An article this week in Road & Track magazine entitled “Will Ellis Drive?” got me thinking. Road & Track, a magazine dedicated to all things cars, seems more than a little disturbed (frankly befuddled) that those persnickety youngsters aren’t interested in getting a drivers license, much less buying a Lamborghini. The future of the republic apparently lies in the balance.
I took note because my son is named Ellis. He is six years old now, and as you can see, I’m trying to raise him (and my two-year-old Shaw) to understand there are more ways to navigate his world than from behind the wheel. Sure, we don’t live in the East Village with its impeccable walkscore and transit service, but I think my kids are getting it. We ride bikes, the bus and train at home, and recently spent spring break happily car-free in the Eastern Market neighborhood of Washington D.C. My observation is kids respond positively to the freedom of exploring their world not tethered to a car seat.
Reading the Road & Track article should give urbanists some joy, but be sure to read the comments. I couldn’t help but notice a sense of driving enthusiasts fearing they’d have their cars “pried from their cold, dead hands,” if you will. This is apparently a genuine threat to drivers, but even if a full quarter of millennials choose not to drive, there still will be millions of drivers in this emerging generation, so I think Road & Track will be OK. I appreciated the one comment indicating it was fine for some to choose not to drive, as it frees up lanes of traffic for those who really enjoy driving. Everybody wins, right?
Indeed, cars and the open road will continue to exist for a long time to come (even I love my car), but the future of our country may actually be richer if more of us choose not to drive.