I’ve never been much of a car guy. From owning cars when growing up to driving them while on vacation, I never developed any type of affection for automobiles and every memory I have involving them is typically negative.
Because of this it really wasn’t much a surprise when my girlfriend and myself made the decision a couple of months ago to make the switch to a car free lifestyle.
It wasn’t as hard as a transition as it might be for most people as we were already leading a lifestyle that didn’t place a great demand on the single vehicle we shared. From myself biking, busing and walking to any of my personal, professional or community engagements, to her taking the bus to and from work, we typically only used the car out of convenience for weekly routines.
When July 1st hit, the day we decided to stop driving our car, hoping to sell it shortly after, not much changed. Sure, we no longer made trips to the mall or drove across town to eat at restaurant ‘X’, but then again did we really need to do either of these things in the first place? Could we not fullill our needs with what we found around us?
Not to hide the reality, in the past 27 days we have used our car, 4 times in fact, but each of these times it was out of pure laziness and not in any case out of necessity. Did I feel guilty about using it these times? No, not particularly, as I assumed that in some of the cases I would have called a cab, and example when we chose to use the car during the recent heat-wave when travelling to a friendly BBQ with dog and trays of food in tow.
But today this all changed. We finally managed to sell our car and now we are in fact Carless, and I must say that it feels liberating.
Knowing that there won’t be the bills for maintenance, upkeep and gas is a great savings in the pocket book. Evaluating the need for trips around time that might only be made simply to waste or throw away money and time is great in re-evaluating what is important in life. Knowing that living environmentally friendly isn’t as hard as some may think is comforting in the delicate climate-related times we currently live in; and living more locally while being conscious of it have been some of the most awakening experiences of our lives.
Now please don’t get the wrong idea, neither myself nor my girlfriend are anti-car, because that isn’t the case. We know that the automobile has a certain place in society and that for some people and their lifestyles it is next to impossible to go without a vehicle. We also already know that from time to time we will rent a car, take more cabs and choose modes of vehicular transportation that we might not have chosen before, because we understand the role that the automobile plays. However, in our day to day lives we can simply do without.
This change came about not as a necessity to save money, although this is great. Not because we felt guilty about the way society treats the environment, although this will help a small bit. And it didn’t come about because we lost our license or anything crazy life that, because this isn’t the case. This change is based on lifestyle, how we want to live and what our needs ultimately are.
So now our lives are full of bike trips here and there, smaller but more frequent grocery days, better time management/allocation, less purchasing/consumption and a greater use of public transit when we need to, although other than for work it really is a last resort due to the unreliable nature of it.
We are just at the beginning of this journey, now fully married to it with the parting of our car, but based on how we’ve been living over the past few months, if not years, I see a promising future ahead.
What the coming months and years will hold, it is tough to say; we might find ourselves in need of a car and going back to it, or we might find ourselves moving to a city that is more pedestrian, bicycle and transit friendly, as there sure are miles to go concerning these things in London, but we’re in this to give it a go and make it a part of who we are, and considering all things, we couldn’t be happier.