Accidental Undriver (there are no accidents?)
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?