Like most American teenagers, I couldn’t wait to get my first driver’s license. That was more years ago than I care to admit, and I’ve had a love-hate relationship with driving ever since.
Of course, I loved the freedom driving gave me. As an adult, convenience became equally important, whether I was running to the store for a forgotten item or shepherding my children to activities or friends’ homes.
But I’m not one of those people who loves to drive. Just shout “Road Trip!” if you want to strike terror in my heart. In fact, I’d rather deal with TSA lines at the airport than spend an hour behind the wheel.
So, several years ago, my partner and I made the decision to move from suburbia to the middle of a city. This decision was also an experiment: we wanted to try to live our lives without an automobile.
That might not sound like a big decision for those of you who live in major cities like New York, Paris, Chicago or London. For the rest of us, however, life without a car is a huge adjustment, especially if you’re someone who always seems to be out of one ingredient when it’s time to make dinner.
We wanted to live like the wild and crazy kids we think we still are, so our plan was to attack the transportation issue from multiple angles.
We found a home we love only a block from a streetcar line that connects us with trains and busses that take us anywhere in the city.
Public transportation is an inexpensive option made even more so by purchasing monthly or annual passes. In many cities, seniors are entitled to even greater discounts, so check with your local public transportation office. Of course, now we wear masks for safety reasons.
We joined a car sharing service. Some of the more popular ones available in many cities are Cars2Go, ZipCar and ReachNow. They all work in a similar way: after joining, you can rent one of the company’s cars on a pay-as-you-go basis by the minute, hour or day.
Just get in and drive – not quite as convenient as having a car in your garage, but you don’t have to worry about parking fees, insurance rates or maintenance and fuel costs either.
Have you tried Uber, Lyft or Wingz? We love using a smartphone app to summon a chariot whenever we need one.
Whether heading to the airport on a sunny day or to a friend’s home in the rain, the door-to-door service is both an affordable and fun way to meet local drivers who work hard to make sure you have a great ride.
Pull up your step-counting app or widget, grab your sneakers and head out to your destination. Walking is a free and healthy way to get in some exercise while running errands. Also, we can go mask-less while safe-distancing.
Just don’t keep sending your partner lists of extra items for the grocery store when he has to walk home with those heavy bags! Not that I’ve ever done that…
Since the day we moved to our city, our preferred mode of transportation has been our bicycles. We are lucky to live in a city that values cyclists, and so I feel safe riding my bike even though I’m in my 60s – and I hope I have at least another decade of riding ahead of me.
If pedaling gets to be too much someday, I’ll switch to an electric bike with pedal-assist – because this girl loves the freedom of the open road, even if she has to share it with automobiles. Plus, cycling is great exercise!
Do I miss the convenience of having a car anytime I want to go somewhere? Of course I do, but here’s what I don’t miss:
The car-free lifestyle suits us. We may own a car again one day, but we aren’t in any hurry to do so in the near future. For now, we are happy to live life without a car of our own.
What about you? Can you imagine your life without a car? Have you ever given up owning one? Do you think you’d choose to get around without one? Please join the conversation!