Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Far from careless CARlessness

One month today.  The amount of time I have been living without a car.  Here are some things I have learned.

  • Not having to pay car insurance, gas, repairs, maintenance, registration, saves a lot of money each month- I love it!  Now if someone would buy my car I could also add that financial benefit to the list...I want to buy better bikes for my oldest son and me!
  • Bike repairs are almost constant with 3 bikes and a trailer we use regularly.  I just patched a hole in my inner tube last week, and need to repair one on the trailer now and replace my son's broken bike chain.  Obviously the repairs are a lot cheaper, but more time-consuming for me and more frequent than with a car.
  • Drivers are pedestrian-and-cyclist-stupid.  Seriously, you do see those things called cross walks painted on the road at the intersection, right?  That's not your stop line.  The stop line is BEHIND the cross walk. I think every driver should be required to travel by bike with children for a month to get a little perspective on how stupid they're being.
  • Lessons can be for life.  I'm grateful that my dad taught me how to patch up a bike tube back when I was probably 12.  I still have vivid memories of that lesson, and have applied what I learned, greater than 20 years later!
  • Being without a car is limiting.  I cannot just pick up and go whenever I'd like.  I have to plan ahead, sometimes spending hours a week figuring out bus schedules, biking distances, timing so I don't miss the train, etc.
  • Being without a car is freeing.  I feel empowered that I can get around and survive just fine without a car and save a good deal of money.  This baffles a lot of people.  Many adults from the generation before mine were shocked and totally incredulous when they heard of my plans to stop using a car.  They tried to advise me against it.
  • Sacrificing teaches appreciation for things.  I appreciate distances a lot more.  Traveling a distance of 10 miles is very different depending on your mode of traversing it.  Having to spend hours on commuting around has really helped me appreciate the time available to me and to use it well.
  • Appreciation for things teaches sacrifice.  I have an appreciation for money since I have precious little of it.  Because of that and this no-car experience, I'd rather sacrifice car use even when I do have one, and take the bus and ride my bike at any logical opportunity in order to save money for more important stuff.  Appreciation for clean air to breathe and not screwing up the environment more also leads me to these same sacrifices.
  • I can do hard things.  For the past month I have done my grocery shopping by riding to the store in the company of children on their own bikes, and a trailer attached to mine for bringing things home.  I then ride those 50-some-odd pounds of food up a big hill to my house.  Every time I do it without having to get off the bike and walk, I just feel like doing a victory dance.  (After I catch my breath!)

I'm glad I have been able to do this, and I hope to continue without a car for the rest of the year, possibly even until next summer.  I have a lot of gratitude for the public transportation system, especially the train!  And I love that my university values it and offers very inexpensive yearly bus passes to the students.  That's the only reason I can even do things this way.  (Thanks UTA and UVU!)
There's nothing like riding a bike with the wind in my hair, enjoying the sunlight and fresh air.  It's really fun and enjoyable!  But my favorite part?  Every time I ride past the gas station, complete with the giant signs saying, "Unleaded $3.65/ gal, Premium $3.75/ gal" I just have to grin and chuckle to myself.  I'm sorry most of the rest of you are still paying those prices.  I'll try not to rub it in that I'm not.

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