Are car-free people sanctimonious?

A couple of times in the last week, I’ve been confronted with some surprising assumptions about people who choose not to own cars. First, there was Knute Berger’s unwarranted (and, I might add, illogical) attack on me and a few other extreme “bionauts” who, apparently, mooch off our neighbors while simultaneously looking down our noses at them. (To read rebuttals to Knute’s argument, try Seattlest and The Stranger‘s Slog.)

And then there was the comment on one of my recent posts that ended on a less-than-positive note. After politely articulating his reasons for choosing to drive, the reader closed with this:

“And I’m really tired of the smug, sanctimonious sniveling of the car-free…”

So, I figured it was time to clear the air.

I can’t speak for other car-free types, but the intent of this blog is not to judge people (OK, except maybe the occasional pervert), whether they own cars or not. Hey, some of my best friends drive cars. (In fact, my very best friend–since the 7th grade–has five children and drives an Excursion.) My intention in writing this blog is to share my life choice–admittedly in the hope that others might adopt it–not to ridicule someone else’s.

So what’s with the judgment and presumptions about bussers and bikers?

Here are some of my readers’ thoughts on the subject:

From seabike_emily:

“…it is interesting that car users often protest a sense of sanctimony or superiority they perceive as coming from the car-independent. It’s a familiar objection, and there is a certain defensiveness in it, which is probably a good thing because it indicates at least some recognition of the problems of car use. My own thinking has come a long way from the car-having assumption to the car-free adventure. “Smug” is just bad spin on “highly satisfied” (guilty as charged ;-) ). But in the case of typical American car users, their everyday, oblivious choices deliver such heavy consequences to everyone…Once you free yourself, it’s really hard to see all those negative consequences as being as justified as you once perceived them to be (when they remained in your, ahem, “blind spots”). And thus begin the smugness wars…

From ccitizen:

“My morning commute is in general very pleasant, but also includes everything from uninvited encounters with aggressive panhandlers to dangerous and frantic drivers. Smug attitude? Nah, I’m just really, really happy that I made it across the street alive.”

And now, your thoughts. No direct questions from me today. Let ‘em rip!

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