Made it through 30 days of being car-free -- well, almost car free. I did take the car to visit the mechanic, and I drove it yesterday because I wanted to buy a heap of stuff from the store and I couldn't carry it all home on a bicycle. Ordinarily, I would've waited until the month was up, but I needed the stuff for this month's challenge.
My thoughts on going car-free for a month:
- It's doable, in large part because I made a point of buying a house in a walkable neighborhood.
- It takes planning and organizing, skills that are not among my strong points. If I want to go to the library, the grocery store, and Home Depot, I have to figure out my route and make sure that the lights are working on my bicycle.
- I was limited in how much I could carry home at one time. Therefore, I shopped more often. Even though I bought fewer items each visit, I still bought more things because I was in the store more.
- Going car-free is great if you have a monthly pass and access to a train or light-rail. It stinks if you take the bus. I didn't know this before, but I am an elitist. I hate riding the bus. I don't like the bus drivers and I don't like the people who ride buses. One woman I rode next to, Ms. Contagion, had a long conversation on her cell phone describing in detail how sick she was and how she still had to go to work. (I really hope she doesn't work in a restaurant.) On another bus ride, Mrs. Sharp Elbows squeezed in next to me. She kept jabbing me in the ribs. Finally I worked my arm in between us, so she couldn't actually hurt me anymore, but it was still uncomfortable. Note: I only rode the bus a couple times. There might be intelligent, charming, polite and healthy people out there riding buses. I just didn't see them.
- Going car-free is a terrific way to work in exercise into your day. I love having exercise become part of my commute.
- Having a car-free commute saves a ton of money. A lot of people told me that they could ride the light rail, but their car got good mileage. I don't think they've actually sat down and ran the numbers. By taking the train instead of the car, I saved over $300 a month. Granted, my car is an SUV, so it doesn't get fantastic mileage. But even if a car does pretty good with the gas, it's much cheaper to take the train.
Will I continue to take the train to work? Definitely. Will I use the bicycle to do my shopping? Most of the time. Am I ready to toss the car keys away and walk everywhere? Not yet. But I think I can do a lot more without driving.
Site du jour: A family decided to get rid of their car and go car-free. And they're not living in a particularly walkable neighborhood.