The Car Free Experiment
You heard that right, most of North America, Gwen and I have now joined the ranks of the car-less. Not careless, mind you. We still care. Lots.
We just ditched our 2004 Ford Escape in favour of, well, nothing. This comes as a surprise to many people I’ve talked to, especially, for some reason, to the dealership we were dealing with…here’s the phone conversation I had:
Me: “Hi, I’m interested in selling my car, are you buying?”
Dealer: “You bet…are you interested in trading it in for another car?”
Dealer: “Do you have a second car already?”
Dealer: “What will you drive, then?”
Me: “We are going car free, we don’t need a car right now?”
Dealer: “Wait…car free…like, you won’t own a car?”
Dealer: “But what will you drive?”
Me: “I mostly take mass transit, and we are going to do car sharing.”
Dealer: “Wait, like share a car with others…”
You get the idea…I’ve had a number of variations on this theme each time I mention it…oddly enough, only with people who don’t live in the downtown core.
There were two big reasons we decided to go this route. The first was financial: between parking costs, insurance and maintenance, we have been paying upwards of $280/month for our vehicle. The second was a lifestyle choice: we wanted to try living car free while it is still a viable option, if only for the “smug” factor. I can now look down my nose at everyone with a car and be sanctimonious. I jest, but we did want to see if is a feasible option.
So, how are we going to handle weekend trips and the odd errand? Well, most of our errands are taken care of via walking or the subway anyways. Our grocery store is a couple of blocks away, we have a number of department stores, clothing stores, specialty shops, etc. withing walking distance or a short train ride away.
For big errands when it’s just easier to have a vehicle (like a big grocery shop or Ikea) we are joining Auto Share, which should satisfy most of these needs. This also deals with short notice/emergency car needs, since you can find a book a vehicle online right away, and we have several locations within walking distance to snag a car. Oh, and gas and insurance is included in our hourly price (approx. $7/hour).
As a member of Auto Share, we also get a nice discount on some car rental companies, which solves the weekend trip or longer vacations.
I’m not saying there won’t be times when we miss the convenience of having a car at our beck and call, but I think all this takes is a little more advanced planning and rethinking how we approach our daily tasks.
I’ll keep you posted as this proceeds – I never mind being a guinea pig.