Thursday, August 20, 2009

No-Driving Community

Every time I mention that I don't drive, people react as if I told them I have three heads. Especially here in the Midwest, the idea of someone living car-free shocks people profoundly. "How can you live like this?" they ask. "It must be SO hard for you." Then they start treating me like I'm an invalid beyond the hope of recovery.
So I thought that since everybody today belongs to one community or another, maybe I should start one of my own. I would call it the no-driving community. We would promote the idea that not driving is actually great.
Contrary to popular belief, living car-free solves a lot more problems than it creates. I don't care about the gas prices. I don't have to think about whether there will be a parking spot anywhere I need to go. I don't even have to know whether the street I live is one-way or two-way. I have never visited the DMV, that scary place people love to hate. I don't have to change my licence and my plates when I move. I don't have to pay for insurance or deal with the car mechanic. I don't have to pay extra for the garage. In general, living without a car saves so much time, energy, money and nerves that I have no idea why any one would ever want to have it.
It is also great for the environment. Every time I walk home from the convenience store and see my neighbors crossing the same distance in a car, I feel incredibly self-righteous and environmentally conscious.
When I moved to Southern Illinois, everybody kept repeating that I would never survive here witout a car so often that my driving-free identity had trouble surviving. And then I discovered that there is a bus that takes me from my doorstep to my office on campus and there is a very efficient cab service. And in any case, one can always revive this long-lost survival skill which is called walking.


DoDo said...

I'm sorry, I don't mean to be obtuse, but do you really live without a car? Or are you just making a political statement?

Driving less is a great idea and of course if we all did that it would be good for the environment. But no car at all? Ever? I don't see how anybody could do that.

Anonymous said...

I am 30 y/o and I have never driven a car in my life. In my case, choosing not to drive is more an ethical than a political statement. I would be a dangerous driver. I'm not good at it and I think many untalented drivers should not be allowed to drive.

I have been lucky enough to live in places where you don't need to drive. In fact, as Clarissa says, driving a car is a burden. My take on that is that contrary to popular belief, driving enslaves you, and walking provides such a liberating feeling!

That being said, I went to several cities in the Midwest and the South, and I realized that maybe I could not live in these places, because not driving could be a handicap. Even biking would be a challenge in some places. Your post gave me hopes, Clarissa. I would be happy to belong to your no-driving community.


Anonymous said...

I don't think that theory works for non-city dwellers. Good luck walking to the convience store that's fifteen miles away or the mall that's eighty miles away. If you live in the city, yeah, you can take a bus or walk, but people who live in the country don't really have those same options.

Clarissa said...

Thank you for the comments, my friends. I have been preparing my syllabi and couldn't answer sooner.

Tomorrow I'll have a chance to find out how one goes about grocery shopping in a place where all the stores are pretty far away.

We'll see if I can go on giving hope to those who want to join the community. :-)

Tom Carter said...

Unfortunately, I think you'll probably find that not having a car is going to make life a little difficult where you are now.

As I've mentioned before, I lived in Moscow for about three years, and I didn't have a car there. It was glorious and liberating! But that was a huge city with a great metro (subway) system, cheap cabs, buses and trams that went everywhere, etc. Wish I could still do it....

Clarissa said...

The bus that takes me to work was completely empty this morning. I now feel like I have my own personal driver to take me to work and back. I feel very important. :-)

Tom: they tell me that the traffic situation in Moscow today is horrible. People spend hours each day stuck in traffic jams. Babies have been born who were conceived in the traffic jams. :-)

Clarissa said...

So the trip to buy food without a car went extremely well. And I made myself some aamazing Ukrainian borscht.

Anonymous said...

Great! There is hope!

Liese4 said...

We were carless for 3 years, we walked/biked/took the bus everywhere. When we moved to Denver, people shook their heads when I said we didn't have a car, especially with a newborn and 3 older children. But, we made do with the bus/train and we live just under a half mile from the grocery store. We did eventually get a car, but we still take the bus/train when we can.