I've been indulging in one of my more esoteric interests recently, reading various books and articles about urban planning. After reading Philip Langdon's A Better Place To Live: Reshaping the American Suburb
(an excerpt from which can be found here
), I realized that I live within walking distance of almost every place I ever need to go. Supermarkets, restaurants, convenience stores, the movie theater, the library, Wal-Mart – none of them are more than a thirty-minute walk away.
In fact, if Loudoun Transit ever starts running on weekends, I could almost make do without a car. But not quite. I like visiting my brother, and he lives about four miles away. I could do that pretty easily on a bike, of course, but without a car how could I go get him in the middle of the night when both his cars break down? (More about which later.) My church is seven miles away, and while I could probably talk other church members into giving me rides, I'd feel guilty about it. And realistically, you need a car if you want to go to any of the big chain stores (like Borders, Best Buy, or the multiplex cinema) in Sterling. There's a bus that runs down Rt. 7 between Leesburg and Sterling, and while many of the stores are fairly close to one another in a strictly linear sense, the truth is that it's impossible to cover the distance on foot, thanks to various inconveniently placed ponds and multilane highways. (Truth be told, it's not easy to cover the distance in a car. For example, the Home Depot and the Toys Я Us are less than a half-mile apart as the crow flies, but to drive from one to the other, it's about a mile and a half.)
So I don't think I'll be getting rid of my car. Still, it's nice to know that I can pretty easily reduce my reliance on it.