Another Lethal Weapon

Cary Tennis on Salon.com has a reader looking for advice on what to do when mom won’t give up the keys…

Now the issue at hand is getting Mom to give up her car. She has macular degeneration with very impaired vision, but apparently not crossing the line into legal blindness. But there’s no doubt she’s a menace on the road, and she often forgets how to work her car, e.g., how to turn on the windshield wipers. She sees our pressing her to stop driving as yet another instance of our cruelty and desire to take away her freedom. She says she doesn’t care if she dies in a car accident, and when we point out that she might hurt others, she sniffs that that’s unlikely to happen.

Read the rest here.

I come up against this situation often. It’s not even only elderly– there are a lot of people whose physical condition makes driving a challenge. I work on finding alternative transportation, but there are not enough good options.

I talk to people who are much more able and flexible in their thinking than the lady in the Salon column, and we look at what’s out there for getting to errands and doctor’s appointments. Often it’s much more than inconvenience. Unless you live in Greater Providence, the bus service is thin and infrequent. RIDE picks up some of the slack, but it’s true that a car is more than a symbol of independence– it’s a means. Being car-less can be isolating.

As our state population ages, there’s increase on the demand side, which will eventually affect the supply side. Right now, we’re stalled out.

To get up to speed, we have to steer our General Assembly toward tuning up our public transit. Check out Save RIPTA for more.

Public transit– the life you save may be your own.

Miracle Weight Loss Plan

Take the bus! No really. A study shows evidence that using mass transit causes people to lose weight.

I’m going to be walking extra today to get the bus to pick up my car. Hey, whatever gets you up on your feet.

There’s a potential link between air pollution and obesity. Also a link between stress and obesity. What is more stressful than sitting in a traffic jam?

Right now it’s not convenient, or even possible, for most of us to take the bus to work. And our buses are noisy and spewing fumes. But a well-designed system would be clean, accessible, and used by all kinds of people as a good alternative. Like the trolley my great-grandfather drove through the streets of Providence.

One estimate is that obesity costs the US 147 billion dollars a year. That’s on top of the billions that individuals pay for weight loss products and programs. And we’re just getting fatter.

Either human nature has taken a turn for the worse and we all had better character twenty years ago, or even ten– or our environment has changed.

In that case things won’t get better until we change it again, with less cars, more bikes and walking as a part of daily life.