“You’re dreamin’ dude,” my friend stated. The phrase itself exposed the very essence of what I was speaking of. A dream of a day without cars in our fair city, or, at least, the downtown portion of it.
Still, I can’t help but wonder about a day without cars, trucks, Vespas and Civics from the suburbs and Landcruisers from the hills. How would the citizens of this city understand their place and purpose without the hum (OK, noise) and breath (OK, pollution) of the traditional vehicular pulse that is now so common as to be unquestioned, and absorbed as if it was as natural as the air we breathe, or the limited sunshine that we occasionally enjoy.
And to think, it would only be one day a year where the city would derive its energy from the omnipresent movement of people. New patterns would be forged and the people of the city would see one another as never before, realizing concepts of collectivism, like never before – if only for one day.
The recent earthquake held another similar lesson of unity, as all citizens were forced to realize the wholeness of their situation and their ties to each other, it was as if we all were drawn near to a village elder and warned of a mythical future where relativity forced its covering hand. Indeed, a day without cars would similarly create situations of self-reliance and relativity, as individuals would be revealed from their hiding places and their metal boxes.
A day without cars would not grind the economic activity of the city to a halt; in fact, it would be like a shot in the arm. Stinging, yet strangely enjoyable, as one by one the citizens parked their precious metals and strode, or biked, or boarded into the heart of the unknown: a city unbridled by the flow of its own seemingly necessary blood.
To realize collectively that the city would and could function without it would not be chaos. Those who thrive off the anonymity and the isolation of being islands in a forever-flowing stream would confront the collectivism that somehow is forgotten and ignored in the gears of urban capitalism.
Many would resist “The Day Without Cars” (adding quote marks just made it an official movement). Their reasoning, though, could be easily dissected: “convenience” that translates as discomfort that translates as a fear of living among “others.”
Fears of a loss of business are easily negotiated considering businesses hanker forever for more foot traffic. Difficulties moving people around the city, well, it is only a day, let them walk, plan a different route and stride across one of the bridges, transforming themselves as the city is transformed by their action. Most of all “The Day Without Cars” scares many, because a day with the hush that would inevitably result would leave room for the voices of other humans and, ironically, urban residents seem to fear this the very most.