Thursday, September 27, 2007

carless life

New reader (and stranger!) Sarah Moffett, who bravely uses no pseudonym in the blog world (she appears to be promoting a book, so it makes sense), asked last week how people live without cars. J.Po, Sophist, help me out here. How *does* one survive to the late 20s (and beyond) without driving? I'll kick things off with my narrative of the carless life, but there must be many ways.

In high school I didn't go out. So that was easy. When I had stuff after school, I took the "activity bus" home. In college, you could walk all the way across campus in 10 minutes, and out to the Happy Chef in about 20. And when it was -37 degrees out, well, a car probably wouldn't have started anyway.

In Norway, I took buses, although this kind of sucked. It sucked even more when the bus drivers went on strike. I walked a lot. In Japan, I was all about the awesome public transportation and, for longer outings, friends. Besides, they drive on the wrong side of the road there. No way was I going to learn to drive with *that* nonsense.

At My First Graduate Alma Mater, more buses, plus I finally learned to ride a bike. Long-suffering friends took me along when they went to grocery stores, parties, airports, and whatnot. At MSGAM, I finally bought a damn car. And here we are, five years and a few thousand miles later.

(S.Vix is carless, too, but she followed a normal carless pattern - knows how to drive a car, but gave it up because she lives in a city with high insurance rates, good public transportation, and zipcar. J.Po, Sophist, and I just never learned how to drive.)


grrrbear said...

The GF doesn't have a car either. She uses the same combo of public transit plus iGo cars that S.Vix does. Of course, I drive her around sometimes too, but she doesn't rely on that. I try to go carless on weekends whenever possible, but that has more to do with avoiding outrageous parking fees in the city than anything else.

Hi Sarah!

Sarah Moffett said...

[Towwas]. My publisher would shoot me if I hid behind a pseudonym. My law firm may do him the favor if I don't. It's a twisted world...Thanks for the attempted explanation. In short, I gathered you have really good friends and can navigate public transportation internationally. And will be eternally thin.

Grrrbear. Greetings back. Hope your parking fees are not as bad as mine. At this point, I think Arlington Parking Police have a second lien on my house.

towwas said...

Yes, that would be the short version. I heart public transportation. My feet have started to rebel against all the walking, though, so I may have to actually [sigh] take up exercise.

J.Per said...

(I can never remember the pseudonym I'm supposed to use here!)

I grew up in suburban north Jersey, so although I waited until 17 to get my license (not immediately getting it at 16), driving was an essential/inevitable part of my life. My parents let me take my driving test on an automatic, then made me learn to drive manual transmission.

I follow S.Vix's pattern now, though, after being persuaded out of my assumptions about car ownership by the high price tag and convenience of pubtrans. And we have an even more awesome (than Flex/Zipcar), locally-centered, nonprofit car-sharing program! :)