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Afterwords #2: More on Car-free Families

Afterwords consists of footnotes, references and outtakes from columns published in Metro News Vancouver. I’m considering incorporating these notes as best I can into the version of each column that I post to Medium. Speaking of which — if you enjoyed this piece, please consider giving it a recommendation on Medium.

This piece was a ton of fun to write. This was mostly because I started with some preconceived notions, took the topic to Facebook, got a ton of fascinating responses and was able to speak more in-depth to three families about their experiences to round out my thinking.

I’ve posted the piece to Medium for handy sharing, annotating and commenting, and am toying with the idea of going this route for all my future columns. Here are the additional links, if you’re curious:

  • Story on the U-Pass in the Georgia Straight from 2009, featuring the thesis work of Elizabeth Caitlin Cooper. I started at SFU in the fall of 2002, about a year before the U-Pass was introduced, so it’s interesting to me to see track and ponder at the effect this policy has had on my cohort.
  • Regarding children as a determinant of car ownership — it’s often included in models looking at car ownership (see this dissertation based on data from the Netherlands, which even broke it down by kids’ ages). It’s often noted for the kind of city that Vancouver’s been and aiming to become, it’s helpful to compare more with cities in Europe than other cities in North America, where car dependency is generally high enough that things like access to employment will obscure the effect of children on the car ownership decision.
  • I wasn’t successful in actually being able to listen to Brent Toderian’s interview with Stephen Quinn in the first week of January, so I took everyone’s word for it that he said what I said he did. (OK, so maybe I took the word of someone I know who works at the CBC a little more.)

I’m hoping to get to revisit this topic in a longer piece someday — what got left on the cutting room floor was me asking Richard how he felt about this topic. His response was, essentially, that the perceived need for owning a car made the decision to have children at all not a no-brainer, and inspired the final paragraph for my second revision. We both find practically every step of the ownership experience way more stressful than is worthwhile, for now. Perhaps seeing more families making a go of it successfully will eventually convince us otherwise. As always, it boils down to tradeoffs.

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