By Dom Nozzi
For me, getting around without a car is much easier than most think.
To start with, it is usually a good idea to live in a college town, where one typically finds relatively good facilities for walking, bicycling, and transit (which tends to be coupled with the “safety in numbers” benefit: studies show that when a lot of people are bicycling, it is much safer — and more enjoyable).
Because Boulder, Colorado is relatively compact in terms of where places are located (and is not overloaded with high-speed, multi-lane roads that are too dangerous to bike), it is fairly easy for me to get nearly everywhere I need to go by bike. Or walking. If distances are too long or weather is unpleasant, there is a great bus system here (best of any city the size of Boulder in the nation, and I have a free bus pass).
And when there is no bus service, it is easy for me to share a ride with someone else going to the same place. This is particularly easy when I am in a relationship and my significant other and I are sharing her car and its expenses.
I have never had to do this, but another option is the growing availability of car-share companies such as Zip Car or Uber.
Why did I choose to be car-free? Well, it makes me quite secure, financially (I was able to retire at age 47!). Cars cost a lot more money than most realize. In addition, when I drive a car, it induces stress, high blood pressure, and hostility in me. So I feel those things much less by not driving. Also, I am naturally more physically fit by not driving (a big cause of our obesity epidemic is excessive car travel and resulting inactivity). I like the fringe benefit that bicycling or walking puts me in a happy mood. And I am able to be much more sociable than if I am inside a high-speed metal box.
In sum, I was MORE than happy to trade off a slight increase in travel inconvenience for all of the benefits I list above.
I often wonder why so many Americans have NOT made the choice I have made.