Consciously car-free: Come share in the freedom!

By: Ashley Keenan

There is no denying we have created a vehicle centered culture. Cities are built around car ownership, and decades of marketing have convinced us that not only do we want to own personal automobiles but we feel we need them. As teenagers we lusted after car ownership, in adulthood we associate it with success and achievement. The bottom line is programmed into us – cars equal freedom. You have the ability to go where you want, when you want, and with whom you want.

We don’t usually think of  car ownership as a choice, but rather something you can either afford,  or 
not afford. One year ago I chose to give up my car for a variety of reasons; it needed expensive repairs, parking pass prices were increasing, and to be honest driving on a daily basis was becoming a source of stress. After months of thought I dove head first into the sharing economy —  organizations like Community CarShare which share an asset or a service with multiple users. The sharing economy has exploded around the world,  encouraging mutual use of things like cars, bikes, and tools which used to be only available to those who could purchase their own. I think the best thing about the sharing economy is you no longer have to chose between mobility and freedom. In fact I noticed  some great added perks:

  • Time efficiency – without a car you need to plan ahead and make the best use of your time
  • Physical activity – walking between locations, bus transfers and no longer hitting the drive-thru leads to a healthier lifestyle
  • Significant savings – even with the cost of taking the bus, using bike sharing and carsharing, I was still saving money since I didn’t need to pay for parking, gas, maintenance, and insurance
  • Less stress – I wasn’t wasting time in traffic(goodbye road rage) and I have more disposable income for life’s little pleasures
  • Increased sense of community – by far the most rewarding perk! I was surprised to learn how the car acts as a barrier to the world on the other side of that metal door

Keep in mind there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution to car ownership, however it is amazing that we have so many choices in how we get around. People who choose to own cars also do so for valid reasons and there is nothing wrong with that; what we need is the choice! In my experience more modes of transportation equals more freedom. If you have been on the fence on whether or not to become car-free come take the plunge and share in the freedom!