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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Car(e)-Free for Three

October is Halloween and all manner of pumpkin-spiced marketing for many people, but for me, October is the month when I sold my car in 2010.

I marked my decision in this post back then, so I won't revisit the reasons here. But it is worth noting some of the things I've learned and experienced since taking the plunge.

In no particular order of importance...

  1. When you go everywhere on a scooter, bike or bus, you can't buy a lot of stuff. This is a great built-in mechanism for keeping you accountable in terms of spending. There are not a lot of impulse purchases in my life. 
  2. I'm known as "the one with the scooter" at two different car rental agencies in town. I need to go down south about twice a month for work projects. Unfortunately, they are often not near Amtrak stops, so I have to rent a car (for which I am reimbursed). At Enterprise and Thrifty here in town, they allow me to park my scooter near their offices when I rent a vehicle, even overnight. 
  3. The "Tucano Urbano" (Urban Toucan!) leg cover is my favorite new item for 2012. I got this for Christmas last year, and I still love it! I hate to admit it, but it gets a little crisp on the scoot scoot at times. But it's not so bad now with my faux fur-lined "lap apron" (yes, that's what they call it). When I add that to my snowboarding gloves, Patagonia bomber jacket and giant black scarf, I'm bundled up quite nicely.
  4. I never get tired of paying just $5 to fill my tank. Nuff said.
  5. I love "rock star parking." Tomorrow night I'm going to a concert at the County Bowl, and we'll be able to pull right up to the venue and park on the curb, in some little two foot wide parking space.
  6. Riding a bike is both an excellent way to stay in shape and a super way to get around town. I just had arthroscopic knee surgery in August for an old youth ministry injury from 1989 (sigh) and when I returned to the surgeon for a follow-up last week, he said that I didn't need any physical therapy because the bike riding was an even better way to rehabilitate it. Yesssss! I also enjoy picking up my groceries every few days on my bike, or just riding somewhere pretty (and there are some pretty great options here).
  7. Taking the bus should be an option for everyone. Admittedly, I get around town mostly on my bike or scooter, but during the rare days of inclement weather, I will gladly take the bus. Here are my extended thoughts on taking the bus... but for this short list, I will simply say that I think Americans have an unhealthy love affair with their cars and need to do the environment a BIG favor and look for ways to cut back. We cannot use fossil fuel indefinitely, and it's environmentally devastating.
  8. I enjoy my surroundings far more when I'm not in a car. Whether it's giving a smile to the CalTrans guy on the road, having a conversation with a pedestrian at a stoplight, being able to hear birds sing as I ride by or just feeling the sunshine, there are so many lovely interactions and experiences I've had because I'm not cooped up in my car. 
I've logged over 16,000 miles on my scooter since I bought it in May 2007, and 50-75 miles each week on my bike since 2003. I know not everyone can make this choice, but if everyone just sacrificed one errand or drive in a car each day, the world would be a cleaner and safer place. Please think about it. Ciao Bella!

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