Of Course People Have Choices

RECEIVED Wed., July 19, 2006

Dear Editor,
    With the rise of global heating, air and water pollution, and oil wars, car addicts have changed their tune. They used to say, "Cars give us the freedom to choose where we live and work." Now they say, "We have no choice. We are forced to drive. Where we live and work is dictated by education and income level." It seems that one consequence of too much car driving is the illusion of loss of one's free will.
    Really, of course, people do have choices. I know several people who have moved from walkable areas to places where people drive everywhere. They did it to get bigger houses. I know many folks who drive less than five miles to work. Articles in the Chronicle urge people to drive to Bastrop for dinner. "Worth the drive" is a frequently occuring phrase in restaurant reviews. A lot of people just don't want to connect their own personal driving to big problems such as global heating, foul air, dangerous streets, and oil wars. And many people can't quite imagine changing their habits. They think two miles is too far to walk and that it's impossible to carry groceries by bicycle.
    If only more people in Austin would switch from car to bicycle! There are good electric bicycles now, and even electric tricycles with sun canopies. Bicycles are not only much cleaner than cars but also far less destructive and expensive for society. Bicycles don't burst into flame when they crash. They don't crash into buildings and kill or maim people inside. They don't damage roads and personal property. They don't run people over and kill them.
    To claim lack of free will is to abandon moral responsibility. People are moral agents, and our choices matter.
Yours truly,
Amy Babich
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