I'm currently reading (among other books), Putting Ideas to Work: A Practical Introduction to Political Thought by Mark Mattern (2006).
A passage that stood out to me:
Proposals [in the US] for restricting the automobile and developing mass transit systems merit serious attention. Most American understandably express reluctance to use public transportation, given the badly underdeveloped state of public transit systems in most areas. Why is public transportation in most ares of the Untied States so undeveloped? One answer is that Americans have thus far shown little interest in mass transit. Some may argue that they would show more interest if the alternatives to automobiles were convenient, safe, and affordable, but this creates a dilemma: We are unlikely to develop good mass transit until the demand for it increases sufficiently, but the demand will not increase until the mas transit systems are well developed. Others may argue that mass transit is not economically feasible in most parts of the United States because of relatively low populations densities, and thus would require massive subsidies. Yet, we already extensively and expensively subsidize the automobile via uncaptured costs and billions spent annually on highways and other infrastructure. (33)
As a person who drives, walks, and takes public transportation (the bus here), this is something I think about very often. I'd much prefer to walk most often and, after that, take the bus, but I have noticed that I've relied a lot lately on my car. I've been decent about grouping my outings so that I'm not driving forth and back* needlessly, but I also get stupidly lost sometimes and that means being on the road longer.
We also partake in a good number of road trips. We just last week took two seven-hour-ish road trips and a four-hour road trip. And we lived on the road for a while.
In the coming weeks, I'll strive to rely on my car a bit less, but I can't help but think that's not really going to make that big a difference in the overall scheme of things.
(Most of the time, when I don't have access to a car, I'm okay, but there have been a few times that I've mentally whined to myself that I'd much rather be using my car than relying on our local public transportation. Sometimes, for me, it comes down to convenience over conscience.)
* I swear that's how that phrase should go.