Sunday, June 15, 2014

Carless and Loving It - Reflections on the First Six Months

Hello dear readers! I realized this morning that we've been writing this blog for a little over six months already! I realize that this is the most cliche thing I could possibly say, but it really seems like just yesterday that we were sitting in McNellie's Pub, googling "hobbies for couples", and deciding to start a blog together. Yes, that's really how all of this started - the blog part, anyway. We've been without a car in OKC for about nine months now, and while this started as a great experiment, living without a car is now a seamless and inextricable part of our lives. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of the things we've done and learned in the first six(-ish) months of writing this blog.
Hanging out at our beloved Elemental Coffee.
1. Haters gonna hate. - "Hate" might be a strong word for it, but I can assure you that some people will never be convinced that living without a car isn't crazy. It doesn't matter how much you explain the health benefits, the environmental benefits, or the financial benefits, there are many people for whom the idea of living without a car seems truly impossible. It's incredible how many people will straight-up tell us that living without a car simply can't be done here in Oklahoma City, despite the fact that we're living proof that you can not only live, but thrive, car-free in OKC. That said...
John + bike at the Skydance Bridge.
2. OKC is an incredibly supportive community. - Since we've started Carless In OKC, we've received so much positive feedback regarding what we're doing here. From our radio interview on KOSU to our appearance on the Fox 25 local news, to our win for Best Green Blog in Green Oklahoma's Best of 2014 Reader's Choice Awards (which YOU won for us with your votes!), there's been no shortage of interest from OKC citizens. We discovered Timecar, which has become a valuable resource for us, because Benny Jacobs, their founder, heard about our blog and reached out to us. We've also met quite a few friends as a direct result of the blog, which is definitely helpful for us socially, considering that we moved here in September and didn't know anyone.
Enjoying The Loaded Bowl during H&8th the first weekend that we lived here.
3. Where there's a will, there's a way. - 99% of the time, we can get where we need to go and do the things we need to do with no problem whatsoever. There are other times when circumstances call for us to get a little more creative. In those instances, we implement the "patchwork" method of transportation, in which we'll utilize a combination of walking, cycling, riding the bus, taking a taxi or Uber, and/or renting a Timecar to achieve a certain errand. It takes some finesse, but it gives us a chance to flex our creative problem-solving muscles, and it transforms a typical weekend errand into an adventure that we can undertake together. 
John during one of our "patchwork" trips.
4. Being carless brings us closer together. - Not to get all sappy on you, but I firmly believe that living without a car has made us a stronger couple. The fact that we spend time on foot and biking together gives us a lot of extra time to talk and enjoy our surroundings as well as each other's company. Our experiences walking and cycling together stand in stark contrast against the times we've spent in the car, which are usually stressful because of traffic and navigating directions; additionally, whomever is driving must concentrate on the road, which creates a disconnect and is not conducive to quality time together. And like I said in #3, our otherwise-mundane travels sometimes turn into interesting journeys that we must figure out - facing that low-level adversity as a team strengthens our bond.
Ready for a carless Valentine's Day date at Packard's.
5. OKC is a city on the verge. - We knew there was something special about Oklahoma City from the first night we spent here when we visited for John's job interview. After an evening spent checking out the city and eating dinner at Redpin by the canal in Bricktown, we were hooked, and knew that we wanted to live here. Once John got the job and we made the move, our already-high expectations were met and exceeded again and again as we settled into our life here. Up-and-coming retail and entertainment districts? Check. Friendly people? Check. Top-tier NBA team? Check. Booming local economy? Check. Delicious food? Big-time check. Even the areas where we could hope for improvement are, for the most part, already being dealt with. Our biggest concern, the necessity for better public transportation and alternative transportation options, is an item that the city government has taken an interest in. The downtown streetcar, the MAPS 3 trails project, and the newly-passed extension of two bus routes (11 and 23) to offer evening service are all steps in the right direction toward a greater array of transportation options. One of our favorite things about OKC is the desire to improve, not just on the part of the citizens but also on the part of the city government. We moved here from a place where the city government seemed to actively try to implode the city at every turn, so it's refreshing to see a new, more positive attitude here. If Oklahoma City continues on its current trajectory, it will truly be a world-class city in the very near future, and we are so excited to be here to be a part of that.
OKC from our window.
Our first dinner & evening out in OKC at Redpin while we were here for John's job interview.
The first six months writing for Carless In OKC, and our first nine months of being carless in OKC, have been more rewarding than I could ever have imagined. What started as an interesting experiment has turned into a way of life for us, and we have no intention of going back to the car lifestyle. We can't thank you, our readers, enough for taking us in as part of your community. Here's to the next six months!

With that, we are off to a week-long vacation in one of the country's foremost walkable cities: Portland, Oregon! (Well, we're spending half the week in Portland and then the weekend in Bend for a friend's wedding.) We will report back soon with our experience of being Carless In Portland! Follow us on Twitter at @CarlessInOKC for pics and updates while we're there!


  1. My beautiful Beth I am proud of you and if we could go carless we would.

    1. Thank you, Melinda! The positive feedback means a lot. It's definitely not possible (or even desired) for everyone to go carless, but we'd like for everyone to have the option one day because of alternative transportation.

  2. I have been following you two since you popped up on Facebook and this blog. You are a lovely couple and I am glad you are making this work. I especially like that this trend is being spearheaded by young people, Of course, everyone must figure out for himself how "carless" he can go. Some people like me don't or can't drive, so renting a car when there is no other option doesn't work.
    We did have the kind of government that was almost hostile to public transportation issues, but as you point out that is changing, at least at the city level. The political ideologues seem to have migrated to the state level, where some try to pass laws that keep cities from doing more progressive things to move things forward, I hope this is a temporary setback that will go away.
    Did you see the series of articles in the Sunday Oklahoman a few weeks ago about "food deserts"? Some will say that this is not a real problem. I believe it is. Access to public transportation plays a major part in the problem, but so do the shortcomings of our economic, political, and social systems. It is going to take much work and activism to address this problem.
    Keep up the good work you two. I look forward to reading.

  3. Keep it up guys. I used to like in London and cycle everywhere. It was dangerous as hell. OKC is a cakewalk comparatively, as long as you don't need to get into the suburbs.

  4. Hi. I'm glad someone recommended your blog. I'm new to OKC. I've been car-free for most of the past 10+ years in a few other towns & cities, but about a month in I'm finding it near-impossible here. I (+ husband) plan on moving again very soon because OKC is so car-centric. Looking forward to getting some tips & hope you write more about living Downtown. Maybe there's something I'm missing? - Jenn G.

  5. Hi Elizabeth and John - I found your blog recently as I am considering a move to OKC from a city where it is very easy to be carless and am interested in staying that way if I move. I used to live in Oklahoma and am curious about your experience being carless so far during the summer. I went one summer without a car and relied on my bike but the temperatures were so extreme that summer it was almost unhealthy and I ended up relying on rides from friends more often than not, which won't quite be an option if I move to the city. Any thoughts?

  6. So far, we've been fine being carless in the summer here. It's only June, though, so I guess it remains to be seen how the rest of the hot weather plays out. We do usually try to avoid being out and about during the hottest part of the day, which I think is helpful. We also try to be super prepared for the heat with water, hats, sunscreen, etc. Yes, it gets uncomfortable at times, but we make it work! We also have the luxury of working 8-5 jobs so our morning commute happens before it gets *too* hot, and then we only have to deal with the hot afternoon walk (or air conditioned bus ride, in my case).

  7. Thanks, Elizabeth! It's good to hear that it seems possible so far - and my job would also have me traveling in the cooler parts of the day, whereas a few years ago I was out and about more in the middle of the day. This is all very helpful as I consider moving!