American Car Culture
Living in the United States has numerous advantages–chief among them being the opportunity to witness life in one of the world’s strangest countries up close. It also imposes certain more-or-less onerous demands on people, especially tigers. Driving a car is an unpleasant experience for many humans, and one would think that, in the Land of the Free, there would be more choice as to whether one had to own and drive a car or not. Most places in the USA, however, are more or less cities for cars. The Pixar film’s vision of a world lived on roads, constructed regardless of environmental hell or people’s needs, is a lived reality in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Other than an admittedly serviceable bus system, there is no other way of getting around. Bike lanes are scarce, parking lots (almost) abundant, and so much pavement that taxation cannot possibly cover repairs to all of it. Kalamazoo is one of the main streets in the southeastern part of the city, converging with 28th at the same intersection where a certain Christian denomination has its headquarters. It’s almost too perfect. There’s a megastore, a church HQ, and surrounding them a horrifying strip of concrete and asphalt parodying a civilized commercial district. Everything only accessible by car. Do you have any idea how hard it is to drive with paws?
Supposedly, there are signs that American car culture is on the decline, but vast tracts of this country are defined by private car ownership, which remains one of the pillars of one’s bourgeois identity. This is the USA, so property is almost reflexively equated to freedom. To a tiger looking to avoid night driving, though, it seems that four wheels and an engine have been more detrimental than helpful in building a better society.