I just read this in the Oregonian:
My year without a car
by Trudy Hussmann, guest opinion Saturday April 18, 2009, 3:21 PM
For 40 years, I took it for granted that I would always own a car. How else would I get to work, shopping, and social events? Over the decades, I moved up the vehicular ranks from a used VW Beetle to a used BMW.
My run of car ownership ended on April 21, 2008, when I wrecked the BMW by accidentally running a red light. Luck was not with me that cold and rainy evening. A car coming through the intersection broadsided the Beemer, sealing its fate. Fortunately, I and the other party came through relatively unscathed.
As I absorbed the full impact of the crash over the next several days, a decision formed in my mind: I would not get another car. The accident, the approach of summer, and the high gas prices created the perfect opportunity to try going carless.
I had already been bicycling the three miles to work sporadically; this just gave me an extra incentive. And since I live within reasonable walking distance of four bus lines and about a mile from the nearest MAX station, I had plenty of other options to fall back on.
I was pretty sure I could bike to work through the summer. The warm, dry weather made it easy. I enjoyed cruising through the back streets of the Irvington neighborhood, my skirt fluttering in the breeze. Often, I noticed things that made me smile -- like the chickens and the Vietnamese pot-bellied pig at Northeast 18th and Tillamook. I arrived at work feeling invigorated and returned home feeling relaxed.
At the end of six months, when the rainy season set in, I dared myself to continue biking over the winter. By then my investments had shrunk like wool in a hot washer, giving me one more reason not to invest in another car.
I discovered that, when outfitted for rain, it really wasn't so bad riding in it. In fact, I found it enlivening to be out in the elements. And I felt a greater appreciation for my warm, dry house after biking home from work in cold, wet darkness.
On the worst days, I took the bus, and when the snowstorms hit and the buses quit running, I simply walked to the office.
A year later, I'm still biking and busing and still not ready to buy a car. I know I can hold out until the economy is solidly in recovery, which might be another year. Meanwhile, I'm saving money I'd otherwise spend on gas, insurance, repairs and parking, not to mention a car payment.
The biggest surprise is how relatively easy it has been to make this transition. I feel fortunate to have so many transportation options close by. I know that's not true for everyone. But even if I bought a car now, I would still drive less and ride more. It makes me feel like a kid again.Trudy Hussmann lives in Northeast Portland"
I'm certainly not the only one.
268.82 miles cumulative
10.7528 total gallons saved