Our Overuse of Cars is Hurting Us

The driving culture in Mamaroneck and Larchmont causes congestion and must be curbed.


Fatimah Khan

Senior lot is packed, as usual, before the start of the school day.

Sarah Colbert, Op-Ed Page Direcor

In an area which is remarkably walkable for a suburban community, Larchmont-Mamaroneck is, nonetheless, plagued with traffic congestion. Although many students could easily walk to school or take public transportation, the majority of students either drive their own car or are driven, resulting in significant traffic surrounding the school. For those upperclassmen who have access to a car, parking quickly becomes an issue. Most students are concerned with their individual schedules, so abstract ideas about carbon footprints fade into the background in favor of more immediate concerns like getting to soccer practice on time. 

Chemistry teacher Sandra Misic weighed in on this issue, agreeing that individual car use by students is often unnecessary and has negative impacts on the environment, as well as traffic congestion. “Cars were, are, and will be a great pollution source for us today and tomorrow,” Misic noted. Compounding the negative environmental impacts of individual student drivers is the fact that many families in this area have large SUVs, which have even higher carbon emissions.

The parking congestion in the afternoon, when all students are trying to leave at the same time, is particularly problematic. As Misic explained, “If I am in a hurry to leave the school, I oftentimes cannot leave right away and this may be inconvenient.” In fact, one must either avoid dismissal time or leave plenty of extra time to contend with the congestion. Although mornings are a little less crowded, one nonetheless needs to leave extra time in order not to be late. 

Misic additionally commented on how students bringing individual cars to school lessens their opportunity to socialize. Students who walk or carpool have valuable unstructured time with peers, which individual student drivers miss out on.

If we can’t curb the overuse of single-occupant vehicles in a school district like Mamaroneck, how can we hope to do so in other areas of New York State, where options to avoid driving are limited? Mamaroneck is a walkable community where so many could live without a car, but almost nobody does.