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How to know whether you need your car (Part I of II)

While this is certainly the wrong forum to be promoting a “car-free” existence, it would be silly to pretend that folks are not considering this reality nowadays. The options to not owning a car are growing by the day and while the auto sector is knee-deep in the individual “car-less” movement (namely through ride sharing and eventual autonomous driving), this two-part piece has more to do with not owning a car rather than not using one.

Before making the decision to go car-less it would be prudent to consider the following points.

Living situation

There is a considerable difference between living in Manhattan versus sprawling Los Angeles. In Los Angeles for example, you can find folks living in the Pacific Palisades and working downtown. That round-trip commute via bus, bike, subway, etc would take days. In a car you’re still in bumper-to-bumper traffic, perhaps up to 3.5 hours per day, but at least you’re in your car. Other things to consider with respect to your personal living situation is whether grocery stores or similar services are within walking distance of your home or if children are in the picture.

Public transit options

If you forego driving, guess what awaits – public transportation. We have all seen great examples, and not so great examples of public transportation at work. The smart cities have worked it out, efficiently, but those are few and far between. Denver’s Regional Transportation District for example has collaborated with Uber and provides a host of options per pick-up and drop-off points for users. Unless these options are easily available in your city however it is tough to count on simply public transportation alone.

Your commute

One of the biggies. Cutting commute time is a shared goal we all have. But how that’s achieved is a whole other issue. Some employers will subsidize mass transit in order to encourage the practice, while others have rather advanced carpooling schemes set up. But if your employer is not large enough or environmentally minded (which is the majority), reasonably calculating what sort of commute time you can live with is the first step. There is a difference between 45 minutes and 2.5 hours no matter how sustainably minded we’d like to be. At some point the decision to forego your own car in favor of public transit will hinge on how long you want to be moving from A to B and back to A every day.   

Stay tuned for Part II!

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