Can I Go Car-Free in Austin?

When I signed up for a recent workshop in Northwest Austin, I thought, “I’ll need to get from downtown to Anderson Mill and Hwy. 183 at 6:00 pm on a Friday. OK, there will be rush hour. But surely I can handle sitting in the worst of rush hour for just one afternoon.”

Well, I was wrong. Maybe it’s my own fault for ONLY budgeting 45 minutes for a journey that takes 20 minutes without traffic. But it wasn’t just the amount ofScreen shot 2016-02-17 at 12.01.13 PM time. If you’ve ever tried to get somewhere at a certain time during rush hour, you probably know the stress of staring at a bumper, while your Google Maps ETA gets further and further away. Everyone else on the road seemed to share my frustration, too – they were constantly changing lanes, without a turn signal, in a futile attempt to reach their destination faster by getting one car length ahead.

If I’m being honest, even driving when there isn’t traffic has been stressing me out lately. I guess I’m spoiled from sitting on the bus, blissfully oblivious to the cars around me. But whatever the reason, I just don’t really enjoy driving any more. And the other thing I don’t like? The amount of money my insurance and car payments are costing me, for a grand total of about three or four outings in my little Honda Fit each week.

Last year, Roger Cauvin wrote a guest column about his family’s journey to living car free in downtown Austin. It got me thinking about what I actually need a car for: grocery shopping and visiting my family in Round Rock, and the occasional doctor appointment. Most of those trips I make with my boyfriend anyway – and yes, he has a car, too. So, can we be a one-car family?

I tried ZipCar for the first time recently, for a doctor appointment on Bee Cave Rd in the middle of the workday. Other than some trouble starting the car (which I admit was completely user error, and the ZipCar staff helped me right away) it was a breeze. I walked five blocks to the sedan I had reserved, flashed my card, and zipped off to my appointment. Plus, I was driving an even nicer car than my little Honda! The total cost was about $15. Even if I had one of those appointments each week, it would be significantly cheaper than my monthly car payment.

Between Capital Metro, car2go, ZipCar, Lyft, my own two feet, and some creative scheduling – I really don’t think I need my car anymore. It will be a bittersweet goodbye. But I have to admit, being able to pick and choose my best transportation option for every trip kind of feels like a super power. So, if you ever need help with your commute, just contact…

THE AMAZING MOBILITY SHIELD-MAIDEN! Fighting traffic one trip at a time

2 Responses to Can I Go Car-Free in Austin?

  1. Charley says:

    What a great insight and thoughtful blog! Has me considering my own relationship – with my car, that is. Breaking up is hard to do, but sometimes it’s best for everyone. 😉

  2. Carolyn says:

    What a grand adventure! It really made me think about whether or not I need my car, and looking at what I use it for. You somehow make it sound like a lot of fun and empowering to find better transportation options. Thank you for sparking some ideas for me!