Wednesday, June 27, 2007

On the Topic of Living Car-Free

I've been living car-free since May of 2003, which puts my SBQ (Smug Bastard Quotiant) at about 4 million SBQ points these days. The car-free life hasn't been too bad overall - certainly not ideal, but I've managed pretty well thanks to some very kind friends who occasionally offer to haul my ass to Target and brunch every now and then. The combination of a bus pass plus my BFF Flexcar has really been a lifesaver.

Now that I'll be a California resident in just a few short days, I've been thinking/stressing out about what life will be like down there without a car. In the two trips I've made down to the Bay Area lately, it's been amazing to see the reactions that my car-free life gets from people. I might as well be a traveling circus freak, it seems - Californians seems to Love Their Cars Big Time. After all, in all those movie scenes of sporty convertibles driving along the Malibu highways, you don't exactly see buses and light rail, do you?

Take my recent apartment hunting experience - when I asked how close things were, i.e., the grocery store, restaurants, public transportation, etc., the notion of what is "close" and "far" were very different between the Car Drivers and the Non Car Drivers. When you don't have a car, your world shrinks tremendously. A twenty-minute drive to downtown San Francisco isn't exactly "close." Your basic needs need to be within easy walking distance - which is about six blocks, max, in my mind - let's face it, when you need cat food and brie at 10 p.m., you don't want to have to hoof it for a three mile walk.

On the bright side, my new apartment seems convenient to pretty much everything, including a Trader Joe's, which guarantees my access to affordable wine and cheese. We'll see how it goes in the coming weeks. Anyone out there got Bay Area public transport tips?

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