Wheels Keep Spinning

By Jason Santerre, Editor

I’m trying to understand North America’s everlasting love affair with the automobile.

I read Kerouac’s On the Road. I think I even understood it.

Some of my most beloved cinematic characters are fleshed out over many miles via classic “road trip” movies: Thelma & Louise, Sideways, Little Miss Sunshine, and Planes, Trains & Automobiles.

Some of my more memorable, life-altering trips involved four wheels, two headlights, and one pretty passenger. In our culture, it’s a rite of passage: Jump in the car. Slip on Springsteen’s Born to Run CD. Head for the open highway. Mix metaphors of freedom and adventure.

The summer road trip that becomes a pilgrimage or spiritual sojourn or annual family event is something I can wrap my mind around.

What I don’t understand is the multitude of Montrealers who refuse to give up their vehicle for even a day during the workweek commute. That goes double for summertime, otherwise known as the season perfectly suited for cycling, walking, or jogging.

Every summer, gas prices spike. Construction zones multiply like a virus. Potholes get upgraded to crater status.

Add the fact that public transit passes in Montreal are among the cheapest in North America.

And yet Montrealers keep piling into their cars every day, only to get snagged in traffic, roll at a snail’s pace, boost stress levels, pollute the air, and sit. And wait. And sit. And wait. Around and around it goes...

Is anyone else confused by this behaviour?

Our mayor, for one, certainly is. Unlike me, Valérie Plante has the power to do something about traffic congestion in this city. Not everyone’s happy with her green, health-conscious schemes. Devoting certain parts of Montreal on particular days to pedestrians and cyclists? The horror!

Let’s start with baby steps. This summer, focus on your health and the well-being of others. Leave the car at home. Invest in a bike, a pair of rollerblades or a good pair of running shoes.

The more cars we get off the road, the more Montreal, as a whole, benefits. Using your inner motor to propel yourself to work instead of that combustible engine will not only better the air we breathe, it will better your body and brain.

No one’s suggesting you give up road trips and shopping for groceries by the carload, but surely you can cut your daily mileage. Montreal on two wheels or two feet means a city looking forward, a city enSanté.

 

Summer 2018, Vol 10 N°3

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Summer 2018
Vol 10 N°3

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