Monday, July 11, 2011

Going Car Free in San Francisco

Funny story, I just had a little freak out about whether my car was parked on the right side of the street or not for street sweeping in the morning.  If you don't move it, you get a ticket.  But the freak out was unfounded because then I realized that I don't have a car anymore.  

I sold my beloved Volkswagen Jetta I nicknamed "The Green Goblin" on Saturday. There have been many good times in that car that I've had for 12 years.  It's been across the country a few times, was put in a classified ad as a part of a prank war in college that had people calling and asking if my brand new Jetta was for sale for just $2,000 and been splashed by cattle poo flying from a cattle car in Colorado.  Its also served as sleeping quarters outside the four corners and been across the great state of Nevada on Highway 50 at speeds I probably shouldn't mention.

I've lived in San Francisco with the Green Goblin for 5 years and it served me well. I was able to take people around the city that came for a visit and go on day trips around the region and city to places I couldn't easily get without it and generally on a whim.  There are many benefits to owning a car, generally the mobility they provide is excellent and because i'm a city planner I like to know my surroundings, including random streets and quirky places that you might not know about otherwise. 
 
But moving my car because of street sweeping was a pain and I racked up a lot of tickets. In fact i'm sure that I more than paid for better Muni service that every citizen in San Francisco actually deserves rather than what they get.  If everyone paid as much as I did every year we could build a real subway network in this town and everyone could go car free, but I digress. The only time of the week I used the car was going to visit my Gramma in the east bay on Wednesdays.  I've been walking and biking there from BART the last few weeks and its been some really good exercise as well as an exercise in patience when dealing with BART's rules about bikes during rush hours.
 
Ultimately though, the clutch went bad and it was time for me to practice something I talk about at work all the time, living a car free lifestyle.  I've never really advocated it before but seeing all those affordability index charts must have gotten to me. To see what its actually like to go car free, and be able to see the actual costs of driving when I use a zipcar will be refreshing but certainly a little scary.  But for now, its just my legs, my bike, my Clipper Card and my Zipcard...and perhaps a taxi after a night at Polk Gulch.  I really wish someone would survey me for the census now with the long form...
 
 

13 comments:

Andrew in Ezo said...

Have been car free for 10 years and have never missed driving. It helps I live in a city and country with good to outstanding public transport. Good luck to you.

BBnet3000 said...

I live in Berkeley and have been planning to sign up for Zipcar, but i actually need one so seldomly that I cant get over the hump to sign up/pay for the service....

Mikesonn said...

Awesome! Welcome to the club. You should check out Livable City's carfree listserv.

Pedestrianist said...

Congrats :-) and welcome to the club!

Unknown said...

more congrats. I had a similar situation - sold my car 15 months ago now. Used the funds to buy a nice bike & haven't looked back.

Nick said...

Nice work Jeff! I think it's pretty awesome you are giving this a shot.

John said...

I got rid of my car for the same reason. It was hard to remember where it was parked and if it would be ticketed for street sweeping. I think I only got two $25 tickets though. Either way, good luck.

Also, do they still do a Census long form? I think it's just ACS surveys now?

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Thanks for the encouragement all. John, you're right, they don't do a long form, but with the huge sample issues of the ACS, I kind of wish they did.

transbay said...

Yes indeed, welcome to the car-free life! I hope you've been enjoying a new sense of freedom :)

Matt' said...

Congratulations!

Car-free and carefree since 2003.

Jen said...

Congratulations on going car-free! I made the switch 2 years ago. At first it was a bit scary (like kicking any habit) but it's been extremely liberating not to have to keep up with car maintenance, grumble over gas prices, and worry about parking tickets!

Anne said...

Car free since moving to the bay area and loving it!! I just started a new blog that I hope will broaden the conversation about transportation issues in the US, particularly regarding alternative modes. If you're interested, please check it out! http://tryingtogetaround.blogspot.com/

Ivo Beutler said...

Several friends of mine have also made the decision to go car-free. As far as I can tell, they've had little trouble adjusting to taking the public transport. On my part, I sometimes set aside two days every week to take public transit. On days when it is either too cold or too hot outside, I take my car.