Lessons learned in my second cycle.
It's been a little over two months since I went car free unintentionally since my accident. I have to say that it's not been as hard I as remember, and there are some real benefits to self locomotion for commuting as Arduous shares on her blog. But it hasn't been easy. The things that have made this stint of carfreeness work are the following:
1) You have to have very sympathetic friends. Now most of my friends consider me a bit of a nut case, with my crazy rules, beliefs and causes. But they are also have sympathy for me and are willing to shuttle me around to be able to participate in social activities or else choosing venues that are close to mass transit.
2) My work and stores are all within mass transit distances to make it possible. If I lived where my brother lived when he lived in the Portland suburbs or back in Colorado where office parks are isolated from the town, as as shopping centers. This would not be possible. Density provides options. Lack of density restricts engagement to those with cars only. An interesting note is that people has asked me how I do grocery shopping? And it's actually pretty easy since I have a Safeway that is about 2.5 miles from my places and most of it is available via bike paths should I choose. I take side streets and bike paths for efficiency. Bicycle panniers make it easy to bring food back and forth. And aside from a break up induced stupor to my Trader Joe's for some scotch. I've been doing pretty well getting food as I need. Also fortunate is that there is a neighborhood market about 10 minutes walk away from me which helps a lot.
3) I have autonomy with my schedule. If I was to get bumped from a train and did shift work that would be a problem.
Even when I had a car, my driving was less than the California standard of 15,000 miles a year. I will probably get a car for the exceptions as I shop for a used Priur. While it is definitely possible to live car free, it is dependent on city planning to enable it. I am worried about Caltrain cutting schedules, and the more I research the High Speed Rail initiative it seems a boondoggle to fund jobs. We really need to spend those monies improving regional transit where it'll make mass transit competitive with driving. For all those who point to other countries high rail systems between cities, they forget to mention that these countries also have excellent regional mass transit systems too. Let's not put the cart in front of the horse. Supporting the common case is more important than the exciting case.
The experiment continues.