Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wheels vs. heels on ice!

I have a confession to make: I drove in really bad weather. And was going well below the speed limit when my passenger said, "No, turn there!" So I hit the brakes. Because cars are better than they used to be, the anti-locks engaged and we skidded smoothly past the turn in a nice straight path.

Now I am really, really glad my car had those anti-locks and that I was driving so slowly. But it made me think about how walking stacks up to cars in bad weather.

Cost of walking: Decent cold-weather gear including hat ($5-$20), coat ($50 - $200), gloves ($10-$20), or umbrella ($12). Real boots ($100-$200). No operating costs.
Cons of walking: If you're a woman, you won't look cute when you get there unless you carry shoes along. And for both men and women, it takes a while. And you'll be cold.
Pros of walking: Exercise, not wasting fuel, personal experience of nature and life.
Worst possible outcome: You could slip and fall and possibly get a huge bruise.

Cost of driving: An automobile costing $15,000 to $40,000. Good tires costing about $100 apiece. Washer fluid ($10). About $0.62 operating costs per mile, plus gas. You'll still need a coat and gloves.
Cons of driving: Spewing waste into the environment. Feeding those gluttonous fat cells. You'll still be cold.
Pros of driving: If you're a woman, you'll still look cute when you get there unless you slip on those pretty shoes in the parking lot and arrive with a huge wet stain on your butt. It's fast for all sexes.
Worst possible outcome: Death. Paralysis. Killing/injuring other people or animals.

After I wrote all this up, I decided never to leave the house again in bad weather and that I would just stay in and drink. Then I decided to be braver. But as the editor pointed out in an earlier post, as attractive as driving is otherwise, the worse possible outcome is a lot worse. And a lot more likely.

Here's the problem, though: if I wanted to get where I was going on foot the day I braked past my turn, it would have been very risky. The only way to get there was along state highways that had plowed whatever level area there might have been to walk on into a 12-foot snowbank. So we would have been walking in the road, where a lot of drivers driving a lot faster than I did may or may not have seen us.

So I hereby vow to pester my congressman about taking pedestrian trips seriously and providing both infrastructure and maintenance. And to give up on the fashion editor's idea of cute. If I'm the only woman in the bar with clodhopper boots, I'll also be the one least likely to commit vehicular manslaughter.

1 comment:

  1. In terms of pounds of C02 produced, every mile of driving is the exact equivalent of throwing a bag of trash out the window.