Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It's easy to talk the talk

It was a sunny Sunday in May, and the 1993 Volvo just didn't want to go. The car had a temperamental history. Seemed to stop working for no apparent reason every once in a while. At least this time it was in my driveway, and not stuck in the Price Chopper parking lot, as it had been at least once before. I try to look at the bright side.

Gas prices had been rising. I'd been running my mouth about the planet, recycling, walkable neighborhoods, fossil fuels and the future. Feeling guilty every time I drove someplace that I really could walk to, or that was an easy bus ride away...places like my office, my daughter's school, the co-op.... So, rather than call AAA or a friend for help, it seemed the timing was right to venture out without a car.

I grabbed the two Sunday papers sitting on the front porch, and walked the healthy mile to the Muddy Cup for a relaxing Sunday morning read. It almost felt like the old days, the days before I was a Mom, when I had so much choice about how to spend my non-working hours, and would often enjoy Sunday mornings reading the paper in my neighborhood coffee shop.

It really was a beautiful spring morning. The air felt great, and I was proud to be using my neighborhood sidewalks.

After spending some leisurely time lounging and looking at the paper, I realized that time was ticking. My free time was actually limited-- and groceries needed getting.

Grocery shopping without a car is doable. I know this. I've spent much of my life shopping without a car. In my hometown of NYC, we didn't hop in the car to go grocery shopping -- that would have been counter-productive. And when I first came to Albany as an undergraduate student, I didn't have a car for years. I walked to Price Chopper and the co-op back then, so I could certainly do it now. I chose to live, work and send my daughter to school all right here in the same city after all, and part of that reasoning was that I could indeed get around without a car.

One thing that's different though, is that I'm now shopping for more than just me, so, as a walking person, I'd need a way to transport those family groceries back home... I'd need to purchase a shopping cart. And so began the start of my spring to action experiment -- learning to walk the walk.

It's now been over a month, and though the Volvo has been fixed, I haven't been running it. It's in the driveway -- for emergency use only. I've been out walking, I purchased a 7-day bus pass for the month of June, I rented a car one weekend because I had to be a whole bunch of different places quickly ( places I wouldn't trust that Volvo to get to and back!) , and I'm adjusting to the fact that it takes longer to get errands done when you aren't driving... at least here in Albany.


Jennifer said...

You know another way of clean, healthy transportation is bike riding. You could get a nice bike put a basket in front and in back (Don't forget the helmet and good lock) and you are good to go.

The Fritter said...

I'm getting real close to going without a car. I'm in an area where I can ride a bike, take a bus, or rent if need be. It's not an easy decision to come by, but I see less and less need for a car on the islands.