Why Teenagers Need Cars
By Russell C.
Imagine cruising down the highway in a brand-new red Mustang. This must be every teenager's dream, though in reality, a compact sedan with a couple of dings in the door is probably more typical for those lucky enough to have a vehicle. Life is hard for teens who lack their own set of wheels. Today a car is a necessity, not a luxury, for teenagers, in my opinion.
To begin, the daily schedule of the average student is a whirlwind of activity. What parent has time to deliver each daughter and son to every sports game or practice, music rehearsal, babysitting job, or dentist appointment? Sometimes these activities take place in different parts of town and involve quite a bit of travel. The logistics are a nightmare. However, with a set of car keys, the teen can travel to each event independently. He or she can handle last-minute schedule changes without throwing off parents' pick-up and drop-off plans. Parents could get some time to relax.
Also, having a car helps teenagers learn responsibility. Instead of counting on Mom or Dad to chauffeur them, these young people will make and carry out their own transportation plans. Early on, they will gain practice in becoming a courteous and skilled driver. Buying gasoline and paying for repairs provide valuable lessons in sticking to a budget and caring for personal property. These steps to adulthood can be achieved by owning and caring for a car.
Of course, some people might say that teenagers should not do lots of driving by themselves, in their own cars. One reason is that high school students lack experience and judgment on the road. Some, if not all, find it tempting to drive too fast or show off for friends. This behavior would be reduced if teens drove with adult supervision and only occasionally borrowed a family car. In this view, young people should learn to drive gradually and get a car only after lots of practice and supervision.
Also, having a car may be considered too much responsibility for students who should be focusing on other things, such as schoolwork, developing special talents, helping out at home, or simply relaxing with friends and family. Teens may feel pushed to work too many hours to pay for gas, insurance, and car care. They might get frustrated with problems such as the car not starting in the morning. Why experience these headaches at a time in life when you're supposed to be having fun?
Still, after considering these different views, I find the idea of car ownership for teens to be a good idea. In addition to the practical advantages of driving to school and work, a car opens the door to lots of recreation and fun, such as a seaside drive or bringing your friends to a ball game. With the many responsibilities comes a sense of freedom and joy. Mustang or not, I'd gladly ride through my teen years behind the wheel of my own vehicle.
Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
City planners may want to forget their professional training and spend a bit more time playing with Lego. Turns out if you create a city that's good for Grade 5 students, you create a city that's good for everyone.
So reveals a recent contest that invited Grade 5 students in Kitchener to write a 250-word essay on the programs and services they envisioned as part of an ideal city. Wouldn't you know it, contest participants called for more public amenities and services that promote active transportation and recreation.
What? No request for additional roads? Parking spaces? Power centres?
These students are on to something.
Fortunately, urban development that embraces such things as mixed uses, walkability, cycling, transit, parks, and vibrant public spaces has become accepted wisdom across the developed world. From Suwon, South Korea, to Bogotá, Colombia, cities are waking up to the quality-of-life benefits of designing cities for people as opposed to cars.
And why wouldn't cities embrace these changes? Mounting evidence suggests built environments designed to make our streets more hospitable, our public spaces more inviting, and our amenities closer to us benefit communities socially, environmentally and economically.
When people live closer together in mixed-use neighbourhoods, they enjoy a more vibrant street culture, safer neighbourhoods, and a greater sense of community. Through contact in public spaces, community members build necessary social capital upon which they can draw to combat isolation and access support or assistance from others.
Positioning community members so they can engage in their daily activities closer to one another not only enhances social interactions, but also makes our cities greener. Living closer and driving less are keys to sustainability.
Still not sold on the idea? Well, consider this: American real estate agents who belong to the U.S.-based National Association of Realtors — a trade association with more than one million members — at their most recent national conference were educated about the merits of walkable urban communities.
A panel of experts at the conference reported residential walkable communities generate four times the tax revenue compared to regional and business malls.