Less car dependent lifestyles

From another blog in NC, a bit about the bus and city living sometime ago. but the thing I took away from it was people used to live in a style that was less car dependent. Of course I used to live in a style that was less car dependent growing up, even though my town didn’t have any public transit. My schools, up until high school, were within walking distance. Also within walking distance was a fish market, gas station, a few corner stores (not the highest in produce quality but good for milk), fast food joints, several relatives and some daycare. Within biking distance, crossing several roads of death, was the supermarket, fruit stand, office supply store, the crappy dying downtown, the best bakery evah in the crappy downtown (later it closed) and the court house. I really miss that fruit stand.
Our family did have a car, and several trucks used for dad’s business. But car trips were for big purchases, business related errands, and trips to the mall way out near the city lines. It also helped that mom hated driving, so if I couldn’t walk to it, I just stayed home. Staying home forces you to hang out with people in your neighborhood.
Yet to have a car-less life one needs an environment where it all works. For one it helps to have things you need to get to so close that it doesn’t justify getting into a car or reliable public transit. Key word is ‘reliable’. Second, I think it helps to live a bit modestly, hunting down the ‘best’ and ‘premium’ products and services takes time and a lot of gas. Lastly, one should have the option to get a hold of a car or truck when needed. Before Flexcar (or zipcar) I would rent a truck or car for a day or weekend and make the most of it as there are just some things you can’t do or cart around without wheels.

6 thoughts on “Less car dependent lifestyles”

  1. Mari,
    I totally agree with you. I came from Southern Califoria in 2001 when I bought in the city. People out there thought nothing of driving everywhere. Of course, the local environment was totally unsupportive of walking around. But I am finding the same thing here. I’d use the bus more but it’s so damned unreliable. If I do use it, I automatically add at least an hour to whatever I’m doing. People say you can plan the trips but what if you miss the intended bus? You’re screwed because the next doesn’t come for an hour. Part of it is also convience and that’s the hardest part. Why walk over the the drycleaners six blocks away when I can hop in the car, double park, and be back in 15 minutes. Takes 15 minutes just to walk over there. While this means my perceptions need to change, I think also the expectations of other people also hafta change. If I have an interview or a function and I need to look good, ain’t no way I’m sweating as I walk or ride the metro to the location! People would react negatively if I came in looking like I had run a 10K!!!!

  2. I’ve lived in Washington without a car for almost 5 years, 2 of them in Shaw, and wouldn’t dream of buying one. Instead, I bicycle, walk, or use public transportation to travel where I need to go. Riding the bus or metro is terribly easy, and it’s simple to plan your trips using WMATA’s online trip planner so that you’re *not* waiting outside for a terribly long period of time. I can get from my house in LeDroit Park to Georgetown University in 30 minutes flat for less than the price of a cup of coffee, and never have to think about parking or traffic hassles. (And I can catch up on the book I’m reading while I’m at it.) I enjoy supporting local businesses and getting to know my neighbors while going about doing errands at the corner store or biking to the farmers’ market. Granted, life may take a bit more planning without a car but it’s really not as dreadful as you make it out to be. It’s really quite nice, in fact.

  3. I LOVE MY CAR! – How could anyone live in the DC metro area and not need one periodically. I’ve heard people say ‘that if you can’t get there on the metro (or by bus) then its not worth going.’ To this is say BALDERDASH! A car in DC is still more convenient than public transportation any day. With a car you go when you want to go. (yes, there are traffic jams which slow you down a bit) but if you know the city you can usually find an alternative that is not too horrible. Yes, gas is more expensive now than ever before. In Europe, it is anywhere from $4 to $7 a gallon so we will have to get used to paying more I suppose. Even with these shortcomings and the MANY more not even listed, I still say a car is the way to go!

  4. there are not many places in the city that you cant get to by bus.

    were it not for all the paint and tools i need to drag all over the city, i could easily exist in dc without a car. As do many of my friends. when you NEED one, rent one. or take a taxi. plus you’ll save money.. and air and resources …

  5. We live in Shaw and have a car and it’s terribly convenient for grocery store and home depot trips but we barely use it. Those are the only reasons to love a car. Other than that, I can only think of downsides like trying to find a parking spot on street cleaning days, what to do with it when we’ll be out of town for more than a week, filling it with gas, the pollution it creates, worrying that some kid will take it for a “joy” ride in the middle of the night, etc. Our car is a junker and I think you could get around this city much faster by metro or bike. Driving does not save time. We figured out that it was cheaper to cab both ways to work than to drive and park in one of the gargages downtown. That should be an obvious sign that a car is not needed or encouraged while living in the city.

  6. I have a car and there is good and bad to that. I live in the city between Capitol Hill and Trinidad. I work in the suburbs and while I could use public transportation, it would take me an hour to get to work if I hit all of my connections just right. With a car, I can be there in a half hour and I can leave a few minutes earlier of later. Food shopping and trips to Home Depot or Lowes are much easier. I can go places in Virginia and Maryland that are not so public transportation accessible.

    There are drawbacks. The cost of the car. Not just gas, but also insurance, car payments, etc. If you don’t have a parking spot, then that becomes a major headache for you. You also have the headache of where do you leave it if you decide to take a trip for a good period of time.

Comments are closed.