Eschaton discusses cars and children:
If most of your dailyish and regular baby needs (food, pharmacy, daycare if using, doctor) are within a 15 minutes walk, being without a car is fine. Cars are useful things, of course, but you say a lot of money by not having one and even if only half of that is whittled away on extra taxis/car share/weekend car rentals, then you come out ahead. Bulk buying/delivery (either from supermarket services or amazon) can ship diapers and similar to you (one of the big objections people make, weirdly - how will you carry home all of those diapers?? that one is easy).Basically, this argument is one of a specialized environment. If you have a very dense urban environment then there is a lot that becomes possible without a car. I've lived in a large city with reliable public transit without a car in the city core. It was a great experience. But I've lived in small cities with unreliable public transit, too.
Do you know who has no sense of humor about being late? Day-care. Consider this late fee policy:
Parents are charged $1 a minute late fee if they pick up after the scheduled pick up time.And getting into the daycare of your choice may be hard -- which directly impacts the ability to avoid a late fee and the ability to choose one in a short walking distance.
Now cars can be subject to delays, too. But nothing is worse than the every 30 minutes bus that just does not come (see living in small cities with unreliable transit). If this happens often, you end up paying a ton of late fees and may also be let go by your daycare (an epic disaster if your work isn't flexible). I have had taxis just decide not to come after waiting an hour in one of the cities that I lived in. It was awful. It makes the taxi cost seem small relative to the time spent cooling one's heels, and parents of small children are often time constrained.
Now I am not saying that people cannot make this work. Many do. And daycare pickup doesn't require 2 cars, which many couples have. But the structure of childcare really is a rational driver of car ownership. Reforming that would have much larger positive effects, but it is going to be a pretty marginal group that is able to take advantage of reliable transit and densely clustered services. And that is without engaging in issues like the underlying transit pattern and how well it connects three locations (work, home, and daycare).
Now I welcome a conversation on how to make parenting and modern North American culture work better together. But I think we have to acknowledge how hard it would be to generalize these sorts of proposals beyond the "existence proof" level (i.e. that it would be at last a possible way to arrange things).