Reason on Why Mobility Matters to Personal Life (Part 2 of 2)Continuing from Tuesday's part 1.
Moving on, the report punctures the "live close to work" myth.
Why don’t more gridlock-weary commuters simply move closer to work? The approach certainly works for some people, but it’s often more feasible in theory than in practice. It would be much easier for most of us to live closer to work if jobs and people were interchangeable. However, different jobs require different skill sets and skill levels. Different people have different talents and aspirations. If all jobs and people were identical, then more people would probably take jobs closer to home. But people don’t want just any job. They want the one that offers the best combination of pay, benefits, and hours. Jobseekers consider the workplace environment, chances for advancement, and highly personal factors like how fulfilling the job is. When it comes to proximity, finding the right job is somewhat like finding the right romantic partner: chances are neither one is right around the corner.Mobility and Fun.
Dual-income families (a category that represents 70 percent of workers) have even more juggling to do. Chances are both jobs won’t be near each other. Moving closer to your job could mean moving farther away from your spouse’s job. And if the geographic puzzle could be solved, families would still have to contend with frequent moves. A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics study found that, on average, young baby boomers held nearly 11 different jobs between the ages of 18 and 40. Of
course, if both spouses work, the goal of living near work grows even more unrealistic. Families would scarcely have time to unpack before heading off to another new home.
Those who live in city centers in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and elsewhere often enjoy having a cozy restaurant a few doors down. It can be very convenient and relaxing to leave the car in the garage and take a quick stroll to dinner. The same can be said for other entertainment destinations, like parks or theaters. But whether they want to be entertained or just unwind, people don’t just care about proximity. Variety matters too.Finally, the conclusion is so well written, I'm just going to excerpt it in its entirety.
When we head out the door, much of the fun is seeing, tasting, and experiencing something new. We seek a change in scenery. We enjoy poking around some unexplored corner of our city. Funseekers in the liveliest neighborhoods may be a short walk from a half-dozen quality restaurants, but after they’ve experienced each of them a few times chances are they’ll want to add new options to the mix. Efficient public transport can expand our opportunity circles somewhat, but our entertainment options explode exponentially if we enjoy speedy auto travel.
When mobility improves, we enjoy more choices, not just in restaurants, but in all aspects of the culture boom.
We all endure congestion and we recognize how it pesters us on our way to and from work, so we may think we know it quite well. Few people like congestion, but few recognize the full extent of the problem. Recall Elizabeth Reed, the woman who would not travel more than five miles for a date. Although she was keenly aware of congestion’s impact on her dating options, she was slow to recognize how it restrained other aspects of her life. She had “gotten so used to not doing things.” Countless others of us have also gotten used to not doing things.Hope you enjoyed the series of excerpts. Overall, a really fantastic case for making substantial investments in congestion reduction and capacity increases.
If we’re stuck in some particularly frustrating traffic jam, we might we erupt in anger. But most of the time we just surrender a little bit more because we assume that degraded mobility is the natural result of an increase in population and driving. Rarely do public officials seek to undo such feelings of surrender. Most planning agencies have decided they will not even attempt to reduce congestion—they aim only to reduce its growth. Yet if such a plan were applied to a different policy area, Americans would not stand for it. Imagine if our leaders told us that, in the future, our education system would get worse, that there’s nothing we can do about it, and that all they hope to do is make test scores fall more slowly.
The gradual deterioration of mobility has also lulled us into making subconscious accommodations to congestion. We slowly shrink our opportunity circles. We pare back the list of things we might do if it were easier to get around. More of us mentally cross out more of our potential lives. The widespread surrender dulls individual lives, and it also dulls entire cities. As opportunity circles shrink, dynamism filters out of the city. If it were infused with the energy and talent of all its denizens, a city could grow into a grand metropolis. Sadly, urban life isn’t as vibrant as it could be because too many neighborhoods function as their own little hamlets, increasingly isolated from other parts of the city.
But instead of allowing isolation and dullness to gain ground, what if we were to really ponder what we could do if our travels were speedy and predictable?
We could get to and from work, run our errands, and have more time to spend with our loved ones. We could stay home and relax or we could do just about anything—explore a new neighborhood, drop in on a friend, take in a concert, go to a new restaurant, the zoo, the park, the beach, the gym, and know that our journey would be swift.
Our culture booms with opportunity and choice, and sorting it all out is central to making the most of it. If we enjoy a high level of mobility, we can sort through many jobs and find just the right one. Likewise, mobility makes it easier to find just the right date, just the right restaurant, just the right anything. Ours is indeed a land of opportunity, but only if we can get to it.