Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Going Car Free

My Car

I use my car so little now, some are actually surprised I still have one. I do in fact still have a car, a compact trusty little 99 Honda Civic hatchback. However these days it has been dejectedly reduced to driving to the opposite side of the road for street cleaning. I kept holding on to it for those rare occasions I use a car, like getting across town late at night when I'm tired and the busses don't run, or driving my bike to a race too far to ride to.

In our culture there is a strong psychological barrier to not owning a car when you can afford to keep one, especially in such a car centric city like Los Angeles. When I've discussed the idea of selling the car to others, I often gets looks as though I am crazy, even from people who use cycling for some of their commuting. After months of seldom car use, yet still paying for parking permits, registration, insurance, parking tickets (when I forget street cleaning days), I finally can no longer rationalize keeping it. For the times I do really need a car to get somewhere, which for me comes out to usually 2-3 times a month, it comes out cheaper to rent a car compared to the expenses associated with not using the car I own.

So at long last I have begun taking steps forward in ditching the car, and will soon join the small, but growing movement of people who are car free in Los Angeles by deliberate choice, and not necessarily forced to it by economic necessity. To increase my cycling carrying capacity I'm considering converting my commuter bike to a utility bike using the Extracycle FreeRadical system. However I will have to wait a few weeks to order the kit. Due to a sudden increased demand for utilitarian bikes in light of high gas prices, they are sold out of all their stock and are now taking a waiting list.

With the hassle and expense of car ownership out weighing the value I get out of it now, I'm really looking forward to going car free. I'll keep you all posted on how it goes.

(Sign reads: The Revolution Will Not Be Motorized. Photo credit: flickr user Modern Times.)


ephemerae said...

come and join the ranks of the consciously carfree. i find that if i ever *REALLY* need a car, i can rent one, or get a taxi, and this works out way more resource efficient cheaper than owning one. most cars are sitting around doing nothing most of the time anyway.

Will Campbell... said...

I'm pretty much in the same boat with my 97 pickup. I've put 130 miles on it in the past 45 days mostly for trips to Costco and such and I just can't bring myself to cut the cord. My wife has a 1994 Honda hatchback that she uses for her six-mile roundtrip commute to and from work.

I doubt we'll ever go car free, but with all the cycling I'm doing now for sure we'll ultimately consolidate into a one-car household -- at most a one car/one scooter household... and four bikes.

Mikey P said...

Major props to you Gary. I too have been slowly trying to wean myself off the car. I've been quickly ramping up the miles on the bike commute.. but would still find it nearly impossible to not have a car, especially in the SGV.

Gary said...

I know it's a much tougher choice to make depending on what part of LA you live in and where you work. It was an easier decision for me to make, since I am both living and working in Santa Monica. I even rollerblade to work sometimes the commute is so short. And even when I do go across town, say to visit Meghan in Hollywood, I usually just bike then too. So car use for me is an exception rather then the norm.