Accidental Undriver (there are no accidents?)

January 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogroll, Undriver Stories

Undriver #1: Julia Field

The concept of Undriving was born in May, 2007…..and the Undriver Licensing Station launched in September, 2007.  Three years before that, I had a car accident that changed my life…..for the better, much to my surprise! -Julia Field, Undriving Founder/Director


Live without a car??? This might seem like a radical idea, or even something inconceivable – that was certainly the case for me five years ago, until it just happened.

For 17 years I’d had a Honda Civic hatchback, which I always assumed I’d drive into the ground. It still had a good 100,000 miles to go, when I crashed it into the back of a van, which then hit another car. “Inattentive driving.” My car was pretty banged up, and I was pretty shook up; I first decided to not repair it, and then, mostly out of fear, to not replace it.

My life as I knew it, I thought, was surely over.  How would I get to all the places I needed to be?  From this inauspicious beginning, I started discovering the many joys of being car-free.  The benefits far outweigh the minor inconveniences.  I’ll outline some of them here:

- I am saving a LOT of money each year, not paying for car insurance, maintenance, repairs, gas, etc.

- I bicycle and walk a lot more – getting fresh air and exercise.  A bike trailer really expands options!

- I travel a lot by bus, which in Seattle is a good way to go. I get a lot more reading done, have conversations with people I wouldn’t meet otherwise, encounter a wonderful cross-section of humanity, and feel more connected than when I drove around in my own little bubble.  And with an iPhone, I can check email, get route and schedule information, even find out in real time where my bus is.

-I do less running around. I don’t go to as many events, and I consolidate my errands. Rather than depriving me, this has simplified my life.

- My stress level has gone down considerably. Driving in a city is stressful, and I don’t miss it one bit.

- I can rent a car or call a cab when I need to, and still be way ahead financially.  I haven’t yet joined Zipcar, but that’s a great option too.

- I have one less major Item to care for, clean, neglect, or lose things in!

- I am not contributing as much to global warming (though my occasional air travel still gives me plenty to carbon-offset).

- I am enjoying and interacting in my own neighborhood more. I am incredibly fortunate to live in a very walkable area (Walk Score: 92) — the post office, bank, grocery stores, library, restaurants, shops, health club, music venues, etc., are all within a few blocks.

I am still amazed that I “accidentally” went from not even being willing to consider life without a car, to not ever wanting to have one again. The Prius used to be my dream car; now my car dream is about more people waking up to the joys of Undriving – whether they own a car or not.   Who would have thunk it?

-Julia Field

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