TBT: Never Drive.

Obviously I wrote this post before Uber existed. Remember the days before Uber??? I've never used it or any other app service for a driver. It's not better than driving your own car in terms of pollution, safety, health, convenience, or cost. It's just a cheaper version of a taxi. So when I wrote about "not driving" back then, so-called "ride sharing" apps did not exist.

This was also before I got fed up dealing with men harassing me on the bus and the dangers of cycling on unsafe roads. It was definitely the era BC--"before child," when I was willing and able to take higher personal risks to get from one place to another.

I still walk rather than drive whenever I can, including walking my daughter to school every weekday (for the past two and a half years now!), and I love riding my bike to the grocery store with my family, now that we have a safe and beautiful wooded trail connecting us to the market and a kid old enough to ride her own bike. My street also has a sidewalk now, which is nice. And we encouraged my parents to move into our neighborhood after they retired, so now we can walk to their house.

I support the development of non-motorized pathways in my area, which are fortunately increasing little by little. Meanwhile, there are still communities, including mine, that have no reasonable alternatives to driving that can get you everywhere you need to go. So while we wait for our city to build an el train (one can dream!), we drive an electric car. I'll post about that on the next $Monday. Today, please consider (or laugh at) the following transportation advice from my 20s.


OK, "never" might not work for most of us, but whenever possible, be like one of those classy old-time ladies in a Jane Austen novel and don't drive yourself. Get a chauffeur (carpool--OK, you can drive if you're escorting others in your vehicle), take a stroll, ride your pony... or your bicycle... or travel by motorcoach (or, you know, bus).

Why, it is positively unbecoming to waste gasoline these days.

This century, not driving isn't about the disempowerment of delicate females. It's not even about gender. This advice applies equally to men, although perhaps the 19th century debutante metaphor won't be the most appealing. Anyway, THIS century, not driving is about the empowerment of Americans of any gender to be FREE: with regard to personal finances, independence from foreign oil products, and bodily health.

It is well known that French ladies eat cream and butter and pastries and stay physically fit. How? They get off their asses and walk. Americans love to drive cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs. Sadly, these vehicles, when not used in moderation, produce pore-clogging and cancerous emissions and the dreaded Soccer Mom Butt.

Walking whenever possible is a great way to enjoy good weather, meditate, chat with friends (without the danger of texting or using a cell phone while driving), and show off your thrift store finery to the neighborhood. Meanwhile you keep yourself fit and physically youthful. My neighborhood doesn't have sidewalks, but dammit, I walk when I can. My neighbors' plush lawns feel delightful underfoot. Whether you're in a big city or out in the boonies, taking a walk is a great way to get in touch with yourself and your surroundings.

Also, cycling is SO HOT RIGHT NOW. Whether you're a punk rock fixie badass or a beach cruiser type of girl, bust out your wheels this spring! Whether you compete in triathlons or you have a physical disability, there is probably a perfect bicycle or other high-tech body-powered wheeled apparatus out there for you. If you don't have your perfect ride already, visit a local bike shop to fix up your rusty old pile of junk or check out your options for a new vehicle. My husband and I picked up a baby trailer at the nicest cycling store in our area, and we use it for grocery shopping. You can load anything in there--children, dogs, groceries, firewood, cases of beer, whatever! And if, like me, you have a riding partner with far greater muscle power, you can make him or her drag the trailer to even out your pace.

Oh, and ALWAYS wear a helmet. It's not dorky. It's FABULOUS. Especially if you get one in your favorite color. If only they made Spongebob Squarepants helmets in adult sizes...
Finally, for adventurous souls, there is the modern wonder of public transportation. Listen, I KNOW. I ride the bus in Lansing all the time. It takes longer than driving. If you don't have a bus riding buddy, you're more than likely to get stuck sharing a seat with someone who hasn't bathed in a month, or who wants to "holla at ya." But grow up. Take some pepper spray in your pocket if it makes you feel better. (When I had to walk from my downtown apartment to the transfer station, it sure did.) Then, BE NICE. Learn to see the beauty and fabulosity in all types of people. Mingling with all kinds builds your character and wisdom, keeps you in touch with your community, and it sure as hell makes for some entertaining stories. On quieter and less exciting bus trips, you can bring a book to read or work to do.

Walking, biking, bus riding, and carpooling keep you more connected to other people and your physical environment than driving in your personal vehicle, and they all make you a healthier, better, sexier person. AND they're cheap! What value.

Happy travels!

Comments

  1. AWWWWSOME!

    To be perfectly honest, even though it may take me twice as long to get somewhere when I take the bus, I feel far superior to people who take one car (or earth destroying SUV's) per person when I'm on the bus. I get a little fresh air (or exhaust in my face, whatever) AND I'm better for the earth than they are! HOLLA!

    Also, use the Mexico Bus Riding Technique...if you want to sit alone, always sit in the isle seat and place something in the seat next to the window. You DO NOT have to sit next to anyone. You have the right to say no when someone wants to sit next to you or get up if you feel uncomfortable.

    I like to use my bus riding time for listening to music and people watching. I make up little stories for people I see on the bus or smiling at babies.

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