Thursday, June 01, 2006
A family of 4 — but no car
By Sonia Krishnan
Seattle Times Eastside bureau
The Petersons are a family of four from Issaquah. They like to hike, go to the movies, watch "American Idol." A regular suburban bunch.
Minus the SUV.
Minus any car, for that matter.
The Petersons don't drive. They haven't since 1987. No one in the family has a driver's license. At 17 and 20 years old, the Peterson kids have never been behind the wheel.
As the rest of the country frets over the highest gas prices in history, the Petersons carry on as usual, biking, walking and riding the bus wherever they need to go.
"We're not anti-car," said Kent Peterson, 47. "We've just figured out that we don't need one." . . .
Americans sit in their cars an average of 206 hours commuting every year, according to 2004 figures from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Vehicles in U.S. households outnumber drivers. We spend $7,967 annually on gas, maintenance, tires, insurance, registration fees and loan-finance charges, says the American Automobile Association. And that's just for one person to drive a medium-size sedan 15,000 miles when gas was $2.40 a gallon. . . .
Besides that, cars hold a unique place in the American psyche; driving the open road is synonymous with freedom. Kent and Christine Peterson used to believe this. But over time, they say, their dependence on cars began to rob them of money, time, and most of all, happiness.