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No Cars Go

November 18, 2010

By Jennifer Chaky

I did it. I gave up my car. It wasn’t entirely by choice, but my lease was up and I did not want to purchase a traditional gasoline-fueled vehicle. So, I figured until more green options are available (and affordable), I will save some money and see how we fare without a vehicle. I have a twelve-year-old daughter so this decision greatly affects her too. But so far, I have to say, it’s not as bad as you’d think, and my daughter is a great supporter and has not complained once. And the best part of it is (after not polluting the Earth and saving money) I rediscovered my legs!

For so long, between work and homelife, I never had time to exercise. When my daughter was young and I was driving her around more, it used to drive (pun intended) me crazy how we only walked a few feet to our driveway, drove to our destination, parked, and walked a couple of steps to where we were going. Sure we’d take walks in the park from time to time, but the majority of our lives were spent sitting or indoors! I envisioned us getting like the space-dwellers in the movie Wall-E that float around in chairs because we lost the need for our legs.

I’ve tried to rectify this for years but somehow there was never time for daily recreational outdoor exercise. Oh, suburban life! Luckily, my daughter did get outside during recess at school, but that left me at work in a pretty sedentary lifestyle. I work about a mile from home, but when I had a car I used to make excuses as to why I couldn’t walk or bike to work: I had too much to carry, I was running late, or I had to stop somewhere on the way home. But now that I don’t have a car, I am forced to deal with all those things, and I actually like the challenge.

So our days go like this: My daughter rides her bike a half-mile to school and I ride mine a mile to work. We carry what we need in backpacks and baskets, and I have panniers on my bike for heavier things. Then, after school and work, we meet for the mile ride back home. We are lucky enough to live in a bikable/walkable town (as I think all towns should be, and need to be for the health of ourselves and the planet), and if we need to stop at the grocery store, there is one on the way home. I’ve just adjusted my habits to shop more frequently and pick up things as I need them instead of going on huge shopping trips. Even on chilly nights, this commute hasn’t been so bad. We just got very good at bundling up (the physical activity keeps us toasty too!)

And if we absolutely need a car, we are very fortunate to have a nearby neighbor who is willing to share her Prius with us whenever we need it, as she works from home and her car, according to her, is underutilized. We’re discovering a pretty decent bus service that runs up and down Bloomfield Ave., a major vein in our area.

So, it is November and I can say with confidence that I think we will make it through the winter without breaking down (this pun not intended) and getting a car. Sure, the snow and freezing temps are not going to be easy, but I am convinced it is possible to deal with them. We’ll have to see how it goes. Meanwhile, I’ve already learned a few important things: 1. being closer to nature (and rushing car-traffic) is invigorating 2. fresh air is great for my complexion, and 3. I have legs!

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