In January (2022), when my 22-year-old car needed a new flywheel and none could be found, I decided to try getting along without it. Eleven months later, I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to owning a car, at least as long as I’m living something like my current life in my current neighborhood.
- It’s possible. St. Louis can be managed without a car, but it takes some extra planning and patience, as well as a willingness to rethink how you carry out common tasks like getting to work and shopping for groceries.
- Public transit has a lot to recommend it. Trips on the train or bus offer a great opportunity to read, listen to podcasts, or just stare out the window (and in the bus, you get a great view since you’re sitting much higher than you would be in a car).
- No need for a gym. The incidental exercise I get as a transit user (i.e., the Metrolink does not stop outside my front door) means I don’t need to bother with intentional exercise, nor do I have to worry about “outgrowing” my clothes.
- You save a lot of money. I get a pass from my job, but even if I hadn’t the cost of using public transportation is a fraction of what it costs to buy, operate, and maintain a car.
- Less stress. Driving and car ownership were both sources of stress in my life that I’m glad to be rid of.
- The noise. From the perspective of a pedestrian or a cyclist, cars are incredibly noisy. Drivers don’t care, since they’re insulated from the racket they’re producing.
- The danger. St. Louis drivers run a lot of red lights, turn from whatever lane they like, and use their phones constantly, so it’s a wonder the body count isn’t higher than it already is.*
- Community. You might think you’re the only one, but once you let it slip that you don’t own a car, other people come forward and before you know it, you’re trading tips and tricks and war stories like old friends. | Sarah Boslaugh
*Clearly, some people need to hear that old Driver’s Ed. speech again: “A car is a deadly weapon. When you driver a car, you are operating a deadly weapon…”