After a long evening of revelry while attending a soccer tournament in Portugal a few years ago, I was more than ready to grab a taxi home.
But that very American inclination to pay someone to do for me what I could do for myself was quickly rubbished by my new friend-in-football Jürgen Meier from Munich.
“No Robert,” I remember Jürgen protesting in a slightly lubricated Bavarian accent. “We can walk it!”
Not wanting to appear narrow-minded, I relented and I unhappily scaled a few miles of Lisbon’s undulating topography.
Sure, Jürgen insisted we walk home because it saved money, but his core motivation — like most Europeans — was that he came from a walking culture.
Americans, conversely, have an emphatic driving culture. We’ll drive three blocks to a convenience store. I know this because I’ve done it … many times.
And we’ve always liked our cars proportionate to our hedonistic appetites. American motorists proudly sported battleship steel monstrosities in the 1970s, and bogarted cramped roads with Hummers 20 years later. But in rapidly growing cities, the cult of the car isMore