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Work, Live, Play Without a Car

Is it possible?

by Bitsy Parker  |  1584 views  |  5 comments  |        Rate this now! 

The Final Report

On the final day of my 30-day NO CAR Experiment, do you think I rested my newfound leg muscles on the desk and enjoyed a bottle of champagne, fended off a barrage of reporters or cranked up the jalopy and burned rubber out of the driveway? Guess you know me well if you selected champagne in my office as the correct answer – only because drinking with reporters or driving cars while drinking is a bad idea.

Back in August when I thought of testing how hard it would be to live and work without a car, honestly, it never occurred to me that a prisspot like me would be able to do it. Like most Austin, Texas citizens the idea of relying on your own two feet, Capitol Metro, Yellow Cab or a bike seems impossible, impractical and nonsensical. Truly, I rehearsed the scathing tirade I would direct at the mayor and all the other loudmouths who spout the “get out of the car” message as I explained that Austin is not a city where one can LiveWorkPlay with no car. It’s just too freaking hot in Texas to submit oneself to the elements.

In my preconceived report I planned to document the ridiculousness that I was certain would coincide with hodgepodge suburban/urban transportation. I imagined Lucille Ball missing her stop and the adventures that would ensue at the wrong stops. My mind was filled with visions of Ally McBeal (How dated is that reference? Is my lack of television showing?) explaining to clients that her bus was late. Then there were the fantasies of Latka from Taxi becoming my new friend.

While I searched for a riotous subject to exploit in Value wIT, I found myself. LOL, that might be a dramatic overstatement. What about, I found peace? True, I stopped yelling at fellow drivers, but still a bit over-the-top. I found hope for the future? Nah. Honestly and simply, I discovered that life without a car is possible and enjoyable.

Myths:

Austin is too spread out to navigate without a car

My shopping habits were severely altered: new dentist, grocery store, coffee shop, cleaners, postal store and much more Internet shopping.

Capitol Metro is inconvenient

The main stop I use is one and half blocks from my house. There were certainly places I could not access without investing a big chunk of time. However, most of those places had solutions (pharmacy delivers!), got cut from my chore list (Sam’s Club) or waited until “car day”.

Capitol Metro is unreliable (someone pay attention to this)

About the Author

Working mother and author of Value wIT website. Noting societal berserkism and the bizarre behavior of children and their parents.

Read more by Bitsy Parker




5 comments so far...

  • I do live central, work central (and from home) and my children go to school nearby. Previously, I drove all over town for things I THOUGHT I needed, but I've just replaced my shopping habits.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Bitsy Parker on 5th October 2007

  • This was fascinating. I'm envious that you managed it so well. I think to some extent one's success with this would be dependent on where one lives. The Los Angeles area is the cradle of "car culture" and the embodiment of urban sprawl, and unless you're one of the rare few who manages to work and live in the same pocket of the city, it's a HUGE challenge to go carless. In the suburbs, it's even harder.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Florinda Pendley Vasquez on 4th October 2007

  • We live in Istanbul, a city of 15 million in which most people do not drive cars (even so, the roads are always jammed, and I mean *jammed*, a two lane road with five lanes of cars trying to get ahead-- it would drive an normal American insane). It is completely possible to get around without a car. Sometimes it is faster to leave the car at home and catch the subway or some other form of public transport. Parking is a nightmare. Anytime you go anywhere you have to get strategic and weigh all of the options of taking the car or not. The neighborhoods have apartments on top, shops on the bottom so there is little need to drive anywhere to shop. Just in the last 10 years suburbs have appeared with American style patterns, single homes with gardens not close to any shopping or offices. When there is no traffic it takes 3 minutes to get to work by car. On Sundays this could take two hours. I walk if I can. When I go to the US to stay at my moms, everything seems sooooo spread out and we have to borrow a car. Forgetting to pick up something need for dinner can have real consequences. Here, I just put on my shoes and walk a block to the corner market. I mostly use my car to drive out to be with my horse, who lives in the countryside. Other than that, I don't really need a car.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by KatieK on 3rd October 2007

  • My husband is a walker as well. Honestly, we decided today to give one of our cars to our babysitter (ensuring she'll be in our debt forever!) who gets her driver's license this week. Having two cars sit in the driveway seems senseless. I feel really free without the car.

    If you are interested, there is an entire series of articles about my "going carless" on Value wIT (valuewit.com)

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Bitsy Parker on 1st October 2007

  • Good for you! My husband does it daily, biking to work with a commuter train in the middle. He doesn't miss the car and dislikes when he has to drive in. And when he does drive in that leaves me w/out (why have 2 cars when we don't use the 2nd, so off it went). I live in a large city but walking is pretty impractical. I do it b/c I love it and because my butt needs it but I discovered the hard way that not everyone appreciates it (my article on the almost mugging is my example). I'm slowly overcoming that experience and hope to get back out there b/c it does do the brain good. And the butt! And we could all save so much money by leaving the car behind a few times a month.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mandy Nelson - Dandysound on 1st October 2007

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