I want to go carless. How can I make the transition as easy as possible?
February 8, 2014 1:04 PM Subscribe
For a variety of reasons, I'm thinking of selling my car and switching to a carless lifestyle. Do you have any tips on how to make the transition as painless as possible? Maybe you've made the switch yourself? I think I have a pretty good handle on this, but I'd love any advice you can give.
posted by Scientist to Travel & Transportation (41 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I think I want to ditch my car. I could do without the expense of gas, repairs, and insurance and I could certainly use some more exercise. I also could certainly do without the cognitive dissonance of being a conservationist who drives to and from work every day in a 13 mpg SUV. I know I could just drive less and bike/walk more, but I've found that as long as it's sitting right there it's very tempting to use the car even for very short trips – plus, just having the car involves expense, since I need to keep it insured.
How can I make this transition as easy as possible? I have a bike, and would plan on using part of the proceeds from the sale of my car to buy a better one. I live in New Orleans, where biking is pretty practical – the streets are nice and flat, and there are a fair few bike lanes. (Potholes and aggressive drivers are a problem, but I can manage.) All the stores that I need to go to regularly are within biking or walking distance. The most difficult part would probably be commuting, but I already have two coworkers in my neighborhood who are carless and who make the hour-long round-trip commute on their bikes each day. I did it myself for a semester or so, so I know I can do it.
Public transit here is OK – a combination of buses and streetcars – so I can learn to use that for some of the longer trips that might otherwise be a pain in the butt. Most of my friends have cars, and if I want to get out of town chances are it'll be for recreational purposes and it would generally make sense to invite a friend along anyway so getting a ride should rarely be a problem. I already make extensive use of Amazon Prime for much of my shopping, so other than groceries, pharmacy stuff, and an occasional trip to the hardware store (all of which are bikeable) I rarely have to do errands.
This all sounds eminently practical to me, but for some reason I'm still a little hesitant. I've never been without a car for the last ten years, and I've gotten really used to being able to just hop in any time in almost any weather and be quickly whisked away to my destination in full comfort. I have a feeling that once I made the switch it'd quickly become the new normal, but I'm still a little anxious about it. Normally the way I deal with anxiety is by researching and preparing, so any advice you can give or relevant anecdotes you can impart will be very reassuring. Thanks a lot!