Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 33

Thread: Pedestrian life

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7,061

    Pedestrian life

    I recently embraced car-free living. (Yes, that means I voluntarily surrendered my car due to serious financial issues. If you would like to shower me with "pity" -- ie cash -- donations can be made at one of my websites.)

    Making the transition to not owning a car has been an interesting experience. Neither of my sons has ever expressed any interest in learning to drive. They are actually more independent and get out more now that we are car-free. It's on them to do most of the grocery shopping. They are 18 and 20 years old and our favorite grocery store is only about 10 minutes away on foot. It's one of the reasons we chose this apartment. At the time that I moved here, I wanted some place super close to my job, my favorite grocery store, and a few other essentials because I still had seriously limited energy and just going to work was a real challenge at times. Being practically across the street from the grocery store made it possible for me to cope with getting groceries at times when it would have been a real hardship for me to spend more than 15 or 20 minutes on such a task.

    I had expected to have to walk to work. It's a couple of miles or so. That's do-able but would be a hardship given my health problems. The first time I tried to walk to work, three different people stopped to offer me a ride. The third one is a coworker who used to sit directly across the aisle from me in the cubicle farm we inhabit. She asked why I was walking, I explained that my car would be going away soon, and she generously offered to pick me up every day. She has been very reliable and very kind about the whole thing. I offered to help pay for gas but she didn't accept.

    I think three people at work are aware that I no longer have a car. A few others may sort of suspect something. But getting to work without a car has turned out to be a really minor issue. The whole transition to living without a car has gone far smoother than I expected. There are a lot of things that preceded this transition that set us up for making a smooth transition, starting with my choice nearly 18 months earlier to live very close to work and some other essentials (my bank, my favorite grocery store). My apartment has turned out to be in a far more walkable situation than I had estimated. My oldest son (who, like me, has a form of CF) even walked to the EB Games 5 miles away by himself to pick up the game they pre-ordered prior to our decision to give up the car. It took him two tries to find it, so he walked roughly 10 miles twice in one week. He ended up with a sunburn and a blister on his foot but coped far better than I expected. We covered the directions on mapquest and when he didn't make it the first time I was able to show him where he made his wrong turn and how to course-correct and so on. He found it just fine a few days later when he was recovered enough to try again. Other preparations included freezing a bottle of fruit juice the night before so he would have something to sustain him, making him wear a hat when he left shortly after noon for his second try, and making sure he had our home number and my work number written down on a piece of paper in his wallet. He actually did call me once on his first try because he was unable to find the place.

    We began walking to the grocery store and making other lifestyle adjustments a couple of weeks before I informed the bank they could come get their collateral. After our first walk to a store, I promptly went and bought new shoes (the same day I think). The flat shoes I had worn with some fantasy that they were very walking-friendly really weren't. With wearing better shoes, the next trip on foot went much smoother. I also bought a watch. In considering life without a car, I realized living without a watch was no longer going to work. I was very dependent on the clock in my car. Little details like that surprised me and I thought about how much Americans freak out at the idea of living without a car. I think Americans will have no choice but to rely less on gasoline-powered vehicles as the effects of peak oil are felt more strongly and I thought we should have a thread on Cyburbia about what are, in essence, "cultural" differences between a car-dependent lifestyle and other alternatives.

    But I really don't intend for this to be only about walking to get around or even living without a car per se. I am also interested in hearing about experiences of transitioning from a two-car-family to a one-car-family or otherwise choosing to live life less dependent upon your car. (My ex and I had one car for most of our marriage, so I have plenty of stories about that too.) I am reminded of a remark in a money-saving book about not being vegetarian but choosing to eat less meat generally as a means to save money. They said they didn't necessarily have "meatless meals" but did have "less meat meals" a lot more often. So please think of this thread as not being about a "carless life" but about a "less car life". I know there are other Cyburbians who live a "less car life" than the typical American. Especially folks who have recently arranged to work within walking distance of home or similar, please share your stories about the practical details of making the transition, the overall experience of creating a new lifestyle and so on. My hope is that discussion about these things will help others get past the mental block and practical issues that make so many people reflexively reject alternatives to a car-centered lifestyle.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Tallahassee, FL
    Posts
    409
    Interesting move MZ. Good for you. Don't have any recent experience. But about 20 years ago I went w/o a car for a little over a year. Lower density urban area so not much mixed-use development to choose from. Big issue was transit schedules & hours. Home and work were near transit stop, but busses left the end of each route at 7:00 PM. That was isolating. Home by early evening or it a cab pr bum a ride.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Tullinge Sweden
    Posts
    190

    Less car may mean more transit

    If you live a good distance from work, or shaopping, then living with less car, will likely mean living with more collective transport - carpools, buses, underground, train, whatever.

    This usually means bending your daily schedule to fit the transportation time-table. But that is usually not an insurmountable problem.

    I lived in a community where I took a bus, then the communter train, then the underground, then a bus. I think an awful lot of time went towards waiting between the transport modes. And one mode running behind schedule played havoc with the rest. I still consider it was worth it. I drove to work one day, and found it didn't save me any time at all. I was spending a full working week every month commuting. Figured life shouldn't be like that.

    Now I've moved closer to town, and I consider I'm a real winner. Saved myself almost an hour and a half a day in travel time. What a treasure! A little confusing at the beginning, wondering why I had so much time on my hands. And then, there have in fact been real financial savings in not using the car. When you do a thorough calculation of the cost of a car from the day you buy to the day you dump it, you begin to realise what a huge chunk of your income it consumes.

  4. #4
    Hi

    I live in Boston so perhaps its not fair for me to comment. We do own a car, but sometimes it only gets moved for street cleaning. Grocery shopping is the other main reason for using it - heavy items are easier with a car. We just own one and most days it sits there - we both walk to work.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7,061
    Richi:
    I've often thought about living without a car but I probably wouldn't have made the choice if not pressed by financial circumstances. In some ways, I am a very conservative, security-oriented person who goes along with what is socially expected (the "conservative" course of action). I think most people don't see me that way but that is a big part of my wiring. The degree to which I defy social convention is driven by harsh realities. Perhaps the difference between me and others in that regard is that I seem to see more clearly the connection between cause and effect for some things and if it is logically clear that going along with the crowd is a very bad idea, then I don't.

    For me, this has not (yet) been experienced as isolating. With my health problems and other quirks, I tend to be a home-body anyway. We are ordering a few more things online due to being unable to hop in the car and drive to a store 5 miles away. To me, that's not really a problem. But it does mean less instant gratification and little more planning things ahead.

    Monamogolo:
    In addition to your observations, I will add that "time is money" and note that the money that a car costs has to be earned. I did consider trying to get a part-time job in addition to my full-time job to try to work out my problems. I felt that with my health problems, that would not work and most likely the whole thing would come unraveled: I could wind up losing my full-time job due to missing too much work if that kind of physical stress lead to my health worsening. There have been surprising savings in addition to the ones I calculated when I made the decision. For example, because of my health problems, I frequently wiped the inside of the car down with peroxide. We go through a lot of peroxide and paper towels anyway but somewhat less since the car went. My oldest son and I apparently also react very badly to the off-gassing of plastics and such inside the car. I am healthier without a car. I have more energy and more mental focus. This is allowing me to put more productive time into other things that I hope will eventually pay-off financially.

    Gotta Speakup:
    I would love to hear more about what life is like living in a big city, walking to work and so on. This is a planning forum where the walkable community is often held up as some ideal yet I have seen individual members who lived without a car treated as second-class citizens and derided for it. I am finding that people make lots of astonished remarks to me about how much I am walking to the store or whatever. They clearly have difficulty imagining choosing to walk anywhere. My choice to walk to the grocery store is getting something of a reaction from the folks that work there who are used to seeing me a lot and chatting with me. I haven't yet told the folks at that store that I no longer have a car. It's clear to me that this would be viewed in stigmatizing terms. I am intentionally not mentioning it unnecessarily at work. I am certainly not whining to people about it. I have talked with my kids about peak oil, their dislike of cars and lack of interest in learning to drive and so on. For us, this is a lifestyle choice, not simply "poverty". I would really like to hear about the experience of someone living in a walkable community where a car is so unnecessary that it sits unused most of the time. That flies completely in the face of how most Americans experience life and what they believe to be true. Most Americans view a car as an absolute necessity that you cannot live without and feel sorry for people who are either unable to drive or unable to afford a car.

    Speaking of that mindset/assumption, I am tempted to start a list of movies and tv shows that feature a character who lives without a car. Two that come to mind off the top of my head: the fictional tv show "Murder She Wrote" and the movie "Take the Lead" which is inspired by a true story. The main character in each does not own a car.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Tallahassee, FL
    Posts
    409
    It is really nice to have a care, but "have" to have it. Friends in Hungary share a car between brother & sister in two households. 18 years old Opel with about 50K miles on it. Used for the trip to the store to pick up heavy stuff maybe 2x month. Week-end trips out of town, etc. The best of both worlds. Of course the town is very walkable and transit is on 10 min headways if not closer. Although many families have a car (except on the big cities) A more than single vehicle household is very rare.

  7. #7
    Overtime, you find yourself adjusting your life to being without a car. We don't go to restaurants or stores that are beyond walking or public transportation reach. We don't like to travel to places where we have to drive. I had some eye problems (thankfully they have been solved for now) and couldn't drive from about November to February anyway. But except for one of two things, it didn't make an impact. The nicest thing we do is go for a 30 - 45 minute walk every summer evening. We find it kind of romantic even.

    My work colleagues almost all drive - and complain about the cost of parking and gas to no end. At the same time they worry about global warming. But I am too polite to point out the contradiction.

    I think over time, you will become more and more used to pedestrian life. Eventually you stop being annoyed with car drivers and just feel sorry for them.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    In a new discovered reality where it doesn't snow
    Posts
    14,044
    Being a consultant, I need to have a car. However, The wife and I have been exploring more and more ways to become less dependant on our vehicles. This includes staying within downtown/ Heritage Hill area when we are looking for a house, walking as often as we can, we will be getting out bikes tuned up soon. I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to walk to work quite often and with unlimited numbers of restaurants within a close walking distance, I could see us becoming car free (Other than when we travel or I have to go meet a client) within the next few years.
    Trusting a DC politician with your money is like trusting a hungry dog with a raw steak.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    New Town
    Posts
    3,952
    Viva la revolucion. Well, sort of. We are going down to one car at the end of April. Because of where we live (Albuquerque, NM) and that our favorite summertime family activity is going camping (with dogs) having no car is not so attractive. With really no regional transit to speak of (they are working on a train to Santa Fe, but it only goes partway so far), we really feel we want a vehicle to be able to get out of town and travel to see friends/family in Colorado, Texas and Arizona.

    But, since we moved downtown almost two years ago, it is not uncommon for me to go one or two weeks without driving at all. I walk to work and to a local (exceptionally crappy) grocery store. We also walk the kids to school. There are other amenities close enough to bike or bus to (its Spring Break for the young'ns and the wife is likely biking with them to the Natural history Museum as I write this). But food shopping for the family is still a challenge, given how far the next closest market is and that it can require two or even three buses (with a week's worth of shopping for a family of four, this is quite a burden). Soon the local grower's market will open which we can walk to and that will help with getting decent food supplies close to home.

    And lets not forget about beer. The local 7-11 carries overpriced, crummy beer, and that is the only local option. So, I drive for beer, too...

    I have to say that we moved downtown from living on 1/2 acre in a semi-rural setting south of the city and it was a hard decision to leave that behind. But this was just because I had no idea how much the move would improve my quality of life. We were really kind of blown away by it. So much so that we bought a house here (we had been renting downtown as an experiment) and we couldn't be happier. I miss the open space, but we can access it fairly easily still, so its not a great hardship.

    I absolutely love living where we do and don't regret our decision in the least. No car sounds attractive, but not being able to cut out of town for the weekend on short notice makes me anxious. Still, one of our vehicles just sits in the driveway most of the time, so its time to purge and have just one.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  10. #10
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Clayobyrne, CB
    Posts
    2,580
    Quote Originally posted by Michele Zone View post
    I recently embraced car-free living.
    I lived for almost 10 years without a car. Of course, that was in Boston, which is pretty easy to get around in without a personal vehicle. It's rather liberating isn't it? The only time a problem would arise was when I wanted to get out of town for a weekend or purchase a large item (i.e. furniture). A car rental and a mini-van taxi solved those problems.

    The best part was the savings and never having to worry about parking.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Tullinge Sweden
    Posts
    190

    having a car without owning a car

    When I calculated the "cradle to grave" cost of our owning a car, I also calculated that it would actually be cheaper not to have one, and rent one for every weekend to travel out to the cottage. It would take several years to equal the cash layout. Also, investments in a car are by nature investments in depreciating assets, unless you intend to keep it until as a classic (minimum 30 years) it's value MAY go up.

    Of course, the economics and finances are hugely different in Sweden, elsewhere in Europe and in North America, so what was true for me may not apply anywhere else. Even in Canada my sister saves huge amounts of money and headache by being in a "shared car" arrangement.

    It is VERY convenient to have a car you hop in any time you need it. But doing those calculations makes you realize just how costly "convenience" is.

    Now we have carbon taxes put on our energy use. And as environment officer in my company (a company that works internationally and so flies a lot) I am looking for ways to offset our collective carbon footprint. It makes us think in a similar way at home.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7,061
    Quote Originally posted by jmello View post
    It's rather liberating isn't it?
    For me, the word that comes to mind is "unburdened". The image that comes to mind is of some commercial I have seen where there was a huge anchor dragging behind a car. (I think it was supposed to dramatize how the engine drags if you don't change the oil or some such.) I feel like that weight has been removed. Although there have been a few hitches caused in part by not having a car, those hitches feel to me more like they are caused by my health. It's not unusual for me to put everything into my job and not be able to get my act together to take care of errands at home in a timely manner and things get put off. That is generally better than it used to be but it still happens. So I have trouble really feeling it's 'because I don't have a car' that some things have been neglected.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7,061
    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    Viva la revolucion. Well, sort of. We are going down to one car at the end of April.
    <SNIP>
    But, since we moved downtown almost two years ago, it is not uncommon for me to go one or two weeks without driving at all.
    <SNIP>
    I have to say that we moved downtown from living on 1/2 acre in a semi-rural setting south of the city and it was a hard decision to leave that behind. But this was just because I had no idea how much the move would improve my quality of life. We were really kind of blown away by it. So much so that we bought a house here (we had been renting downtown as an experiment) and we couldn't be happier. I miss the open space, but we can access it fairly easily still, so its not a great hardship.
    <SNIP>
    Still, one of our vehicles just sits in the driveway most of the time, so its time to purge and have just one.
    Your remarks remind me of the months leading up to this decision. We just more and more stuck closer to home and quit driving regularly to the far side of town. I discovered that paying 99 cents for peroxide closer to home was easier on the budget than paying 89 cents (or whatever) and burning the gas to go to the other side of town. By the time we agreed, there were very few things we did that were not in driving distance. Ordering things online has handily substituted for some of those things. I also could not have made this decision if I hadn't already reduced my need for a car.



    I've also been meaning to mention to M'skis how great it is to not have to worry anymore about when I'm supposed to change the blinkerfluid.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian ruralplanner's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Rural Midwest
    Posts
    139
    Good for you ZG—even if the initial decision was influenced by other factors. Going carless or reducing our own dependence on cars has been a real struggle since we live rural. However we keep trying. About two years ago I managed to arrange a car pool with co-workers, which has reduced mileage for all of us combined by roughly 60 miles each day. I can’t say that it was easy to keep the carpool going and I have to admit that the cost of gas was the instigating factor. However, now after 3 years it has become second nature and actually quite nice to catch up on sleep or talk about last nights meeting, since we are all planners.

    Right now, I am ashamed to say, that we are a three-car family with only two drivers. While I can rationalize this choice by saying that one of the cars is a spare should we have a problem with the other two (which are older), I can also say that it is a burden to have that extra car and it is expensive after annual license renewals and insurance payments. Not to mention the fact that it takes up space and needs to be driven every now and then.

    At any rate, we are pretty much destined to be car reliant unless we make the choice to move closer to my job, which for many reasons is something we are not willing to do. Prior to my current job I was essentially carless having lived 2 blocks from work. Even though my car sat in the county parking garage (which included free parking downtown!), I felt much freer then. Added to this discussion, being heavily car dependent- as we are- involves an issue bigger than I will ever understand—that being the cost (and supply) of fuel. That stressor has been front and center for our family for some time. The last check I made puts our family just short of qualifying for government assistance, which may put that stressor in perspective.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian amyk's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Los Anchorage
    Posts
    129
    Good for you, MZ! I spent a year in Juneau, AK and was fortunate to find an amazing deal on an apartment downtown. I walked 3 blocks or so to work every day, and most of my entertainment was spent in the same area, so I generally only used my car a few times a month to go out the road for groceries and some other limited shopping. I would also use it to access some recreational areas from time to time. I absolutely loved not having to rely on my car and it saved me so much money! Plus, I felt better with the extra physical activity, even if it was short.

    Now that I live in the big city of Anchorage, it's a bit harder to recreate that experience, but I only live about 3 miles from the office, so in the near future I hope to get the bike tuned up, and use it at least a few times a week over the summer (I'm not much of an experienced biker, but I'm hoping I can find a few trail connections so I don't have to ride on the road all the way to work).

    I'm interested in how this lifestyle works out for you over time. Please keep us updated!

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Davis, CA
    Posts
    27

    Car-free: 8 years

    I have been car-free for about eight years, including five in Santa Barbara, CA, two years in New York City, and one (most recent) in Davis, CA. I sat down to compose a few thoughts about my experience and ended up writing an extra-long post, hope you enjoy.

    The most difficult experience was starting out in Santa Barbara. There my living situation was in a suburban housing development about a 20-minute walk to the nearest bus line and shopping center. By comparison, driving between just about any two points in the Santa Barbara metro area takes less than 20 minutes. It was difficult to adjust to the fact that just the walk to where I was going to start the trip (by bus) took longer.

    My attitude changed considerably when I obtained a decent bicycle. Now, I could get places usually in about 75% of the time it would take by bus. My ride was about six miles to school (40 minutes), and four miles in the opposite direction to work (30 minutes). When I had to go directly from school to work, there was a handy express bus between the university and downtown.

    New York was obviously a very different experience – the majority don’t own cars, so it was nothing unusual. I reveled in the experience of living in Manhattan and hopping on the subway any time, anywhere. The second year, my fiancé moved in with me and due to our financial circumstances, we had to move to outer Brooklyn. That was a little different – a 75 minute commute on three trains. Staying in “The City” (Manhattan) late at night became problematic due to train schedules – the trip home could be two hours after midnight.

    Now in Davis I am still living car-free (for the time being). This is working out just fine for the most part. Davis is, of course, renowned for its bike-friendliness, and we live near the center of town, so no problem there. My commute to Sacramento by train takes 15 minutes for the ride, about 30 minutes door-to-door. Thus I am one of the few people in the USA who has a transit commute that takes the same amount of time that driving would take under ideal traffic conditions. (The 15 miles I travel in 30 minutes is, incidentally, the same distance I traveled in 75 minutes every morning and evening last year in New York City).

    Nonetheless, after all this time, my wife and I are seriously considering getting a car. Why? There are four main reasons:

    Hiking – We love to hike, and this is just not feasible without a car. Even though, theoretically, there are places you can get to by riding a bus and then riding your bike or something, in practice, we don’t actually do this very often. And while it is possible to rent, and I have been well-known to hold forth on the price comparison between car-ownership and frequent renting, it’s just not the same as being able to jump in your car and head to the hills. First of all, the closest car-rental is a 25 minute walk (can’t ride the bike because how would I get it home? – and the bus takes just as long considering the walking and waiting). Also, it is only open 8-6 weekdays, 9-2 Saturday and 10-2 Sunday. Lastly, spending 30 bucks on a rental car puts a lot of pressure on what you are going to do with the car – you don’t exactly want to plunk that down just to go take a walk for a couple hours.

    In-laws in the suburbs – Even though we can navigate all of Davis and the central part of Sacramento with ease, getting out to the ‘burbs is a real pain. And my wife’s family, who live out there, were part of the draw for us to move here. When the travel time by transit is around 2.5 hours, versus 30 minutes by car, it starts to get ridiculous – we end up only seeing them when they come out to see us, when they give us a ride, or when we rent a car.

    Working late/ Going out at night – The second-to-last train home is at 7:40 while the last is at 9:10. So when I am at a night meeting, I often find myself watching the clock around 7:30, weighing the pros and cons of rushing out rudely or waiting an hour and a half for the next train. And if I want to head out to the bars with my friends in town, it’s even worse – I have to either head home before the fun really starts, pay for a $40 taxi, bum a ride from someone or find a couch to sleep on.

    Getting sick – All the bike-friendliness Davis can muster won’t change the fact that when you’re sick, you don’t want to get on a bike. There are just certain moments in life when being able to drive over to Rite Aid and pick up some Tylenol makes all the difference.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    2,246
    Its perfectly feasible to live car free as long as you live in the right place. That said not that many people do. When I was in England you could get just about anywhere by bus/train including national parks. I'd imagine it was subsidized by the government but its a nice option for those who don't have a car or wish to get back to where they started without backtracking. In America on the other hand its much harder to get out into the country via public transport though there are a few places where you can do it. Here in Chicago one can take the South Shore train to the Indiana Dunes. I'm sure there are other examples. As much as people complain about the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) its relatively reliable (sometimes it seems like the busses run on no schedule, but one seldom has to wait more than 10 minutes) and can get you just about anywhere in the city without having to walk too far. I know it takes longer to get around without a car but its really not much of an inconvienance after you consider the expenses and parking issues.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2007
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    1,689
    unless,

    I would hope (actually, more like expect) that one or two or three of the car-sharing outfits in the Bay Area will open an outlet or two in Davis and Sacramento soon. I haven't owned a car in several years, and while that is pretty easy and commonplace in San Francisco (and the last two reasons that you mention for needing a car don't apply to me - Rite Aid and Walgreens are less than a block away and a car is much more of a bother for going out late - besides, a taxi home from just about anywhere within the city is less than $15 if it comes to that), joining a car-share org has been perfect for occasional hiking/outdoorsy outings. I belong to City Car Share, and have three "pods" with a total of seven cars within a block's walk. Over the last year, I've never been without a car when I wanted one (even at the last minute) and have spent a total of less than $1000. I can't imagine a better situation for me - no hassles or expenses involved with owning a car, but all of the benefits.

    I have several friends in Davis and Sac - and I know that they have submitted interest to City Car Share, Zip Car, and Flex Car. Maybe if enough people do...

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7,061
    Quote Originally posted by unless View post
    Getting sick – All the bike-friendliness Davis can muster won’t change the fact that when you’re sick, you don’t want to get on a bike. There are just certain moments in life when being able to drive over to Rite Aid and pick up some Tylenol makes all the difference.
    Thank you for your long and detailed post. I enjoyed reading it. Given my health situation, I feel compelled to reply to your last point.

    About seven years ago, I was bedridden for nearly four months. I was diagnosed with a relatively recently discovered, relatively mild form of a "dread disease": cystic fibrosis. My 20 year old son has the same thing. I have pursued alternative remedies and gotten off 8 or 9 prescription drugs. I couldn't have chosen to go car-free any sooner than I did. I and my sons would not have had the physical stamina to do the walking required by this lifestyle. However, there is a part of me that just doesn't Get why other people would put up with being sick. Not too long ago, I refrained from posting in a thread in the FAC about this year's flu (or some such). I haven't had the flu in a long time. I have a compromised immune system and I wipe my desk down at work with peroxide every single day before I start working. It reduces the amount of medication I need. I do get exposed to illness at work on a regular basis. But I generally manage to clear it up within 12 hours of getting home. I am still working on getting well and that still comes with consequences. For example, this last week my sons and I have been sorting through papers and tossing out old, musty papers. It makes me quite ill to handle the papers and the act of throwing them out causes a healing crisis. Because of that, I have been coughing up phlegm this past week as if I had bronchitis. It's clear to me I do not have an infection. My body is throwing off the effects of living in the same house with those papers which have now gone.

    Shortly after my car went, I did have a medical crisis. For me, that can be life-threatening and I used to spend a lot of time in the ER before I began pursuing alternative remedies. In response to facing an issue without a car and being unable to drive across town to The Vitamin Shoppe to purchase what I needed, I ordered some herbs online and paid extra to have them overnighted to me. It still took about 48 hours to get them, which can easily be too late when dealing with an acute illness. I expect to do more planning in the future to make sure I have certain things on hand at all times in case of emergency. I also expect to continue getting healthier so such incidents are fewer and farther between. For me, this issue of coping with my health without a car will be about better planning and continuing to raise the bar on how well I am instead of simply accepting that illness is something one has no control over. (Also, I find that my son and I are actually healthier without a car because we apparently react very badly to the off-gassing of plastics inside the car. So I am reluctant to get another car, even if money were no object.)

    For me, I am much more concerned about the future of my career and how to continue getting to work when (someday) my work situation changes. I recently had a meeting with someone important in my department to discuss changing jobs within the company, both in hopes of doing something of more interest to me and in hopes of increasing my income. Currently, a coworker gives me a ride to work and getting to work has not been a problem. However, there are no buses that go from where I Iive to where I work, if I changed jobs it could mean working different hours which would lose me my current ride arrangement, and changing jobs could also mean working in a different building altogether in a different part of town. Giving up my car went as smoothly as it did in part because I knew people in my current department and one of them was very sympathetic and offered to give me a ride without me asking and it works well because my apartment is very conveniently on the way to work for her. (And, obviously, this arrangement could fall apart if her situation changed even if mine stayed the same.) I think trying to bum a ride from people in another department who don't know me would go over very poorly, so I don't have any plans to do any such thing. And the bus system here doesn't seem to be very good, from what I can tell. This means that I probably need to get a bicycle at some point and may need to move to a different apartment if I change jobs. I would be very interested in hearing how you figured out new arrangements to keep getting to your job with moving to different cities without a car. I am also wondering how getting a job, finding or picking a place to live, and planning your car-free commute interrelate.

    Thanks.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Davis, CA
    Posts
    27
    Quote Originally posted by Michele Zone View post
    I would be very interested in hearing how you figured out new arrangements to keep getting to your job with moving to different cities without a car. I am also wondering how getting a job, finding or picking a place to live, and planning your car-free commute interrelate.
    Working it all out has been partly due to choices I made and partly due to good luck. This was really an issue was in coming out to the Sacramento/Davis area. We chose our location in downtown Davis because we knew it would be close to my wife's employment and easy to walk/bike many places. However my employment was still a big question mark until we got here. I am lucky to have ended up working in downtown Sacramento, with the simple train commute. I could have very easily ended up in many other parts of Sacramento, or in another city in the region, or even the Bay Area, all of which would have been a different story. Although I consciously made the most effort pursuing opportunities in downtown Sac (and Davis, although those opportunities are few and far between), I still feel lucky about where I ended up. In fact a large part of my office, not including my division, was recently moved to a less transit-friendly location. So there's a little bit more luck for you.

    I can say without question that the details of the transit commute was very high in my criteria in the job hunt - the typical sequence was "read the job description, plot the location on Google Maps, locate it on the relevant transit map and calculate the time from Davis." In terms of differences between car culture and non-car culture, this would be a huge one, thinking of movement in terms of schedules and maps all the time. If you are more inclined to think this way anyway, as I am, it will be easier.

    I have encountered very little of the derision you described in earlier posts. Among people my age (20s) and in the places I have lived - New York and more progressive California cities - there is plenty of consciousness about things like global warming, peak oil, and even the negative effect of cars on urban street life. So while I am unusual (in California, at least), the reactions I get are less, "Wow, that's pretty strange" and more "Wow, how do you do that? Hey, I should drive less too." At least that's what I get when I'm around, maybe they are all laughing behind my back.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    123
    I am in a hairy situation on the other side. My girlfriend and I live in Boston, about a mile from work and 100 yards from transit, a supermarket, and about 15 ethnic markets. I haven't owned a car in five or six years (though I still know how to drive.) Now we are planning to move to Chapel Hill so I can go for my masters in planning. Sun Belt, here we come!

    So, we are trying to figure out how possible it is to live without a car. There is free buses, but I think the issue of their stopping at 7:00 is a big one. The distance of the market and being able to get out of town for a while is an issue. In a way, I am facing as big a challenge as those transitioning from car to car-free: from pedestrian friendly city to the sun belt!

  22. #22
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Clayobyrne, CB
    Posts
    2,580
    Quote Originally posted by Bookworm View post
    Now we are planning to move to Chapel Hill so I can go for my masters in planning. Sun Belt, here we come! So, we are trying to figure out how possible it is to live without a car.
    It can easily be done. Just make sure you live somewhere near Franklin Street or in Meadowmont or Southern Village (all have walkable retail and services, including supermarkets). The bus system in Chapel Hill is absolutely amazing for such a small city. The rolling stock and frequencies are better than many big cities. As for the 7:00pm thing, I don't know if it's true. We took a night owl bus from downtown to Meadowmont at 2:15am in October (see Safe Ride schedules). The system is designed so that multiple routes overlap and serve the same destination, so be sure to check all of the schedules.

    There is also a community bicycle program within Chapel Hill and Carrboro. See: http://recyclery.info/blue_urban_bikes

    Of all the cities in the "Sun Belt," Chapel Hill is probably one of the easiest in which to live car free.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Oklahoma City
    Posts
    2,904
    I envy those of you who have the ability to live car-free and I hope the town I work for will get to the point one day (preferably not too far from now) where it is feasible for all demographics. I can't afford a house and there are no apartments in town. The closest apartments are 8 miles away, and neither this town nor the one the apartments are in have any public transportation. There is also no grocer in town at all. The closest is 6 miles away. I've thought about cycling for transit, but the 8 miles is a bit far for mid-summer commutes in Texas. If it was more around 4 miles, that'd be doable. I do think I might look into a scooter as an alternative to a car, though.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7,061
    Quote Originally posted by unless View post
    I have encountered very little of the derision you described in earlier posts. Among people my age (20s) and in the places I have lived - New York and more progressive California cities - there is plenty of consciousness about things like global warming, peak oil, and even the negative effect of cars on urban street life. So while I am unusual (in California, at least), the reactions I get are less, "Wow, that's pretty strange" and more "Wow, how do you do that? Hey, I should drive less too." At least that's what I get when I'm around, maybe they are all laughing behind my back.
    Thanks for the feedback on how you did some of the planning.

    As for attitudes, I used to live in Fairfield, about 30 minutes from Davis by car. We were a one car family and I sometimes took the bus to get around. Attitudes there are different than they are here. There are lots of long distance commuters in that general area and better-than-average public transit and lots of quirky commuter arrangements. It's just different.

    For instance, today I walked to work so I could go in early and put in some overtime even though my ride was not going to do the same. (She still gave me a ride home.) No one stopped to offer me a ride -- which I was bummed about because if I had hitched a ride, I could have done more overtime -- but one person did stop to ask if I was okay and offered to let me use their cell phone to call someone. Then at work, a coworker emailed me and said "I saw you walking to work today. Is everything okay?" So, yes, the general assumption here is something like: Her car broke down, it's in shop...or something. Yes, there is drama going on in my life and giving up my car grows out of that. But people around me seem far more upset or discombobulated by the idea than I feel. It seems like it's almost like a badge of shame or something, the way people react to seeing me on foot.

    On the up side, the walk to work was not nearly as tiring as I expected it to be. The few weeks that I have been without a car has significantly increased my stamina -- which is especially impressive when you consider the fact that I am continuing to cough up phlegm and have mild respiratory distress from having thrown out papers last week.

    Bookworm: My sister did her first year of college at UGA in Athens, Georgia without a car or even a driver's license. College towns are some of the last-holdouts of walkable communities in some parts of the U.S. Write the chamber of commerce and see what freebie information you can get from them. Some chambers will mail you two weeks of newspapers for free and stuff like that. Also, weather in The South is relatively mild compared to where you are coming from (unless you are someone who just can't take the heat). Especially in the Chapel Hill area. I haven't lived there but my understanding is that it isn't nearly as hot as places further south and also isn't nearly as cold as Boston. Relatively mild, temperate weather is a real plus if you are on foot or bicycling.

    Speaking of which, that makes me wonder if that contributes some to the commuter situation in the SF Bay area: it's the only Mediterranean biome in the continental U.S. and has remarkably temperate year-round weather compared to most other places here.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7,061
    Well, I managed to work a little over 10 hours in overtime this week, divided up between three days. Two of those days, I walked all or part way to work. One of those days, I managed to arranged a ride beforehand. The lack of decent public transit means that bumming rides is currently my only viable alternative to hoofing it. My overtime hours may sounds "off topic" to most folks, but as I stated earlier, my biggest concern is how this affects my career prospects. Also, because of my health, I have never before worked this many hours of overtime in one week. Given that I had to walk at least part way there two of the times I went in early, I'm extremely pleased and encouraged.

    To me, this bodes very well. I am fairly confident that my current ride arrangements will be reliable for a time but I was not so confident that I could cope with having to make other arrangements on short notice. Because of my health, I have had a hard time for a long time with trying to rise to the occasion for coping with changes on short notice. This week, I did just fine with that, which has given me a big boost in confidence that I can make this work long-term.

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 15
    Last post: 18 Mar 2011, 8:25 PM
  2. Replies: 1
    Last post: 04 Apr 2008, 3:49 PM
  3. Real Life vs. Virtual Online Life.
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 21
    Last post: 06 Sep 2006, 8:29 PM
  4. Use of pedestrian overpasses
    Transportation Planning
    Replies: 4
    Last post: 31 Aug 2006, 5:51 PM
  5. Pedestrian LOS
    Transportation Planning
    Replies: 3
    Last post: 21 Jan 2003, 7:55 PM