As a cosmopolitan European, I am stunned every time I visit the United States and witness the extent to which primary transportation is organized around the automobile and the airplane. ...Indeed, the small minority of Americans that forsakes automobile ownership carries a heavy stigma.
A few years ago, I had occasion to cross the border between Windsor (Ontario) and Detroit. The customs agents were astonished that a well-dressed man, claiming to be a scientist en route to a conference in nearby Ann Arbor, wanted to walk with a luggage cart into the United States. It jarred their mental picture, and they cross-examined me with disdain for over half an hour before finally letting me proceed. "He’s clean!” the customs agents told the border officer, a sure expression of my suspected criminal status—or worse.