23 June 2009

Carfree Days of Summer

I’m contemplating getting rid of my car.

It’s an oversized storage bin, first of all. As I work towards decluttering my life, I can’t help but think about all of the unnecessary stuff I carry in my car. If I don’t have a car, I won’t stuff it with stuff.

Secondly, it drinks gasoline like a camel lapping water after a long Saharan caravan. I just don’t have enough money to feed its habit.

Thirdly, and most importantly, the Earth hates my car! Ok, ok . . . so maybe Mother Earth is far more loving than she is hateful. I have a mini SUV, though, and I think we’d all breathe a little better if any of us drove our cars a little less--especially mine. So the Earth will thank me for it.

Of course, other questions make me second-guess my contemplations. What will I do when I NEED a car? What about the rain? How will I ever be on time for anything if I have to walk/ride the bus?

So I’m giving my car a break for a few days just to practice this carfree way of life.

The Nashville Metro Transit Authority (MTA) has a pretty good bus. The driver I had this morning was friendly. It’s fairly simple to navigate the routes. It really stinks that they don’t offer transfers. A day pass is less than $5, though, so that’s nice. A bus stops right in front of my house, so that’s convenient if I have a day pass. If not, I’m close to lots of bus line stops, so I can walk less than half a mile to get to a more direct route so I don’t have to pay for a transfer only 4 blocks away.. The bus goes nearly everywhere I want to go. Of course, if I want to go anywhere outside of the downtown area, it seems I have to always go to Music City Central first and then switch to another line. Again, another major downside to the Nashville bus system, but the day pass will cover the cost of the extra, seemingly superfluous stop, and a lot of the outside of town lines offer an express. Still not entirely convinced that our bus system is superb enough to make being carfree absolutely convenient, but I enjoyed it today. And I love spending the entire day at the library without worrying about paying $20 for parking.


emily grace said...

Ah, I recommend this! Technically I have a scooter, but it's always broken down so I usually walk, bike, or ride the bus.

If you NEED a car one day, you can usually borrow or rent one.

It's definitely not as convenient and sometimes its a bit frustrating, but it's also a lot more economical and yes, earth friendly. And I enjoy having to slow down, read a book, and work with somebody else's timetable.

Lane said...

Do you have Zipcar (or something like it)in Nashville? If you do, that might make any transition easier.

I think there is a continuum of car necessity. On one end, you have New York City - no car needed, you can get anywhere on the subway and cabs are cheap. In the middle are places like Boston, DC, San Francisco where you can get around to most places but some parts of the city are out of reach. Nashville, I would think, would be closer to the other end of the spectrum - a city where taking public transportation is feasible, but it would seem reasonable to keep a car around just because the city is pretty spread out and it could be really difficult to get to a place like Franklin if you had to get there quickly.

I would only recommend that you try it for a while before making the car free jump. It really depends on your neighborhood. Can you make big grocery trips if you have to? Do you ever need to go places late at night or after the buses don't run? What are the weekend bus schedules like - it's super awful to have to wait an hour for a bus on a Sunday when you only need to go like three or four miles (just outside of walking distance).

I say all this, of course, as a dedicated bus rider in a city with pretty extensive public transportation. It is amazing how not having a car at all makes you really, really aware of how you get around.

Girl Healthy said...

Wow, I thought library parking was free. Is it not?