One of my hopes for this walk was that I look at everything with an open mind; to observe what is going on in the place I live without judging it too much. As someone who prefers to be on foot or on bicycle and spend as little time as possible thinking about cars, this presents a special challenge. I may be on foot, but I am surrounded by cars wherever I go on this walk. Regardless of my feelings about them, I have found that I have been able to make plenty of observations about the cars here in Berkeley.
Compared to most other places in the Bay Area (where I have lived most of my life so far), Berkeley is a very easy place to get around without a car. Bike lanes and bicycle boulevards cut through most of the city. With the exception of some places in the Berkeley hills, sidewalks can be found in most places. In the hills, a series of stairways and pathways makes traversing the area much easier. Three BART stops and the bus lines will take you most places in and out of town. When I first moved to Berkeley I had the impression that there might be fewer cars on the road compared to other cities in the Bay Area. This has not been the case at all, nor has it been the case that drivers are any slower or more patient than anywhere else I have walked in the area.
It is no surprise that one of the more predominant cars on the road here is the Toyota Prius Hybrid, as it is in many upper middle-class liberal areas of California. But the Prius can be found parked in front of houses all over town here, from the million dollar homes in the hills to run-down fixer-uppers in working class areas. Although there are few remnants of the 1960s left in Berkeley, I have seen a surprising number of VW Buses and Bugs. Berkeley has a biodiesel fueling station and a biodiesel collective, and converted 1980s Mercedes (and a few VW Golfs) can be found here. But there are also plenty of other SUVs and even the occasional Hummer here.