Non-Driving, Defensively

July 9th, 2007

So okay, no, as a matter of fact, I have not yet gotten my driver's license. I know that the "Wandering Josh" segment on tonight's episode (at 7:30) -- a lovingly restored repeat from early in our second season -- would seem to suggest that last summer I was just on the verge of getting a license. But the sad fact is that, despite the soothing instructions I received from Judy Lundblad of Fearless Driver, I neglected to schedule the follow-up lessons that would have prepared me to take the road test.

Planned to, I swear! But here's what happened. I was just about to get on the phone to Judy to schedule those remaining lessons when I happened to be taping a WJ segment with Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates for our Earth Day show. Mayor Bates was about to drive me somewhere in a city-owned hybrid vehicle, and I suggested -- on camera (though we didn't use this part in the show) -- that, since I had a learner's permit, he might let me do the driving. Ever the conscientious public servant, he demanded that I show him my permit -- which I promptly removed from my wallet. The mayor examined the battered document and pointed out that it had just expired -- like, the week before!

I played my reaction for laughs, but I was genuinely appalled, as I realized that I would now have to take the written test again. In other words, back to square one. On foot.

Anyhow, now you have some of the fallout from this program, in which I got to chat with star car designer Vicki Vlachakis and young auto-racing phenom Dane Cameron. But unlike my guests, you will know that -- car-wise, at least -- I am a fraud (well, perhaps they suspected as much ...)!

Entry Filed under: tv episodes


  • 1. Amy  |  July 13th, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    Your car episode needs a sequel, a car free sequel. There are two fantastic books about going car-light or car-free (or in your case staying car-free) Divorce Your Car: Ending the love affair with the automobile by Katie Alvord and How to Live Well Without Owning a Car by Chris Balish. Every car on the road, whether it is powered by gasoline or hydrogen, contributes to congestion and sprawl. The list of environmental and societal costs associated with a car centric culture is long and it goes far beyond tailpipe emissions.

    Having a driver’s license is useful, but I hope you keep your bike as your primary form of transportation.

  • 2. Josh Kornbluth  |  July 14th, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    Hey, Amy — great post! You’ve actually got me thinking a lot about this whole I-must-learn-to-drive thing. For years I’ve associated learning to drive — or at least getting a license — with other coming-of-age rituals (such as getting my undergraduate degree, which I’m also working on). But your comments jibe with my recent focus on the art, and craft, and politics, of living locally, as it were — more in tune with my neighbors, and with my environment.

    Right now I seem to be in little danger of actually getting a license. But, more than that, I’ve really been enjoying biking around Berkeley with my wife and son. (A few days ago my son and I — miraculously, to us — made it up a gi-normous hill on our first attempt.) In the past I’ve taken my non-driver-ness as a personal flaw. I’ll check out one or both of the books you suggest; maybe I don’t need to think that way anymore.

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