I was thinking about that when I was dropping my 6 year old off at some hobbies earlier - it’s pretty much expected to have learned how to ride a bicycle before starting school, and it massively expands the area you can go to by yourself. When she went to school by bicycle she can easily make a detour via a shop to spend some pocket money before coming home, while by foot that’d be rather time consuming.

Quite a lot of friends from outside of Europe either can’t ride a bicycle, or were learning it as adult after moving here, though.

edit: the high number of replies mentioning “swimming” made me realize that I had that filed as a basic skill pretty much everybody has - probably due to swimming lessons being a mandatory part of school education here.


Guessing you live in or close-ish some kind of urban center? I got my license at 18 cause the closest bus stop from my parents’ place was a 30 minute walk from the closest bus stop, getting literally anywhere useful was at the very minimum another 30 minutes on top of this, and getting downtown was another 45-50 minutes of bus+metro over those last two stretches, assuming no traffic. I currently live 60km outside of town, it’s the exact same story. 20 minute walk to the bus, 30 minute bus ride to the train station, and 45 minutes of train to get downtown. North America was built for cars, for better or (especially) for worse, our public transit infrastructure is terrible, things are so far from each other, nothing was built for it…

When I moved out of my parents’ place and got an apartment in the city with my wife though, we managed without a car. Bus/metro/walking got us everywhere we needed for every day life, and we used car sharing services when we needed to go out of town. I wouldn’t mind going back to this, but living in town would be literally twice as expensive, and we’re deeply priced out of that area if we ever want to buy, despite me making a solid 6 figures lol

You’d be surprised how for you can stretch ANY transit infrastructure. I despise the resignation that North America was “built for cars” you’ll find people-centric places all over the country, both in cities and rural areas too. The biggest issue is that a lot of rural areas lack transit service, but fixing that would be relatively inexpensive. Unfortunate anywhere without transit is inaccessible to disabled people such as myself who are incapable of operating their own vehicle, so this is something we need to work on.

Most places were built for people, not cars. But many weee, and even more were demolished for them. But saying that North American cities were designed for cars ignores much of the history of North American urban development.

Either way, if a place isn’t transit accessible, it might as well not exist. Though I must stress that it is NOT difficult to make something transit accessible.


IMHO that’s kind of a simplistic view. Let’s take my town for example. Going down to Montreal on a bus takes 1h45 alone, so that’s not remotely an option. So next best option is bus + train, but closest train station is a 20-25min bus drive. So unless they manage to rezone and displace a bunch of people to lay another handful of kilometers of tracks through agricultural and residential land, new trains in my area won’t happen, therefore my best option will always remain bus+train. And it’s far anyway.

All decent transit around here covers areas I’ll never be able to afford to buy in. Or I could rent forever, I guess. Point is, everything is so freaking far apart around here that land based transit just doesn’t cut it. It takes way too long to get anywhere to get a viable option for anything but short distances. I used to live on one end of Montreal’s island… It took me 1h30 to get downtown by public transit. 3h+ a day sitting my ass on a bus/train/metro. That’s not acceptable. And I lived inside the city. Half the province lives in that Greater Montreal area, and transit doesn’t even cover it all properly. I had similar experiences in Quebec City, Gatineau/Ottawa and Toronto too.

It’s not resignation, it’s realism. By your own definition, 95% of North America basically doesn’t exist for you lol. If I wait for transit to become acceptable, I’ll be 50 by the time I do anything with my life. And I’ll be honest, I have a lot of trouble agreeing with the take that much of NA was built for people, when I see the amount of highway it takes to get from one city to another, or the amount of towns built around a large “stroad”. Intra-city transit might be fine in some areas, you seem to say it is, but it is not enough, with large North American cities getting way too expensive to live in for many.

North America was built by the train, it was later destroyed for the car.



Currently in Finland - single family home in a town with 46k people. Originally from a 2k village in Germany.

We have two daycares, a school and a grocery store 1km from home - here that kind of stuff is integrated in the neighbourhoods where people live. Many elementary schools, some just grades 1 and 2 - by grade 3 they can already easily travel the longer distance to another school by themselves.


Sigh. My town is even larger and more populous than yours… Really discouraging. Jobs in my field (programming) are mostly around town, and it’s too expensive for me to buy there, so unless I manage to keep working remote indefinitely, I’ll never be able to buy lol

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