Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Ad Nauseam

New York: A “Drivers’ Paradise”

2:30 PM EDT on September 19, 2007

525647532_503487f0f5.jpg

Move over, biker babes. A presumably tongue-in-cheek article in the Observer heralds the "Californication of New York," thanks to the proliferation of automobiles in "young, lifestyle neighborhoods" like Williamsburg, Astoria and Inwood.

According to the piece, a growing number of suburban transplants see auto reliance as a comforting reminder of home.

"I didn't realize how much I missed the car until I had it here," said Lauren Robinson, a 25-year-old dietician with pixie-cut brown hair, a fetching dimple, and a bearded beau who was dutifully loading groceries into her Honda CR-V. The Honda was a relic of her youth in upstate New York, but she had recently brought it to the city after moving from car-hostile Manhattan to auto-friendly Brooklyn. She didn't really need the vehicle, and, theoretically, she could have grabbed a bus to Fairway. But, as she explained, "It's just so easy to jump in and drive somewhere."

"I don't think you need a car," she said, "but I think it's definitely a plus. And it definitely makes me feel more" -- she paused to search for the word -- "well, not like such a city person."

The article says the relative ease of keeping a car almost anywhere outside Lower Manhattan, due in part to auto-centric development and plentiful parking, makes the city a "drivers' paradise." It even gives a wink to that most heartwarming ritual of suburban youth: drunk driving.

Perhaps the real sign of the car culture apocalypse -- the hint that, when it comes to wheels at least, Williamsburg and Winnetka might not be so different after all -- is the sobriety check that cops have set up on Meeker Avenue, near one of the on-ramps to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway ... A floating barricade of police, batons and breath-a-lizers, just like back home!

And what of the costs, environmental or otherwise, of bringing a "four-wheeled friend" to the city?

"It just seems to me, if I stop driving my car, I don't think that's doing anything about the real issue," said Hans, a 31-year-old Williamsburg media guy (and musician, of course) with a receding, Jack Nicholson hairline and Chattanooga drawl, as he eyed his silver Elantra. "I know I'm contributing to it, but the end of the day, I obviously don't feel bad enough about it to not drive my car."

Photo: Love_is/Flickr

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Friday’s Headlines Are Tired Out

Whether it's from degradation or the dust resulting from wear and tear, it's becoming increasingly clear that tire and brake emissions are harmful, perhaps even exceeding tailpipe emissions.

September 22, 2023

Study: What Road Diets Mean For Older Drivers

"After a road diet, all motorists seem to drive at a rate that feels comfortable to a mildly-impaired older adult."

September 22, 2023

Talking Headways Podcast: Local Culture and Development

We chat with Tim Sprague from Phoenix about supporting local culture through development projects and the importance of sustainable development and transportation.

September 21, 2023

How and Why to Start a Walking School Bus

Any caregiver for a kid in institutionalized education is familiar with the challenge of getting them where they’re going safely, on time, every single day, well before your own day’s assignments come into play. Here's how a walking school bus could help.

September 21, 2023

Thursday’s Headlines Have a New Pattern

Working from home may have killed the commute, but people are taking more frequent, shorter trips instead. Whether this adds up to less or more driving overall depends on the city.

September 21, 2023
See all posts