The Freedom To Choose Your Own Pace

An opinion piece highlights the benefits of slow transportation, a luxury seldom available in our speed-obsessed society.

Read Time: 2 minutes

August 17, 2022, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Describing the occasional ritual of walking from work to meet up with friends for post-work drinks, Streetsblog’s Kea Wilson writes that “I enjoy it infinitely more than any trip I take in a car.” Wilson asks the reader to appreciate the joys of slow transportation in a fast-moving world. “American culture, and particularly American transportation culture, is profoundly rooted in the idea that traveling fast is best — because if we don’t, that culture insists, we won’t be able to make or spend money efficiently enough to retain our position as a global economic superpower.”

Wilson understands why many Americans don’t value slowness. “So much of the slowness we experience when we walk, or bike, or take transit in the U.S. is not the kind of glorious, romantic diversions rhapsodized about by 18th-century flâneurs with deep pockets and nowhere to be.” It is, most likely, a miserable wait for a bus that never comes, a longer-than-expected trip for a few basic necessities, or being late to work through no fault of your own.

Wilson contrasts this with “chosen slowness,” which can help regulate your nervous system by giving you time to unwind during an open-air walk or bike ride, for example. “It’s the pleasure of movement itself, in a society that would probably teleport us all directly to the places where we work or consume, if we could just find a way to make teleportation profitable.” Wilson admits this is a privilege few can afford.

Ultimately, Wilson argues that the American obsession with speed skews toward consumption. “A fast bus — or a fast train, or a protected bike path that carries you quickly downtown without cheating through twenty low-traffic neighborhoods — might move fast, sure, but the people on board it don’t consume quickly enough.” Moving at your chosen pace for its own benefit, Wilson argues, should be a right unto itself.

Friday, August 12, 2022 in Streetsblog USA

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