I am convinced we could live without a car. Granted, there are certain conveniences we would have to go without, but having given it some thought, I think going without a car would not be an unsolvable problem.
Reading a post on AL6400 about the vehicle lifestyle got me thinking. I don’t think it’s a lifestyle as much as it is an entire mindset. Not having ready access to a car at all times is simply inconceivable to most Americans. On the other hand, I grew up in a country where cars and gas were very expensive (due to substantial government taxes) and thus trips or even owning a car was not taken for granted. (In our high school of about 300 students, there were a total of 2 students that had their own car).
So let’s look at this rationally.
We have already established that I can get to work without a car. I have even established that I can get to work without a bike (granted, that would require either 2:10 hours of walking or 1:20 minutes of running a day).
We have also established that it takes 25-30 minutes to walk to the nearest supermarket from our house. Similarly it takes about 40 minutes to get to Walmart. Better yet, it takes 10 minutes to get to the local ethnic store. Getting panniers for the bike would cut these times in half.
DW works two blocks away from a mass transit center (with a bus stop). We live one block away from a bus stop. Unfortunately, this would require changing busses once. Currently, the car commute takes 1 hour a day. I think the public transport option would double that time, but most of that time could be spent reading a book in the bus rather than doing 0-15 mph stop and go on the freeway.
So what does the car cost us. I think $2000/year is a fair number (I haven’t done any detailed calculations). On top of that is increased health (while this is not so valuable now, it sets the trend for how things are going to be in 20 years – I don’t know about you guys but when I’m 60 I plan to be running young whippersnappers into the ground at the local pick-up games). So I think in combination we’re trading convenience for a few, possibly several, years of work-free living and a few, possibly several, years of life-span. This is the main reason I hate our car.