You've probably already read about how we came to be Carless In OKC, and since then, we've gotten many different responses to what we're doing. We've been very pleasantly surprised to find that many people we talk to are curious, supportive, and enthusiastic about the fact that we're carless. So many people have reached out to us- in OKC and otherwise- who are either doing the same thing or who are curious about trying it themselves, and that's been so encouraging for us!
Then there are... other responses. And to be fair, I don't necessarily blame people for being initially confused by our decision to be carless. It's not what people are used to; it's not the status quo. For some who have always used cars as their primary form of transportation, it seems really crazy and very difficult to give up driving a car. It seems like it wouldn't be worth the trouble. I know this because I used to feel the same way. I've always been supportive of the reasons for going carless, like helping the environment and being healthier, but having grown up in the Metro Atlanta suburbs, I felt like cars were just necessary. Unless you lived in a place like New York City, but even then, I felt like having a car would be a nice safety net of sorts. I just couldn't imagine not having a car, because I had always owned, driven, or been driven in a car. So, you know, I get why it's hard to understand at first. I really do.
That being said, some people just refuse to get it. They don't want to get it, because they perceive what we're doing as a threat to their way of life. Some people don't really understand what walkability and transportation options really mean. If a city is walkable, that doesn't mean that someone is going to come forcibly seize your car and leave you to trudge everywhere in the cold and rain, even when you're old and infirm. It's all about options, truly. We just want people to be able to live and get around and have safe, viable choices about how they do so.
I decided to use a blog post to get some of those initial questions out of the way in advance. Here are some of the top questions we hear when we tell people that we're carless along with our responses.
1. Don't you get cold/hot/wet?
Here's the thing. When I was primarily driving a car, I tended to be a little underprepared for the weather, making it seem worse than it actually was. It's easy to skimp on layers or not carry a good umbrella when all you're ever anticipating in the way of exposure is the time it takes to dash a few meters to and from your parked car. When you start walking and/or taking public transit, however, that mindset totally shifts toward being really prepared for the weather. Every time I go anywhere, I am aware of the temperature and the upcoming forecast, and I dress accordingly. At this point, I'm really good at knowing what I have to wear to be as comfortable as possible while I'm out. I always carry an umbrella with me, and in the winter, I always carry an extra pair of gloves and a second hat in case I need to double up later. Sometimes I have to wear thermal underwear, or two scarves, but I am almost always comfortable when I'm out walking or waiting for a bus, because I'm practiced and prepared. If you went carless, you would be, too. I promise.
2. What do you do about grocery shopping?
Ideally, we would have a full-service grocery store downtown, and this wouldn't be any problem at all. I would be able to take a short walk to pick up what I needed for the next couple of days, and our grocery shopping would be done in this twice or three-times weekly manner. As it is, that is not the case. Our closest full-service grocery store is Homeland, which is about a mile away. That being the case, we used to go there to go grocery shopping about once every week to two weeks, and depending on how many groceries we had, we would either walk back or take a taxi back. It's about a $7 cab ride, which wasn't at all bad to pay twice a month. Our preferred grocery store, however, is Sprouts, which is located at 63rd and N May, and was a very inconvenient option until we discovered TimeCar. Now that we use TimeCar, every weekend or two we can rent a car for a couple of hours, pop up there, buy our groceries, bring them home, and then return our car. It's so convenient and affordable that grocery shopping is now a total breeze.
3. Isn't riding the bus scary?
No. Really, it's not. It's a little bit intimidating at first, if you're not accustomed to using public transit, but once you're done it a couple of times, there's nothing to it. The best thing you can do is prepare yourself; we wrote a post about using the OKC bus which links to an excellent video from the OKC Metro Transit that explains how to use the bus. Also, feel free to ask the bus driver any questions that you have about the route! The OKC Metro drivers have kind of a bad reputation, but the majority of the drivers I've spoken with have been very kind and helpful. I have definitely encountered a couple who were a bit surly, but overall, I'm impressed with how approachable the drivers have been. When I was first riding the bus, in particular, they were really open to answering my questions and telling me where I needed to get off the bus in order to find my desired destination.
Also: contrary to popular belief, people who ride the bus aren't scary. There are definitely a couple of crazy people, but in my experience, they're harmless- weird crazy, not dangerous crazy. Just ignore them and you'll be fine.
4. You have to have a car to live in Oklahoma City.
Well, we've been in Oklahoma City for four months without a car. We are both employed, we have or are able to get everything that we need, we enjoy events, attractions, and dining around the city, and we have a social life. I would say that we're living proof that you don't have to have a car to live in Oklahoma City (and we're not the only ones, by far).
5. So, when are you going to get a car?
We're not planning to. Ever.