Kaid Benfield Archive


A new perspective on auto dependence: it hurts drinkers, too

Kaid Benfield

Posted January 6, 2009 at 2:19PM

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Driving under the influence of alcohol is a very serious matter.  But count me among those who enjoy a good brew or single malt from time to time, so I am not without sympathy for those who find it difficult to enjoy themselves in a world where options other than driving are limited.

a classic pub (by: surfstyle, creative commons license)

And now, the connection has been made.  William Brand writes in his beer column for the Contra Costa (CA) Times, "What's On Tap":

"The American problem - our problem - is the way we live sucks. I mean we're totally auto-oriented. Most of us live in places where mass transit doesn't exist or is sucky.

"For instance, I live three miles from the closest BART station; there's only bus service 9-5 weekdays and it's five blocks to the damn bus stop.  So I drive, usually to BART. Coming home, I don't get back in the car 'til I'm certain I'm sober.  It's a hell of a way to live.

"In fact, it changes where I go. I hate visiting friends where we're going to drink good beer, but the only way to get there is driving. I envy my friends who live in San Francisco, Oakland and other cities, where a trip to the pub is a short walk."

The column has spawned quite a few online comments, most of them thoughtful and sympathetic.  It's a point of view worth considering. 

Thanks to my colleague Justin Horner for pointing me to this story.