Tuesday, September 18, 2007

In Praise of Carfree Day (A testimonial)

How Selling My Car Saved My Life

When you grow up in the Central Valley of California, having the right car to drive is very big deal. I mowed lawns and slung pizzas to pay for the privilege of driving. On my 16th birthday, I made that mythic teen-age journey to the DMV for a driver’s license. I was cool, in a 1965, baby blue, Mustang.

Well, times change. As a city-dweller for the last six years, I’ve decided that paying for car loans, insurance, parking tickets, and gas, not to mention circling for hours for a parking space, just doesn’t make sense anymore.

At age 36, I sold my 5th car and I didn’t replace it. Sure, this was frightening.

Would I become a hermit, or get stranded all the time? How would I get out of town?

Well, guess what, life without a car is much happier, and healthier. I ride my bike to work and through the park more often; I take the train to go visit friends and family in the Stockton area; and rent a car for camping trips down on the Coast.

The biggest hurdle was my own ego. I had internalized all those ads that said, ‘What you drive, is who you are.’

These days, my self-image is based on the books I read on the train. I’m smelling the flowers and smiling at strangers. I'm losing weight cycling to work and weekend activities. I never feel that blood pressure spike of sitting in traffic. I can get anywhere by bus, train, or bike, and occasionally I’ll spring for a late-night taxi. With the $600 a month I'm saving, I’m planning a trip to New Zealand next spring with the girlfriend.

That tumor in my brain, the one that thought about cars for 20 years, has been removed. Perhaps I will fill that space with learning Italian or memorizing limericks to entertain my loved ones.

One thing is for sure, auto-free, my quality of life has improved dramatically, and yours can too.

World Carfree Week is here

1 comment:

Brains said...

Thanks for sharing, this was great.