There has been lot of discussion about going car free and its benefits. Many of people are interested in being minimalist and saving environment are saying that going car free is one of the best way to do it. I agree, being car free is good thing for saving money, saving environment and also getting healthier (be able to walk more). However, It may not be possible for many of us, to go car free for various reasons as follows:
Possible Reasons for not being Car-Free
- Lack of near by public transportation
- There might be public transit, but it may take 2-3 connection to go to your destination.
- It might take an hour or longer to commute one way
- Public transit is not available at times you want to travel
- You have kids and mega stuff that kids seems to be having
- You want the freedom of coming and going at time you please, aka not waiting
- It might not be safe to travel in some area alone at certain times.
- It is inconvenient
While above seem like an excuses the some, it could be as real issues to others. I know I have been there and I am not car free myself right now. So why I am writing about being car-free?
I am actually want to share that there are more than Black and White in every issues, there are lot of Grey areas and being car-free or owning car has Grey areas too and simply we do not have to pick sides. We can still save money and our environment at the same time, weather you own a car or are car-free.
My college Life Experience
I used to take bus and local train to my college, even though I had to make 1 connection and it took 1.15 minutes one way to get to college it was helpful. My younger brother and I shared one car so we had one but we rarely used it and mostly for urgent trips.
Some benefits of using public Transportation:
- You do not have to worry about traffic or getting stuck.
- You can read, listen to music while sitting in bus/train
- You can do your homework/ check balancing / knit
- Some of us can take a good hour nap (if your trip lasted long)
- You can chat up with fellow travelers and make friendship (I know someone who got married this way)
- You can relax without worrying about direction finding
- You will always have fixed time to go and come
- You can always leave boring gathering, saying you have go as bus times are fixed
- You can save money on car buying, insurance and gas filling prices
- You might be more relaxed and be not part of road rage that some people go through.
I enjoyed using public transportation during my high school and college years and some times I actually walked to my destination (if the place was within a few miles). I actually got some fresh air and got some exercise at the same time.
During my single phase and working phase I had a car but I still shared rides with friends and occasionally rode public transportation.
Life as a family with 2 young kids
Right now, I find almost hard to be car free with 2 kids. I actually heard and know of moms in similar situation using bus just fine. They have their stroller, kids and small bag and off they go. I have tried it once, I was so exhausted and almost in tears. My kindergartner was super excited and asking question and my 1 year old was running around to the being dangerous. I guess I am one of these mom, who is not so organized or my kids are bit active.
And as a homeschooler, we often have park days, co-op classes and various field trips planned, some are close by, some are bit far. So it is not so practical for us to be car free right now. I am going to try again after a few years when kids are bit older to see if we can do it. Only time will tell.
How to have Middle ground and happy Compromise to car-free or car owning
While we are not car free right now and not going to be in near future, we still can do a few things to find a middle ground. Middle ground to save our earth and our money as well. Maybe many of you are in similar situation as me and are wondering if you can do this? Sure, here are some ways I have found that might be helpful.
- Combine errands together and drive a few times
- Instead of bigger car, drive smaller car
- Drive Hybrid, if possible
- If you have grocery store near by walk to it, instead of driving
- Share rides with other people, go in group
- Drive to local things and only occasionally to far places
- Do oil change and services to your car, prevention is always better then costly repair
- Buy used (good and certified) car/van
- Share a car between spouses/family if possible
- Maintain your car, air pressure, tire change (see 7)
- Walk to near by park, instead of driving
- Drive at normal and steady speed to improve your milege and less gas filling
- Fill gas early in morning See reason
- Be careful and safe driver
- Combine your insurance with other car and rental/home insurance to get best price.
I am sure there are many ways, we can own car and still be green and environment friendly. Even if we use a car, we can have days in a month or year when we can go car-free and be kind to our mother earth. Try it. Check out the videos around the world about car free day below.
Car Free Day: London
Car Free Day: 2001 Canada
Bicycle Mass Day: San Francisco
Other Resources to learn more about Car Free Life Style
How to Live without a Car book is Written by Chris Balish and sells for about $9.90 at Amazon. According its publisher, this is what they had to say:”The first practical, accessible, and sensible guide to living in North America without owning a car. • Exposes the true costs of car ownership and shows how getting rid of your car can simplify your life and put you on the road to financial freedom. • Packed with realistic, economical alternatives to owning a car, including chapters on carsharing, carpooling, and even car-free dating. • Includes more than 100 real-world tips, strategies, and success stories from people who are happily car-free or “car-lite,” from cities to suburbs. • According to a 2004 American Automobile Association study, the average American spends $8,410 per year (roughly $700 per month) to own a vehicle.”
This book is called “Pedestrian Zone” and edited by Lambert M. Surhone ,Miriam T. Timpledon and Susan F. Marseken by Beta Publishing. Here is what they have from publisher:
“High Quality Content by WIKIPEDIA articles! Pedestrian zones (also known as auto-free zones and car-free zones) are areas of a city or town in which automobile traffic is prohibited. They are instituted by communities who feel that it is desirable to have areas not dominated by the automobile. Converting a street or an area to car-free use is called pedestrianisation. Auto-free zones have a great variety of attitudes or rules towards human powered vehicles such as bicycles, inline skates, skateboards and kick scooters. Some have a total ban on anything with wheels, others ban certain categories, others segregate the human-powered wheels from foot traffic, and others still have no rules at all. Many of the Middle Eastern examples have no wheeled traffic, but use donkeys for freight transport.”
Tammy Strobel from Rowdy Kittens has a good collection and ebook selection on being car free.
You can check outCarFree USA’s blog about living car free lifestyle.
There is another blog called On the level, which has a good information about being Car Free.
Your turn: I would like to hear your suggestions and tips. What works for you and why?