Confessions From the Car-Free Life

“Maybe we should get the car fixed,” I mutter to my husband as icy rain pelts my face

It’s a pitch-black, moonless evening. It feels more like midnight than 5:30. We’re on our way to a birthday dinner for my husband’s colleague, pedaling onto a bike bridge that crosses a busy street. Below us cars zooms past, a snake of yellow headlights.

“You’re telling me,” my husband says. One of his bike spokes broke earlier in the day, and his back wheel lets out a shrill whine every time he pedals.

Our two-year-old son seems oblivious to our harrowing adventure. “We’re going to the pizza shop,” he sings in his trailer. “The pizza shop, the pizza shop.”

My family is in the midst of an experiment in car-free living. Our Isuzu Rodeo is still parked in front of our house, but we haven’t driven it for three months. It needs major repairs, and we can’t decide whether to invest money in it. Even our mechanic, who stands to gain mightily from us continuing to drive this car, looked hesitant when he told us about the repairs. “When things start going on these…” he said, trailing off and shaking his head. But we also don’t want to take out a loan to buy a newer car right now.

So we’re weighing the pros and cons of car ownership, and it occurred to us that we needed more information to aid our decision-making. After all, we didn’t really know what it was like to live without a car. So we decided to try something I’ve long been fascinated by – car-free living.

I’m not fond of driving. I love to walk and ride my bike. I’d usually prefer to be in tune with the weather, the seasons, my neighbors, and my city, rather than experiencing them from behind a windshield.

Moreover I don’t like what car-dependence has done to our culture. I don’t like gulping down smog. I hate the constant roar of traffic in our backyard. I hate sitting in gridlock. I don’t care for behemoth box stores with sprawling parking lots. I’m saddened when I think about oil wars, spiraling obesity rates, growing social isolation, and thousands of people dying in unnecessary accidents every year.

But this night, as we lock our bikes to a rack and trudge toward the pizza shop, I want a car.

At the restaurant, our party is sitting at a long table in the corner. We cross the room. My husband’s rubber rain pants squeak with every step.

Everyone stands up to say hello. Most of them are accountants. They’re dressed up. I sit down across from a financial planner, who’s wearing a white button-down shirt and ironed slacks, and stow my helmet under the table. I smile and try to pretend like riding a bike to a dinner date on a freezing cold, drizzly night is a perfectly normal thing to do, although at the moment, I’m sure I look a bit like my grumpy tabby when he comes in from the rain.

Our car-free experiment has actually been much easier than I imagined it would be. My husband is having a great time riding to work with a coworker. We figured out how to pick up chicken feed with our bike trailer. Most of the time we don’t even think about the car. And that’s the thing about car-free living, it’s not that hard once you get used to it – if you don’t let yourself think about how effortless it used to be to zip to the store or restaurant in a V6.

We munch on slices of pizza, and I make small talk with the financial planner. During lulls in the conversation, I dream about cars. Leather interiors. Seat warmers. Air conditioning. Cruise control.

After dinner, we bundle up and brace ourselves to head back out into the freezing rain. But it’s not raining anymore. And after only a few minutes on my bike, the heaviness of my pizza dinner lifts. We glide down the bike path, our lights glittering in the darkness, and talk about the night.

As we pedal onto the bike bridge and soar down the other side, I realize that if we had a car, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be flying through the night. I wouldn’t feel so light, so healthy, so free.

“Do you really want to fix our car?” I ask my husband.

“Well, it can’t get much harder than tonight, right?”

I wonder if someday soon, we’ll laugh at that question. But for now, our experiment continues.

Do you live, or have you ever lived, car-free or car-lite? I’d love to hear about it.

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About Abby Quillen

Abby Quillen writes fiction and magazine articles. Her articles and essays have appeared in YES! Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, Colorado Central Magazine, and on Common Dreams, Nation of Change, Reader Supported News, The Daily Good, Truthout, and Shareable.net. You can find more of her writing at http://abbyquillen.com.

Comments

  1. Yes, I have. I live in Montreal, and because of various logistical reasons, I’ve spent over a year (divided into two chunks) without a car in the past two years. I have two small children, and during the most recent chunk of car-less time, I was (and still am) a single mom. In the city, it’d do-able. Unfortunately, while Montreal has a fantastic subway system, it’s very difficult for parents of small children to use because there are no elevators. Each station has a serious of extremely long and steep escalators, and navigating those with a preschooler beside you and a toddler in a stroller is extremely difficult. People do it, but I don’t. There’s a pretty good bus system that is a little less reliable, but we use it, and it works pretty well overall.

    I have to say that during the periods that we’ve been unable to use our car, I’ve been so tempted to sell it and just get rid of that baggage. I recognize that it can be done. But then as soon as we’ve been able to use it again, I’ve been so excited about the places we could go and the conveniences it has offered that I’ve fallen very quickly back into the habit of driving it.

    PS I’ve been a subscriber for awhile, but I don’t think I’ve ever commented before :).

    • Abby Quillen says:

      Hi! Thanks for commenting. I know just what you mean about wavering between wanting to ditch the baggage of car-ownership and relishing the convenience of driving. I’ve heard Montreal has a wonderful subway system … how frustrating that it’s so hard for you to use.

    • Yes, I have too. I live in the flat country of the Netherlands, up in the north. And I don’t have a driverslicence. My husband does and we do own a car, but we use it only ones every two months or so. It’s there, but just ín case of emercency… Overhere it is very easy to ride a bike! There are many, many people on bikes in this country and we have no hills or mountains at all. The only thing that can bother us is the weather… Like today it is freezing cold and monday the weatherman told us to expect a lot of snow. Than we change over to our ‘wintersystem’ . That means no biking but walking! (the car is no option, much to dangerous than…hubby hit a lightpole ones!) We plan our nessesairy foodshopping and go walking for the towncentre. Nearby is an Aldi supermarket, so that is easy for us.
      When it rains, we wear a raincoat or trouwsers and in the summer we love to make long hours on the bike. My children can easily bike 30 kilometers. (we usualy have a nice picknick than on the half of the route, as a nice pause). Our older kids also go by bike to school (about 20 minutes from here) like all children. Some even have to bike 25 kilometers to school, and back again! (in the winter these children mostly go by bus).
      I hope that you will learn to love the bike! And ofcource you might get the car ‘back on his feet ‘ too. Just in case of emercency.

  2. I must admit, this idea of car-free living appeals to me for all the reasons you mentioned, but its not an idea that I have ever entertained for that long. I think about me & my 5 kids, walking or biking in the Florida heat, and the thought goes as quickly as it came. But now that I’ve read your post, and the weather here is much much sweeter, it seems like something I could actually get into! Perhaps we could just experiment for a month too? ;)

    • Abby Quillen says:

      I think you may enjoy the challenge. There’s so much value in trying to live car-free for awhile – even if it’s not permanent. It’s hard not to get healthier, stronger, and less stressed in the process. We’ve also found that it’s made us reach out to our friends even more – which is not a bad thing at all.

  3. We have not been totally car-free, although there were two times several years ago that our only vehicle was in the shop. I think the longest span then was 19 days. We did fine on bikes and feet. And we both frequently walked or rode instead of driving.

    However, we moved out of town and it changed the equation. I now drive 20+ miles into town once a week to volunteer at my CSA and drive for most errands closer, too. The problem has been lack of time and fitness, and a lack of a secure place to stow the bikes at home. I’m addressing those problems now: I’m leaving my CSA in favor of a farmers market half the distance away. I’m loosening up my schedule to make time to regain fitness. We still haven’t figured out a safe place to lock up our bikes at home so they continue to live in storage but it’s on the list for next month.

    Kudos to you for braving the worst weather. I would have been tempted to blow off the party or call a friend for a ride!

    • Abby Quillen says:

      Thanks, Chile! Oh, I was a bit tempted to blow off the party, but I’m glad we didn’t. We didn’t know many of the other people attending, or we probably would have tried to find a ride. I’m so glad to hear you’re finding ways to make your life work better for you.

  4. This morning with the head cold looming I don’t feel much like riding my bike to drop my daughter off at school. What to do when you feel sick?
    We were car free (other than a couple of times when we rented a car) for 6 months when we were in Italy. It was great, but here in Arizona the heat and blasting sun prevents biking for pretty much 4 months a year.

    • Abby Quillen says:

      Good question. We’re lucky to live within close close distance to most of what we need – stores, parks, the library, etc. My son will probably attend a Waldorf preschool right across the street and an elementary school a couple blocks away. That definitely makes living car-free easier. Many New Urbanists define walkability as living within a ten-minute walk of the services you need. Unfortunately my husband’s work is much further than that — about 4 to 6 miles, depending on which way he goes. I’m sure it would not be a lot of fun to ride it when he’s feeling a bit ill, but maybe all the extra exercise will help him ward off the bugs? He can also hop on a bus, although it takes significantly longer than riding.

  5. this was so much fun to read, very well written Abby.

    No, we’ve never even considered it. There is no way we could go to the mountains without a car or travel. Also, in the frozen north where we live being carless in the winter with children is a whole different ball of wax than life in the pacific northwest.

    • Abby Quillen says:

      Thanks, Renee. Yes, I miss watching snow fall, but I love that here in the Pacific Northwest, we can walk and bike year-round, with little concern about ice. (Of course, good rain-gear is a must.)

      I miss heading up to the mountains more, although we have gone with friends and visiting family a few times since the start of our experiment. I’m making a point of exploring the many forested parks and paths right here in the city. Yesterday my son and I rode down a beautiful section of a wooded river-front path. I hadn’t been there in years, and it was like getting away from it all – but within bike-riding distance from our house.

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s interesting to note how the more coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest forget that the Northwest extends into Eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana also. I happen to live in the former and we had about 8 months of winter weather this year, with snow on the ground for part of that. The last few years we’ve had extreme snow conditions, 2-3 feet for weeks on end. So as much as I’d like to be able to walk or bike the 5 miles to work (one way), it isn’t feasible all year for me either. I wish the “Pacific Northwest” climate you speak of actually covered the entirety of the Pac NW! Lol. But this story was inspiring for the few other months that we have decent weather.

  6. We have, due to financial hardship, also been carless for different stints (people usually discovering this, and lending us vehicles). Those times were quite easy to manage. The only glitch for us is getting to the farm for milk and eggs. We can bus to church, walk to the store, and if we had bikes, I think I could easily be converted (here in the Pacific NW). I know my husband would never go for being truly car-free (something about hauling all of his tools for jobs up in the hills), but I think if we had the bikes, he could be talked into going carless for far more miles than we do.

    Your experiment is inspiring!

    • Abby Quillen says:

      Hi Marianne! I think you guys would love getting bikes, especially the boys. Have you checked out the used bike sales in front of the house on 13th and Charnelton? It seems like there are always bunches of bikes for sale there.

  7. Thanks for sharing that, Abby. My family (me, wife, 6 kids) are now car free. It’s one of the reasons we moved to San Francisco from Guam (where it’s super hard to be car free).

    It hasn’t been difficult. Things sometimes take longer, but that’s OK, because cars (while faster) are also more stressful. So we go places slower, which is less stressful, more fun. Sometimes the weather isn’t great, but when the weather is good, cars isolate you from that. Also think about the inconveniences of cars we often forget: parking, getting stuck in traffic, getting cut off from other people, paying tolls, paying for parking, parking tickets, speeding tickets, cars breaking down in the highway, car repairs, oil changes, stopping for gas, car insurance, washing the car, the dangers of car accidents, the unhealthiness of it for your kids, making a wrong turn and trying to get back on your route, the expense of a car and having to work more just to pay for it, the cost of health care because cars are unhealthier for you and your family and having to work more just to pay for that, just to name a few.

    When you look at it like that, considering all the inconveniences of the various forms of transportation, cars don’t necessarily come out ahead in convenience.

    • Abby Quillen says:

      Hi Leo. Thanks for commenting, and thanks for linking to this post on Zen Habits. I couldn’t agree with you more. We recently rented a car for a work trip up to Seattle, and it reminded us of all of the miserable aspects of driving – stop-and-go traffic, toll bridges, trying to entertain a bored two-year-old who has to be strapped into a seat for hours. On our next trip, we’ll take the train, if at all possible.

  8. Marianne, we pushed our ability to use the vehicle less, even for big loads, hills, and hot weather, by putting electric assist motors on our Xtracycles. There are many ways to carry big loads – racks and panniers, trailers, or cargo-style bikes. The electric assist is an investment, but it would pay off in gas savings over time. Not saying you should do this, just that you could. :)

    • Hi Chile,

      Thanks for the tip! My kids and I just recently saw someone with some kind of motor assisted bike. I really pushed for getting a bike trailer this summer so that I could take the three kids with me on adventures without the car, and without the time it takes to walk. It just did not fit in the budget (considering the car was not on the list of things to go in order to make room). I think the only way we could afford a bike set up for a family of 5 (even used) at the moment would be to fast from driving for a couple months (though, without bikes, it would probably be impossible for my husband to resist the car). I really like the idea, especially since we, like Abby, live in a very walkable neighborhood (a priority to me!), and we already share one vehicle. I have asked my husband to become a “freak” with me on SO many other issues, that I think this one will have to take a back seat. Certainly, though, when it’s just me and the kids, I will be choosing to walk a lot more, even in the rain. One of Abby’s “hopeful weekend links” talked about there being more CO2 in the car than on the side of the freeway. That is alarming to me. Perhaps some rain gear is our solution for the moment.

  9. Living abroad for the bulk of last year I was totally car-free. It was assumed that as a single guy who was new to the country, why would I want a car? There were rental agencies in every neighborhood and an amazing public transit system. Now that I’m back in Seattle living in family’s basement, I have access to a car but find I really don’t want to drive if I don’t have to.
    I’m sure I’ll be getting a car once I have a job, but it’ll be a cheap used Subaru or something just to get me and my dog up to the mountains!

  10. Yep, my wife, kids and I have been carfree for about 25 years now. Have a much better and more interesting live being carfree. Here’s a link to a talk we gave in Portland a few years back:

    http://bit.ly/dlhf0u

    BTW, to the previous commenter who notes that they can’t go to the mountains, etc, that hasn’t been my experience.

  11. After reading your post I was thinking you might be able to look into Zipcars. It is like a time share for vehicles. A friend of mine lives in San Francisco and it is very convenient for times when he needs to pick someone up from the airport or if he has a job interview and wants to look presentable when he arrives. You can still have a car when you REALLY need one but because you have to rent by the hour you won’t abuse the luxury :)

    • Abby Quillen says:

      Yes, Zipcars would be great. Unfortunately we do not yet have a car-sharing service in Eugene, although I think one is in the works.

  12. Our old truck is temperamental. Sometimes it runs; sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t we walk. The only thing we’re hindered from doing is visiting our camping spot in the woods…about 10 miles away. We live in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains and have some disabilities that would limit our ability to bike. That being said, I’m holding onto the idea of eventually replacing our truck with a pair of scooters for longer trips.

    • Abby Quillen says:

      I love your flexibility, Lisa. Driving an old, temperamental vehicle can teach us much about being resourceful, eh?

  13. Dick Stacy says:

    I admire your resiliency ! My first thought was, ” I wish I were a millionaire so that I could buy them a new car.” but then you would have no reasons to write such a great story !

  14. I loved this post.

    Sometimes all it takes is a wee bit of perspective like a clear ride home to make all of the challenges seem worth it.

    I lived with no car for all of college and most of grad school. Over the last two years we worked jobs where we were contractually not allowed to drive to work and yet the ability to have the car on the weekends was what kept me sane. I think I’ll stick to being a one car family and keep trying to get the miles we drive to under 20 a week.

  15. It was a pleasure to read your article. I have been car free since March of this year and I have not regretted it. I had been car lite for a couple of years before that as I usually walked to work and I would try and batch my errands if I needed to use my car. Frankly, it was becoming more of a burden to pay more and more each year for a vehicle that I was driving less and less. I brought it to my mechanic who gave me an repair estimate that was more than the car was worth. The phrase “the point of diminishing returns” popped up in my mind. At that moment I decided to get rid of it and asked my mechanic if he wanted the car. He eventually agreed to take the car and I signed over the papers to him a couple of days later.

    I ride, walk and take the bus to do almost everything now and it is a liberating experience. Living in a city like Vancouver makes it more enjoyable. For those times when I absolutely need a car (about once a month) I joined the local non-profit car sharing group. I pay for the time and the kilometers driven and they cover the rest.

    http://www.cooperativeauto.net

    • Abby Quillen says:

      Hi Neal. It’s great to hear that you’re enjoying living car-free. I love Vancouver. We had a great time exploring it (car-free) when we visited.

  16. I’m working to create a not-for-profit car share co-op in Eugene, Oregon, modeled after successful car sharing cooperatives in Canada. This allows people who don’t own cars to be 99% car-free, or to have a fallback when transitioning to a car-free lifestyle. For car owners, shared cars and trucks allow people to own fewer and smaller vehicles.

    The best way to get people to reduce car dependency is to allow them to choose the most appropriate mode of transportation for each trip. When the overhead of automobile ownership isn’t a given, car use is rarely the best choice. This restored balance is better for the environment, our communities, and it saves everyone buckets of money.

  17. I have never had a car, but that seems much of a less big deal in London, England, than in many of the places people commenting on this blog. I cycle or run to work every day and public transport it home on “running days”. My journey is 6.5 miles one way, so I get my exercise in, saving a travel card and also gym membership. It gives me freedom and a reasonably predictable journey time for most journeys in town. Occassionally I get soaked, but when the weather is looking dodgy you just check your water proofs and some spare socks ( wet feet are the worst!) in your panier bag and you are set. I recognise that if I lived in the sticks with roads with fast flowing traffic, my options would be more limited. I always think that traffic moving slowly is much less of a risk and London traffic just tends to move v. slowly….

    • Abby Quillen says:

      Hi Sonja. Yes, one of the things I love most about not driving is how it encourages (forces) you to incorporate exercise into daily life. I agree – it makes so much more sense than driving to a gym across town and hopping on a treadmill.

  18. Great post!
    I just started learning to drive this summer, and… it’s not a lot of fun. In fact I don’t like it very much at all. But also this summer I’ve been learning to walk/bike everywhere I want to go. I have to say it’s a lot more pleasant that way. I got to see a lot of cool things: my first up-close and live praying mantis, a guy who did a flip on his bike as he crossed the street, a pear tree with pears that were apparently free to the passerby, a secret passage through hedges to get to the grocery store. It’s like having an adventure every time.
    It’s funny; most teenagers think that a car will give them freedom and independence to go anywhere they want. But I found out that you have as much freedom as you choose to have. If you decide that you don’t need a car to get somewhere, lots of possibilities open up.
    Due to our winters of lake-effect snow, I know I’ll end up getting a car someday. But I intend to keep walking or biking instead whenever I can, which is most of the time anyway.

    • Abby Quillen says:

      I also was not eager to drive when I was a teenager and waited quite awhile to get my license. I was in the car when a friend got in a roll-over accident, and driving sort of lost its appeal at that point. Plus, I’ve always loved to walk. “It’s like having an adventure every time.” I love that. Thanks for your comment.

  19. A friend passed me a link to your blog. I love it. Yes, I’ve been an urban bike commuter for about eight years and finally sold my car 14 months ago. I wrapped up my first car-free year by riding across America, solo on a fully-loaded touring bike. It was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life. It started with small trips. Keep it up and keep writing. Thanks. I’d love to speak with you sometime. I’m writing a book on my car-free experiment and my TransAmerica Journey.

    • Abby Quillen says:

      Hi Kirk. What an amazing way to wrap up your first car-free year! Thanks for dropping by. I’d be happy to talk to you sometime, and I can’t wait to read your book.

  20. Columbine Quillen says:

    Love the post – very charming. But get a car so you can come visit your sister – she misses you!

  21. Wishi-Washi says:

    Interesting how it starts – choices. I have chosen to be car-free since landing my first job in 1988. Vancouver is okay for public transit but many people still choose to drive to get around. Unlike your family, I do not bike, but I do have a bus pass and made a commitment that I would not take a job if I could not get to the office by public transit – I have been fortunate. In fact, I recently changed employment and believe it or not, the deciding factor was – they paid for my bus pass! Many friends LOVE their cars and often I challenge them to car-pool when we are all going to the same direction – that is a work in progress. Oh, I do have a driver’s license – good for identification as a passport is just, well over-the-top. Enjoy your car-free experiment!

  22. Congrats on being car free!

    I moved from rural Western Massachusetts to Atlanta in August of 2006. I sold my car when I moved there, and have been car-free ever since. Atlanta is a very car-centric city, with a public transportation system that is in such poor shape that it is hemorrhaging money at the moment. In the summertime, the smog during rush hour is often unbearable. BUT, I still think that commuting by bike is much better than the stress of being stuck in a car in Atlanta traffic every day! I occasionally take the bus or use a Zipcar, especially if I have to carry big things that won’t fit in my trailer, or if I have to go out to the suburbs, where drivers regularly speed and make things dangerous for cyclists. Overall, I am thrilled to be car-free, and haven’t missed my car once since I gave it up.

  23. Around 2006 I decided to go car free after my truck was past the worth of repair. I purchased a mountain bike and fitted it with slicks for less drag. I would use my bike for trips to the store, movies and dinner. Nestled within the bicycle communiting communty are some rather interesting citizens to say the least. My favorite route was to costco for a slice of pizza, a thrift store and then to a dollar movie. This would take up around six hours and cost less than ten dollars. Money takes on a whole new value once you do not have all the associated costs with car ownership. A snag in this lifestyle change was my girlfriend at the time. She often complained that the time it took to get anywhere was alot longer than she liked. She also complained that her private parts would get a little uncomfortable from time to time. Plus she was the kind of girl that likes to look a certain way when she went out. I just think that anybody is lucky to have a partner that is willing to live car free. I have to throw you some mad props, this is one of the coolest things I have read all year. Its families like yours which make me think that humans stand a chance in this world. Thank you.

  24. Since moving away for college, I haven’t lived in a household with a car – it’s been 17 years, and it’s just a normal way of life to me now. I’ll rent a car for the weekend once every 6-8 weeks so that I can drive out of town to visit my family – and at that time I run car errands that I’ve been saving up. This really cuts down on impulse shopping – when you plan ahead by a month or two to buy something, you know you really need it. I am certain that I have saved myself thousands of dollars on stuff I didn’t need.

  25. I’m so inspired that you are sticking with it. After my husband’s horrible bike accident, I can’t quite let him back on. Who gets injured by sabotage on a bike path? I was prepared for a car accident. That I could have accepted. But malicious people who aimed to hurt someone? Someone simply riding a bike to work? That I can’t accept.

  26. BTW – Stumbled this

  27. I was brought to your site from a link on Simple Organic. I just have to applaud you and your family for living car free for three months. I don’t know if we could do that. With the weather getting colder and snow and ice looking more likely I believe I would have a VERY difficult time. I run in the mornings, so I am used to the 20 degrees and colder weather, but when adding snow and ice I don’t know if I could do it! Good luck!

  28. We don’t own a car, but lately have been renting one on weekends (so I can work out of town on Mondays). It’s been almost 2 years without a car for us. We use transit to get to work, and can walk most other places. Bikes aren’t as good for us as they are only a summer solution (-30 C last week here, although much warmer today).

    The last few (cold) weeks with a car on the weekend have made me think slot about purchasing a car again. That being said, I’m not a huge fan of driving.

  29. Our family of 5 took the car-free plunge 15 months ago. We love it. It was a shaky start. I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was a kid, and none of our bikes worked. We had a yard sale and earned enough to buy new bikes, and trailers. I have seen my sons’ body/self confidence soar. They zip around our neighborhood like they own it, going to the library, store and friends houses. We are all healthier too. We joined Zipcar a car sharing group so we can visit our family, or go on vacations. I applaud you.

    Andrea, I am so sorry for your husbands bike accident. That is horrible!

  30. Great post. I’m 31 and live in West Palm Beach. I just went car-free yesterday; something I’ve been preparing to do for 4 months. Going cold turkey can be tough, so I definitely think the whole car-lite/car-free “experimenting” is good. I think everyone should at least try it. If you’re within a few miles of a grocery store, then there’s really no excuse to try (assuming of course that you’re able bodied). I always tell people that you can always go out and buy a car if you miss it that badly. Here in Florida, I use a bike to get most places. I walk to work and that certainly brings much more peace and time to decompress. The past four months of car-lite/car-free have been easier here in Palm Beach than in Europe (which probably surprises people). I think the biggest contributor to that is having a bike. Bikes are still and will most likely always be the most efficient mode of transportation. Are you still car free? Did you get the SUV fixed?

  31. I was the first commenter above, and I’m back to say that I just sold my car today, and now I am officially permanently car-free! I wrote a little post about it here:

    http://twochicksandahen.blogspot.com/2010/12/we-officially-became-car-free-family.html

  32. I have been car-free for a year and a half. I wrecked my SUV ( a jeep) by falling asleep at the wheel). Lucky for me, my jeep saved my life. The SUV rolled off the road and into a brook. I walked away. Since then, I have not owned a motorized vehicle.

    I do own a recumbent bike. I ride it everywhere I want to go. However, I avoid heavily-trafficked roads as much as possible. I know that if I ever collide with a motorized vehicle, I most likely won’t walk away. Ironic isn’t it?

    And of course, I stay inside when the roads are covered with snow or ice or are likely to become so.

    JJ

  33. Forgot to mention – the jeep was totaled. For me, it was a very good deal. A totaled jeep, a complete set of working arms, legs, a superb skeleton that works as good as ever ! Thanks to divine providence. YAY!

  34. Awesome! Yep we are car-free and love it. I’ve been without a car by choice now in lots of different climates, commuting in the mountains in NY state, the rain in Portland, and now the humidity in Florida. I hate cars for sooo many reasons.

    Keep up the good work!

  35. Richard Deroko says:

    Have been using my bicycle almost exclusively for two months; my choice. I live in Los Angeles and at first I was pretty intimidated by the traffic. Now, I’m getting used to it. Have lost thirty pounds feel great and don’t miss the car which I use only when absolutely necessary.

    Tomorrow I am going to the farmers market, in the rain ! I was inspired by your story ! Happy spinning.

    Richard age 64, retired and loving it.

  36. Really enjoyed this post. I envy your car free life and love the pic of your sweet little one.

  37. jalicia says:

    Hi , My family and I are car-free, I live very close to Washington DC. I also have two kids, We live within 5 minutes walking distance to everything. Grocery store, laundry-mat everything. Its not bad, a little bit limited especially when we are invited to social outings far away we cant go to, or holidays when their aren’t any buses. It is liberating though, We save about 600 dollars a month with no car payment, insurance, gas, and maintenance. The only major problem is when people stare at us or when we fill the PRESSURE of family members to invest in a car, or the complaining from the kids. Thanks for the Post it just confirms that we are doing the right thing!!!!

  38. Hi Abby.

    I was pleasantly surprised to come across this post. I’ve been living an unintentional car-free life for about 3 months now. My old Dodge Neon finally gave out on me (on I-95 in North Carolina, 350 miles from home) and I at first didn’t get a new car because I was in the middle of a bunch of travel for work.

    When I got back and mostly settled, I needed to take care of some other expenses, so I started “temporarily” riding the bus and my bike to get around. Luckily, I live just across the Potomac from Washington, DC and the metro area has a fantastic public transportation system and I’m only a block away from a bike trail that gets me right to the front door of my office in 23 minutes.

    I had 3 separate conversations today with people asking me when I was going to buy a new car and my answer to them (somewhat surprising myself) was “I don’t think I’m going to”. I hadn’t really thought about a car for several weeks and I was surprised that I really don’t miss it.

    I do have to drive out of the area from time to time, but I’ve found that I can either take a bus, train, or even rent a car for the weekend when I need to go a longer distance.

    I feel better due to the extra exercise from riding and even from walking to the bus and making my way around; and like you say in your post, I find that I’m enjoying my surroundings more. I’ve noticed things from the window of the bus that I never saw through the windshield of the old car.

    Granted, it helps to live in a bike/bus/train-friendly city, but I think the car-free lifestyle is something I can do for a long time.

    Thanks for the post.

    Brent [Dark Squirrel]

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