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wolverine

I stopped Driving

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It's been two weeks so far, and I haven't driven my car. Why? Well for one it's boxed in by my housemates in the driveway. And even if it was in the parking lot nearby it still wouldn't work because the battery is dead, and we haven't taken the time to jump start it.

That's alright though.

I've realized just how easy it is not to drive. People know Ann Arbor as being pedestrian friendly, and our crowded sidewalks prove it. But asside from getting basic foods from the corner grocery, eating at our fine array of restaurants, and of course the interesting retail downtown, many of us need to do reach popular places in the suburbs such as Briarwood Mall, Meijer, Best Buy, etc and if you really want exaggerate -- North Campus. I've been able to reach all of these places. I started taking the bus more often which doesn't cost anything since I'm a student. Even if you aren't, it's still very cheap.

The ride out to Meijer and Briarwood is actually pretty quick. Both locations have stops right at their front door, so you won't get rained or snowed on while holding your groceries. The routes are efficient so it doesn't take too much longer than driving a car. Of course, I also take the U of M buses to North Campus. This is probably the worst of the experience though. It's not far to walk to the stop, but as we all know, many of the U of M buses are well over capacity to the point at which it is becoming dangerous. (I have many examples). Regardless, it's free and relatively quick. You don't have to worry about paying for parking, and it's nice to get some fresh air walking to the bus stop despite the cold weather.

I also use my bike. AA permit bicycles on sidewalks, so if the streets are too slushy, the plowed sidewalks around campus work well. There's also a series of bike paths that run parallel to the roads in more suburban areas that are almost always plowed in the winter. It may sound crazy to bike in the winter, but many people do it here. Even the cops have been riding bikes around. Just be sure to dress warm.

While my car battery is a problem, I am saving it from trouble. I'd say 95% of the problems I've had with my car are related to local conditions. It doesn't do well on ice so driving around takes forever. The salt is bad for it, and the potholes around town have done hundreds of dollars of damage to my car in the past. To top it off, I save gas money. I can allocate this gas money to longer trips to other cities instead of wasting it on local driving (which we know isn't very fuel efficient). Furthermore, I'm saving about $20 per week in parking when I'm going to class or work.

It's really not all that bad. I drove a lot last semester, EVERYWHERE, even just a couple of blocks because it saved time. But five to ten minutes extra I spend per day can add up to $5-10 saved per day.

Thoughts?

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Good for you. I have managed to live quite well without ever having had a car- or a license for that matter. Granted, I live in downtown Washington within an easy walking distance to my workplace. Just about everything I need is easily at hand. A car would be an endless burden to me in my present situation. If I lived in the suburbs, I would most likely have to get a car and thence suffer the burdens which go along with car ownership. Our cities would be better places to live if more people left their cars outside the city and used public transport instead. Idealistic, but probably not realistic.

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