Today is World Carfree Day, which for me, is not so different from any other day, since most days I get around by walking and taking the bus. So when I was reminded of the day by TransForm on Twitter yesterday, I struggled a bit with how I would celebrate and what I might write here.
I’ve already gone on and on about how awesome it is to not own a car and how much I love getting around on the bus and by foot (even if sometimes it’s challenging and frustrating). But the truth is that the bus system and my feet are not enough. There’s one thing that allowed me to give away my car, and it might seem odd, but that thing is actually another car. Specifically, a taxi.
Every morning I walk or bus to work and most days I do the same to get home, either from work or from whatever I go to after work. During the summer, these forms of transportation serve me well, as the sun doesn’t fully set until after 8pm. But once the sun does set (and this will start happening earlier and earlier in the coming weeks), my neighborhood is a bit creepy. There aren’t nearly enough street lights and it’s rare to see someone walking around after dark.
If I still owned a car, I might plan to take a car to work when I knew I had late nights ahead of me (I used to do this sometimes years ago). And even now, I sometimes get rides from friends, but I can’t (and don’t want to) depend on this. So a taxi is my easy back up. Especially when I’m downtown (which I often am at night) or somewhere else taxis frequent, like Temescal or Rockridge, I know a cab is just a call and a 5-10 minute wait away. I live centrally, so even with tip, my cab rides usually cost under $10.
So why am I writing about getting around in a car on World Carfree Day? Well, the truth is that our world is not going to be entirely carfree anytime in the foreseeable future, nor would I want it to be. (Without my wife’s car, there’s no way I could have the amazing garden I wrote about yesterday - I couldn’t take home five big bags of dirt on the bus.)
But what could happen is more people could get rid of their cars, and part of the barrier to doing that is concern about being able to get around – at all times of the day. Since folks in Oakland (and other places) often seem not to know that taxis are a viable means of transportation, I wanted to let them know that they are. Sure – like any means of transportation they have their problems. Just like the bus, they sometimes show up late. Just like cars, they can be a bit pricey, especially if you aren’t as centrally located as I am. But overall, they’re fairly reliable and a great fallback when transit, walking or biking aren’t the best options.
So on this World Carfree Day I’m asking car owners to try out taxis. You might find – coupled with carfree means of transportation – that they allow you to drive your car less or to maybe one day, like me, get rid of it entirely.