Random facts about cars often rattle around in my brain, mixed up with all the other junk (such as, did I remember to turn off the stove this morning? Will I ever get that thank-you note written?). I remember my former brother-in-law, a scientist, telling me upon his return from Bhutan a couple of decades ago that there were almost no cars in the entire country; it sounded like paradise to me. Then there was the Smithsonian exhibit I saw as a little girl that made a big impression: it recounted the first automobile fatality in the history of the world. (How many people have died in car crashes since?) And terrifying and terrible and sorrowful as September 11, 2001 was, still I remember walking five miles home from Manhattan to Queens thinking that the city was a completely different place with no traffic.

I recognize that cars are convenient; they get you where you want to go when you want to go there. I own one. Nonetheless, I don’t like them much, and I have occasionally consigned their inventor to hell, right next to the inventor of coffee creamer. I don’t like to drive. I don’t like to pay that painful monthly installment. When I am out riding my bike, I am petrified I will be hit by a fast and heedless driver.

But more than these, I dislike how cars have shaped our world, bringing us traffic, global warming, obesity, roadkill, smog, noise (Freeport residents, I am thinking of you) habitat fragmentation (roads may connect us, but they disconnect wild animals), dead dogs including my sister’s dearly beloved Mishka, and neighborhood destruction (imagine how lovely the Casco Bay side of East Deering was before I-295 smashed through it).

All of this is a long and no doubt haranguing way of saying that this transportation-related issue of Source is dear to my heart. Maine is a big, largely rural state, which complicates public transportation, often making it expensive and unfeasible. Still, I cannot believe that individual cars are the best way for 7 billion people on our much put-upon planet to get around (admittedly, just 1.33 million of them in Maine, but hey we’re citizens of the world). In this issue, we describe the efforts of some Mainers – and the state itself – to tread a little lighter when it comes to going places, to repair cars in an eco-friendly way, to encourage carpooling and riding the train, to be a one-car family, to get around by bike. Until someone invents a mode of transportation much less destructive but just as popular as the automobile, transportation fixes will remain the sum of many such individual endeavors.


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