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Saturday, December 4, 2010

I Did It - December 2010 Update

Today marks two months since I sold my car, opting to rely on my scooter, bicycle, the bus, or carrier pigeon... many of my friends and acquaintances have asked me about it, so here I am with an update.

Certainly the chilly weather has made things tricky at times on my scooter commute around 7:45am. I have a great Patagonia windproof jacket, wool scarves and thick leather gloves for up top, but I'm not gonna lie, my legs were really cold. I tried wearing my rain pants one day, and that was useless. Finally I realized I just needed to wear my woolies! I pulled out my capilene long underwear, which fit easily under my clothes and now I'm perfectly toasty. Duh.

Since I was so used to riding my bike, the adjustment to a car-less life has actually been relatively minimal. I choose to do the bulk of my grocery shopping via bike, so I'm going to the grocery store every three days or so -- I could easily take my scooter (and sometimes do), but I want the exercise. With my Specialized Globe "wonder bike" (mine is dark blue, with fenders and a sturdy rack), I sometimes ride at night. Again, no big deal. I am fortunate that I live in sports-crazy Santa Barbara, so it's not strange to go to the store a little sweaty.

These are some of the adventures and experience that have stood out to me in these past 2 months:
  • I took the train to Ventura for Thanksgiving with my best friend's family. She was already down there, so I scooter-ed to the Amtrak station, took the train, and she picked me up there. Important: train travel works best when you make reservations. I had made mine in late October, so I was fine.
  • Someone contacted me from Portugal after reading my blog to tell me that he and his family (he is married with 3 kids) have chosen to scale down to one car, and that I have fellow green friends around the world! How cool is that? My good friends the Rusts in Seattle, despite having 2 kids under 3, are doing the same. People, it's possible.
  • I took the bus whenever it was raining in the morning. I'm so grateful that there are two bus stops within walking distance of my house. The bus is easy, clean and generally on time.
  • I picked up breakfast treats for a staff meeting, and was able to bungee-cord the covered tray onto the back seat of the scoot.
  • I had an overnight project in So Cal. In the old days I would drive my car. But this time I took the train to LA's Union Station, then rented a car. I never had to drive more than 40 minutes at a time, which was a welcome relief. The train ride home on Friday afternoon at 3pm was SO. MUCH. EASIER. than dealing with traffic.
People often worry about me driving at night. While I appreciate the constant requests to be careful, please be assured that I always drive very carefully, FULLY AWARE that no one is looking for me. I also opt for the well-lit main streets at night rather than travel on side streets, dark neighborhoods or frontage roads.

Favorite recent scooter moment:
I was motoring quickly down State Street on the way to an early morning staff meeting for Providence Hall. I needed to pick up the staff meeting treats (mentioned above) ahead of time. I headed down De La Vina, and near the intersection of Mission and De La Vina I saw a school bus stopped on the road, lights flashing.

I'll be honest -- when I get the questions on driver's license tests about school buses, I never confidently know how to answer. That morning, my brain rapidly clicked through my options... it was pulled over to the curb, so I could safely pass? Or was I supposed to slow down to 25mph? Or should I stop altogether? Since I wasn't entirely sure, I decided at the very last second to stop behind the oh-so-small stop sign that is on the side of the bus (fully afraid that a car behind me might roll right over me). A big ol' Country Squire station wagon zoomed past me on my left. As soon as I stopped... a motorcycle cop pulled out from a hidden driveway directly across from the bus and nailed that station wagon! I was thankful and relieved that I stopped, let me tell you.

I'm still waiting for that dang-it-I-wish-I-hadn't-sold-a-perfectly-great-car moment, but so far, so good. Should I mention I spent $12 on gas last month?

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