Ryan Avent says suburban "convenience" isn't all it's cracked up to be:
On the subject of errand running, I've often been mystified by the notion that drivable suburbanism is the superior developmental pattern for getting things done quickly. Obviously a big trip to the grocery or hardware store is more easily done with a car, but when taking many small trips, rather than one big one, I think walkable neighborhoods win out more often than people think. Going from (say) the doctor, to the pharmacist, to a restaurant for lunch, and back to work is maddening in a car in a place like Raleigh. But when I was working in downtown Washington, it was fast and refreshing to walk the few blocks from each spot to the next.
The difference, obviously, is kids. If you are a towing a child (and his gargantuan supply of diapers), it is much easier to bind him tightly into a car seat than manhandle him onto the bus. And indeed, whenever I write anything at all in praise of city living, I am contemptuously informed that I only like it because I don't have kids.
But this is not, really, a very good argument against city living. Most people spend the majority of their lives these days neither being nor having small children. And small children are the ones that make suburban living preferable. Older children are much easier to deal with in a city, because after age eleven or so, they no longer need to soak up hours of Mom's time being ferried around.
Not to mention the fact that there are many people who choose not to, or can't have, children at all.
That's not to say that we should force the suburbanites into the city, either. To each his own. But the mere fact that something is not convenient for toddlers, or their guardians, does not ipso facto mean we should discard it in favor of something that better pleases the Playskool set.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.