Thursday, November 6, 2008

First Year Anniversary

This month will mark my first year of living without a car. :) Hard to believe it's been a year already! Here are a few of my thoughts about being car-free:

1. I have come to enjoy and appreciate the slower pace, both in bicycling places, and using public transportation. I have done a good bit of reading in my public transit time, something I haven't had time for before. You'd think it wouldn't be possible for me to say I enjoy biking EVEN MORE than I have - but I do. I enjoy seeing the sights around me and exploring new areas. Cars zoom past me on the road...yes, they beat me to a destination, but I have more fun getting there. :) I also enjoy getting even more exercise than I did before. I appreciate the simplicity, ease and use of the bicycle.

2. I have saved about $2K in my savings account, which I add to each month. It's been neat to see the account grow, and I haven't withdrawn any of it. Someone mentioned that I could use the money to pay for any bicycling repairs or expenses I have. I suppose I could do that, if I didn't have the resources otherwise. I suppose I also could add more to the monthly amount that I deposit, but I was keeping it at the amount that equaled how much I had been spending in gas and insurance for my car.

3. I've explored getting around by bus, train, subway, plane, etc. Though sometimes it's been a little frustrating or slow to take public transportation, for the most part, I've managed alright and I've worked around some obstacles. I have made the adjustment in my mind of how long it will take to get to my destination. It's been neat to meet people in my travels who start up a conversation with me when they see me with my bike. It's been fun to share with them that I don't have a car and how I've managed to get around. Some people look at me with disbelief, and state they couldn't possibly live without a car. Others have told me they have enjoyed biking in the past and have been thinking about taking it up again. I tell them how great this area is with the bike paths, transportation, etc. and I encourage them to try it again.

4. The hourly/daily rates of renting a Zipcar has risen the past year. It'd be nice if it hadn't, but inflation has hit everywhere, so I'm not too surprised. When I had donated my car, Zipcar opened my account with $500 in driving credit, which is valid for a year. I remember talking with a co-worker about that credit, and told her that I BET I could make that $500 last all year long. Through the year, I have rented Zipcars as needed/wanted (8 times). I used the last free Zipcar rental recently, so now I'll be the one paying the hourly fee. Even though I like having Zipcar as an option, I probably can get along without it even less.

5. Thanks, Melinda! Lastly, (but not least!) I thank and appreciate my friend and roommate, Melinda, for rides to/from the airport, train depot, Zipcar locations. I have tried to schedule my returns to not be late at night, so it will allow me time to then bike home. Sometimes though, when I have finished a trip to other areas, I have been delayed along the way (unexpected transportation delays). So, even though I have TRIED to be back in town early, I get thwarted. It would be even later, if I were to try and bike home. Yawn... Melinda has been kind and gracious to come to my aid. We sometimes catch a meal together when we meet up, and I pay for her's in appreciation. Also, if I am with her when she happens to fill up her gas tank, I help out towards that. I also have helped her out a few times where I pick up items or run errands for her on my way biking home - which saves her a trip out, and she appreciates that. So, we help one another out. :)