Car free life

We’ve been car free for almost six months now and we’re entering into the difficult season to be car free. It’s not as fun to walk for necessities when it’s raining and chilly. But in the time that we’ve not had a car, I’ve thought about car related things quite a bit (traffic, parking, etc). And this is where I talk about my thoughts, so here are some thoughts.

I’ve believed for a long time that people won’t get rid of their cars until it’s economically painful for them to have a car. I’m a privileged person and we can afford a car, but in the interest of doing our bit towards the climate and simplifying our life, we wanted to try the car free life. We live in a walkable city, we are in the perfect set up for it, and we have great transit close by.

But as I read about the policies the city is proposing in regards to parking and the apartment buildings popping up all over, I’m convinced that convenience trumps everything else when it comes to cars. We live in a walkable area, we have great frequent service bus lines near us, but most of the people on Next Door argue about the need for parking and the problems with traffic.

And yes, I get it, not everyone can go car free. But I’m convinced many more could than are willing and I think it all comes down to convenience. I know people who live near frequent service bus service to downtown and still drive to work daily. The bus is not as convenient, you may have to wait for it, you may have to be by people not like you, and it’s looked down upon. That makes me sad, I love riding the bus, that’s my community and it’s good for me to be in the midst of it.

On a personal level the benefits of not having a car have been surprising. Yes, we’re saving money not insuring a vehicle or maintaining one, but we’re also saving money on food. I know, it was unexpected to me too. But when you carry most of your food home, it turns out you’re not only more careful in what you buy and how much, but you are more likely to eat up the food in the fridge and cupboards. I’m planning meals more carefully, we’re eating up everything we buy, and, in turn, our grocery bills are dropping. On top of those savings, I’m walking more and getting out of the house more, which has benefits for my physical and mental health.

I often wonder when the obsession with cars will end. And I’m not sure if driverless cars are the answer, they may be part of the answer, but not the entire answer to making transit and movement easier. I wasn’t sure how it’d be, not having a car, but it’s been one of the best decisions we’ve made in a long while.