Friday, August 10, 2012

Having no drivers license a source of pride

Yesterday I was called about a story a CBC Television journalist was doing on car-free living in Ottawa. This was a follow-up story sparked by Ottawa city Councillor Katherine Hobbs giving up her car after going car-free for a few months.

While my wife drives, so there is a car in the household, I do not drive it or have a drivers license. I consider myself as (or possibly more) car-free as those who don't have a car in the household, but who have memberships in car sharing services like Vrtucar. There will always be exceptions to the general rule for a car-free person, but we are all people who as a general rule don't drive.

When I was a teen in the 80's, it was a matter of laziness. I couldn't afford a car, and didn't have the motivation others did to get their drivers licenses anyway. I had a 365 (as they were called in Ontario in those days) learners permit a few times, but never bothered doing the driving test.

In the 1990's I met up with some more political folks, including a group called Auto-Free Ottawa. I was quite active with them, working to try with municipal and other levels of government to make car-free living easier in Ottawa.

In the 2000's AFO members had largely gone onto other things, myself included. We were active with the yearly Commuter Challenge, including hosting all software for many years. I also critiqued groups like Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) who wanted to increase taxes through increased subsidies to the automobile and taxpayer funded infrastructure to support the automobile. I always felt the CTF wasn't a taxpayers federation as much as they were a small group of ideologs who wanted government to focus government spending on their pet policies.

Most of my volunteer time these days is spent trying to protect the basic rights of technology owners, so I'm not active in car-free activism. That said, I realized how much pride I felt to be asked to be on this show. The journalist ended up interviewing cyclist Richard Briggs, but the initial conversation made me think about my car-free living.

Update: Councillor goes carless was the story.

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