Tag Archives: driving

Smooth Sailing

Three people have mentioned it in the past 2 days, so it’s worth passing along:

One side effect of the economic downturn is severely reduced traffic on I-95 and the Merritt.  Morning or afternoon rush hour; northbound or southbound — it’s like a sleepy Sunday morning.

Be careful what you wish for.

Walking The Walk

Two days ago, an “06880” reader suggested lowering the driving age to 14.

Here’s another thought:  Make ’em walk.

It’s not my idea.  I stole it from the New York Times, which reported on a town in Italy that eliminated most school buses and parent drivers.  Instead, paid staff members and parent volunteers lead lines of walking students to school — “Pied Piper-style, stopping here and there as their flock expands.”

The town’s “piedibuses” (the Italian sounds better  than “foot buses”) have saved more than 100,000 miles of car travel, and prevented tons of greenhouses gases from entering the air.

Here in the U.S. a few places — Marin County and Boulder, go figure — have introduced modest “walking-bus programs,” but the concept is foreign to most of us.

Westport — home of the first plastic bag ordinance east of the Mississippi — would seem to be a perfect place to try.  We could save gas, help the environment, unjam roads, amortize our sidewalks, promote fitness, give students more time to socialize, give parents more time to themselves, and (the big one) cut some buses out of our education budget.

Walking to school might lighten backpacks too.  Kids today haul all their earthly possessions everywhere — more academic, less migratory versions of the Joad family.

The downside?  Drivers still on the road — those hustling to work, or their workout appointments — would be freed up to speed up.  Our streets are already riskier than Baghdad’s; adding hundreds of potential targets  might not be the smartest idea to come down the pike.

On the other hand, it’s worth a try.  Perhaps we can use the stimulus package to put Pied Pipers to work, leading ever-expanding flocks up and down North Avenue.

Driving Down The Age

The telephone.  The airplane.  TV dinners.

Given enough time, man can dream up anything.  But it takes a creative Westporter to think of this idea:

Lower the driving age to 14.

A middle-aged neighbor — who asked to remain nameless — has devised a new way to meld environmentalism and puberty.

“Everyone says kids are not responsible,” he explains.  “I think we need to give them more responsibility.”

At a time when our entire nation needs to be more responsible — particularly if we want future generations to do things like drive and live — this Westporter suggests handing car keys to boys and girls a year after their bar or bat mitzvahs.  Here’s the catch:  They could not drive high-speed vehicles.

“America needs to produce new types of cars,” he says.  “But manufacturers don’t think there’s a market for them.  If we allow 14- and 15-year-olds to drive — but not let them on highways, or in cars that go over 45 miles an hour — we’ll expand the market.  There’ll be a new sector for efficient, low-cost, locally driven cars.”  One more buzzkill for young drivers:  Their cars would be small enough to carry only one or two passengers.

The Westporter has a 14-year-old daughter.  Would he actually let her get behind the wheel?

“Sure!” he says cheerfully.  “She’d be a better driver than me tomorrow!”

He is a brave man indeed.  Just not brave enough to allow his name to be printed publicly.