How to: Enjoy a car free lifestyle

I’m going to do a series on how to get things done while car-free. This is by no means an exhaustive list. I am going by my own experiences and what other car-free friends do to live and enjoy life while car-free. I’d love to hear your comments about how you get things done, or suggestions on what I should cover during this series. – Myra

Enjoying a car free lifestyle is more difficult in some places than others. I’ve lived in a lot of those places. However, even in more rural places we can still get around without a car with a little imagination. I’m going to talk more about car free in a medium to large city that has a public transit system, since that is the target audience of this blog. Some tips may apply to my public transit deficient friends, so keep reading!

1. I love, love, love combining trips. This is the easiest way to enjoy a car free lifestyle. I mean doing a bit of grocery shopping, stopping by the drug store, visiting a park THEN heading home. People in cars do this, too, but it is doable via transit and saves a WHOLE lot of time! Not only are you minimizing the number of trips you have to make, but you are also probably shopping at places near each other, so that’s less travel time for you!

2. Get out and walk. You’ll find interesting places along your route that you may have never found otherwise. When we are whizzing along in a car or bus, we miss so many things. Take the train or lightrail to an unexplored neighborhood and get out and walk 10 blocks in each direction. Did you find a bookshop? A shoe repair shop? A hole in the wall taco joint? This goes into #3.

3. Map the places you find. When you have visitors or just have some extra time on your hands, bring out your hand drawn maps of interesting neighborhoods. Let your friends or kids choose where the next adventure should be and go!

4. Be reasonable. Everyone can’t or won’t be car free. Instead of bashing people over the head with your feelings about living car free, how they are killing the world and how horrible a person they are, try to empathize and come up with gentle suggestions. Are they dealing with an elderly family member? Do they live in a residential area where they are little or few transportation options other than driving? Are there sidewalks and bike lanes along their route to work? Do they work non-traditional hours where public transport isn’t an option? Are they knowledgeable about the transit options available to them?Are they afraid of transit? If so, take them for a ride! Be an example, not a judge, and you might gain some converts to the car free lifestyle!

5. Make yourself knowledgeable about the alternative transit options near you. Where do the local bus routes go? What are the schedules for local commuter rail? About how much time is between subway trains at 3pm? Can you rent a car in your neighborhood? If not, where’s the nearest Zipcar or car rental agency? Is it easy to catch a cab in your neighborhood, or do you have to use a car service? Does the bus have equipment to carry bikes? Are there bike lanes along your route?

Do you have any tips to add? Let’s hear it in the comments!

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