I moved away from my family, my friends, and my partner to live alone more than a thousand miles away in Chicago. Why? Essentially, I need to live somewhere where I can walk, bike, take public transport—somewhere I can get around without a car. The knotted highway-laden dystopia of Texas put my physical and mental well-being in peril. I couldn’t rationalize it; the stress, danger, and anti-humanity of driving had me on a road to an early grave.

Stress is pernicious. It causes many health problems, and it reduces life spans. It’s self-evident that an optimal life reduces stress as much as possible. On that note, driving generates stress on a regular basis. Blown-out tires, dead batteries, highway maniacs, narrow streets, maintenance, predatory cops, potholes, parking, stand-still traffic, rising gas prices—driving produces constant and inexhaustible stressors. Accordingly, one who wishes to minimize stress should minimize driving.

Continuing, it turns out that it is surprisingly dangerous to maneuver a 1.5 ton vehicle at high speeds, especially in close proximity to other vehicles, and more especially considering that the standards to qualify for an American driver’s license are objectively abysmal. Similar to stress, an optimal life minimizes danger. When I am walking on a sidewalk or riding the train, catastrophe is less likely to lay its bloody claws into me. Indeed, one shouldn’t have to risk getting side-swiped to get around their community.

Furthermore, driving has another major downside that raw data can’t necessarily capture—anti-humanity. Driving is not the natural transport mode for humans. Rather, we are designed to use our flesh and nerves to traverse and explore this world, and both the body and the mind thrive when we properly use them. Free from the demands of a machine, the human can think, philosophize, read, meditate, converse—live. Additionally, one fails to appreciate the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of their environment when they’re preoccupied with a balancing act of speeding, braking, turning, mirror-checking, and so forth.

On the same thread, not only does driving kill individual humanity, its widespread adoption kills communal humanity. A jovial, bustling street filled with reverie, a docile park with idling folk, a de-fettered community free to roam about in collective freedom—these environments embody the human spirit. On the other hand, environments designed for cars engender vast brutalist concrete hell plains where human spirit lies deserted and left for dead under a cruel, roasting sun. Stripped from collective humanity, individual humanity crumbles and fades into the wind. Isolated and alienated, the atomized individual devolves into sterile automaton, empty of spirit.

In essence, I don’t hate driving per se—I have fond memories of starry Texan nights, driving on lonely roads with a joint in hand, rolling the windows downs to let the breeze hit me while I drive to nowhere in particular. And on a practical note, I still use a car for errands and to travel out of the city. But driving as the only form of transportation is insanity. The results from living relatively car-free in Chicago for a few months speak for themselves: I am physically healthier, have an improved state of mind, and more able to develop and express my humanity. I am, not as machine, but as human.

Have any thoughts, comments, or criticisms? Please feel free to contact me at kirillov88@protonmail.org