Comment of the Day: Freedom, Houston Style

COMMENT OF THE DAY: FREEDOM, HOUSTON STYLE “Cars rule!!! And so does Houston. I’ve traveled the world and have friends and family in major metropolises from coast to coast. Those cities are nice to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. Nearly every move outside your front door involves some sort of calculus including: time of day; parking availability; parking cost; potential grid lock; cab fare; cab availability; buses schedules; bus fare; bus routes; train routes, train schedules; train fare; the weather; public safety; shoe comfort vs shoe style; umbrellas; rain coats; etc. Call me crazy, but I place a high value on knowing that I can jump in my car 24/7 and drive wherever I want to go with full confidence that there will be ample and usually free parking in very close proximity to my destination. In Houston I go where I want, when I want. Usually with ease. It’s called freedom. . . .” [Bernard, commenting on Comment of the Day: Parking Lot City]

17 Comment

  • amen bother!

  • Strongly agree with this. I lived in Chicago for three years, and while I love going back to visit from time to time, the daily grind of just getting around drove me nuts. Even in nice weather, public transportation is a pain in the ass, to say nothing of waiting for buses when it is 10 below zero. And taxis get exorbitantly expensive quickly.

  • I had friends from Atlanta visit. They were MOST impressed with our traffic. In that our traffic largely remains on the freeways; once you exit to surface roads you are pretty free and clear. That is not the case in Atlanta. In addition to the awful traffic on the freeways, the exiting surface roads are jammed too.

  • And we wonder why the arts, music scene, overall creativity, and personal health in this city severely lags behind major metropolises such as NYC, Chicago, and San Francisco. Comments like these…

  • I’d have the same opinion if I never visited any cities with decent mass transit.

  • While I wish we had a more walkable city, I understand that there are reasons we aren’t. Density, or lack of, is the main reason. 600 square miles is a lot of land. Secondly, even if we were more walking friendly, there are 4-5 months out of the year that you would sweat like crazy on your walks. No one at the trendy restaurants wants to smell that. And before you give Chicago as an extreme on the other side, just remember — you can always bundle up more, but you can only take off so much.

  • No no… having the choice to own a car is what’s called freedom. You don’t have that choice in Houston. That calculus about grid locks and fares and shoes makes me assume that your head explodes every morning when you’re deciding what to wear. What a load of nonsense.

  • miesian,

    Haha! Amen to that! In any big city, the subway/metro is usually 24/7 with trains every few minutes. I lived in NYC and never, ever, had to check the schedule! I’ve also traveled the world and in Asia the metros there are incredibly clean and easy to use.

    I think maybe the issue is that Bernard really wants to be able to live a country/suburban lifestyle while still in a big city. In most parts of the world, people have to choose one or the other but here in Houston, the lack of density makes people feel like they’re entitled to both.

  • The idea that Bernard is driving around town 24/7 is frightening. I think if you have difficulty understanding bus fares (uh, they are usually pretty standard), choosing which shoes to wear when walking, or whether or not to carry an umbrella when you can get a weather forecast just about anywhere then maybe you should not be behind the wheel.

  • I’m with miesian. Choice of mode = freedom. And that free parking? I have another name for it: negative externality. That ‘free’ parking means fewer businesses, higher prices, less development, fewer government services, and blight.

  • We also get to carry concealed hand guns into public college buildings and classrooms.

  • Well if choice of mode=freedom, then Manhattan wouldn’t have it either. The logistics of owning/keeping a car there are prohibitively expensive for most people. But then again, I don’t see commenters knocking Manhattan for this reason. I think the real issue is that some people do not want anyone else using cars on a regular basis. I do not think this would be a good thing if it did come to pass, but many people are too short-sighted to realize this.

  • I choose to travel by helicopter as my mode of transportation. Are you willing to fund my freedom, paulbtucker, or might the inefficiency of my preference and its fiscal effect weigh excessively upon your other freedoms? Or are you just going to invent a new perspective on freedom, like freedom from helicopters?

    There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

  • Manhattan has a lot of modal choice. You can rent a car very easily through a variety of services (taxis, town cars, Zip car, new P2P car share companies), take the subway, walk, bike, or take the bus. Jitneys are popular in the outer boroughs were bus and cabs are more sparse.

    I don’t knock New York or other places where car ownership is expensive because it doesn’t have a major impact to your transit access. Not owning a car in Houston for most people does seriously inhibit your access to the city’s amenities.

  • Freedom isn’t free. An ex-Shell exec is predicting $5.00 a gallon gas this summer due to refinery issues and saber rattling in Iran. I hope that the riches from $5.00 a gallon gas would flow to all Houstonians to offset the additional expense. But I fear that our love for the freedom of motor vehicles is on a collision course with the inevitablity of peak oil and a significant rise in gas prices that will make life much more difficult for Houstonians than a walk down the street on an August afternoon.

  • Thank god we dont have the Singapore law — Buy the RIGHT to buy a car… costs $100k

  • So, I guess it’s free-dumb.