you are in your Christmas shopping, remember to take a few minutes to go for a walk or a ride. It’s always worth it!