Deterioration of local community a major driver of loss of play-based childhood
404 points
4 days ago
| 21 comments
| afterbabel.com
| HN
bedobi
4 days ago
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The design of the physical environment is in no small part responsible for this. Don't believe me go to Europe and Japan where kids are still allowed to walk and bike to school, to friends places and just in general play and exist outside unattended to a much higher degree than in the US. Because in the US they would be roadkill, and even if they somehow survived outside of a car, car centric design means there's nowhere for them to go on foot or by bike anyway. Everything is too far.
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crooked-v
4 days ago
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My particular bugbear here is the absolutely insanity of truck and SUV heights, to the point that even full-grown adults are no longer clearly visible from inside new vehicles (https://i.imgur.com/1dHWVxn.png).
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pantalaimon
4 days ago
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There was a case recently where a little girl was crushed by a SUV making a right turn at a pedestrian crossing.

She was walking right behind her parents, but the driver could not see her because the vehicle was too high, so thought the road was free when the parents had passed through.

The court decided that the driver was at no fault as it was impossible to see the girl from his position.

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krisoft
4 days ago
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> The court decided that the driver was at no fault as it was impossible to see the girl from his position.

I hope that means that the vehicle manufacturer is on a murder trial then. But I do not have illusions that this will lead to actual change.

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eru
4 days ago
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Well, the driver should also be on the hook for driving such a dangerous machine in the first place.
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bhickey
4 days ago
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The manufacturer should be jointly liable for producing a defective vehicle.
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erikw
4 days ago
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I don't think you can legally sell a new small vehicle in the US, so the root cause is legislation that prevents this. I believe that if you could legally produce kei sized vehicles in the US, there would be a massive market for it, especially in urban environments. And I'm sure US manufacturers would be happy to sell them to all comers.

Edit: Basically any car from Suzuki would be a hit in the US: https://www.suzukiauto.co.za/new-cars

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Amezarak
4 days ago
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_Fortwo

They are perfectly legal to sell. There's just little demand and most manufacturers have discontinued sales.

I own a not-quite-that small car and the manufacturer discontinued US sales for the same reason - the lack thereof. That's why the Smart Fortwo discontinued sales in the US in 2019. The US market for good or for bad just does not want small cars. Many manufacturers are even dropping their sedans for sales reasons; e.g., Ford dropped the Fusion and Focus.

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scruple
4 days ago
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I don't really agree anymore. These massive vehicles on the road means that suddenly everyone has developed a very real intuition for F=ma and they're all competing in a sort of arms race to survive car crashes. Wanna improve your odds of surviving? Get the biggest fucking thing you can.
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hellojesus
3 days ago
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This was actually my father's arguement when I turned 16. He hypothesized that I was a new driver and therefore more likely to be involved in a crash, but if I wanted to survive a crash I needed a larger vehicle than the other one involved in the collision.

I didn't much care either way, but I do still consider this when comparing new vehicles.

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eru
3 days ago
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Better to kill than be killed?
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hellojesus
3 days ago
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Yes. Typically. Unless you have some compelling reason to sacrifice, it's typically a safer bet to be alive having killed some other random driver than be dead. Especially when the perspective is a parent ensuring their genetic pool.
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umvi
4 days ago
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I thought it was just that you get hit with fines if your vehicle doesn't have a minimum mpg fuel efficiency and it's hard to make smaller trucks and SUVs with enough efficiency to avoid the fines
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hellojesus
3 days ago
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The issue was the Chicken Tax which made foreign competition uncompetitive and boxed the market off so that American companies could ignore it.
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eru
3 days ago
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SUVs get a special carve-out, and the law mandates less fuel efficiency for them than for regular cars (or what used to be regular cars). Even wonder why station wagons fell out of favour in the US?
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SkyPuncher
2 days ago
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Given that most small crossovers are labeled as “wagons”, I don’t think your theory holds much weight
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Levitz
4 days ago
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Are small cars in any way illegal or something?
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erikw
3 days ago
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Yes, regulation in the US requires that vehicles be able to protect their occupants in pretty extreme crashes. Part of that requires a crumple zone, which means you can't fit many people inside a small car. For example, the Smart Fortwo is small, but only sits two people, while a kei vehicle of the same size would seat 4-5. I don't see much of a market for a 2-seater car.
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hiatus
4 days ago
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> I don't think you can legally sell a new small vehicle in the US

This is blatantly false. See: the Mitsubishi Mirage as just one example.

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eru
4 days ago
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The Mitsubishi Mirage might be a small car by American standards, but it seems quite a few weight classes above Kei cars.

(I don't know about erikw's claims about small cars being illegal in the US. So I don't want to express an opinion on that.)

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hiatus
4 days ago
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The Honda N-box is listed as an example of a Kei car and is larger than a Mirage in some dimensions and also heavier.
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eru
3 days ago
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Thanks!
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anovikov
4 days ago
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Mitsubishi Mirage isn't a small car by EU standards. It's a typical, average sized one.
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ndmiata
4 days ago
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The Mazda Miata and most non-muscle car coupes are sized quite reasonably.
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badpun
3 days ago
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The vehicle was cleared for use on public roads by authorities. Perhaps the laws should change so that such cars are no longer allowed.
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GJim
4 days ago
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> driver was at no fault as it was impossible to see the girl from his position

WTF !

Pedestrian mirrors (allowing lorry drivers to see any pedestrians immediately in front and to the side) have been a legal requirement for years in Blighty.

https://tfl.gov.uk/cdn/static/cms/images/safer-lorries-schem...

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monkeyfun
4 days ago
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Can you link to an article or source on that story? I can't seem to find it, just irrelevant ones about near-misses or not involving right turns etc.
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pantalaimon
3 days ago
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aswanson
4 days ago
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Grimblewald
3 days ago
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but they banned that type of car for being unsafe right?.... right?
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CalRobert
4 days ago
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Similarly I enjoy going hunting at playgrounds and don't see the problem if I shoot a kid because I didn't see them \s.
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complaintdept
4 days ago
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Actually, you'd want to get rid of those in car displays that require you to take your eyes off the road to do almost anything now, and will also spoil your night vision. There was an episode of Radiolab that was talking about this, and they made a very compelling case for it, along with those super bright headlamps that ruin your night vision when they're equipped on an oncoming vehicle. Tellingly, almost all increase in traffic accidents we've seen recently have happened at night. Pedestrian accidents with trucks haven't really gone up more than other vehicles either.
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lukan
4 days ago
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"along with those super bright headlamps that ruin your night vision when they're equipped on an oncoming vehicle."

I hate them.

I dream of the day, when proper night vision gear with the result displayed to the front window will be standard in cars, so all the cars can have no, or very soft lights to drive around savely at night.

Also, why not heat vision to better spot humans (and animals)? For the AI as well as the humans.

Is the tech military restricted?

Probably partly.

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schmidtleonard
4 days ago
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One nice side effect of headlights becoming LED arrays is that selective dimming is free in terms of marginal cost. Right now it's a luxury car gimmick but it'll eventually trickle down, and then we can mandate it.
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ruined
4 days ago
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photonic intensifiers are ITAR controlled, but china has started manufacturing gen2 equivalents recently.

digital is controlled but more widely made, but also barely worth it.

the real issue is how to display it. for head-mounted setups it's essentially full field of view, and in monocular use combination is subconscious, but it's still rather awkward and requires practice. you can't achieve the same effect on a windshield, even with HUD.

cadillac had this feature in the 90s, though.

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lukan
3 days ago
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"the real issue is how to display it"

Unfortunately, yes. I know that there are various sci-fi solutions in the labs already, of projecting the image directly into the eye, or correctly on the windshield while taking the head position of the driver into account, but it probably takes a long time till they are a) reliable b) affordable c) standard in every car

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godelski
3 days ago
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This made me interested and I found a small showcase of HUDs in cars from the 1950's-1990's

https://hudway.co/blog/history-of-automotive-heads-up-displa...

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Anotheroneagain
3 days ago
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People are getting more and more night blind.
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whitakerch
4 days ago
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You'd want to get rid of both.
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ThalesX
4 days ago
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I'm in Eastern Europe; I've only seen an "American-style" SUV once I think two decades ago. I still can't get that image out of my mind. It was like a tank in front of my car. I couldn't understand how it fits our streets, how it parks, I couldn't see around it. Just... wow, honestly. I have no idea what car it was, but it was like a huge pick-up.
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jjav
4 days ago
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> I've only seen an "American-style" SUV once I think two decades ago.

If it was ~20 years ago it wasn't even that big compared to today!

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blisterpeanuts
4 days ago
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We in the U.S. don’t quite appreciate how much larger the average vehicle is versus 30 years ago. Low riding sedans are outnumbered by crossovers and full sized SUVs these days.

In the 1990s, I had a sweet little Honda Civic hatchback that got great mileage and handled beautifully.

But towards the end of the decade, the roads in my area were filled with aggressive drivers in Ford and Jeep SUVs who just were obnoxious. I felt forced to switch to a larger car just to feel safe on the road.

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nottorp
4 days ago
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I once saw a F-150. It needed 3 parking spots at my eastern european local mall :)

And I don't mean the driver was an asshole, it simply wouldn't have fit in otherwise.

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jajko
4 days ago
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My favorite answer from soccer moms when I ask them why they drive their huge (by US standard tiny to normal) SUVs just around the city: 'I see better from up there and I feel safer in big car'.

So, bad driving skills and realizing it via lack of self-trust, being compensated with degradation of roads and parking for everybody else, or just throwing money at the problem (without fixing underlying issue, but feeling less shitty about it).

All could be easily solved by proportional taxation. Swiss folks figured it like many other things already, each canton has their own car tax rules but most are some formula with horse powers and car weight combined. No chance this decade for anything similar in the US I believe.

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Shocka1
2 days ago
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After that get them off their phones please. Good luck.
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i80and
4 days ago
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I deeply hate driving my family's F-150 for this reason. It doesn't fit in American parking spaces.

Ridiculous vehicle.

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aswanson
4 days ago
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There have been studies showing that the driver was likely an asshole. Not kidding: https://youtu.be/jN7mSXMruEo?si=2VnfQw_rMsZckB1I
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ModernMech
4 days ago
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Starts at 12:10
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Tomis02
4 days ago
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> And I don't mean the driver was an asshole

Well...

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nottorp
4 days ago
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> The driver was an asshole for not finding somewhere else to put it.

In the former soviet block, you don't "find somewhere else" to park your car. You grab the first spot where you fit because you don't know if there is another free anywhere else.

Incidentally, that's why i like 4 meter cars. On streets with parallel parking, they fit in more places than the 4.5 m or more.

> Well...

Okay he could have been an asshole for other reasons, including for importing the F-150 here.

But the parking spots were at 45 degree angle and while it was narrow enough to fit in two if parked at 45, it was too long and it would have blocked the access lane with the tip. So it was parallel parked on 3 which was the only way to not block anyone.

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CalRobert
4 days ago
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I don't understand how choosing to purchase a vehicle allows you to break the law. This is a place you cannot park that vehicle.
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CalRobert
4 days ago
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The driver was an asshole for not finding somewhere else to put it.
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TaylorAlexander
4 days ago
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I recently had to borrow one of those big trucks to do some towing. Sitting in the drivers seat I felt like I was staring through a narrow slit. The nose and entire dash of the car are so high up it felt very unsettling. It seems extremely unsafe!
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AmVess
4 days ago
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Even worse? Pop the hood on one and marvel at all the empty space. Those giant front ends are purely for looks.
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tarmon
3 days ago
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On the other hand that space makes it far easier to work on myself.

My Subaru has almost zero free space under the hood and there are all kinds of repairs I wouldn't attempt because you have to disassemble half the engine to get to anything.

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causality0
4 days ago
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We need reforms to the method the EPA uses to calculate and enforce fuel efficiency requirements. It's the direct driver of the gigantifucation of vehicles.
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namibj
4 days ago
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E.g. say non-CDL trucks can only have one seat in addition to the driver's seat.

Bam, SUVs are really unattractive.

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bedobi
4 days ago
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Simplest thing to do would be to just tax weight (at time of purchase and yearly) and require commercial license (only obtainable with demonstrable justification like running a business that requires hauling loads every day)
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toomuchtodo
4 days ago
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Still need to force trucks to design the front to be as pedestrian friendly as possible.
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david-gpu
4 days ago
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And ensure visibility! Those tanks on wheels can't see my children.
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eru
4 days ago
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Yes, if by 'reform', you mean abolish.

As you can see, those requirements just get gamed.

Instead of complicated rules, just tax fuel (or emissions etc), and consumers will institute their own personal fuel efficiency requirements.

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dctoedt
4 days ago
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> those requirements just get gamed. ... [J]ust tax fuel (or emissions etc), and consumers will institute their own personal fuel efficiency requirements.

That's not likely to succeed, because:

1. People — individuals and companies — try to game the tax system at least as much as they do pollution regulations, and probably much more so because tax obligations are largely self-reported with only sporadic auditing to catch cheaters and gamers.

2. Certain political elements are always trying to defund the tax auditors (e.g., the IRS). We might well ask why that is.

3. Politically, tax hikes are always harder to get through Congress — and to keep in force — than sensible standards for products and behaviors that voters can see are beneficial to them (e.g., pollution prohibitions).

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eru
4 days ago
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> 1. People — individuals and companies — try to game the tax system at least as much as they do pollution regulations, and probably much more so because tax obligations are largely self-reported with only sporadic auditing to catch cheaters and gamers.

> 2. Certain political elements are always trying to defund the tax auditors (e.g., the IRS). We might well ask why that is.

Tax the petrol itself. That works reasonably well in most of the world. No need for complicated individual audits etc.

> 3. Politically, tax hikes are always harder to get through Congress — and to keep in force — than sensible standards for products and behaviors that voters can see are beneficial to them (e.g., pollution prohibitions).

I don't know. We kicked off the whole discussion because the standards you have are NOT sensible.

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dctoedt
4 days ago
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> Tax the petrol itself. That works reasonably well in most of the world. No need for complicated individual audits etc.

True — but see my #3 above (political problems), and then add 3.1: Special-interest groups, which donate heavily to politicians' campaigns, always lobby for tax breaks of various kinds, e.g., tax deductions (at the federal level) for state- and local sales- and property taxes.

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swasheck
4 days ago
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it would be interesting to see the effects of taxation in this particular situation in the united states. from what i’ve seen, this is one of those situations where financial penalties do not dissuade or deter proliferation. at a minimum it seems to foment radicalization of political sides toward their general bent (the government is doing too much, or not enough). one side yells louder for more while consuming itself, the other side keeps buying the vehicles out of spite/support (for the manufacturers) as a way of thumbing their noses at the government overreach.
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eru
4 days ago
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That's the beauty: If the taxes are set right, then people can buy vehicles 'out of spite', and it's all right.

At a high enough tax rate, the would-be gas guzzlers' contribution to the fisc outweighs their probabilistic homicide.

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beretguy
4 days ago
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> just tax fuel (or emissions etc)

No, because that harm small fun sports cars. The problem is big cars. Just ban big cars.

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ponector
4 days ago
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Fuel tax is the best solution. Pay as you go.

More fuel you consume more emissions you produce, more distance you go, more road your wear occurs.

Do you want to get 8l V8 engine? Fine, just pay your fuel taxes.

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tb_technical
4 days ago
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This is a silly tangential point, but with good design a V8 can be as efficient as an I4 (and with bad design a V6 can be more wasteful than a V8).

Pinning fuel use seems to be the way to go, rather than penalizing engine geometry, for this reason.

It's important to remember, though, that semi-trucks get 5-8 miles to the gallon due to their weight/purpose. Perhaps these new fuel taxes should only affect classes other than A, B, and C to avoid knock-on effects.

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ProfessorLayton
3 days ago
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>t's important to remember, though, that semi-trucks get 5-8 miles to the gallon due to their weight/purpose. Perhaps these new fuel taxes should only affect classes other than A, B, and C to avoid knock-on effects.

What's interesting here is that semi-trucks cause exponentially more wear and tear on the roads than consumer vehicles, while not paying the corresponding fuel tax — they're being subsidized by everyday drivers.

Also the knock on effects may not be completely negative, it could mean that it isn't economical to drive a truck door-to-door filled with low value merchandise (And give retail a fighting chance).

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tb_technical
3 days ago
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It's absolutely true that semi-trucks damage the roads.

What I was worried about was trucks used to transport groceries, not delivery trucks.

Last thing the poor need right now is the cost of food going even higher. They're already struggling to get by as it is.

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gnz11
4 days ago
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Each US state has a gas tax already. Higher gas prices also don’t seem to stop people from buying giant trucks and SUVs.
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AmVess
4 days ago
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A reasonable well optioned truck is $75,000. People who can afford to spend that are immune from high gas prices.
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sjsdaiuasgdia
4 days ago
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You'd be surprised how many people look only at the monthly payment amount and ignore other financial concerns when deciding on a vehicle purchase. And perhaps with some terribly long loan term like 72 or 96 months they can get that payment to "fit" in their budget.
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LargeWu
4 days ago
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You'd be surprised how many people don't even consider the monthly payment. Not uncommon where I grew up to see guys making $50,000 a year driving $70,000 trucks. Because they "need it for work".
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HideousKojima
3 days ago
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$75,000 is waaaay beyond "reasonable" and "well optioned." I got my used Ford F-150 with about 220,000 miles for about $3,000, but there are plenty of actually reasonable trucks with good options in the $15,000-$30,000 range. And I'm definitely not immune to gas prices, I only take my truck when it's for something that I can't reasonably do in our Elantra, or when my wife is out somewhere in the Elatra and I need to drive somewhere.
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adrianN
3 days ago
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Make gas ten dollars a gallon and people will consider a more efficient car.
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eru
3 days ago
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By global standards, the American states have very low gas taxes.
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mysterydip
4 days ago
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What about the electric SUVs?
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eru
4 days ago
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You could tax momentum as well. (Or as a short-hand, tax fuel and tax vehicles by weight.)
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causality0
4 days ago
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Tax road wear. The weight over each axle to the fourth power times number of axles. That'll put smaller cars on the road.
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eru
4 days ago
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You can tax momentum (and/or weight), too.

Basically, tax fuel and tax the car.

But no need for outright bans. Almost any externality you can think of from (big) cars is finite, and thus a finite tax is appropriate.

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quantified
4 days ago
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Small fun sports cars don't cost that much in fuel do they? Ferrari and Bugatti owners are pretty insensitive to fuel prices anyway.
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HeatrayEnjoyer
4 days ago
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GWB sure did a nice favor for those corps his last couple years in office
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geysersam
4 days ago
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Are you referring to some specific reform? Could you give a link? I'd like to read up on it
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denkmoon
4 days ago
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People's desires are the direct driver of gigantification of vehicles. I assure you nobody buying a RAM or F150 gives two shits about EPA or fuel efficiency.
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bedobi
4 days ago
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true! but we regulate people's desires in a million ways, so there's no reason why we can't regulate this too. I don't care if half of Americans want a monster truck any more than they want to fly attack helicopters and walk around with live grenades. it shouldn't be allowed, simple as that.
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HideousKojima
3 days ago
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Nonsense, I'd much rather drive a Tacoma but my F-150 was far cheaper. My ultimate preference would be a more modern (and safer) version of those Japanese trucks a lot of people import, but that's a legal/political issue. My super ultimate preference is a Hilux with a .50 cal mounted in the bed but I can't get the CIA to fund my organization yet.
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kjkjadksj
4 days ago
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People had no choice. When they come out with a new generation of car model they stop producing the old.
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admax88qqq
4 days ago
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There’s also still the insane 25% tariff on light trucks

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_tax

Which makes importing smaller trucks like you see in other countries cost prohibitive

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denkmoon
4 days ago
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Only the most frugal and businesses are thinking about that tariff. Ads for these excessively large "utility" vehicles (which have sacrificed bed size for cabin comfort and are often not 4WD) are very indicative. They don't talk about price (and when they do, it's focused on credit terms rather than the capital cost). They talk about power, lifestyle, and giving the perception of masculinity. That is why people buy these vehicles, and that is the mindset that drives their size.
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shiroiushi
4 days ago
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That's part of it, but not all: it depends on the buyer. People buying big trucks as a fashion statement are definitely doing it for this reason, but there's people who genuinely need trucks, and they're all bitching and complaining about 1) trucks costing $50k-100k because they're basically luxury vehicles and they don't make cheap, utilitarian versions any more, and also because all those fashion-statement buyers have driven up demand, and 2) that there aren't any small pickups available now, since many of them need a truck, but not a big truck. Some people have even taken to importing 25+ year old Japanese "kei" trucks (very very small utility trucks used in Japan) as "historic" vehicles and using those, but it seems some states are now trying to clamp down on this.
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monkeyfun
4 days ago
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Isn't it almost cosmically funny that the response to people who do want small trucks is to try banning the kei trucks, often over claims of "safety"?

Weird that the more unsafe (to everyone else) and wasteful and polluting but also more profitable to industry modern trucks and SUVs are legal in their place!

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shiroiushi
3 days ago
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The loophole for the kei trucks is that they're more than 25 years old, so they get "antique car" status in most places (except where they're now stamping that out of course). But lots of other antique cars are allowed on the road, and while kei trucks are inherently unsafe (they don't conform to federal safety laws and don't have any real crumple zones because of their size), the other antique cars are also just as unsafe, if not more so. But you don't see any of these places trying to ban people from driving their antique Model T or '55 Chevy.
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jfim
4 days ago
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There's the Ford Maverick that starts at $24k and is relatively small.
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causality0
4 days ago
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Now if only you could buy the damn things.the price has gone up 25% in two years and you still can't find one for purchase.
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zombielinux
4 days ago
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That's exactly what we did on the farm.

We've got the Maverick hybird which does 99% of the farm stuff.

And we also have a tow equipped expedition that we use when we need to haul horses or the big trailer. The expedition also comes in handy when we regularly haul 6+ people.

I've had the need for a gooseneck trailer maybe once in the last decade.

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boredtofears
4 days ago
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I don't think that's right. They don't get imported, period. I would love a small truck right now - I have a relatively rural property with lots of yard waste. I would make use of a pickup bed probably every weekend if I had one, but a small pickup truck simply doesn't exist in the market. Everything is a giant extended cab. I don't think I'm the only one with this need. There's nothing new out there that meets this need and there's not a lot used either.
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quantified
4 days ago
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There are lots of smaller vehicles than those.
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kjkjadksj
2 days ago
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I'm not talking going to a different class car I'm talking when the given model inflates in size with a new generation. Some people still drive trucks from the 70s and 80s in california. They are remarkably tiny compared to trucks today, like a 1970s F150 seems smaller than a modern light truck like a tacoma, definitely lifted a lot less too based on a couple examples I've seen I assume to be relatively stock specs given the similarity.
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ponector
4 days ago
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No choice? They can get Camry. Or van. Or wagon. Yet massive trucks have higher demand than ever.
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gnz11
4 days ago
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There are not many van or wagon options left in the US anymore. It’s really just sedan, truck or SUV at this point. In Europe you have all kinds of vans and wagons for sale.
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kjkjadksj
2 days ago
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I grew up with people having vans or wagons instead of SUVs as well. It seemed like that went on even until 2008 screwed up most automakers lineups. It's hard to rule chicken or egg here: demand drying up or options drying up and therefore demand having nowhere to go but suvs and such. Seems to me its pretty obvious that options dried up before demand considering its hard to imagine selling 0 cars of a given model. Then once you go to say 10 different models of cars down to 3 or 4, what do you know, those 3 or 4 are selling more than ever for lack of other choice. Further justifying the decision to pare down the lineup. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy at a certain point.
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kjkjadksj
4 days ago
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I thought we were discussing how trucks like the f150 have swollen in size?
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tmnvix
3 days ago
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A quote from a GMC designer:

"I remember wanting it to feel very locomotive - like a massive fist moving through the air"

I suppose it appeals to a kind of selfish stupidity.

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aswanson
4 days ago
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Recently saw a YouTube video where around 500 kids a year are killed by their own parents because they can't see them in these monstrosities.
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slifin
4 days ago
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It's crazy in this country SUV protestors deflate the tires

I always wonder if cars that are particularly top heavy could be flipped over while parked by particularly strong pedestrians

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bedobi
4 days ago
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100% agree, and instead of showing any signs of stopping, the size increase is accelerating. Yesterday we used to joke about the trucks of today. Tomorrow, they will be twice as big.
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Fezzik
4 days ago
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This is one reason I am grateful for having grown up in an apartment complex - I had ready access to loads of kids around my age, a field for baseball and football games, a cement area for wall-ball and four-square, and secret places to just be alone and enjoy the outdoors. From my first conscious memories to when I moved out after high-school I could walk out my front-door at any reasonable hour and I would bump into someone I knew to goof-off with. In a sincerely-not-at-all-condescending way I feel bad for kids that don’t have that. Without that experience I don’t know how I would be (at least in my opinion) the generally well-rounded person that I am.
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Shocka1
2 days ago
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So I had the exact opposite experience growing up in a very rural area and take no offense to your statement. I had access to hundreds of acres of woods/farms growing up, which for a young kid was total freedom. Around 10 or 11 I was taking care of varmints for local farmers with a rifle that was given to me, which might seem crazy to the average parent now (including me). Of course friends weren't knocking on my door every 5 minutes, but we all saw each other at sports/school/weekends and the occasional birthday party. And once my friends and I started getting older it was a lot of outdoor powersport type stuff, or going to the local swimming hole or hangout together. It was a completely different world than the city/suburb life.

I've never felt it hindered me at all, except for a longing at times to live rurally. I've worked in different countries around a wide array of people in tech, both in project management and software engineering roles. My kids now have the same experience as you - they can walk outside at any given moment and have someone to play with in our subdivision, and they seem to really like it. But of course we are constantly going back to where I grew up to land my family owns, hunting, riding 4 wheelers, etc...

I think it's probably dependent on the person, but balance always seems like a good starting point.

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brightball
4 days ago
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I always wonder if part of it is how much we move around for life these days. We travel away from our home towns for college, the somewhere else in many cases for work where we have kids without our parents around to help.

Let this happen to enough people constantly coming and going and moving…the community is gone. It’s just a cumulative effect.

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jwells89
4 days ago
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I believe that this is a much larger contributor than many realize. Moving is a total reset for the individual and a hole left behind for the town moved out of.
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eru
4 days ago
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You could compare the US today with the US a few decades ago. I think people where on the move a lot, too?
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jwells89
4 days ago
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I don’t have data to back it up but I think both the number of people moving and the frequency of moves has increased substantially in the past couple of decades.

Some of this is undoubtedly going where opportunities exist; my graduating high school class (late 00s) for example all moved away from the area I grew up in simply because there’s nothing out there except for a handful of dead end minimum wage jobs, with prospects declining further as time goes on. The prior two generations by comparison largely stayed put, with moves being very local in nature and mostly driven by finding suitable housing (e.g. apartment became too small for family or keeping rent down).

I also believe that people who’ve had to move around a lot for career are more likely to continue to move regularly because they’ve grown accustomed to not having deep roots anywhere which the resulting reset less of a big deal, which multiplies the impact of needing to move for work opportunities.

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eru
3 days ago
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See eg https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w9857/w9857...

https://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2016/10/what-c... has more recent data. The headline of 'What Caused the Decline in Interstate Migration in the United States?' might be telling.

See also https://www.brookings.edu/articles/u-s-migration-still-at-hi...

> Annual movement within the U.S. is stuck at a postwar low rate of 11 percent. This 2016-2017 rate is not statistically different than the 11.2 percent rate of 2015-2016, the lowest mobility rate in any year since this annual series began in 1947-48 (see Figure 1). The decline in annual mobility rates, from over 20 percent during some years in the 1950s and 1960s down to almost half that today, is the result of long term trends, such as the aging of the population (older people move less than younger people) and rises in homeownership (owners move less than renters). Yet the downward mobility trend of the last decade can certainly be tied to the lasting effects of the Great Recession and housing bust which occurred over the 2007-2009 period.

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pezezin
4 days ago
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> Don't believe me go to Europe and Japan

Depends where in Japan; I live in a small city, and it is the worst urban sprawl that you could ever imagine. You absolutely need a car for everything, but at the same time the streets are really narrow and dark, and without sidewalks. It is not fun, to put it mildly.

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david-gpu
4 days ago
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Cars slow down in narrow winding steets. Wide straight streets are very prone to speeding.
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pezezin
3 days ago
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That is true.

Still, driving through a dark and narrow street or road, especially at night (coming back from work), with pedestrians wearing dark clothes (some people are smart enough to wear reflecting bands, but they are few and far between), is quite stressful. Many times I have been surprised by a pedestrian appearing out of the shadows only a few meters in front of me.

Likewise, being the pedestrian is also stressful. People don't believe me when I say I feel unsafe walking out at night here. Sure, I don't have to fear criminals, but I fear the cars.

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david-gpu
3 days ago
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> Still, driving through a dark and narrow street or road, especially at night (coming back from work), with pedestrians wearing dark clothes (some people are smart enough to wear reflecting bands, but they are few and far between), is quite stressful. Many times I have been surprised by a pedestrian appearing out of the shadows only a few meters in front of me.

If you think driving in those dark streets being surprised by pedestrians is stressful, imagine how it feels for the people walking outside your vehicle when you barely miss them and their children.

If you can't see your neighbors, slow your vehicle down to a safe speed. You are driving too fast for the conditions. It is entirely under your control and you continue to choose to put your neighbors in danger.

You are the one operating heavy machinery and introducing danger into a situation where there would be none if it wasn't for your disregard for their safety.

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gU9x3u8XmQNG
4 days ago
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Here, a regional town in Australia; we had the council approve build of a petrol station on one side of a children’s crossing from a school block.

No joke; the children’s crossing now terminates on the “island” of the petrol station, with entry and exit for the vehicles of the station either side of the island.

It boggles my mind, truly. I fear it’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt.

So.. not hard to relate with your post.

I can’t help but notice how poorly people treat eachother in the bigger cities, too. To the point I get constantly complemented for just being a decent person, or aggressively attacked for the same.

Not sure what the answer for any of these problems is..

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rootusrootus
4 days ago
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I live in the US and my kids walk and bike to school. You're making wide generalizations across a large country.
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jjav
4 days ago
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> I live in the US and my kids walk and bike to school. You're making wide generalizations across a large country.

I've learned from HN discussions that there is a vast difference in what people think of as a "suburb".

Some will say it takes over 30 minutes by car from a suburb to the nearest store. To me that's very rural, I'd never consider that a suburb. But some do. So we get these disconnected discussion on how you can/can't do such and such thing in a suburb.

I've nearly always lived in what I consider suburbs. Places with single family homes and parks and playgrounds where I can very easily walk to just about every store or service nearby. The middle schools is an easy walk away for kids. High school is a bit farther but still an easy bike ride for high-school age kids (about 15 minutes).

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skissane
4 days ago
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> I've learned from HN discussions that there is a vast difference in what people think of as a "suburb".

In Australian English, “suburb” roughly means “neighbourhood”. So to us, downtown (or the CBD as we call it), is a “suburb”. In the Australian sense of the term, the Financial District and the Upper East Side are suburbs of New York City.

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eru
4 days ago
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Yes, when I used to live in Australia them calling everything a 'burb, including the middle of the town, was a bit confusing.
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algorias
4 days ago
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Yeah, when I visited down there I initially misinterpreted what the "CBD bakery" was selling... xD
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randomdata
4 days ago
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> To me that's very rural

That's the idea if used in the North American sense. Suburbs are effectively rural areas, except with a higher population density. You will see rows of houses instead of rows of corn, but otherwise no different.

> Places with single family homes and parks and playgrounds where I can very easily walk to just about every store or service nearby.

What's a town, then?

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jjav
3 days ago
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> What's a town, then?

A town is a collection of suburbs and the parks, amenities and businesses that are intertwined with them.

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lupusreal
4 days ago
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Suburbs are usually grafted onto towns (and within a few minutes of stores), not in the middle of nowhere. That would just be bizarre.
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randomdata
4 days ago
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> Suburbs are usually [...] would just be bizarre.

Usually, yes, but I know of settlements "out in the middle of nowhere" that are nothing but rows of houses. No businesses, schools, or anything of that sort found within the immediate community. One needs to drive through the vast corn fields to another town to access such amenities. It doesn't seem that bizarre.

> (and within a few minutes of stores)

For those at the nearest edge, no doubt. Those at the furthest edge could be quite a distance away. Although, even in a small suburb, often you find the craziest road systems. It might take a half an hour just to drive to a store only a mile away.

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lupusreal
3 days ago
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Suburbs surely do have crazy road systems, all meandering and looping back into themselves instead of connecting to the rest of the world. But you are greatly exaggerating how much this adds to trip times, I've never seen nor heard of cases where it might take 30 minutes to escape and reach a store. If you have any specific examples in mind, I'd love to gawk at them.

Personally I just hate the aesthetic of suburbs, so I'll never live in one, but I think some people in this thread are getting a bit hyperbolic about how inconvenient they are. The suburb in my town takes no more than five minutes to drive across and is directly adjacent to the grocery store. From what I've seen this is typical. The worst I've seen are those in the DC metro area, but even then they have stores all over the place. The real pain in the ass in that region is needing to use/cross multilane roads to get anywhere.

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randomdata
3 days ago
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> I've never seen nor heard of cases where it might take 30 minutes to escape and reach a store.

Well, me neither. I grew up on a production farm with actual rows of corn as far as the eye can seen – in what I am quite sure everyone would agree was decidedly rural – and there were still several different towns with stores within a 5-10 minute driving radius.

> I think some people in this thread are getting a bit hyperbolic about how inconvenient they are.

No doubt, but that doesn't really have much to do with the conversation. The conversation is about what we call the places that are just rows upon rows of housing without a shared and vibrant mixture of businesses, hospitals, schools, etc. They're not exactly rural, there are too many people living there to be considered rural, but they aren't like towns or cities either. They are more like rural than anything else.

Suburb seems to be the prevailing term.

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whitakerch
4 days ago
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I would LOVE to know where this is?? If it's more walkable that JUST the school.

I have lived in suburbs near enough to schools that you can walk on 2 occasions in both NC and AZ but this was a very lucky quality, not the norm AT ALL, highly desirable, and you could walk to practically nothing other than the school. Leaving the neighborhood on foot was not a good place to be walking.

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nobodywasishere
3 days ago
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This is true for a lot of families in Somerville/Cambridge MA, one of the major reasons I live here. I can exist without a car
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tcfhgj
4 days ago
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Where is this?
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nextos
4 days ago
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Also interested to know, sounds like a nice region.
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ars
4 days ago
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Most suburbs are like this.
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hombre_fatal
4 days ago
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Maybe a tiny part of a suburb where you're not just near both the school and grocery store but it's nice to walk there and you're not crossing major roads. So, a tiny fraction of the US population.

Either way, some Americans will hear people talk about Europe or Japan or whatever and tell themself "I totally have that too where I live in the US" yet it's not even close.

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kstenerud
4 days ago
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Yup, in every European or Japanese town or city I've lived in (with the exception of one very small and isolated town), I never bothered getting a car. Everything was close enough to walk to (usually 2-5 minutes walk), and for things that were too far, I'd take the tram or train.

I've also lived in a few American cities, and it's a completely different experience. Even from downtown Philly it was inconvenient to get anywhere without a car.

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thayne
4 days ago
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There's a big difference between "Everything was close enough to walk to" and the schools is close enough to walk to.

In my experience, if you live in a suburb you do usually have to drive to get to things like stores, restaurants, movie theaters, etc. But what is close are schools and playgrounds. In the suburb I currently live, all three levels of schools and over half a dozen playgrounds are within walking distance.

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nottorp
4 days ago
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Funny enough, I drove my kid to school for 8 years in Eastern Europe. But that's because she wanted that school that was far away.

On the other hand, if i need groceries I just take a backpack and walk 5-10 minutes to one of the 5 different stores. I can even afford to be picky and get my butter from one, bread from the other etc :)

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thayne
4 days ago
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I don't know what the percentage is, but having a school within walking or biking distance is definitely not uncommon in US suburbs. At least in the areas I've lived (in multiple parts of the country), schools are generally built close to large neighborhoods, and have dedicated infrastructure to help kids walk to school. Grocery stores are less likely to be within walking distance. But then, even if I could walk to a grocery store, I'm not sure I'd want to, because I would be limited by how much I can carry back, which means I'd have to go shopping more often.

Conversely, I have traveled to Europe and Japan. At least in the areas I went to, it didn't really seem any safer for kids to play outside than many parts of America. Yes, public transit was much better, but there were still lots of cars on the streets, and there were areas that weren't very pedestrian friendly. And in some cities it was quite difficult to find playgrounds. I don't doubt that there are places in Europe and Japan where kids can play outside without worrying about cars. But such conditions are not universal.

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downut
4 days ago
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None of the US comments are true in the large areas of Georgia and Arizona that I'm familiar with. Sidewalks are very uncommon. One side of street only, if even there. Which is problematic at multilane intersections. Then the kid has to cross twice on each side. I actually managed to get a crossing light installed on my kid's bike route to school by complaining to a city council member. There are traffic jams at every school for drop-off/pick-up. Drive through the quite nice looking housing developments on weekends/holidays and there are zero children out and about. My wife and I think that's very sad.

That said, my kid rode a bike to school from 5-10th grades in Arizona. She was the only kid that did that.

There are about 7 grocery stores within 5 miles of my suburban house. I have never seen anyone walk/bike to any of them. (I look.) If you tried to you would spend quite a bit of time navigating parking/road infrastructure where the drivers clearly believe is their entire right of way.

In Mexico you would think it would be much worse, but it is light years better. Kids take care of getting themselves to school in Paris, from what we have seen.

This idea that "unless universal, the claim false" is... not helpful. As a family in suburban US we did the bike thing. It fucking sucked.

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lotsoweiners
3 days ago
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> There are about 7 grocery stores within 5 miles of my suburban house.

I have 2 (soon to be 3) grocery stores within a 8-12 minute walk of my very suburban home in my master planned community full of tract homes. I see some people walking to and from the store occasionally and I’ll walk there on occasion in the winter when the weather is nice. I just don’t understand why I would spend 20 minutes doing something that can take me 3.

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downut
2 days ago
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It doesn't take you 3.
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hombre_fatal
3 days ago
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Yeah, the American comments here seem to boil down to "technically I could walk to a school/store/cafe if I wanted to (but it's quite shit so nobody does) so it's basically Europe and Japan" and think that's comparable to a town of people who walk around daily and bump into neighbors while fetching milk from the local shop. Even Mexico is like that.

If we swapped some of this cope energy with a push to change things, maybe we wouldn't have to burn our vacation time to fly across the world to walk to a cafe on a pedestrianized street.

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downut
2 days ago
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I've driven around a lot of dogs sleeping in the street in Mexico. Everybody else does too, claro que si. Now imagine a child. No one is going to threaten that child.

Assholes exist everywhere in the world but I would walk across an ungoverned street intersection in Mexico sooner than cross your average 2+lanes each fully lighted intersection in the US.

Edit: and so I now add, that that's what it means to bump around with your neighbors, near daily. Humans seem to need the street life of a busy neighborhood with pedestrian traffic toward the local suppliers of the banal things of daily life, before they retain the idea of the sanctity of humans when they are thinking more abstractly.

The contradiction of course is WW1 and WW2, which happened in countries all adhering more or less to these characteristics.

So I dunno. Maybe we're all fucked in the end, and I at least will indulge my family in the residual beauty before the inevitable next societal upheaval.

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whoodle
4 days ago
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I’ve lived in OH, PA, and NC outside of major cities and none were like that
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fzeroracer
4 days ago
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Most suburbs? What suburbs are you referring to, exactly? The 'burbs I grew up in there was nothing nearby in a two mile radius. The only access to school was via bus or having my parents drive.
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frumper
3 days ago
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I'd be curious to know what suburb is so awful, so I don't move there.
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robohoe
4 days ago
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Chicago area comes to my mind
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nottorp
4 days ago
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Yep, but on the other hand aren't there regions where you'd get arrested for letting your kids go to school alone?
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bluGill
4 days ago
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Normally you are not arrested, but a cps visit when you are reported is annoying. There are a lot of mandatory reporters who will be in trouble if they don' report so you will be. It wasts cps's time from real cases of neglict in most cases, but those exceptions get a kid help sooner.
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grugagag
4 days ago
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Do they still play outside like previous generations used to?
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wincy
4 days ago
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My daughter has been playing outside since she was 4 years old, unsupervised. She's 9 now. A lot of the other neighborhood kids have followed suit (I really suspect our "benign neglect" made the other parents thing "well if nothing bad happened to her our kids will be fine" and we have about 8-10 kids around the same age on the block that are constantly going to each other's houses and hanging out doing whatever it is they're doing (I don't really know, that's part of what makes it so great). It's almost 9pm right now, I have no idea where she is. She comes home when the street lights come on. The other day I gave her a $20 bill and she rode her bike to the Walmart nearby (no major streets on the way there). She bought her friends ice cream and was a hero. Sure there were hiccups, one time she stole the neighbors solar powered lanterns from his front yard, but we made her return them and apologize.

I guess our strategy is we just don't let her have any screens. They make her absolutely insane. So instead she leaves the house as soon as she can and goes out and plays. Even her 5 year old sister who is wheelchair bound goes with her a lot of the time, in the $1200 Thule buggy super stroller we bought (used). I guess we just lucked out, but we also insisted on it and kept letting her go out even after some woman called CPS on us for letting our kid be unsupervised. We live in a middle class neighborhood with people from dozens of countries and every major religions living together, and all our kids play together. I'm sure it's someone's mental image of the ideal childhood.

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grugagag
4 days ago
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Thanks for sharing your story, it’s wonderful, seems very similar to how we grew up. We have a 6 yo who does get daily outdoor time but that is supervised because it wouldn’t be possible otherwise, we live in NYC. My son does get screen time only 2 hours on weekends, at this point the cat’s out of the bag. We’ll just try to keep the screen time limited to 2 hours per week.
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akdor1154
4 days ago
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Out of interest, how did the interaction with CPS go?
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tayo42
4 days ago
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You don't also know what is actually happening.

I live near kids like this where there parents aren't around they just roam. They get into trouble. How much parenting are you dumping on others.

One group decided it would be fun to smash glass bottles in the parking lot. So I have to do the job if the parent and either tell them to behave, stop and clean it up or clean up after them myself so I don't ruin my tires. Why aren't the real parents doing this?

Or the kids liter, get stuck in trees,lose their stuff, pee on stuff etc. All problems their real parents should be dealing with but instead others have to deal with it. Randoms like me get the negatives of the unsupervised kids.

Im sure their parents think they had a pleasant day playing tag all day though.

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dyauspitr
4 days ago
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9pm and you don’t know where your 9 year old is? That going too far in the other direction in my opinion. How is she doing academically? I feel like that much freedom, that early, makes it easy to pick up bad habits with the “bad” kids.
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vundercind
4 days ago
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It’s summer (no school) and it’s not dark until a little after 9PM, in my mid-latitude part of the continental US.

“Bye, have fun, come in when the street lights come on” is entirely appropriate for a 9-year-old when school’s not in session. It’s playing outside, not playing fortnight or drooling to the YouTube algo. It’s ok for that to run a little late in the summer.

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namibj
4 days ago
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9pm is just a number; street lights are obvious and well-timed for when it's time to stop being outside.

If 6pm and no knowledge was ok, almost 9pm with streetlights still off is too.

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bbarnett
4 days ago
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Jumping in here.

Do you home school? Because if you don't home school, surprise! "Bad" kids are everywhere, including in any school that exists.

The best you can do is talk about bad influence. Peer pressure. Tailoring that conversation to the child's personality.

My thoughts on this are, the time to teach self-control and responsibility is when young. It won't take completely when young, as the brain is literally not fully developed in that capacity yet, but the lessons can stick, and be known when older.

Those lessons are action->consequence outcomes, and in a sense, borking up responsibility at times becomes a leaning moment. Put another way, mistakes are how we learn, and small mistakes when young, are better than massive mistakes when 20.

Yes, bad habits are a worry. I don't think there is any simple answer here, except independence is important for any adult mind, and that flows from independence in youth.

And of course, this all depends upon the child too. Some have more sense at 5, than others at 50.

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piva00
4 days ago
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> How is she doing academically? I feel like that much freedom, that early, makes it easy to pick up bad habits with the “bad” kids.

For fucks sake, she's 9 years old, let a kid be a kid and not a productivity machine, she will have her whole life to worry about that later... At that age the worse that can happen academically speaking is taking a bit longer to learn how to multiply and divide numbers.

At that age is easy to pick up bad habits and also easy to let them go, OP seems to be a good enough parent to nudge their kid into better habits if they deem necessary.

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eru
4 days ago
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Reading wincy's comment above, it seems like their kid is the one that's a "bad" influence on the rest of the neighbourhood.

(Not actually 'bad', but trendsetters that helped some of the other kinds come out to play more.)

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burnished
4 days ago
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This one might have a regional element to it based on how late the days are. For example where I'm at it won't quite be sunset at 9pm, and each phase of twilight will have around an hour to itself. Around now would be about an appropriate time for a young person to make their way home so they get back before dark. In comparison it looks like Houston will be about halfway through nautical twilight and basically be completely dark by 9pm (nautical twilight ends at 920 there).

So yeah, your gauge of what 9pm means might not be accurate for the situation! I doubt you were imagining 9pm being bright and an hour or two before its too dark for a young person to be out riding a bike, but that could well be the case

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_dark_matter_
4 days ago
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I mean this happens with my 9 year old. We have a parent group chat and just ask who knows where the crew is
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wincy
4 days ago
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Yep, we have a neighborhood group chat and send over a note with phone numbers when a new person moves in. Works great. She also has an Apple Watch with cellular service in case we need to get ahold of her. I’m happy to say she came home right on time this evening without so much as a phone call though.
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nottorp
4 days ago
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So, my kid lobbied for her own cell phone for a year or so when she was in primary school. We finally caved in and got her one.

Then she realized we can now call her and tell her to come home when she's out.

"I'll leave the phone at home, daddy, I'm afraid I'll break it while playing."

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hosh
4 days ago
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That’s technology working to bring people together rather than driving them apart
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Rediscover
4 days ago
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Such a great use of group chat. Thanks!
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vjk800
4 days ago
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After-WW2 development has been largely the same everywhere - more cars, wider roads, etc. Also in Europe and Japan cities an neighbourhoods that were built after WW2 are often very hostile to pedestrians while those built before are walkable.

The biggest cities of Europe (Paris, Amsterdam, etc.) are pretty historical and thus are walkable. However, where I live - Finland that is - much of the country has been built in the past century and is designed for cars. However, in the past decade or two the trend has changed again and the very new neighbourhoods again feel like 100+ year old neighbourhoods in terms of walkability.

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orwin
4 days ago
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Exactly, it's the same in France, although it started in the 90s (late 80s maybe) and ended after 2010, so we screwed up less neighborhoods than say, Netherlands, but we're 10 years behind into the rehabilitation of local communities. But any neighborhood built between 1990 and 2008 is often souless, car dependent and look like US suburbia (I lived in one)
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badpun
3 days ago
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Communist countries built large cities for pedestrians and public transit. I grew up in a place like that, it was an amazing place for a kid. School was a 5 minutes walk away, there were hardly any cars within hunrdeds of meters of my building. There were large green yards, playgrounds etc. for kids. Very quiet, very family friendly. It was largely contingent on most people not being able to afford cars, and not missing them that much due to decent public transit.
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kevin_thibedeau
4 days ago
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In my prewar non-car-centric city, kids still walk to school. They don't play outside like previous generations. You'll see the Christmas bikes for a few weeks when it's warm enough in late spring then nothing all summer long.
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bilbo0s
4 days ago
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As a parent, I can tell you video games and smart phones have a lot to do with this.
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Moldoteck
4 days ago
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Some speculate it's a consequence, not a reason. When most of the environment is poorly designed, lack of third places, lots of dangerous cars, big distances, no sidewalks, parent supervision etc... it's natural they started using phones more when these arrived: it gave options to socialize without encountering all the impediments
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bigger_cheese
4 days ago
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I think there is some generalizing here I grew up in an Australian City in the 90's.

Even back then kids weren't clamoring to play outside in the street. Or ride bikes etc (there was a clique at school who were skateboarders but not a widespread thing). I think it very much depends on the kids temperament, my experience as a kid didn't involve a lot of outdoors activities.

However my parents were pretty big on making sure I had exercise I played sport on the weekend (cricket in the summer and soccer in the winter) and it was non-negotiable my parents insisted on it. If not for sport I don't think I'd have spent any time outdoors at all.

I think Weekend Sport might be an Australian cultural thing does the US have weekend kids sports?

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rawgabbit
3 days ago
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In Texas, sports is bigger than religion. I personally know families that would drive out of state every weekend so their children can participate in weekend soccer/basketball tournaments. This meant 5+ hours in the car each way.

Personally, I believe the loss of trust in institutions (major sex scandals in every church, Boy Scouts of America etc.) made parents uneasy about sending their kids somewhere without one of them as a chaperone.

Here in Texas, I also did not trust many of the volunteer coaches. Many of them simply did not know how dangerous heat stroke was. There was also this bizarre old school theory that you shouldn't drink water when exercising in the heat. Instead, they repeat old stories like this...

https://www.espn.com/classic/s/dent_junction_08/02/01.html <excerpt>Out along the edge of the Texas Hill Country, with temperatures soaring beyond 110 degrees, the Texas A&M Aggies gathered that summer in 1954.... ten days of misery forty-seven years ago when players quit the team in droves to avoid the four-hour practices that did not include water breaks or even a kind word from Bryant. It was a miracle that no one died.</excerpt>

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lazyasciiart
4 days ago
[-]
Yes, it does, it’s pretty common.
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wildrhythms
4 days ago
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Maybe because the outside environment is so hostile to kids that being inside on their phones and tablets is more appealing?
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soco
4 days ago
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When I grew up we were a lot on the streets but there was simply nothing else to do, for better or for worse. I mean "no screens" wasn't a policy which got dropped, it was just the way it was. So maybe we're also having some nostalgia in this discussion: "in my times" looks always rosier than it actually was.
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wnc3141
4 days ago
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I was just noticing, on separate occasions today kids walking on the side (no shoulder) of a two lane road (often driven too fast) because there are no continuous sidewalks or cohesion of the street network between housing developments.

(context: suburban CO)

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alfalfasprout
4 days ago
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You're also putting Europe on a pedestal. In many urban areas (where the majority of the population lives) it's no longer safe for kids to walk + bike to school freely. Not necessarily because of cars but significant crime.
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throwaway2037
4 days ago
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    > Not necessarily because of cars but significant crime.
I love these HN comments -- so incredibly vague. Can you be more specific about which cities? I find it hard to believe. Crime has fallen like a stone in the last 30 years in highly developed countries and their biggest cities.
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vidarh
4 days ago
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There is however an impression in fairly substantial parts of society that it's gotten worse, and that impression might well have a greater effect than the actual rate on some people's behaviours.
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newswasboring
4 days ago
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Can you find a source for this claim for European countries? I personally can't but maybe my scholar foo is bad.
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vidarh
4 days ago
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For which claim? That people have an impression that things have gotten worse? You look at our recent European elections and how much of the campaigning was on law and order and the perception of the collapse of society.
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newswasboring
4 days ago
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Now you are moving the goal post. And if you ask me, those are just masks for inner racism about immigrants stealing their jerbs. I live in Europe and I don't see this being a big consideration. So if I'm not hearing it from my fellows then I would need at least a survey to believe this. I've seen those surveys for US.
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vidarh
3 days ago
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No, I have not moved any goalposts. I explicitly made the point that the impression is common, despite the actual numbers not supporting it. That was the entire point of my comment. I don't know what you thought you read.

And I agree it's usually about racism.

If you live in Europe, just look at the EU Parliament elections and see how the far right did. Or follow the political discourse in pretty much any European country.

If you're not hearing it, your not paying attention to pretty much any political reporting.

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newswasboring
3 days ago
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If it's so common you could have linked to one report rather than write this mini essay
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vidarh
3 days ago
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If you claim not to have encountered it despite its prevalence, nothing will convince you. Especially as you already demonstrated your willingness to misinterpret what I claimed in the first place.
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newswasboring
2 days ago
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Bro nobody is misunderstanding you. Here, this is the data about perception published for the US[1]. Now you do Europe. You're being incredibly rude here, I never said you claimed anything about actual statistics. Perception can be measured, there are companies out there who do this.

[1] https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2024/04/24/what-the-...

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throwaway7ahgb
4 days ago
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Wait, the OP starts out with an even more vague claim and then a counter-point gets jumped on?

"Don't believe me go to Europe and Japan where kids are still allowed to walk"

This is the top rated comment here, the line by itself is about as ridiculous as any other. Every kid in Europe is allowed to walk to school? How is this any different that than the US?

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jasonfarnon
4 days ago
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Is it no longer safe there? Because in the states parents have been restricting kids a lot more severely just as crime in cities plummeted (mid 90s--present). So I imagine it's either perceptions about safety, or parents just being more careful.
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immibis
4 days ago
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It isn't no longer safe for kids to walk to school. What happened is that American internet arrived here, and it has political reasons to want everyone to think it is.
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wincy
4 days ago
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I walked to the gas station with my dog and two kids, and had a guy yell at me that my kids were going to get kidnapped while I went inside for 5 minutes to buy us some waters and snacks. The biggest hurdle for us letting our children be free range and able to do things on their own has definitely been paranoid parents and busybodies who watched Sound of Freedom and think that every girl is going to immediately get sex trafficked to Guatemalan drug lords (or whatever, I didn't watch the movie) if she leaves her parent's sight for a second.
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eru
4 days ago
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Wait, are you saying American internet it telling people that it's safe, or that it's unsafe?
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immibis
3 days ago
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American internet wants you to think you can only be safe in a car, with a gun, around other white cis people.
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eru
3 days ago
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Interesting perspective.

As far as I can tell, American Internet mostly wants you to think that their own culture war is important and relevant universally, including for you. And that their own particular division of issues between their political poles is also somehow universal and important; and that you should get riled up about it.

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CalRobert
4 days ago
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Europe is a big place, it varies widely.
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koyote
4 days ago
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Please don't throw wild vague claims around without substantiating with data/sources.

Crime has decreased pretty much everywhere over the last three decades. I am sure there are pockets in the world where it hasn't, but those would be the exception.

[https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/homicide-rates-across-wes...]

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bedobi
4 days ago
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guess what kills the most children, criminals or cars?
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ksplicer
4 days ago
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Exactly, what the hell is "not necessarily because of cars" supposed to mean? Or maybe it's a comment on how, despite cars being way more dangerous, parents over-focus on crime?
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CalRobert
4 days ago
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If only we made killing children with your car a crime.
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pmtcc
4 days ago
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I recently lived in Portland when a teen was killed by a car in the southeast part of the city. The guy fled back to Saudi Arabia and no semblance of justice occurred. In the real world, vehicular crimes are seen as just a part of life. Consider the common term "car accident" and the absolving of responsibility it implies.
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CalRobert
4 days ago
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Even your statement shows how deep the absolution of drivers is - a driver killed the kid. Though they’d face no consequences in the US either
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ryandrake
4 days ago
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How does the saying go? If you want to kill someone and get away with it, kill them with your car.
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eru
4 days ago
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Alas. See the comment above, where a driver in a huge SUV got away scott-free for killing a child.

See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=40644209

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CalRobert
4 days ago
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I don't think if I went bird hunting where kids play and shot a kid "by accident" I'd get away with it.
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eru
4 days ago
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adrianN
3 days ago
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Intentionally killing children with your car is a crime. Playing with your phone while driving is "a tragic accident".
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carlosjobim
4 days ago
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At a certain maturity, kids have developed mentally enough for cars to not be a threat to them. Criminals are a whole different problem.
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bedobi
4 days ago
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Right, no teenagers or adults die by cars, for they have developed mentally enough for cars not to be a threat to them

…Except the 40 000 who do die by car, every single year, in the US alone. Countless more injured and permanently disabled. Meanwhile criminals are indeed a whole different problem. (an imaginary one)

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lupusreal
4 days ago
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Children, even teenagers, account for a very small portion of pedestrian deaths. Arguably this is because they're kept indoors, but the 20-25 age bracket is the second least likely to die as a pedestrian, despite being young and (stereotypically) dumb and reckless at that age. On the other hand, 25-35 are the most likely to get hit.

Some other interesting statistics: 25% of pedestrians killed were drunk, while only 19% of the time the driver was (these overlap, both drunk, in 6% of cases.) 3/4ths of pedestrian fatalities occur at night. 2/3rds don't occur in a crosswalk.

Take away: kids who don't drink, don't stay out at night and use crosswalks are significantly less likely to be hit.

https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/motor-vehicle/road-users/pedestr...

https://www.ghsa.org/resources/news-releases/GHSA/Ped-Spotli...

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bedobi
4 days ago
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this is victim blaming IMO. people get drunk. people go out at night. people cross streets. if the physical environment doesn't take the above into account, to the point where there are countless needless and preventable deaths, the correct thing to do is to fix the environment, not say people should have been more careful.
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lupusreal
3 days ago
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Victim blaming? I'm explaining that children are at less risk than the crude statistic would suggest. I think maybe you're mad about that because it undermines your intent to radically restructure society with this child pedestrian safety pretext.
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pantalaimon
4 days ago
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What kind of criminal is out to kill kids?
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throwaway7ahgb
4 days ago
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It's more that as a society we have agreed to a certain amount of risk that cars bring, because they have some positive value ( risk to value ratio will be debated ).

Criminals bring 0 value and all risk. Criminals also do more than just murder.

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bedobi
4 days ago
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Roads, cars and trucks bring a lot of value for the disabled, deliveries and emergency vehicles who really need them. What like 90% of vehicles and trips do not fit in any of those categories, and so bring zero of the value but all the harm.
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pantalaimon
4 days ago
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I’m now curious where those urban areas are where crime is so significant, kids no longer can walk to school.

(And what kind of crime? We don’t really have lots of drive-by-shootings here, kids aren’t exactly a prime target for robberies either)

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ponector
4 days ago
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Sounds like a false claim. Robbery of children? Human trafficking? What exactly are you talking?

I would say one off the biggest threat for pedestrians in European city are electric scooters.

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david-gpu
4 days ago
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> I would say one off the biggest threat for pedestrians in European city are electric scooters.

How many deaths have they caused? How do those stats compare to the deaths caused by motor vehicles? Which one is more dangerous based on that data?

I have looked at local pedestrian casualty statistics and motor vehicles are by far the largest cause of injury and death in the large city where I live. I haven't even been able to find what was the last time that a cyclist or e-scooter rider killed a pedestrian. Meanwhile, cars and trucks have killed four cyclists this year alone.

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bedobi
4 days ago
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> electric scooters

this is bullshit, cars kill and injure orders of magnitude more people in Europe than scooters do. That's not to say there's 0 issues with scooters, because there are, but focus should remain on cars, not scooters.

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GJim
4 days ago
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> but significant crime

The crime that has been *falling* throughout the entire western world after peaking in the mid 1990's ?

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constantcrying
4 days ago
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>The crime that has been falling throughout the entire western world after peaking in the mid 1990's ?

crime=/=crime

The park were we hung out as kids is now inhabited by drug dealers. Obviously no place for kids, or families or basically anyone else, I will try to avoid if I reasonably can. And of course there was no increase in statistical crime, as it just is not getting prosecuted, although it is clear as day that it is happening.

Crime stats are hugely misleading if you want to figure out what a social environment looks like.

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piva00
4 days ago
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Please, share your sources and what cities you are talking about.

I live in Europe and I see groups of kids hanging out by themselves all the time in many, many major cities across the continent.

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bcrosby95
4 days ago
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This is a common thought on this but I grew up and have lived in mostly California suburbs and it's pretty easy to be within biking distance to things (1-2 miles).

People talk about the dangerous cars but they were there 40 years ago and my friends and I would bike to school, the mall, or into the hills surrounding us.

My 9 year old's friend lives just two blocks from us and her parents don't let her walk here alone. When I was that age we were riding our bikes for miles in car infested San Jose.

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dangus
4 days ago
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I don't know if you realize how much the built enviornment has been changed in 40 years.

Some of those roads you biked on have probably been widened. Cars have gotten faster, larger, and heavier. Speed limits have increased.

I'm not saying it's guaranteed to be dramatically different but I think there probably is some kind of difference.

Just look at the pedestrian deaths chart for the past 5-10 years or so.

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uoaei
4 days ago
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This experience is so far from being accessible to a typical resident of the US, what exactly are your motivations for framing it as "shrug there's no issue with urban planning"?
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bcrosby95
3 days ago
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My experience is consistent with what I've seen in two major US metros: LA and the SF bay area. I never called them great urban planning but hyperbole does nothing to convince people something needs to be done - it just makes you out as someone to ignore because there's already more legitimate arguments vying for our attention than we could address in a lifetime.
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mattpallissard
4 days ago
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I agree with this for the most part but it doesn't explain everything.

The town I grew up in has a lot of areas that are conducive to children roaming; low traffic speeds and volume, separated sidewalks, parks, green spaces. As kids we ran around freely. The traffic volume and patterns haven't really changed at all and as a whole the community drives pretty slowly, nobody seems to be in a hurry. Yet you never see kids out anymore. Where did they go?

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aswanson
4 days ago
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Roblox and Tik Tok.
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eru
4 days ago
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> Don't believe me go to Europe and Japan where kids are still allowed to walk and bike to school, to friends places and just in general play and exist outside unattended to a much higher degree than in the US.

And even Europe, eg Germany, has seen a relative rise in helicopter parenting compared to recent decades.

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ThrowawayTestr
4 days ago
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Neighborhoods haven't changed since I was a kid and I played outside plenty. It's those damn smartphones.
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somedude895
4 days ago
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Why does HN love this narrative so much? The article is about very different causes, cars are mentioned only once in passing. It's getting really stale to have to read this same comment over and over rather than people discussing the topics that TFA is actually about.
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digdugdirk
4 days ago
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It's actually in the article multiple times. The physical design of communities (i.e. - designed around the automobile, not around a person on foot/bicycle) is what the previous post is referring to, not specifically cars themselves.

Car dependent design is the problem that prevents children from being able to play with friends, because they are dependent on an adult to bring them somewhere.

Car dependent design also has negative feedback loops for community in other ways. Local shops can't compete with big box chains in the suburbs due to economies of scale and are forced to close, further increasing the need to drive further for basic necessities. Cars are dangerous, further decreasing our base level of trust for interaction with our local community.

These are just the surface of the iceberg though - take an open minded approach to reading up on the second and third order effects of car dependent community development before being so quick to dismiss the topic.

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throwaway7ahgb
4 days ago
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>Car dependent design is the problem that prevents children from being able to play with friends

These statements as facts aren't helpful because it implies car dependence is the only thing. There is so much history and nuance here. OP is right, making every discussion essentially '/r/fuckcars' doesn't get us anywhere.

Anecdote: I grew up in a small suburb, 100% car dependence. However I still walked to grade school and rode my bike on roads/sidewalks where cars are the same now as they were in the 90s.

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prawn
4 days ago
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Personally, cars and the increase in street parking (reducing visibility) are the biggest factors in deterring me as a parent from having my kids roam the street with some level of freedom. When driving, I also see how many drivers beside me are looking at their phones.

I think back to my childhood and roaming the streets. There wasn't any formal community venue or organisation. No one then or now was going to church. No one was going to a community centre or youth drop-in facility. I don't remember parents coordinating much. We rode bikes on the street, kicked a football and walked to the school basketball court or ovals. Parents generally felt safer about their kids doing that, so it was trivial to walk out front and find another kid to socialise with.

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constantcrying
4 days ago
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It is a big political trend on reddit, mostly it is about American progressives fantasizing about European cities, while having no idea how car centric all of Europe is or the actual causes of the problems they perceive.

Just as a hint, Europeans love their cars as well. They drive them a lot and outside of large cities public infrastructure is sparse at best and almost never an actually viable alternative.

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bedobi
4 days ago
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I started the thread, I am and grew up in euro, have lived in Japan and North America a well. It's not a fantasy, it's lived experience and hard data.
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constantcrying
4 days ago
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I have never entered the US, but have been to many of the larger European cities. None of them came close to what Americans on /r/fuckcars are fantasizing about, when they talk about Europe.

If they post pictures it is almost always of the few square kilometers of the city where millionaires and shops for millionaires are located. The rest of the city is full of streets and cars are everywhere. The one difference is that there are trains, which usually are awful places but get you from A to B.

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bedobi
4 days ago
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It's true all of Europe doesn't look like that, but the difference is real and shouldn't be underestimated. Even in most European single family home suburbs, you can usually walk, bike or transit to nearby schools, supermarket, the odd cafe and restaurant. Ie what's being said isn't that Europe is devoid of cars, it's that it isn't exclusively designed for cars to the point where you cannot exist without one.

In a huuuuge share of the US, this is not the case. There are no sidewalks, you have to travel extremely far to get to anything, and cross highways or even freeways doing it. There's no transit. There's no village center or train station around a natural focal point, just giant strip malls that are few and far between. So EVERYONE. MUST. DRIVE. It is the ONLY option for every trip and errand, there is no alternative. This is insane.

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CalRobert
4 days ago
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Because it's an absolutely huge part of what's wrong with modern life and too many people stubbornly refuse to see that filling our entire world with asphalt ribbons of violent, gruesome death has, in fact, had consequences.
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bakugo
4 days ago
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> Why does HN love this narrative so much?

Because it distracts from the parts that many people don't like to talk about because it goes against their personal beliefs (such as religious conservatives being more connected with their communities and overall happier than everyone else)

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throwaway7ahgb
4 days ago
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You maybe on to something there but you phrase it as antagonistic.

HN is heavily biased towards tech centers (SF, NYC, Seattle, etc...). These places skew liberal, agnostic, pro-public transport, pro-dense housing.

Conversations will always shift towards these talking points, the few of us that don't fit into one or more of these boxes get drowned out as out-of-touch.

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prawn
4 days ago
[-]
Where I grew up in Australia, I don't remember anyone besides ethnic grandparents going to church (then or now). It just wasn't any sort of factor in the decline of free play for kids.

In more religious countries, are the religious conservatives the ones that are freely roaming streets and socialising more than their peers in a "play-based childhood"?

The obvious changes to me, as a parent now, and someone who still visits the street they grew up on in the 80s, relate to cars.

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Dalewyn
4 days ago
[-]
>Because in the US they would be roadkill,

Have you actually experienced Japanese drivers? They make American drivers look absolutely noble (and truthfully, we are) by comparison.

For starters, and this applies to both individual and professional drivers:

* They don't give way to emergency vehicles blaring the sirens.

* They don't wait for people to finish crossing intersections.

* They don't let other drivers into their lane.

* They drive absurdly fast.

* Most roads are very narrow.

Some particularly busy intersections require dedicated police officer supervision to shepherd the drivers because they're so unruly and disrespectful of pedestrians and other drivers.

There are many reasons Japan is more accepting of letting children be children, but most of that is social factors and motivators that are decidedly different from American ones. Cars are ultimately just a really small part, if any.

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Foreignborn
4 days ago
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What you're saying doesn't hold up.

Japan: > Road fatalities per 100 000 population: 2.6

USA: > Road fatalities per 100 000 population: 13.8

[0]https://www.itf-oecd.org/sites/default/files/japan-road-safe... [1]https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/motor-vehicle/historical-fatalit...

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throwaway7ahgb
4 days ago
[-]
I would be more interested in the stat per miles driven. I suspect the US still is worse than Japan but a lower ratio.

There is no point debating on US car stats, we are the best and worst at everything car related.

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dangus
4 days ago
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Why does miles driven matter? Fewer people are dying, that's what matters. The fact that I have to drive further/faster than someone in Japan to accomplish the same task is increasing my chance of death and that is bad. The fact that the USA has no regulations stopping its citizens from buying 6,000 pound trucks that have bad pedestrian visibility as a driver with a pulse-check standard vehicle license is bad.

If people are driving fewer miles in Japan that means that the built environment is better.

Is there higher usage of mass transit, cycling, and walking in Japan? You bet there is.

And don't give me that "America is oh so big and spread out, Japan is on an island" nonsense. 80%+ of Americans live in urban areas. It once had the largest passenger rail network in the world. This is a matter of intentional city planning and deliberate choices. Not every island nation is as transit-oriented as Japan (just look at the Carribbean or even the UK).

When divided highways were first being introduced globally, Japan's government made an intentional choice to invest in the Shinkansen instead of roadways. That was not an inevitability as there were voices there that preferred road investment.

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Der_Einzige
4 days ago
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That’s because they’re still far better drivers than us.
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bee_rider
4 days ago
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I’ve only really driven much in the Northeastern US and the Portland, OR area. The Portland drivers were much less aggressive and also much scarier. There just isn’t a tradition of moving with intention out there. They drift aimlessly about, sliding thoughtlessly through your blind spot. It is maddening.

You can see it in the stats too,

https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/state...

Places like MA and NY are, I think, known for their rude drivers but the fatalities per distance: anomalously low.

My theory is that Japanese drivers are our brothers in attentive, intentional driving.

An alternative theory is that population dense areas like cities promote aggressive driving, but also tend to host slower-speed collisions just by virtue of all the traffic. However, this seems unlikely, because it is far too simple and straightforward. Also wouldn’t justify a great long ramble about the superiority of my local driving culture, so I can’t bear for it to be true.

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nineteen999
4 days ago
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It's amazing to see in China too ... cars pulling out everywhere in front of each other, weaving in and out of traffic.

However I suspect there are less road accidents there per capita than here in Australia since everybody there has to pay attention and is patient with other drivers. Australian drivers either tune out or are too aggressive (road rage) and cause more accidents.

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bedobi
4 days ago
[-]
Having lived in Europe, Asia, North America and Australia, Australia seems to me by far the worst drivers. Incredibly aggressive, insane speeding and road rage, everywhere, all the time. And it’s not just tolerated, it’s completely normal and accepted, even considered cool and encouraged. Just what.
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siquick
4 days ago
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This is my experience too. Pedestrian crossings are completely ignored and indicating is optional. Combined with this god awful SUVs, Australia is an unpleasant place to be a pedestrian.

Sydney has this weird thing where cars drive full speed to red lights and break at the last minute which is pretty frightening when crossing.

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prawn
4 days ago
[-]
This is quite different to my part of inner-suburban Australia. I find drivers here to be almost universally polite and accommodating. And there is barely any speeding. Someone doing more than 1-3 km over the limit on the expressway is a clear outlier. Maybe it's only like this around here though.

I have driven tens of thousands of kilometres in the US on roadtrips, and the driving there is quite insane - speeding and dangerous, aggressive manoeuvres. Doing 10-20km over the limit is standard and anyone sticking to the limit is the outlier.

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nox101
4 days ago
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Lived in Japan 20 years and still spend ~2 months a year there including last month. Never experienced any of this except "most roads are very narrow" which is only semi-true. It's true many small roads are, um, small. But there are plenty of big roads as well.

I've never seen dedicated police supervision. I have seen directors around road construction. That's no different than in the states.

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Dalewyn
4 days ago
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Here's some more detail concerning pedestrians crossing intersections that I mentioned earlier.

In America, it is literally against the law to enter an intersection unless you can completely cross it without stopping. That means if a pedestrian is crossing, you wait outside of the intersection for them to finish crossing first.

In Japan? With pedestrians crossing? You enter the intersection and hopefully you stop inches from the crosswalk in the middle of the intersection while you wait for the road to clear and then go through if there is space.

Yes, even professional drivers do it. It's fucking insane if you ask me. How much time do you save? Seconds? And you risk a higher chance of running someone over?

Japan is world renowned for their hospitality, but Japanese drivers are by far some of the biggest assholes I have ever seen in my life.

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shiroiushi
4 days ago
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>In America, it is literally against the law to enter an intersection unless you can completely cross it without stopping.

This is false: it depends on the state. In Arizona, it is the law that you can enter the intersection to turn, and then if the light turns red, everyone has to wait until you complete your turn before they can enter the intersection.

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vanviegen
3 days ago
[-]
Waiting on the middle of the intersection sounds perfectly normal to me as a European as well. It's not to save the few seconds of getting there, but to claim your slot on the intersection from cross traffic. And of course you don't speed up till the crosswalk.
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pezezin
3 days ago
[-]
> Japan is world renowned for their hospitality, but Japanese drivers are by far some of the biggest assholes I have ever seen in my life.

xD

If it is of any consolation, all the gaijin in my office agree with you.

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lmm
4 days ago
[-]
None of that laundry list ultimately matters when Japanese speed limits are so much lower; speed is what kills. (Also, Japanese drivers are used to keeping their cars in lane, are used to sharing the road, and are driving much smaller and lighter vehicles). I suspect that what you perceive as "absurdly fast" is probably very different between those countries: because of the absurdly wide roads in the US, absurdly dangerous speeds get normalised. Someone doing 25% over the speed limit in Japan is still driving much slower than a driver in a comparable neighbourhood in the US.

> Some particularly busy intersections require dedicated police officer supervision to shepherd the drivers because they're so unruly and disrespectful of pedestrians and other drivers.

So like any intersection in New York.

> There are many reasons Japan is more accepting of letting children be children, but most of that is social factors and motivators that are decidedly different from American ones. Cars are ultimately just a really small part, if any.

Nah. It's cars, more specifically street parking.

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prawn
4 days ago
[-]
Absolutely agree on street parking. If you're driving down a clear street, you can see a kid chasing a ball out from their driveway, or someone about to scoot across the road. When the area is full of parked cars, your visibility is going to be down to nothing in some of these situations.
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shiroiushi
4 days ago
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>* They don't wait for people to finish crossing intersections.

This is NOT at all my experience here in Tokyo. Drivers are generally very careful around crosswalks, and for good reason: if a driver hits a pedestrian (or cyclist), it's automatically the driver's fault, with almost no exceptions.

The only really bad drivers I normally see here are some taxi drivers, driving too fast on narrow streets in the city. Everyone else is generally careful.

But don't forget: here in Tokyo, most drivers are professionals (delivery trucks or taxis usually), not private individuals. Your experience in more rural or car-centric parts of Japan are likely to be very different.

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nottorp
4 days ago
[-]
> Most roads are very narrow.

The thing is, you get used to it. Living in an eastern european country that hasn't caught up on infrastructure, I'm used to driving on narrow winding roads.

What happened when I first drove a couple hundred km on a freeway[1]? I had to ask everyone else in the car to keep me talking because I was literally falling asleep.

[1] Or whatever the US term is for the roads with at least 2 lanes, directions separated by a fence and grade separated intersections.

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pezezin
4 days ago
[-]
I live in Aomori, I have been commuting every single day for the last 6 years, and I totally agree with you. There are three more points that make me mad:

- Stopping in the middle of the road whenever they feel like it. Just turn on the blinkers and boom, the road became a parking slot! And they don't care if it is a straight segment or the middle of a curve.

- Overtaking other cars on the left at an intersection. I don't know here, but in my home country that is illegal, because it is very dangerous. I have seen many near misses because of it.

- They don't turn on the lights as long as there is a tiny sliver of light in the sky. Every day I see people driving with the lights off after sunset, or during heavy rain or snow! Seriously, who drives with the lights off during a fucking blizzard with less than 10 meters of visibility?!?

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Dalewyn
4 days ago
[-]
>Just turn on the blinkers and boom, the road became a parking slot!

Taxis and occasionally even limousine buses are notoriously guilty of this...

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nottorp
4 days ago
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I wonder what subtle differences are there between road codes across countries.

For example, in my romanian road code you are not permitted to turn right at a red light unless there is a separate green blinking arrow pointing that way (and no, the blinking green isn't always there). I know that in the US the default is you can turn.

How about stopping on the side of the road? Here it's permitted anywhere it's not explicitly forbidden. And I think taxis have an exception and they can really stop anywhere for a few moments to pick up/drop people. They may get cursed at but it's legal.

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Dalewyn
4 days ago
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>I know that in the US the default is you can turn.

Here's a little mind twister:

In the US there are Right Arrow signals. A Red signal indicates you can turn right if it's safe just like ordinary Red signals. A Green signal indicates you can turn right, obviously.

Wait, what?

You see, this Right Arrow signal exists alongside ordinary signals at an intersection. Specifically when the ordinary signals are Green (so you can go straight ahead or turn as appropriate) but the Right Arrow signal is Red, you cannot turn right. Usually this is because someone is crossing the intersection and you would risk running them over.

This specific arrangement is very rare.

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nottorp
4 days ago
[-]
Hmm here there would be a normal 3 color light specifically for turning right, with 3 right pointing arrows.

Never saw single red lights. Just the blinking green when it's permitted. Btw blinking green implies yield to other cars, pedestrians or anything else that's in your way.

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pezezin
4 days ago
[-]
They are. Heck, one time I even saw a truck driver just taking a nap! Like, he decided to stop in the middle of the road and sleep!

Sure, better than falling asleep and crashing, but come on, all the konbinis around here have parking slots big enough for trucks.

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bedobi
4 days ago
[-]
I lived in Japan for five years and I don't agree with you.

There's plenty of shit drivers there as everywhere but the physical environment (not the least of which street parking not being a thing) enables people to exist a lot more safely and conveniently outside of a car than in the US and the data bears that out. Eg narrow roads improves safety for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists alike.

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pezezin
3 days ago
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> Eg narrow roads improves safety for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists alike.

Bullshit. Almost 6 years in Aomori, and rare is the month that I don't see a car crashed on the side of the road, even on sunny summer days. Meanwhile in my home region (Extremadura, Spain, also a rural region) I could go years without seeing a single crash. I am sure that the design and maintenance of the roads has something to do with it.

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dividefuel
3 days ago
[-]
I don't disagree that urban planning is a factor, but I think there's more to this.

A very common theme when talking to people in the US is "this neighborhood used to have so many more kids out and about!" Even in the neighborhood I grew up in, where my parents still live, there are far fewer kids around, even though the neighborhood's design and car traffic haven't changed at all.

Where are they? Are their parents driving them from place to place? Are they staying inside staring at screens? Or are there simply fewer kids due to falling birthrates?

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CalRobert
4 days ago
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Europe is getting worse too. Big SUV's and trucks, fast traffic, and cars illegally parked all over the footpaths (and I'm talking about the Netherlands here, it's worse elsewhere).

I mean it's better here than where I grew up (California) but I still wouldn't call it "good".

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euroderf
4 days ago
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> cars illegally parked all over the footpaths

This is where opportunistic roving tow trucks start to sound like a good idea.

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bdw5204
4 days ago
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Tow trucks would also be very useful to handle the people who think the trolley tracks, the bus stop or the sidewalk are a good place to park their car.

With trolleys, it'd be even better if the tracks themselves had some kind of AI technology to detect parked cars and call the tow truck to remove the car before it causes a delay.

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ars
4 days ago
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> kids are still allowed to walk and bike to school

That's how it's like in the suburbs. There are very few cars, and kids can play and bike on the roads, and go anywhere on their bikes.

It's only urban areas that are very car centric and kids can't do that, although they can go on the subway or a bus. The suburbs are much nicer and safer for kids.

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trgn
4 days ago
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Agreed. in suburbs, cul-de-sac neighborhoods and such, you'll still see kids, but only within that fishbowl. It's the core areas where kids are gone. Traffic is also much nastier there. lots of intersections, vagrants skulking around, more through traffic .. much more of an antisocial vibe in general, hard to put your finger on. I think that's why the difference with europe is so stark. You go visit, and you'll be in the center of some beautiful car free wonderland, and there's kids just hanging around and playing, and sharing that space with everybody else. In the usa, kids only roam free in secluded pockets, far away from the "real" city. And, conversely, they're the only ones out too, maybe some seniors doing their post linner dog walk.

Sad stuff, the collapse of the public realm. Compound living is the only thing we can manage still.

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jjav
4 days ago
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> In the usa, kids only roam free in secluded pockets, far away from the "real" city.

The discussion is about suburbs, so by definition it is away from the city core.

Here in our (US, California) suburb it is wonderfully walkable for kids and adults alike. For kids, there is very little traffic since only local neighborhood traffic is present unlike in cities. There are bike/walk trails around and across. Multiple playgrounds, sports fields, all connected by bike trails. Stores, restaurants, school, assorted services, theaters, all within a ~10 minute walk radius. This is what suburb means to me.

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sagarm
4 days ago
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That is not how the majority of cul-de-sac subdivisions work in the American South. There are certainly not a bunch in amenities within a 10 minute walk -- usually you can't even leave the subdivision in that time on foot, let alone safely walk to the nearby gas station on a 40mph road with no sidewalk or shoulder.

Where are these magical subdivisions with city-like access to amenities?

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throwaway7ahgb
4 days ago
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They exist! I live in one and there is a small "town square" where the kids all walk/bike to and play with green space and (grocery, cafes, restaurants). It is surrounded by a typical suburban layout with high density closest and then low density housing as you get farther away.

If you are really interested in this type of living, look for newer master planned communities in the south. They are immensely popular and aforadable compared to coastal cities.

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trgn
4 days ago
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yeah, I've seen them, much better way to build. it doesn't solve the traffic issue, people still drive everywhere, but within it, it's a little village. the one near me is immensely popular, i love to go visit too, just for dinner or what not.
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cityofdelusion
4 days ago
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There is definitely a strange stereotype of suburbs in online discourse. Pretty much every suburb I’ve been part of (6 or 7 across 4 states) have been quiet with low traffic, low speeds, and even kids playing outside. About half of those it is possible to walk to school and some shops safely without crossing major thoroughfares. The suburb where I live now, when school is out there are high schoolers walking home and crossing large roads in packs of around a dozen.

There’s decent choice when house shopping, at least the places I’ve lived. If someone chooses a suburb surrounded by 2 miles of other suburbs, that’s their choice. There’s plenty of “old city” suburbs (what used to be the edge of town 25 years or 50 years back) that now have sidewalks and stuff nearby. HN trends wealthy though, so I imagine many people only look at housing on the current city edges.

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grvdrm
4 days ago
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Tons of cars in my suburb. You might mean rural areas?
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Daishiman
4 days ago
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This most definitely does not describe the suburban hellscape that most American suburbs are.
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Moldoteck
4 days ago
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You sure you describe american suburbs? Maybe it's aomewhat true for european ones, but american suburbs are mostly designed to isolate ppl
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dullcrisp
4 days ago
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How do people get around in the suburbs?
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thepasswordis
4 days ago
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The physical environment from my childhood was substantially “worse” than what exists now. I don’t remember really ever going to a park, and the playgrounds that existed were full of [fun] death traps.

When I got older and rode my bike everywhere there was not a SINGLE bike lane anywhere in my entire town, and the sidewalks were disused and crappy.

And yet: we were outside playing CONSTANTLY.

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TheBlight
4 days ago
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I agree with this. Growing up we had nothing but some small patches of "woods" and some industrial areas but we still had plenty of fun. We also had various school grounds and the little league park. Definitely zero bike friendly infrastructure.

But now there is so much more everywhere I look. Skateparks everywhere, kid friendly pools and parks. More bike friendly roads. My daughter is still too young now but it seems like the outdoor resources are better than ever.

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User23
4 days ago
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Now why would children be safer in high trust homogeneous societies that share descent, religion, language, and culture than in low trust divided societies that share little more than a common currency?

Must be light trucks! What a fine example of Occam’s butterknife at work.

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constantcrying
4 days ago
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What? How do roads prevent you from going outside.

Of course I went to the houses of my friends by foot/bike after school. Unsurprisingly there were roads with cars everywhere, which do exist here in Europe. Blaming "road centric infrastructure" is delusional, road centric infrastructure has been the norm for at least 60 years and if that were the cause you would have noticed a degradation then and no degradation after. Clearly not the case.

I find it quite offensive to suggest that "European cities" are somehow this extremely car unfriendly place. We Europeans like cars as well, we like to drive them a lot and like to live in places with good car connections. Places like Germany, where I live, also have very good car infrastructure. Outside of large cities cars are the only way to get around as other modes of transportation are very unreliable and not serviced often. None of this has prevented me from going outside with my friends or biking to school alone.

If I had to guess why kids are playing less outside than they used to, maybe it is because the park we hung out is now inhibited by drug dealers. Or because of the girl who got raped there.

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ceejayoz
4 days ago
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> How do roads prevent you from going outside.

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/05/19/a-crosswalk-too-far-v...

"In the Boston suburb of Burlington, Massachusetts, the AMC movie theater is right across the street from the Burlington Mall. But if you're planning to travel between these two destinations on foot, you're in for quite a hike. The closest crosswalk is more than half a mile down the Middlesex Turnpike. That means crossing the road -- if you're going to do it 'the safe way' -- requires a 1.2-mile journey, and it's definitely not going to be a pleasant one. Local resident David Chase reports that only one side of the street has a sidewalk."

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constantcrying
4 days ago
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Who cares that the city administration is too stupid to put in traffic lights.

Seriously, what a dumb example. The problem has already been solved. My city is full of cars, but there are also enough traffic lights triggered by pedestrian s, hardly a miracle of modern engineering.

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ceejayoz
4 days ago
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> Who cares that the city administration is too stupid to put in traffic lights.

The people living there?

> The problem has already been solved.

Yes, that's why the poster said "in the US they would be roadkill". It's very much a solved problem; the US is notable for not implementing the solutions.

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constantcrying
4 days ago
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If people lobbying their local government for traffic lights is enough to solve a problem it can't be that relevant.
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ceejayoz
4 days ago
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Except it often doesn't work that way.

NYC was all ready to implement a congestion fee, with years of buildup and $15B in revenue scheduled for use... and the state governor nixed the entire at the eleventh hour by fiat, because out-of-NYC voters who shouldn't have a say don't like the concept.

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constantcrying
4 days ago
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This seems like a problem which has absolutely nothing to do with traffic.

If local governments fail at basic duties missing traffic lights are not the thing you should be worrying about.

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thefz
4 days ago
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> car centric design means there's nowhere for them to go on foot or by bike anyway

There is no need to move them if you create the spaces, like courtyards, gardens and backyards.

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KoolKat23
4 days ago
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Their friends don't live in their backyards though.
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eru
4 days ago
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And it's fun to explore spaces, and the community.
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overstay8930
4 days ago
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Most parents in Europe would not let their kids walk alone to school lol, maybe outside of large cities but it is not the norm anymore.
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piva00
4 days ago
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I have friends with school-age kids ranging from 9-12 years old living in Stockholm, Berlin, Amsterdam, Düsseldorf, Münich, and Milan. Almost all of them go alone to school: walking, biking, or using public transport, the only exception is the couple who lives in Milan.
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swayvil
4 days ago
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Is "lol" really appropriate in this context? Theses days it seems more like a nervous tic.
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overstay8930
4 days ago
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because its a laughable suggestion to pretend Europe doesn’t have the same problems as the US
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trgn
4 days ago
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but they don't though. kids are so much more independently mobile than here, is that really not the case? I mean, you can literally just see it, you'll be on the bus to your tourist thing or whatever, and some 10 year old is riding with you to school, his laughably overstuffed backpack on his knees.
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DonHopkins
4 days ago
[-]
"Lucifer Our Lord"
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swayvil
3 days ago
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A weird coincidence. In my search for sane discord servers I just happened upon one for satanists last night.
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chris_va
4 days ago
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Apologies for being critical, but this reads like the author had a conclusion they wanted to reach and worked backward to some flashy graphs to make it work (the right side of the "lies, damn lies, and statistics" spectrum).

There is no discussion of confounders, no control groups or paired studies, and there are million things correlated with the last 50 of societal development years besides the topics mentioned here. The mention of phones and other influences in teen behavior is completely unrelated to the main point in the discussion and just serves to provide credibility by association.

All in all, this is not science, it is just a reductionist oped presented as fact using classic internet hooks.

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WorkerBee28474
4 days ago
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> All in all, this is not science

It's not trying to be. The intended audience is not peers reading a research journal, it's normal folks and policy makers who don't know what a confounding variable is but still want to make modern life suck less.

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potatoman22
4 days ago
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Since the audience isn't technical enough to realize the author excluded confounders, doesn't that make it even worse?
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WarOnPrivacy
4 days ago
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Confounders or not, kids don't have crap for communities. They have 24/7 adulting, most of it spent in one building or another.

source:5 kids. source:15 years scout leader. source:10 years youth leader, other.

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zdragnar
4 days ago
[-]
Add on top of that the communities they do have are all virtual. Virtual groups are a fine addition to, but not a good replacement for physical interaction.

Being in physical proximity is just a fundamentally different experience. I remember rather fondly the days of LAN parties, and a small part of me wishes we had kept the networking without going all the way to the Internet.

Yes, the irony of this post, and my career as primarily a developer of websites, is not lost on me.

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squigz
4 days ago
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> Add on top of that the communities they do have are all virtual. Virtual groups are a fine addition to, but not a good replacement for physical interaction.

Why not?

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zdragnar
4 days ago
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There are a number of takes on this. Everything from limited physical expressiveness, to fundamentally different and more limited conversational abilities in group settings, to a lack of physical preference having subtle emotional changes in how the setting is experienced and probably more things that have been and are being researched.

As a microcosm of community breakdown and virtual replacing physical space, just look at the psychological and social impacts of virtual schooling during COVID-19 lockdowns. Obviously, the existential dread of illness, stress of family finances and restricted freedom are all confounding here, so the extent to which physical versus virtual played a role is debatable. Even so, I don't think there's much debate at all that Zoom meetings are in any way a viable substitute for in person classroom teaching and social development.

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naasking
4 days ago
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If you're being serious, then you're suggesting that it would be perfectly healthy for a person to literally just lie in bed all day and only interact with people virtually.

If you think that isn't healthy, then you are acknowledging that virtual groups are not a replacement for physical interaction, even if you disagree with others on how much physical interaction is required.

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WarOnPrivacy
4 days ago
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> If you're being serious, then you're suggesting that it would be perfectly healthy for a person to literally just lie in bed all day and only interact with people virtually.

It's what adults have (mostly) left for (most US) kids to do - when adults replaced free roaming areas with roads and private property.

ref: https://i.redd.it/32yuwrnvgi491.jpg

As a child, I could walk in any direction and either find area to explore (safe from interfering adults) or find other kids. Same as my parents, g-parents, ancestors going back 10s x 1000s of years.

My kids had nowhere to go. Same for their peers all over.

I'm fine with taking away their ~only practical method of connecting as long as we return the spaces kids had for connecting (thruout history).

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squigz
4 days ago
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I don't believe that's what I suggested at all. I believe I asked GP why they believed what they said.
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jasonfarnon
4 days ago
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I hear a lot about excessive parenting on here but I wonder if it's just a segment of society. Can anyone but wealthy parents have time to occupy their kids 24-7? The freedom I and friends had as a kid was not a decision of my parents so much as a necessity. Parents dont get home from work until 6, school lets out at 2, we get at least 4 free hours of undisturbed freedom. Why would that be different now?
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richk449
4 days ago
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An event that happens much too often to me:

My son is playing with other kids. I wander off. When I check back, all the kids are watching a screen. I say “what’s going on?” And some parent says “the kids were getting roudy, so I put on a show to calm them down”.

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InitialLastName
4 days ago
[-]
Related: Every single one of my toddler's grandparents defaults to sticking a phone in his face (and has since he was a baby).

Like, they all managed to raise children into moderately functional adults without heavy use of smartphones, and have had explicit instructions not to do that. Why do they think it's the thing to do?

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inanutshellus
4 days ago
[-]
Also relevant:

If you try to encourage non-screen time socially, their friends stop coming over.

At best, your kid will just want to leave the house to go watch tv/play video games over at the friend's house, but just as likely is that the kid stops having a friend because they're not mindshared in anymore.

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irjustin
4 days ago
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> My son is playing with other kids. I wander off. When I check back, all the kids are watching a screen. I say “what’s going on?” And some parent says “the kids were getting roudy, so I put on a show to calm them down”.

Ooof this is me on Sundays - the only day allowed screen time, but man yea, if our girls are by themselves then a screen for them and a screen for me and we're all happy.

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s1artibartfast
4 days ago
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I think the idea of 24/7 parenting has is definitely not universal, given the amount of unsupervised time spent online and gaming.

I suspect most of this time just moved from streets and parks to bedrooms in front of a screen.

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sircastor
4 days ago
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I think it's trying to appear to be science. They want the appearance of legitimacy and objectivity to encourage a particular position.

A quick read through of the site shows it's a conservative-leaning group, and I'd be willing to bet that sooner-or-later they'll be pushing "a return to traditional values" as the cure for all our ills.

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WorkerBee28474
4 days ago
[-]
> A quick read through of the site shows it's a conservative-leaning group

While there's nothing wrong with being conservative, the group's founder is a self-described Democrat.

> I'd be willing to bet that sooner-or-later they'll be pushing "a return to traditional values" as the cure for all our ills

If "growing up in close-knit communities" (from the article) is a traditional value, then yes, they are saying that would be a good thing.

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jasonfarnon
4 days ago
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A quick read through of the site shows it's a conservative-leaning group,

this is neat, using guilt by association to support a comment alleging the fallacy of guilt by association

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bradleyjg
4 days ago
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I think it's trying to appear to be science.

This is fairly common in modern rhetoric. Even among scientists—they’ll write a rigorous paper with narrowly drawn conclusions and then give a much broader science-y interview about it.

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naasking
4 days ago
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> A quick read through of the site shows it's a conservative-leaning group

It's conservative-leaning because...?

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mike_hearn
4 days ago
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After Babel is Jonathan Haidt's site. He is very much not a conservative, as one might guess from his insistence on governments controlling everyone's social media and smartphone use. Although his work has tried to address the exclusion of conservatives from academia, that doesn't make him one.
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naasking
4 days ago
[-]
> Apologies for being critical, but this reads like the author had a conclusion they wanted to reach and worked backward to some flashy graphs to make it work

What you're missing is that they've already published the papers and books with all of the citations, these are accessible articles for the masses reviewing their conclusions.

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drewcoo
4 days ago
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> had a conclusion they wanted to reach and worked backward . . . to make it work

Also known as "motivated reasoning."

For what it's worth, it doesn't match what I see here in flyover country. Helicopter parenting came first, then loss of community; loss of kids in the neighborhood playing. I think the helicopter parenting was due to lots of pressure to "protect" the kids. I've even heard of police responding to calls about children walking without adults!

The article seems to want to blame tech for a social problem. I guess that gets clicks.

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renegat0x0
4 days ago
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I think not everything can be pure science. It would be hard to write anything. It is still better than most of stuff on the Internet, and that is a good thing.

Some people complain about something not because it is lacking, but because they struggle internally with the results. "You didn't run tests 50 times, you run them only 20". I see some parts mentioning religion, and I can guarantee that some people with have problem with only that, as it can often be as a red flag for a bull.

I do not also need complex studies to see effect of games, TV on my kids. I can simply observe them.

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m0llusk
4 days ago
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Science starts with discussion. If evidence accumulates and reasonable arguments are made then it may become possible to form a hypothesis or even a theory that might be tested with experimentation. Peer reviewed studies based on randomized trials only come about very late in the process once paradigm change is well under way.

What is happening here is some of the initial discussion of important emerging phenomena that we do not yet understand.

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mike_hearn
4 days ago
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There's no need to apologize. This whole line of work by Haidt and his associates has been heavily attacked on the grounds of poor methodologies, and Haidt's responses were astoundingly bad. For example, someone spot checked some of the hundreds of studies he presented and found none of them really supported the social media/teen girl mental health link he was asserting; his response was "they can't all be wrong" and "you shouldn't demand a high standard of evidence in a crisis" (where the evidence there was a crisis was the same evidence he was presenting...)
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blackeyeblitzar
4 days ago
[-]
I’m not commenting on this study specifically but a ton of research is susceptible to these issues, especially in academia. Most studies have basic gaps in experimentation and statistics, and are basically p hacked or ignoring variables. That doesn’t stop them from being punished or the world from blindly believing that peer review automatically means “quality”.
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AlbertCory
4 days ago
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Hear. It is totally a just-so story.

Possibly there IS no way to prove their assertions. I can tell you that I see kids biking past my house on the way to school every day, and the crossing guards guide many, many kids across the street. What are the numbers? Couldn't tell you. .

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throwaway48476
4 days ago
[-]
America is transitioning from a high trust society to a low trust society. This is one of the many consequences.
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morkalork
4 days ago
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Transitioning? When "good guys with guns" get off on murder charges every year for killing innocent people just because they "feared for their lives", I'd say the transition is complete.
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tacocataco
4 days ago
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tmaly
4 days ago
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I would have thought that two parents working and not technology would have been the major contributor to loss of the community in early periods.
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graemep
4 days ago
[-]
Non working parents were major contributors to local communities.

I have noticed that community organisations now are far more dependant on retired peopke than they were a few decades ago.

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Moldoteck
4 days ago
[-]
Two parents working doesn't matter when the environment is safe. When I was a kid both of my parents did work but I was walking alone/with friends to my school and back and didn't need to ask permission to go outside play with others. And mind you, that was a time when kid kidnapping was stil a thing. Imo what changed is abundance of cars- look how many ppl a killed by them, how big the cars got, how many spacy these take, look how far away is everything in suburbs- you basically need a car to meet with someone, it's even worse than a village due to the lack of a grid design. Also, because of spreading many third places became unprofitable, others were buldozed to create parkings esp in us with parking requirements. The zoning played a big role too- a lot of businesses that attract ppl, make the environment safer with social regulation and creating social bounds- can no longer be created bc of zoning. When tech did appear - it's natural ppl switched, bc these did offer more options to socialize safely compared to real world
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WarOnPrivacy
4 days ago
[-]
> I would have thought that two parents working and not technology would have been the major contributor to loss of the community in early periods.

I had one working parent and I had a community because I had places to go.

My 5 kids had 1 parent at home full time and zero community. For most hours they were trapped in a building with adults. Sometimes they were contained in some highly limited adult-made program. And that was what they had. Also most every other kid.

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swatcoder
4 days ago
[-]
FWIW, that doesn't counter the GP's suggestion that changes to the community norm might have impacted the experience for everyone.

Your 1-parent childhood may still have benefited from having many other stay-at-home parents keeping an eye out the window an ear to street for kids who need attention, and likewise your kids childhood may have been more isolated for the lack of that, even with a parent staying at home for them individually.

Sometimes, it's not about the circumstances of one's own home so much as about the prevailing circumstances (and expectations) of the community as a whole.

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WarOnPrivacy
4 days ago
[-]
> that doesn't counter the GP's suggestion that changes to the community norm might have impacted the experience for everyone.

We lived that community "norm" as part of a very immersive and busy religious life. We also lived it in modern times where kids moved from one adult-constructed environment to another.

The author's theoretical mental health magic didn't materialize. These kids weren't surrounded with spaces to go with their peers and develop the critical skills that arise when adults aren't available.

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scarby2
4 days ago
[-]
I had 2 working parents and a community. The perceived safety and walkability of an area has a lot to do with it. My parents weren't worried if they didn't see me from morning until dinner time (and obviously they had no way of getting in contact with me other than maybe phoning all the other parents - assuming we weren't off in a field somewhere).
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inanutshellus
4 days ago
[-]
If you had two working parents, but had "community", frankly I'd have to assume it was comprised of kids with homemaker parents, which doesn't count as a counterpoint.
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WarOnPrivacy
4 days ago
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> If you had two working parents, but had "community", frankly I'd have to assume it was comprised of kids with homemaker parents, which doesn't count as a counterpoint.

This is exactly it. The mental health we're looking for is the byproduct of a childhood spent with regular access to hours-long, adult-free peer time. It also reduces parenting from the stupidly impossible amount of hours we have now.

The community part we're trying to replace with religious spaces was when kids grew up surrounded by multi-generational households. Until the 1st ½ of 1900s, it was what we could count on neighborhoods, villages, settlements, etc being built out of.

Religion can't replace that. I know because my kids grew up in the ideal the author is has in his head.

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throwway120385
4 days ago
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I think it's a complex system, where it's not so much any one factor but rather the presence of so many different factors that each have a small impact and which together combine to have a big impact. So you could be right at the same time the article is right. Technology has become a great atomizing force in our society, from automobiles keeping us from talking to each other in traffic to cell phones keeping us from talking to each other at the store. Even online shopping atomizes us. And in the mean time, both parents basically have to be working all the time to keep paying for their lifestyle. All of this combined leads to isolated childhoods, and because we tend to keep the habits we learn as children, isolated adulthoods.
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doubloon
4 days ago
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two parents working 40-60 hours a week.

if two parents worked 20-30 hours a week each, probably not as big a deal.

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eru
4 days ago
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That's actually testable! Especially across countries and across time.

(I doubt it's a big deal. But we could get the data to at least look for correlations.)

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kelseyfrog
4 days ago
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> In 1995, in the initial academic essay that became the book, Putnam described the social-capital-destroying effects of the rise of television [...]

Jon Haidt really gives too much credit to television. It's an easy thing to reach for when mobile phones and social media are are the present day forces we content with. But there's a deeper story. I'm reminded by Thatcher's 1987 quote:

> You know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families.

Maybe it wasn't true then, but people believed them and in their belief they made it true. In a world where men, women, and families exist, there isn't room for community. It was dismantled by disbelief.

In the same way we don't have the ability to reach the moon anymore, I wonder if we don't have the ability to reconstitute communities, like lost and ancient knowledge, eventually they will fade from living memory.

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hi-v-rocknroll
4 days ago
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When I was a kid, there was a park near my house in California with a jumping maze of telephone pole segments of various heights in a sand pit. And, a park by my aunt had a decommissioned Korea War-era fighter jet in the sand pit and a steel plate and open diamond grate vertical 2D crawling maze for kids. Today, I checked on Google Maps, it only has some boring, circus-colored, perfectly-safe(-and-boring) play set you already know kids avoid. Not all change is positive progress.
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nostrademons
4 days ago
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As someone who lives in a small Bay Area suburb that you wouldn't expect a strong sense of community to arise in, it's been fascinating and a little heartwarming watching the village form around my kids.

My kindergartner is now at the point where he can walk into a random town event and find somebody he already knows. He's had 3 consecutive weekends of birthday parties, with largely the same cast of characters at the last 2 (the third was a pre-school friend who lives in a different city). He knows all his friends' parents, and a bunch of them apparently know me ("Hi, ___'s dad!") even though I can't remember their names. There's an interlocking web of social relationships in the city that we've somehow become part of, where people know other people through other contexts.

This didn't happen automatically, and it's been fascinating to watch the work that my wife and other (frankly) women have done in building the village. It's a slow, year-by-year process of doing favors for other people, putting yourself out there, spending time with other people, having your kids spend time with other people, opening up, and building trust. We tried carpooling for the first time last spring - it worked out great, and we have a much closer relationship with the other family now, but it can be nerve-wracking entrusting your small child to another driver. But that is how you build trust, and trust is how you build the village.

The community I live in is not at all what the article would predict. We are a secular liberal family. Our friends are mostly secular liberal with some religious liberal families mixed in. The community is 30% foreign-born, and 35% speak a language other than English at home. It is racially mixed, < 30% white, and about 1/3 multiracial in my son's grade. All of the polemical discourse in America would say that such a heterogenous grouping is destructive to social cohesion.

But the most important ingredient to having community is that you have to want community, and value it, and be willing to put in the effort to build it. And it has a critical mass of people who value community, enough that if you are one of them, you can find your people.

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anon291
4 days ago
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Unfortunately a lot of fraternal societies have disbanded and a lot of community organizing falls to women. Men and women community organize differently and traditionally men have had great luck in formal settings. For me, in our church (I know you're not religious), I lead our men's group (chapter of a larger organization), and there's a bunch of men who are the last people you'd expect to organize community but they're all doing it happily. But we're very hierarchical (even if jokingly so) and very formal (meetings, Roberts rules, elected positions, ceremonies). It's goofy, but I fundamentally believe men do well in this.

Unfortunately, I think it would be hard to form a men's group these days especially for secular people. But I encourage you anyway because otherwise it puts all the pressure on the women.

I have had several moms express gratitude to my guys for doing the work we do in the community because we also do things that the women would just never organize themselves. Which is fine... Everyone should play to their strengths.

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Moldoteck
4 days ago
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Sounds like your suburb is designed better compared to most subs in the us
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acjohnson55
4 days ago
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The article rings true to me.

I don't think that we want to try to turn the clock back, as much as trying to find ways to combine the good parts of past and present norms, while excising the bad parts.

I'm a parent of 4 small children in a smallish town (16k, single school at each grade level), and I'm cherishing the sense of community much more than I expected. There's something to having shared context with almost every person I run into in town. I only wish I felt like it were safe for my kids to explore on foot.

We also live by my wife's entire extended family, and that, too, has been incredibly helpful.

I was raised in a tight knit Baptist church, and while I don't miss the theology, I do think the sense of community, service, values, and culture is something that I don't have a full substitute for, as much as I have the town and family communities. I'm considering seeking out a non-creedal group to belong to, like the Unitarian Universalists.

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naasking
4 days ago
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> I only wish I felt like it were safe for my kids to explore on foot.

Why do you feel it's unsafe?

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acjohnson55
4 days ago
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Because people drive through my town like maniacs, speeding and running traffic lights. There aren't routes for pedestrians and cyclists to get around town without having to cross major streets at unprotected intersections. A lot could be done to improve the bikability and walkability, but the county and state own our major roads, and are historically more concerned with car throughput than pedestrian safety. This may be starting to shift, but that's the status quo.
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naasking
3 days ago
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Sounds like the local police should be pushed into enforcing the law. Reckless driving would definitely make cycling or even walking the streets dangerous for everyone, not just kids.
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ajma
4 days ago
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Does families having fewer number of children contribute to this? The most local community would be children that live under the same roof.
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swalling
4 days ago
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It’s not just a lack of siblings, it’s also a smaller number of extended relations of a similar age, i.e. cousins.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/cousins-decline-canada-1.7103...

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anon291
4 days ago
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Yes. We live in a lovely neighborhood. My daughter knows and talks to all our neighbors. She plays outside and can even walk to some neighbors kids houses and we increasingly let her.

However talking to other parents about what it was like when their kids were growing up... The streets were filled with kids. Now we have couples who don't have any...

I hope they do.

Luckily our neighbors are nice and have a kid and hopefully another.

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WarOnPrivacy
4 days ago
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> Does families having fewer number of children contribute to this?

It could have decades ago, when kids still had places to go. Not now.

I had 5 who spent their childhood persistently locked away in one adult construct or another - because there was/is no local community. Within their reach were roads and private property and that's about it. They were in the same boat as most other US kids.

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rootusrootus
4 days ago
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> most other US kids

Doubt that. The majority of kids in the US are living in suburbs or cities, both places with lots of community. What you're describing sounds distinctly rural.

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Moldoteck
4 days ago
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Some cities-yes, but vast majority of us suburbs are not designed to promote community, rather the opposite and many cities were buldozed so much that a community existing there is rather an exception
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thimkerbell
4 days ago
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How would you (could one) change this, Waron? Just throwing something out there, not a carefully thought out How.
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analog31
4 days ago
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My kids faced the same situation, though at least the neighbors also had kids. I think that parents have to revolt en masse against saturating their kids with extracurriculars. One family going it alone is going to have lonesome kids.

The competitiveness has to go away -- the feeling that your kids have to be 100% occupied in order to give them a fighting chance in the future.

Schools need to back off on homework.

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lmm
4 days ago
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The problem there is college. You'd have to either make college admissions much less "holistic", or make sure there are non-college paths to success (something people have been trying hard for many years with little success), or both.
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ndriscoll
4 days ago
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Or just go to a state school. My alma mater apparently has an 87% acceptance rate. My extracurriculars were playing Counter Strike, Battlefield 2, and WoWcrack. It doesn't seem to have had any negative effect on my life.
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analog31
4 days ago
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Both of my kids did just fine at state schools. One at the state "flagship" university, and the other at one of the regional schools.
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ksplicer
4 days ago
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You almost hit on it, but I think the real problem is the economy got worse first. That trickled down to increase pressure in college and high school.
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vundercind
4 days ago
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This has to be some segment of the middle-class and especially newly-upper-middle-by-income-but-not-socialization running into this trouble. Parents “under” that set just send their kids to [name of state] State where OK test scores and grades do the job. That’s a large majority of parents of college-bound kids, right there.

Parents “above” that set let the legacy admissions advantage and golfs-with-Ivy-admissions-officers prep school counselor sort it out.

Kids seriously looking to get into highly-selective schools are a minority.

This does mean you’re opting your kids out of elite schools by not playing that game from an early age, but hey, you and everybody (the colloquial “everybody”—most folks) else.

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Firaxus
4 days ago
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What I observed in my neighborhood is that the school playgrounds which used to be unfenced were essentially secondary parks. But they have since been “locked down”, removing more places kids once could just go to hang out in our paved over subrbia. I also had the benefit of an undeveloped forest behind my house to go explore and play in, but I don’t think most kids these days have access to that without an adult driving them to such a location. Walkability to nature is a big plus.
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jc6
4 days ago
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Is this what Zgmunt Bauman called the transition from Solid Modernity to Liquid Modernity?

With rents going up and switching jobs more frequently than past generations it becomes harder to stuck around in one place long enough for strong communities to form.

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doe_eyes
4 days ago
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The rate of work-related moves is half of what it used to be in the 1960s. By all accounts, mobility is decreasing, not increasing.

The reality is that we just don't talk to each other much. If you want to look for the decline of one institution that provided some degree of community cohesion, then the answer is going to be pretty unpopular: we don't go to church anymore.

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a1o
4 days ago
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It doesn't have to be churches, local school with parents association making events, libraries that have spaces for the kids to hangout with others and work on projects together, open sports areas, parks and small festivities, farmers market that have a set periodicity. But it has to have one space where people can start to meet each other so they can talk and desire more things so they can build these other spaces or have some unified way to demand it from their local mayor.
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randomdata
4 days ago
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> It doesn't have to be churches

Strictly true, but if people aren't strongly compelled to show up somewhere, they aren't apt to. Historically, the "fear of God" ensured that people went to church, effectively forcing them to gather, meet each other, so on and so forth.

The only thing I see that comes close to that these days is youth sports leagues, where parents have a fear of failing their children if not heavily involved in such activities. While this does seem to establish some kind of community amongst parents of children of similar ages, it does not seem to expand out into parents with children of dissimilar ages even within the same sport, let alone an even larger community. Which is not terribly surprising as there is not much reason for someone unrelated to a participating child to show up.

I might even go as far as to say that because parents get stuck in those narrowly isolated communities, it contributes a fracturing to any larger community that might have otherwise been able to form. It is difficult to have a general community of only 20-somethings and the elderly with little in-between.

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jeffbee
4 days ago
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What I want to know is why people will get up on the internet and say something counterfactual like people are moving more today than in the past, a hypothesis without a shred of supporting evidence. All measures of mobility are headed down, whether intercity moves or job changes. American mobility has hit a new record low every year this century, accelerating a trend that has been in decline since the end of the War.

https://www.ft.com/content/96cb501d-b188-4e50-af21-ca7115878...

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nonameiguess
4 days ago
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An amusing thing about this is my reaction to reading this piece was that community was enabled in my own youth (which took place in the 80s) by something likely to be even more unpopular on Hacker News than church: sports. My dad was involved in adult softball leagues and many of my earliest friends were the kids of his teammates. We all went to tournaments together and played with each other while the adults played their softball. I was also involved in little league and youth basketball and made friends that way and spent a ton of time at the park with other kids playing baseball and basketball even outside of any kind of league. The neighborhood gathered together in one house even under the guise of television, which united us much more than it divided us, typically to do things like watch Lakers and Dodgers playoff games or major boxing matches that were only on pay-per-view, presumably because households didn't all want to have to pay separately.

Frankly, it's hard for me to imagine what could possibly create a community in my neighborhood today. Half the properties here are AirBNB party houses. The average tenure of a neighbor who actually lives in their own property feels like maybe three years. Hard to make any kind of lasting connections, with or without a church.

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downrightmike
4 days ago
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Moral panic, people said the same thing about books, newspapers, radio etc. People like things and get into them, that is normal. Before all this is was just farm work. To quote a meme "The children yearn for the mines"
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pessimizer
4 days ago
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Literally no one ever said that children weren't socializing because they were spending all day on their books, newspapers, and radios. You're making that up. Horror comic books are a moral panic. Children who don't know anyone but their parents and spend 10 hours a day on their phones is cause for a real panic.
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downrightmike
4 days ago
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That's farm life for all of history minus the phones
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Aerbil313
1 day ago
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Every single time Haidt posts something someone surely screams here: "But people said the same thing about books too!". Since I couldn't find the comments from the past thread, let me scream the usual reply: And they were right. Books, newspapers, radio, television, smartphones. All of them weakened the social bonds between people, gradually moving us away from the way of living which we were biologically designed for. The social bonds are instead got replaced by bonds with institutions and technological gadgets. But they are exactly like junk food: They appear to satisfy the desire, but are never a substitute, and always lack the critical nutrients we need.

For replies going to accuse me of intellectual hypocrisy: I do believe all technology is evil. You can accuse me of practical hypocrisy instead, since I'm a software dev.

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GoToRO
4 days ago
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Local community? the deterioration of everything has happened. Somehow all the rich people figured out that if you keep them isolated, then the people are easier to control. This happened intentional or just by measuring "what works" (for them).
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standardUser
4 days ago
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I think it's an important topic but I reject these explanations entirely. Television may have stolen time from other activities, but during that era television was itself a unifying activity, generating a previously undreamt of amount of shared cultural experiences. I'd argue excessive television-watching was a result of reduced social cohesion and community, not a cause.

I blame very different trends from that era...

- The Drug War and "tough on crime" policies that generated a massive amount of fear among parents and created a hostile relationship between police and youth (and continues to, to this day).

- Christian fear-mongering over Satanism and witchcraft, creating even more reasons to keep a close watch on your kids.

- Racial integration of schools and neighborhoods which gave white parents an urgent reason to restrict and monitor which kids their kids played with.

It wasn't distractions and technology or the lack of a global war that lead to reduced trust and cohesion. It was the spectacular and enduring success of professional fear-mongers.

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bparsons
4 days ago
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People are surprised when kids don't want to go out and play on the street, but their street is as wide as a highway and has no sidewalks.

There are a million negative effects of vehicle centered urban design, and this is one of them.

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derrida
4 days ago
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What are they calling "social capital?"

It's heresy to say that social relations are valuable for their own sake, instead we have to give it a term that suggests monetary value and potential to enter some accountants balance sheet - "social capital".

it's just not the case that all value can enter into monetary terms or be quantified or exploited, bought and sold - but the stupidity and ignorance of the age is we even have to suggest like ethics or holding values has some "value" in the sense of money for it to be "ok" in our dominant social norms that structure society - the corporation and workplaces under capitalism

It's as if it's not ok to hold values that are not monetary or capital - that is the message of our social relations in workplaces and in the culture at current - what are called "capitalist social relations"

It's heresy to say ... It's ok to have values that are not money. There are things we should value outside of some cost.

it's gotten to this point.

even "progressive" arguments for like "hey maybe kids playing together in community is ok" has to be quantified into some imagination "social capital"

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cauliflower99
3 days ago
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Haidt appeared on the Huberman podcast a few days ago talking about this. Highly recommend: https://www.hubermanlab.com/episode/dr-jonathan-haidt-how-sm...
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mihaaly
4 days ago
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Are liberal and secular teenagers more willing/open to admit problems or seek help for unusual troublesome matters set them apart form others than religious peers perhaps? Human culture of the past several centuries are full of art and documents showing the repressive nature of religious or other prescribed expectation oriented groups. There are countless movements to counteract with the oppressive side of prescribed behaviour and group habits too.
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o11c
4 days ago
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That's painting a very strange brush against religious folks, which does not at all match my observations (religious people can very easily talk about all sorts of things with other religious people (at least, those of vaguely similar religiosities), whereas conversations where at least one party is secular flicker and stagnate due to lack of known shared background)
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the_gipsy
4 days ago
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> religious people can very easily talk about all sorts of things

Sure, buddy.

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Anotheroneagain
3 days ago
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The cause is that they started poisoning food with iron according to the wrong numbers haphazardly patched together for the war effort (and uncritically copied everywhere else). Actual iron deficiency is virtually nonexistent, there is always enough.
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EGreg
4 days ago
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Tech is responsible, and open source tech can fix it

https://www.laweekly.com/restoring-healthy-communities/

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blendo
4 days ago
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“Social scientists have shown — for as long as we have been collecting data — that conservatives have better mental health than liberals, and religious people have better mental health than their secular peers.”

My gut tells me social scientists have “shown” no such thing, but am open to hearing the case.

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acjohnson55
4 days ago
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I think it's worth considering how the causation runs. Being in a conservative environment but unable to conform could cause poor mental health and disaffection with the ideology. In a very broad stroke, this describes my personal experience.
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anon291
4 days ago
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Why does your gut tell you that? Perhaps you're using the worst examples of a side you don't like to inform your view?
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feedforward
4 days ago
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Obviously people who believe people can magically turn water into wine, or that virgins give birth, or that they can walk on water etc. have better "mental health" than those who are skeptical of all of this.
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Aerbil313
1 day ago
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Obviously the studies doesn't define religion as mental illness. You might want to spread your hate elsewhere, as per the site guidelines[1].

> Be kind. Don't be snarky. Converse curiously; don't cross-examine. Edit out swipes.

1: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

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kaibee
4 days ago
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Ignorance is bliss right? If you don't believe that climate change is real, etc.
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tacocataco
4 days ago
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It's hard to be a part of the community when I have to move every year because my rent keeps going up.
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nineteen999
4 days ago
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Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps into a house! Easy.
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