By Micheline Maynard
Andrew Hartford wrote for us recently about the ways he gets around Austin without a car. We asked him to provide our reader Anne in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with ideas for deciding whether to keep her 1998 Honda Civic, or go car free.
I have been in your situation before. I’ve had car troubles in the past, and wondered if it was really even worth owning one (the cost and stress of maintaining it) considering I had other options of getting around. Ultimately, I realized that not owning a car doesn’t mean you have to cut cars out of your life completely.
As much as I am an advocate for alternative forms of transportation (biking, walking, and mass transit), I understand that there are situations in which a car might be needed (much of the U.S. is still very car-dependent).
I know several people here in my city (Austin, TX) that have ceased to own cars but instead subscribe to a car-sharing system like Car2Go. It is a very popular system that is pay-by-the-minute. If there is a car-sharing system available in your city, I’d look into it. It really caters to people who don’t feel the financial justification to own a car (and all the other expenses that come with it) but at the same time don’t want to/can’t completely go car-free.
From searches, I have found that there is a car-sharing service – Zipcar in the your area (Ann Arbor). It might be worth looking into to see if it works for you and is available in places you frequent.
Buying a comfortable, upright Dutch-style bicycle might be another option to help you get around without owning a car. In The Netherlands, people of all ages ride bicycles as their main mode of transportation. Small grocery shopping trips can be done by bike using panniers.
Tricycles might be another option. They provide more stability than 2 wheeled bicycles.
Ann Arbor seems like a bike-friendly city with 4.9% of commutes made by bicycle according to the 2011 American Community Survey.
In the city famous for the car industry (Detroit), bike manufacturing is establishing a presence. A new bike company (Detroit Bikes) is now manufacturing their products there. It’s very exciting to see a bike made in the USA (a rarity these days). Hopefully it can help the revitalization process of that great city.
All in all, I wish you the best of luck no matter what you choose to do.
Do you have Advice For Anne? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll have more advice this week.