Is it just us, or are a lot of people buying cars right now? On the latest episode of the podcast Social Distance, James Hamblin asks staff writer Robinson Meyer about “COVID cars” and what they could mean for the future of cities.
Listen to their conversation here:
Some highlights from their conversation:
James Hamblin: Are people getting COVID cars?
Robinson Meyer: It’s funny, I started looking into this because between June and August 1, I had friend groups where every person or every couple in them bought a car. And then I started looking for data. And I’ve come to think the answer is yes, not just because a ton of friends of mine have bought cars in the last few months, but because I have also bought a car in the last few months—
Hamblin: Wait, you?
Meyer: Yes, I got a car. I got a car because cars are kind of this ultimate form of [personal protective equipment]—and we can talk about whether that’s true—but they’re at least perceived as a form of PPE. But also just because, if you live in the city, there’s not a lot to do right now. What you can do right now is go to the beach or go hiking or go hang out outside. D.C. has a great public-transit system, but it doesn’t have an amazing transit system to connect you with hikes that are an hour out of town. And always in the past, I’ve just rented a car if I want to go hiking. But renting a car feels a little dicey now because you don’t know who’s been in it in the past. I don’t know; you can tell me if this is an accurate concern or not, but I’m mindful that there could be … they were sick and didn’t know it or something and the virus could be in the HVAC or something … It’s like basically a room that you’re borrowing from other people, and you don’t know who else was in that room before you.