When I was a kid, in the 1970s and a teen in the 1980s, our family had one car and so did everyone else. I don’t think I knew any family with two cars, unless they were proper fancy. If Mum needed the car one day, she would drive Dad to work and collect him after, so we had the car to zip around in all day. Usually, we would catch the bus into town or walk to the village and all help carry bags home.
One of the first things I noticed when we moved to the United States 11 years ago was the overhead wires and cables, everywhere, wires in the sky across the garden and the roads, making the clouds ugly. The other thing I noticed was the amount and size of cars people own and drive. Every house seems to have a massive people carrier the likes of which were only used in the UK for trips involving a group of people and often a camping trip. Filling a car here seems to be a terrible idea, four people in a 4-5 seater – never! Two to four people clearly need a seven seater to fill with car seats and Goldfish crackers and toys and DVDs and anything to distract from what might be going on outside the windows.
On the other hand it is almost dangerous to own a small car like a Mini or a Smart car, they are so tiny compared to the rest of the vehicles on the roads.
So, how about less cars per drive?
How about one car less, not car-less, just a car less? One car, per house?
Where I live, a car is considered a necessity if not an extra body part. I don’t have one (car, not an extra body part) and I have no drivers license, I can operate a car, but don’t.
I have carried on like this for the past 11 years and I consider myself to be getting on and around just fine. Our family has a car, just one, which my husband drives.
Lately a friend of mine has decided to go down to one car for her family and they are doing fine, now her family is thinking of going car-less. No car. At all.
There are taxis and rentals, buses and trains, although of course these can’t get you everywhere. Or can they? Maybe I am not trying hard enough.
This got me thinking about whether the ‘no car’ thing is a good idea or not? Forgetting for a minute, that this is pretty much how I live my life.
So I ponder, what are the pros and cons of no/hardly any car?
Well, on the plus side, it must be cheaper, we have only ever owned one car, so I have no benchmark, but heck it must be a money saver.
Your family’s carbon footprint will be self righteously lower (remember kids, recycle and compost too).
Walking is healthier, than sitting.
You see a whole lot more of the seasons and the life in them. People, dogs, butterflies, birds…….possums…and one of my favourites, mushrooms!
Shopping at Target and carrying it all home is a full body work out, depending on what you buy, but who ever goes to Target and comes home with only the shampoo they went for? No-one, that’s who.
You will be spotted and greeted everywhere you go and people are always fascinated that you walk. Get to know your neighbourhood, walk and meet the people and the dogs.
Carrying a bag full of library books is also a great workout.
You become a weather enthusiast. Will it rain before I leave for school or will I get soaked to the skin and possibly struck down by lightning? All important stuff to know.
You do get to know your area and how to get out and about to other places, the kids also learn where things are and how to get there. It can be fun, take your camera!
On the other side of the four wheeled coin, what is not so great? Well I am glad you asked –
Extreme weather is a jolly inconvenience. Slip sliding on ice to school is not a fun time, nor is sweating to the swimming pool then sweating back home and trying to hang onto the memory of cool water as it sweats out of your brow and into your eyes.
Dirty summer flip flop walking feet are gross and one of the reasons I don’t frequent nail salons.
There is much less opportunity to wear pretty shoes, remember you will be walking to and from that party/book club/glass of wine at your friend’s house.
Shopping at Target and carrying it all home makes you a sweaty mess in the summer, whether you only bought that shampoo or a basket full and we all know you are never going to just buy shampoo.
You can only buy what will fit in your basket – no carts, remember you have to carry this little lot home.
A simple trip out can involve a spot of planning, is there a bus? Train? Just how far is a reasonable walk?
You become weirdly weather obsessed – will it rain on the way to the train? Is it too hot to walk to the shops and not melt in a sweaty puddle part way there? Will I freeze solid on the way to the gym (no walking is not my workout).
Food shopping for more than a meal or two is a complete nightmare, or maybe I just need to push the whole cart home, and just keep it for next time, after all there is room on the drive! Yes, food shopping needs a car in my opinion.
What do you think? Could you do without your car? Do you even have a car? How is the walking situation/public transit where you are?