Whirling Betty's city (and its suburbs) will soon boast more people residing outside of its surrounding outerbelt than inside. This is disturbing on many levels.
Most obvious is the resulting destruction of nature. Nature is obliterated by man to make way for ugly little cul-de-sacs devoid of plantlife and wildlife. (But no doubt, those houses contain the coveted 2-story great rooms from which its inhabitants can gaze out the picture windows at the neighboring trophy houses.)
Nearly as obvious is the ruination of our ozone layer, since the people inhabiting these mini-mansions must drive far away to earn money to pay for them. Often these people opt for gas-guzzling SUV's, of course, which are an undeniable part of today's American Dream. (Wars, of course, must be fought over the oil needed to run these vehicles.)
And remarkably, these luxury suburbs are devoid of sidewalks. Walking is downright discouraged, in order to make way for the almighty automobile. Rising obesity is one symptom of this phenomenon. Not getting to know the neighbors is another.
Whirling Betty and Son live within the boundaries of the outerbelt. However, we live 8 miles from downtown, in an apparent suburb, judging from the glaring lack of sidewalks. Walking or bike riding is simply not safe here, because the car rules. A nearby vacant commercial building, which we were hoping would become a restaurant, was leased out to Auto Zone. The car rules, there's no doubt about it.
Five years ago, when my child was just entering preschool, we moved here from a downtown neighborhood. There, we had sidewalks, and we used 'em. I hardly ever fired up the Honda. I even walked to work. Pedestrians were expected and respected.
Why, oh why, did I leave the place I loved? I followed the herd of People With Kids to the "family-oriented" suburb we now live in. How are we better off? We can't walk anywhere without risking life, limb and lungs. Always confined to a vehicle, we don't know our neighbors. I even have to drive my kid to his school bus stop because walking these sidewalkless streets is absolutely out of the question.
According to a local moving company, the vast majority of moves here are to locations farther from downtown (often to outside of the outerbelt). Well, my goal is to buck that trend. As soon as I find the right house, we're moving back downtown.