Saturday, December 15, 2012

It's not a principle thing.

I've lived a car-free life for a while now. Actually I've never had a car (though at times I have had pretty much free access to them). It's not so bad for the most part. I bike or walk pretty much everywhere which is great in town. Out of town it's not so great. Within about 15 miles it's no big deal, but if I want to go further I pretty much have to plan my day around it.

The past couple of months though it's been a little more inconvenient. In October there was a bike race and a run I had planned on going to but couldn't because of transportation. This weekend I had considered going north to find snow, but didn't in part because no one else seemed to want to play my game (ie. give me a ride).

Granted, here are ways of getting around without owning a car and I've used most of them, but most are beyond inconvenient. Anyone who has tried to use the intercity bus system here in the US knows that. Car rental is okay, but expensive, especially when you don't have auto insurance and have to purchase that as well. Finding someone who is going the same place as you works pretty well, but can be a hassle to arrange and sometimes feels a little cheap or “dirtbag,” plus you're at the mercy of their schedule.

So lately I've been thinking about whether or not it makes sense for me to buy a car. The initial cost doesn't bother me. I can drop the cash on a reliable vehicle. The things that get me are the costs associated with car ownership: insurance, gas, maintenance, parking that quickly add up to more than the cost of the car itself. And then there are the costs that might not be so obvious, but come along (at least for me) with car ownership: race entry fees, fast food, hotel/campground fees.

I worry as well that if I were to get a car it would be too easy for me to drive where I once biked or walked. I don't care to be car dependent (though it might be said that I already am).

Then there's the identity problem. Who am I if I have a car? I already went through that when I got a phone. It gets tiring quickly when everyone seems to comment, “whoa, you got an X.” Yes, I did. Like everyone else.

Right now circumstances are still in favor of no car for me. I just don't have the desire to put that much money towards something I'll use once or twice a month. So I doubt I'll be getting a car any time soon, but the day may (and probably will) come.


wildknits said...

Maybe there are enough like-minded folks in the area to start some sort of car cooperative/car share?

Something similar to this perhaps:

Finding a line between owning things and our things "owning us" is interesting.

Matt Maxwell said...

Iowa City recently got zipcar service, which appears similar to the igocars service. For my purposes traditional car rental makes more sense though. Usually when I need a car I need it for at least three days and 300+ miles. Of course having access to a car for short trips might get me to the local mountain bike trails and state parks more often.

wildknits said...

There is that (needing a car for long distance/longer-term travel). The funny thing is, often the car will sit, unused, for a significant portion of the time anyway on those trips.

But yes, getting to local trails that are just out of easy reach via bike/foot is a bonus of having a motorized vehicle (or vehicles in my case) at your disposal.