My Path To Car-Free Living
I have always been one who loved cars and loved to drive and yet loved to walk, loved to live in a community where most things were of walking distance, loved the idea of not being dependent on a car, and loved the cut down of my carbon foot print on my Earth.
I had lived in a lot of places where, even with a car, I would walk or use public transportation. In NYC everything was subway or walking. I could easily walk before getting on a crowded subway, at a young age, sneakers on feet and heels in my bag, I would walk from tip to tip before I knew it. Being from the country and a lot of walking as a kid through the woods didn’t hurt me at all and taught me that my own two legs where more power than any four wheels. I hadn’t even known yet then that I was conscious about why I preferred walking over wheels of transportation.
In California I had a vehicle and means of it but if anything was within blocks I would walk to the store and my twenty minute walk to the gym through a lovely college and library area of Cerritos neighbourhoods seemed right…I was going to work out after all and the walking was a start. My trainer was always impressed. Twenty minutes didn’t even seem reason enough while wearing sneakers and gym clothes to warrant a drive or finding a parking space.
I love walking on beaches and hiking in mountains and this alone is a hobby, this alone would take me a easy five miles…and hiking on a Saturday plenty more before even registering that perhaps I had walked far enough and it was time to turn back.
Then I lived in Burbank and it’s 17 square miles living right in the heart of the entertainment and blocks to restaurants, movie theater, bookstore, Tradrer Joe’s, Bagel shop, and Saturday Farmers Market, and mall simply left my car collecting dust in the garage. Even hiking, trail running, and the equestrian center were all within 4 minutes of walking time. Taking one of five bus routs and or subway or even train routs to work in Down Town LA and reading on my trip rather than sitting in Los Angeles traffic seemed to make much more sense of my time and energy. The library was one block away. I was good.
And then I changed jobs and began working only three blocks walk in Burbank from home, an easy stop for a wonderful breakfast burrito that hasn’t been beat since along the way. Or another job that had me walking right past the Jay Leno Show right after work and right as they where bringing people in for the show…often someone asking me to come fill the audience…for free I saw many performances of amazing musicians and had a hour killed of free enjoyment, not out of my way and still time when I got home of daylight to change and the walk a 1/2 mile up the road, past some of the most beautiful enjoyable neighbourhood I’ve ever loved, enough time still plenty of daylight to stop and enjoy the Japanese Garden at the base of my mountain and then plenty of time for a good solid run up the mountain side just in time to watch a sunset over all of Los Angeles. Breath taking…and no cars. The run home with flash light plenty safe in my area. And only the company of an occasional coyote or rattle snake.
I did pull the car out for trips to Malibu, through hills full of waving poppies in one of the most scenic routs of my life (Burbank to Malibu). And usually even then was a car load of friends, leaving my little red convertible in the garage still.
I even enjoyed the ease of train rides…beautiful, fun and sometimes full of Amish. Let’s just say it was always eclectic and the scenery along the coast amazing and breathtaking. Down to San Diego or up to San Fransisco.
I then moved to Galveston Island, Texas. A small island off the coast and not far from Houston. I lived always in the Down Town area, and living a “Walk distance from my coffee shop” became my motto. I also went, at this time, fully no vehicle even owned, car-free living.
Grocery stores and rain are my biggest challenges. Stolen bikes at times as well and then lack of funds when that happens always makes life interesting. The bus and public transportation in Galveston is the worse I’ve ever known. Each bus is behind schedule by about a half hour…I have waited at the main bus stop for over an hour and when over 6 busses are supposed to be coming in and out I’ve had zero. Then when they do come, it’s all at once, so alternative routs aren’t an option either. Clearly understanding the routs is sometimes of rubix cube since most times the buses don’t seem to follow a simple laid out rout, making you feel as if you might be being kidnapped when they are taking entirely different than what your research told you routs. Or those days when the same bus you took somewhere yesterday takes you nowhere ear there today…but life’s an adventure. The buses here are also not driven as well and make me incredibly queasy when I’ve never had that problem anywhere else. Even since when traveling places and taking their buses.
When I don’t have my bike I will usually walk to the grocery store (enjoying a lovely beach walk) and then take a cab back. Once a month. With a bike I go more often and use my basket. This does have to be done around good weather and there have been a few days that were too hot, too crowded, got stuck in the rain, or something went wrong like hitting a bump and every basket contents flying across the road and getting run over. So, car-free living does has it’s up’s and down’s. More up’s than down’s, however. Like bikini season becomes much more your friend. Your stamina easily surpasses any adventure you need it for. Sex is pretty frickin good. You don’t have to stand in lines in the heat or pay all the fee’s that annoy you for inspections, registrations and of course there are savings on car payments, insurance, and gas. You are also giving back a little balance to the Earth.
Currently I am about to begin a new adventure…on wheels, and likely enough large vehicle and long distance driving to completely take away all the years of good low emissions living I have accomplished. I figured there is balance. Like dieting or eating too much of a good thing, like cake. Either way, it is about my life and enjoyment but also in the environmentally aware at the same time…to a point. I also don’t believe in sacrifice, or I’d live without a computer, and that ain’t happening. And there will be much in the new adventure of that. But for now, there is much more to be said about car free living first.