Guest Blog: How We Went Car-Free

Movability Austin board member Roger Cauvin writes about his family’s decision to go car-free, and how they made it work for them.

Roger and Stacey are pros at going car-free in any city!

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My wife and I are in the midst of an experiment.

About three months ago, we began to think about selling our only car and going without. We hardly used our car, anyway, and we don’t like the unproductive and frustrating time spent behind the wheel. But we wanted to make sure it wouldn’t be so disruptive to our lives that we would end up buying another one.

Over the years, we had already slimmed down from three cars to just one car, a Mercedes that has itself not seen much use over the past few years. But as part of our experiment, we decided to “pretend” we didn’t own a car, and to use other options to get around. The two of us were already frequent riders of public transportation, and we own bicycles, but we signed up for other options: Car2Go, ZipCar, and Uber.

We also created a spreadsheet to track our expenses during our experiment so we could compare them to what it costs us to own, operate, and maintain a car.

It’s been a surprisingly smooth transition. Here are some examples of trips we’ve made without driving our car:

  1. Twenty minute rides to and from the airport on the Airport Flyer bus.
  2. Ten minute bus rides on MetroRapid to and from South Congress H.E.B.
  3. Riding Megabus for business trips to Houston, working on a computer connected to the free wifi and power outlets.
  4. Walking to all sorts of nearby destinations from our loft in the heart of downtown.
  5. Using a combination of bus and bike to get to and from a civic meeting in North Austin.
  6. Driving a Car2Go to a civic meeting in East Austin.
  7. An Uber ride home from a Super Bowl party at a friend’s house in North Austin.
  8. Rode the train to Cedar Park to prepare for, and attend, a friend’s surprise birthday party.
  9. Rented a car from Enterprise to go to a party in West Lake Hills.

We’ve driven our car just once in the past three months, and we did so solely for the purpose of keeping the battery and lubrication system healthy.

It’s important to note that we’ve made deliberate decisions to live, work, and take care of our daily needs where mobility options are plentiful. The “walk score” of our home address is 98, and the bus stops near our home are among the busiest in the city. Our philosophy is that mobility options don’t come to you; you go to them.

Our experiment has gone surprisingly well, and it’s soon going to turn into a way of life. Anyone in the market for a 2001 Mercedes 320CLK?

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