It was a year ago Friday that our car-free experiment began when we found out it would cost close to $1,000 to get our car repaired — $1,000 we did not have.
I picked the car up and parked it in the driveway, where it sat until we decided to donate the car, a Silver Saturn Station wagon, to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. My mother is a Vincentian, a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, as was my father, who died in July 2011. Our car was towed away in late September just a day or two before the registration needed to be renewed.
Some of the highlights:
- My son now rides his bike confidently just about anywhere. A year ago, he did not know how to ride a bike.
- We figured out how to get to places that on the surface appear to be accessible only by car such as Eagle Marsh, Salomon Farm Park, the grocery store, my mom’s house.
- We didn’t let the weather deter us. I rode home one night in a blizzard. I rode in showers, in the heat and in the cold.
- Urban hikes.
What I miss:
- Being able to just hop in the car and just drive to a state park or an out-of-town attraction or ballgame.
- Being able to get away for a midweek camping trip. We’re planning to go camping in a couple of weeks at the municipal campground here in Fort Wayne. We may pull the wagon up there with our camping gear.
- Buying gas (OK, I really do not miss buying gas).
I have found that being car free gives us more freedom. We spend a lot of time together. We plan out our trips, whether by bike, by foot or by bus, or a combination of them. I love being car free, and I know it’s not for everyone. But I do think if more people would embrace it, more people could be car free. I just requires a little imagination. I suggest reading Chris Balish’s book How to Live Well Without Owning a Car.