I don’t know how to drive a car.
I’ve never had lessons, I got a provisional license around my 16th birthday that I never used, and I don’t really want to start now. In fact, I am wagering that I will never have to. Here’s why.
I grew up in the UK – a surprisingly small island with high population density, entirely walkable cities, and (despite our whinging) excellent public transport. For the most part – I didn’t need to learn to drive.
Then I moved to the US. The United States is a country that is probably the most car-culture nation in the world – and everyone told me that I’d need a car, need to finally bite the bullet and learn to drive. However, I was in Boston, which, for those unfamiliar, is an older city, more European in style and design. A city not designed from the ground up as a car paradise (indeed, people who drive in Boston generally hate its narrow, winding, streets). It has a train/subway system called “The T” that would shuttle me around the main districts of the city and its satellite towns and cities almost as fast as a car would do. It too, was a very walkable city – with neighborhoods snuggled next to supermarkets and corner shops and pubs.
Still, I did not drive a car.
Now, however, I am faced with a greater challenge – I have moved to LA. A huge and sprawling city designed for, and around, the car and its user. A city notorious for its horrendous traffic and ever-present valet parking. Everyone, everyone, I talk to is telling me that I will have to get a car. No-one, they tell me, can survive in LA without a car.
But here’s the thing – I’m in a relatively tightly packed part of LA. I’m looking for an apartment within walking distance of my office (always my first priority – life is too short for commuting). I get all my grocery shopping delivered (something I picked up on in the UK and continued to do in Boston). I’ve started using Uber for any longer, or more awkward trips.
Really, though – I am playing chicken with Google. You hear that, Google? I’m wagering that I can hold out; that I can live, and live well, without a car, long enough, that by the time that it would be impractical, Google or someone like them will have made autonomous vehicles a practical part of daily life.
Needing to drive a car, I feel, will be a curious blip on the history of the human race – something that lasted 3 or 4 generations and then went obsolete – like typewriter repairmen or knocker-uppers. Your great-great-grandfather didn’t need to know how to drive a car, and it’s likely your (grand-)children won’t need to either.
Come on, Google – lets see if you blink first!