Car free in Boston, for all the wrong reasons
I’m currently in transportation transition. By the end of the month, I will have transferred my aging VW into my partner’s name, and canceled my own insurance. I will have tuned up my bike, spent a good chunk of money on a metro pass, and signed up with the local car-sharing business. But I’m not here to moralize (unlike in most of my posts). I tanked the car for all the wrong reasons.
It was an easy decision to make, after I took my soon-to-be-ex car into the mechanic for a tune-up and came out minus $2,500; and after the 45-minute car trip to Chinatown (which is two miles away); and the stepped-up parking-ticket issuance of the past year (state budget crisis, perhaps?); and the gas prices; and getting the bumper dinged while it parked in front of my house. Plus the utter unlovliness of my car is at its most obvious in February, with a thin coating of salt and mud covering every outer surface, and the interior afflicted with the same, plus a heavy sprinkling of Goldfish-cracker crumbs.
There’s also the peer-pressure issue: None of the climate activists drive around here. They bike, they walk, they tow their groceries and their babies for miles in fierce Boston traffic and fierce Boston winters. They’ve all been doored and flung and middle-fingered. And they’re all about 10 pounds lighter than I am.
Here’s another unimpressive reason: I’m just a cheapskate. The new less-mobile me should save $2,000 to $3,000 every year.
Yesterday, I used a long metro ride to consider all the pros and cons of car-free life. Got stuck trying to imagine getting the boys to hockey practice without wheels. Worried about how much our camping trips would cost with a rented vehicle. But then I had a lively taxi ride home with a Russian cabbie who was—like all Boston cab drivers–also a civil engineer, and spoke four languages.
Decided the hassles would be worth it. Oh, and then there’s that low-carbon thingy we’re into …