For a few pages in his autobiography, “Hitch-22,” Christopher Hitchens reflects on his time in the Bay Area during the early 1970s. What the journalist seemed to remember most vividly about Berkeley was how easy it was to hitchhike around town. According to Hitchens, in those halcyon days of the Bay Area counterculture you hardly needed to stick out your thumb before a car would stop and give you a lift down Shattuck Avenue.
The recollection got us wondering if it’s time to resurrect the practice of urban hitchhiking. Most of us are trying to diminish our carbon footprint, the local bus system continues to cut back on service, and there are times when walking or riding a bike are not practical. The that have established themselves at various points across the East Bay represent a form of hitchhiking, albeit one with social codes (business or tech casual dress, NPR on the car radio) that select for a certain sort of traveler.
Could we, should we take it to the next level? Would you stop for a hitchhiker on a surface street in Berkeley? Take our poll. Should the vehicle code be changed to permit hitchhiking? Do you remember the golden age of hitchhiking in the United States? What was your wildest ride?
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