I drove to work one day last week. I drove to get lunch, to let my two dogs out and then I drove back. I drove to my brother’s school to give him a ride home. Then I drove back to work. I drove – …
I drove to work today. I drove to get lunch, to let my two dogs out and then I drove back. I drove to my brother’s school to give him a ride home. Then I drove back to work. I drove – bumper to bumper – to the grocery store. And then I drove home.
One of my favorite movie quotes is when Ryan Gosling in “Drive” (2011), with a concise, cutthroat delivery, declares, “I drive.”
I find it so relatable.
Americans spend an average of 18 days in their car annually, and it certainly feels like it. While sitting at a red light on my commute, I thought back to the Walk and Roll to School Day at Oakleaf Village Elementary on Oct. 4. It was an exciting big-ticket event where high school cheerleaders and football players laid out the red carpet to celebrate elementary students making the healthy commitment to walk or ride their bike to school. It was a celebration that aimed to foster healthy habits in our youth. My only concern is, how long should we have that expectation?
My reasoning is, when Gov. Ron DeSantis or President Joe Biden decreed Oct. 4 to be National Walk and Roll to Work Day, did you participate? A better question is, could you like the hundreds at Oakleaf Village Elementary?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, less than 1% of county residents walk to work, and I am not one of them. As much as I love competing in the 15k Gate River Run, I would be hard-pressed to do that distance, wearing a button-down and loafers while clutching my laptop.
More than half of workers from Clay County commute to another county. This is the highest rate of any county in Florida. As a result, our county suffers from a typical commute lasting 33 minutes on average.
Cars have been seen historically as a symbol of freedom. Today, individual car ownership is realistically an obligation. Less than 1% of county residents utilize public transportation. Less than 10% of county residents carpool. Many jobs only accept applicants who have reliable transportation.
Walk and Roll Day works for Oakleaf Village Elementary because 95% of its student body lives within walking distance. This is not the case for businesses firmly placed in commercial zoning.
Clay County is a beautiful place to call home. I am proud to. I am certain many others feel the same way. But wide swaths of developing suburbia – adhering to building out as opposed to building up – are pushing residents farther and farther away from work, school, church and any kind of life outside the four walls of their own home.
Years ago, I was an undergraduate student at the University of Florida. The city of Gainesville benefits from the commercial gravitation the university exudes alongside nearby downtown. Parking spots can be rare, but students can walk freely downtown or to class. During my first two years, I didn’t take a car. I didn’t need one. In a sense, that was freedom.