Tag Archives: Living without a Car

Car Free, Two Years and Counting . . .


I sold my car to CarMax in Burbank on June 7, 2013.

This is a picture of my bike, a few months ago, at a stop for donuts. It’s called Don_t Time. (cause the only thing missing is U) The person in the photo is just someone else stopping for donuts, it’s not me. I took the picture.

The donut stand on Magnolia and Keystone in Burbank.

The donut stand on Magnolia and Keystone in Burbank.

Ironically, yesterday I had to make a trip for which the clearly most appropriate way to get there (to West Hollywood from my house in Valley Village) was by car. So I called Uber, and the driver that picked me up had the exact make and model car that I sold two years ago (a Scion Xa).

So, an update, how’s it going, you ask?

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that sometimes I make plans in my head to buy another car. I’ll tell myself, yes, you should just grow up and buy a car, by the end of the year. I mean, you can’t ride your bike forever, what are you, 60? Yes, I’m 60. But then again I don’t ride everywhere. I do ride around the neighborhood, but I also walk a great deal, take a good amount of buses and trains.

And sometimes, like yesterday, a car is the best option and I’ll call an Uber or a cab. Still, even a pretty liberal use of services like those is so much cheaper and better for the environment than actually owning a motor vehicle is.

So I tell myself, along with the plan to buy another car, to do a month of car-sharing before I’d ever actually pull that plug on the car-free experiment. If I’m truly not happy using, say, Uber for those destinations that are just too late or too difficult then, sure, go ahead and buy that car and have all that misery refunded (sorry, 12-step, I’m borrowing some of your language).

What I suspect will happen is that I’ll still be car free when 2016 rolls around. Because I love saving all that money. Cause I really do like to walk. Because the lower amount of stress in my life (from not owning a car) is something I feel deep in my bones.

It is eminently doable, for those of you on the fence. Try it, what have you got to lose? You can always get a car again.

In the meantime, it will be me still ordering those 40-roll packs of TP from Amazon and using my Uber app when I just have to get to Santa Monica in a hurry for tacos or something.

Gotta go – riding the bike over to my neighborhood movie theater. They have a special free bike parking section out in front.



Update on Car-Free Living in Los Angeles

Pedestrians and bicyclists take over Wilshire Boulevard during a recent CicLAvia

Pedestrians and bicyclists take over Wilshire Boulevard during a recent CicLAvia

So it’s been four months now in my car-free L.A. experiment. Other than three weeks in August when I was in NY (of course, I was also car free there!) I’ve been here the whole time, in L.A., in Valley Village, basically the core of the summer as we often describe it (or as the Beach Boys did, from “July to the end of September,” Beach Baby).

So how’s it working? I’m happy to report all the walking and biking has certainly kept my weight steady – I’d lost about 20 lbs. since March and have been able to maintain that. I do realize the biking portion of the program has really been assisted by a) warm/hot weather and b) the extended daylight of summer. Will my willingness to ride places be compromised when it gets dark at 5 p.m. in a month or so? I have good lights, I could use more reflectors and reflective clothing. I also like these things that light up your wheels.

Do I still worry about how my decision will be perceived? (Are you a loser? Are you too poor now to have a car???) Honestly, yes, still a little bit – but much less. I guess I’ve become the weird old guy on the bike.

The reaction from a couple of my friends who I thought would be shocked¬†that I sold my car was really rather mild — and while I wouldn’t say hugely supportive — was not unsupportive in the least. Others are extremely curious about how I get places and do things. Almost without exception, people here in L.A. understand why someone would want to get rid of the car — the source of so much frustration and irritation here, not to mention the money pit aspects.

Anecdotally, I pick up that more and more people are trying public transport here — of course, that’s a middle class person’s luxury problem. But the truth is that L.A. and the Southern California regional area have made great strides in the past decade-plus on its public transport infrastructure, and it’s working better and just a whole lot more pleasant than it used to be.

More of that, please!