When we were in Russia, travelling from Beloretschinsk to Rodnicki and our co-op farm where we were teaching, my husband saw a sight so unique, it has stayed in our memory the past 19 years.
He was travelling down the road when a car, a Lada, passed him. The driver was alone, except for his goat which was standing in the back of the car! We concluded that the driver must have removed the back seats, so there would be room to transport the goat. He was being taken to the country to graze for an hour, and then was driven back to the little front yard where he spent most of the day, with the exception of milking time.
What a system! This goat supplied milk, cheese and butter, I suppose, for the whole family! Now, in Canada, that back seat is very rarely removed, and it seems it’s also rarely used. In a 15- minute period while I wait for a bus that I missed, about 144 cars drive by with only one person in them, regardless of the size of the car. SUV, truck, VW (rare), or regular van, there is most often only one seat used.
There might have been 20 cars with two people in them in that collection of 144 cars every 15 minutes, but that 20 out of l44 is quite a rarity.
Not everyone would feel the need to transport a goat to pasture, but other uses could be found for all that wasted space. Only in an automobile do we insist on that much room for ourselves: restaurants, sidewalks, busses, churches, elevators — we’re content with space that fits our bodies. Why is so much wasted space in automobiles?
I’m also not pleased with the lack of courtesy that so many drivers display. No pedestrian walks directly in front of another, thus effectively cutting him off, as the saying goes. A cyclist usually does not try to be first at the traffic light.
As to the question of why I don’t get a license to drive, I resist the urge to respond, "I really don’t want to join the host of bad drivers that I encounter daily" (when I travel with my husband in a car).
Anyway, why would a 120-pound woman need 2,000 pounds of steel to transport herself two blocks to buy $20 worth of groceries? Not everyone will agree with me that we need more car-pooling to eliminate daily congestion on our roads. But give it some thought.
Bertha Klassen is a North Kildonan-based writer.
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