“Drive to work. Work to drive,” my husband likes to say. He has a point. The average cost of owning and operating a vehicle soared to $9,100 this year, according to AAA.
Saving money is not the only reason to consider living sans vehicle, at least for awhile. We’ve done it on and off over the years, and every time, we’re amazed by all the perks of the car-free life.
As long-time readers know, we lived car-free for more than a year. We bicycled our way through a dark, rainy Western Oregon winter. We fetched groceries, hauled chicken food, and toted our son to parks and play dates on two wheels. My husband rode twelve miles round trip to work every day, and I pedaled across town and over hills when I was nine months pregnant.
A few days before our second son Ira was born in August 2011, we welcomed a vintage gold Volvo sedan into our family.
We loved so much about the car-free life as I documented on this blog. However, most authorities on the matter agree that infants should not ride in bike trailers or seats until they’re about a year old. That would leave me car-free and bike-free throughout an entire winter.
I’m a huge believer in choosing a joyful life when you have the option. So that’s what we did. And our Volvo brought us a lot of joy in those early, overwhelming days of parenting two little ones. I loved taking it to the library and piling the trunk up with books. I loved zipping across town to my mama friends’ houses when it was pouring rain. I loved being able to go on hikes on nearby trails and visit my sister, who lives an hour away.
My husband biked to work most of the time. I walked (and then biked, when Ira was ready) nearly everywhere. But we also had the option of driving. My friend calls this the car-optional life. It felt like a pretty good one.
Then something happened a couple of months ago. Our Volvo needed an alternator, and we didn’t have time to fix it right away.
So we revisited the car-free life … and loved it.
We loved it so much that we’re still doing it. The weather is lovely and we’re biking everywhere, sometimes up to 15 to 20 miles in the course of a day.
This time, perhaps because we took a year-long crash course in the subject (and because of that lovely weather I mentioned), car-free living feels infinitely easier. Joyful. And we’re astounded all over again by how quickly it transforms your body, health, mind, and spirit.
Now that our transit is entirely human-powered, we both feel fitter and healthier, have more energy, and are less stressed.
Arthur Conan Doyle sagely advised, “When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”
I agree. I know of no better mood lifter than gliding along the river or stream beneath newly leafed trees beside meadows of wild camas, community gardens, and unfurling irises, rhododendrons, and roses.
It’s been almost two months, and we just don’t feel in a hurry to jump back in the car.
The car-free life is not right for everyone in every place at every time. But it may be an adventure worth trying if you are able. You may find out you love it.
More posts about car-free living:
- Car-Free and Loving It
- Car-Free Chronicles
- Confessions From the Car-Free Life
- Lessons in Car-Free Living
- Car-Free Delivery
- Car-Free With Four Kids!
- Plan a Car-Free Vacation
- A Snapshot of Car-Usage in America
Have you ever lived car-free or car-lite? Have you ever wanted to try it? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.