My year of living carless

Imagine if you will…

It’s winter in Colorado. The wind’s howling and the snow’s blowing. You’re in a car with me, just a few cars behind a convoy of snow plows. They were three abreast, followed by brine-spreaders.  When we came to a traffic light, everyone stopped. When the light turned green, a brine spreader turned on his sprayer too early and thoroughly doused two of the cars behind him with the salty solution. Fortunately, not us. Did I mention that car washes are closed because of the sub-freezing temps?

It’s not my worry anymore.

It’s been a year – almost to the day – since I turned in my vehicle registration. And in that time I’ve spent more time walking than driving; travelled further on buses and trains than cars. And you know something? I don’t miss those old days. I miss some of the people – I miss some of the things I used to do, some of the adrenaline that went with the lifestyle – but I love where I am right here, right now.

Looking back on this anniversary – I’ve driven just a bit – rented cars when friends came here  and when I visited the US a few weeks ago now, but otherwise – travel’s been with my own feet, along with shared wheels and other drivers.

I almost made it – a full year without actually driving a car. It was a wonderful feeling last year – handing over the keys and watching someone drive away in my 17 years of transport. The next day I was on a flight back to Ireland. And now I’m back home in Ireland after two weeks of dealing with traffic and interstates, parking hassles, texting drivers and skidding semi-trailers.

Damn, it’s good to be home again.

How do I get around? For the most part, on my feet. I walk more in a day now than I used to walk in a week. Living in city centre, a car’s a hassle, not a convenience. Nothing I need’s more than a 15-minute walk away. And if I need to go further, there are public bicycles with a pick-up/drop off station just around the corner from my house. I use buses and trains for anything that’s much more than a half hour away. I might not use them at all on nice days [Yes, there are days with good weather here.]

Sure I’ve taken the occasional flight somewhere, but I’ve flown less in the past year than in some weeks in my previous life. It feels good. My frequent flyer miles took me around the world twice and I still have enough left over for a good trip or two, but no urge to use them. There’s too much to do, too much to learn, so much to be. Right here.

I’m not saying I haven’t travelled or learned. It’s just that I’ve found ways to explore myself and environment in a much more personal way. The travel itch isn’t gone, just re-directed. I’m still voyaging.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *