Sunday, June 7, 2009

Why I Want to Get Rid of Our Car (Pat,Part 2)

(by Pat)
This is part 2 in a series of blog posts that I wrote on The Writing Life x3, back in January.

We live in a car culture, and I'm definitely a part of that, even if I don't really see the type of car I own as defining my identity. So the idea of not owning up a car ends up bringing up a bunch of concerns (and people voice these to me, if they've always had cars in their families).

What about in an emergency, especially something medical? This one's not that tough, actually. We live about 400 yards away from an emergency room. I could crawl there if I needed to. And I could easily call a cab to take one of us to our regular doctor's office, which is about 3 miles away.

What if the dog or cats get sick? Not quite so sure about this one. Zipcar (even though you're not supposed to have pets in the car) or maybe a cab?

What about grocery shopping? That's easy. We have a little cart, backpacks, and lots of baskets on our bikes. Plus they'll deliver. As will the hardware store and office supply store.

What about when the kids are old enough to learn to drive? Driver's ed, or borrow a car. They'll grumble, but that's life in the city, kids. This way they certainly won't expect us to buy them a car, right?

Maybe it'll make me crazy, because sometimes it'll take so long to get to places by bus or train. Yeah, but let's just say patience is something I need to work on anyway. Doing things faster and even getting places faster isn't always as much the ideal solution as it seems. This will not be easy for me to accept.

It'll be hard to visit my favorite grocery store, Russo's in Watertown. True. Just have to live with it, or use zipcar (I could get there by bus, but I'm not sure I have that much patience.)

It'll be harder to go to meetings/events in suburbs. True. Maybe it'll make me work even harder at building/joining groups and organizations in my own back yard. If they're important enough, I'll spend the money to rent a car. Or I'll keep getting in better shape for longer bike rides. Or maybe I'll join bike advocacy groups, to make regional bike travel safer and more convenient.

What about when the weather stinks? One of my first investments if/when we do this is going to be to get a rain suit for bicycling. Bikes aren't much good in slick ice like we had in Boston this morning, but to be honest, neither were cars or feet. And it's hard to get around in Boston when there's a foot of snow, whether it's on foot, bus, or in a car. And if you drive your car, there's nowhere to park.

When I look at them, they're all things that we can handle. And I know that I missed a bunch of benefits yesterday (one of them was that I think buying less gas takes money out of the hands of people with whom I disagree with politically (especially internationally).

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