Hey fans! While the Cubert family is off on a week-long hiatus, I’ve invited some wonderful blogging friends to share some entertaining and informative stories. Mrs. Adventure Rich resides on the Lake Michigan side of the mitten-state. I’m from Michigan, and reading her posts brings back good memories. Mrs. AR’s blog is Adventure Rich: How to live a rich and beautiful life, full of adventure, as we pursue financial independence.
Carless is a Thing!
Everywhere I look, going “carless” is all the craze. Whether it be for environmental, health, lifestyle or other reasons, ditching a car in favor of public transportation, bicycles, scooters and our own two feet is entirely achievable (and rewarding!) It is an exciting trend I fully support on many levels…
But what happens if you are not able to go carless? How does one live a carless life without being near work, town or school? After finding our dream home in a rural area 5 miles from our local town, I struggled with these questions.
But instead of throwing up our hands and saying “well, I guess it’s just not for us!”, my husband and I began to build-in carless features to our life, creating a semi-carless existence. We did so by employing several combined transportation techniques to meet our practical needs, while still scratching our carless itch.
Introducing, our key semi-carless techniques!
1) The Park and Ride
The day is gorgeous, the beach or local park is calling, the kiddo is ready for an adventure aaaaand the local week-long festival means that parking in our town (a mere 7 minute drive away) will be about as easy as grabbing a mosquito by its wings. What to do?!? We implement our first semi-carless technique… we park and bike ride!
The park and bike ride technique is simple. After loading up our bikes and bike trailer/toddler transport, we are on our way. Parking outside of town becomes a bit easier. So, we pick a side street or one of the local Rails-to-Trails system trailheads and head into town, effortlessly cruising past the traffic and packed parking lots.
This technique can be adjusted to accommodate walking or public transit options instead, depending on location, distance and weather.
2) The Central Location
While it is great to park and ride, that technique has its limitations. Whether it’s the need to haul substantial stuff (grocery trips, etc) or the weather gets rotten for biking (read: northern Michigan winters), the central location technique can come in handy!
The technique is simple: find a centrally located parking spot and embark on your mission (without driving to and fro, in and out of your car, parking all over town throughout your day). Whether your mission includes errands, groceries, doctor’s visits, or just a day of fun, the central location hack provides our family with a carless experience for a majority of the day, without the wasted time and energy of getting in and out of a car and finding parking over and over again!
I discovered the beauty of this technique when I had a baby in tow for the first time. My errand days became exponentially more difficult and stressful when I had to wrestle a baby in and out of the car seat at every stop.
Suddenly, I started looking for parking spots within walking distance of stores. I figured it the only option, allowing me to load up the stroller and return to my car, and drop off items when the stroller was maxed out, or when I was ready to head home. Whew. Those were the days…
3) The Drop and Go
Many cities and even smaller towns have active public transit systems which include the ability to bring a bike along via a bike rack on the front or back of a bus or a bike section on the train. This provides a unique opportunity to “Drop and Go” (or vice versa).
The Drop and Go technique consists of taking some form of public transportation to a further location (local destination, other side of town, etc.) and biking back to either the public transit hub where your car is, or back home.
The use of public transit in the Drop and Go technique greatly widens your radius for carless adventures and provides an opportunity to explore new areas, by bike (of course!)
4) The Switch
My husband and I love biking into town, but due to safety concerns, it isn’t feasible to make the trek with a child’s bike trailer in tow. So, we execute our fourth transportation technique, the switch!
The switch is simple. Spouse-A drives to town with the kiddo and Bike A strapped in and on the car, while Spouse-B rides Bike-B into town. We meet, either walk or bike around town, or attend an event (beach day, spend time with friends, etc.) Once ready to leave, Spouse-B becomes the driver, with Bike-B in tow, while Spouse-A is now free to cruise on back home on Bike-A. Perfectly executed switch!
Didja get all that? Just don’t get confused and leave the kiddo behind.
Whether walking, biking, or using some other form of non-car transportation (canoes and kayaks anyone?), the benefits of utilizing the semi-carless techniques abound!
- Environmental Benefits– Generally, less car use = better for the environment. Why not go semi-carless?
- “Easy” Button– Sure, it may not be “easy” to bike across town or walk back to your car with a handful of groceries, but depending on where you live, this can be far easier than battling traffic, fighting for parking, and spending time driving from place to place.
- Healthy Lifestyle– Get my workout in while completing my grocery trip at the same time? Yes, please! Taking the time to use a semi-carless transportation technique provides general exercise plus a bit of fresh air and the endorphin boost of moving your body!
- Fun with Family and Friends– Our semi-carless days often become family fun or a perfect way to enjoy a date night. We have time to slow down, observe our surroundings, chat as we walk or bike around town.
- A Bit of Good Ole Adventure– For me, getting outside becomes an adventure. We see our town in a whole new light, explore areas not accessible or not expedient by car (trails, local neighborhoods, cool bridges, etc.). I learn something new every time I use a semi-carless technique!
The list above is not an exhaustive list of the semi-carless techniques, but it can give you a starting point for a semi-carless life! Comment below with your favorite technique or share the love by providing other techniques for Abandoned Cubicle readers to consider!
Cubert’s notes: The main take-away for me is that this approach is possible no matter where you live. Even in rural or semi-rural communities, the techniques Mrs. AR describes above are well within reach. Give it a shot! The Cubert family is fortunate to live within a bike ride or walk to many amenities and it yields many benefits (finances and quality of life!) If we were in the Adventure Rich situation, living further from a town center, we’d similarly look for creative ways to go semi-carless.