Thursday, December 30, 2010

Life Changer

Here's a crazy thought: Can a person survive in Cincinnati without a car?

My car died less than a week ago, and this predicament is giving pause to some Big Idea ideas.

One of which involves my getting rid of a car for one year to see if I can hack it.

I've taken on other random challenges before. I became a vegetarian for two years when I was a teen to prove to my dad that I could be disciplined when I so desired. In my 20s, I stopped drinking alcohol for a year to prove to myself that I could manage responsibility and explore life beyond the raging party.

Now I've decided to use one year of my 30s to discover what would it be like to live in Cincinnati without an automobile.

There are a couple points that work in my favor regarding this scenario.

First off, I live in Over-the-Rhine. I am a block away from Main St. and Metro bus routes that head to Clifton. I am a handful of blocks away from Main and Central, where I can catch the 43, 45 and 47 bus routes up Reading Road to my office.

I'm just a few more blocks from Government Center, where I can access any and every bus route available, including those that go to Kenwood Towne Centre, CVG and other distant hot spots. (Aside: Do you pay for a cab or limo to go to the airport? You're crazy. TANK's 2X route will get you from Downtown Cincinnati to CVG for $1.75. You can't beat that with a stick).

If I add a scooter to the equation, Cincinnati might be very livable without a car.

Yes, you read correctly. Cincinnati (as in, the city of) might be very livable without a car.

A scooter can be driven year 'round, according to some of my urbanist, scooter-loving friends. As long as the roads are clear of snow and ice, they will manage quite well. I'm told I should avoid rainy days that are cooler than 40 degrees, too.

A scooter, paired with my bicycle, busing, the occasional cab ride and walking can be manageable. If Cincinnati had Zipcars, this scenario would be even better. A Zipcar would allow a person to affordably rent a car for a couple hours, making for easy trips to buy stuff at Ikea, visit Mom and Dad or head out to the BMV in Sharonville.

The idea of a Zipcar is an expense some folks can't comprehend. I mentioned it to my mom last weekend and she remarked that she thought it sounded expensive. In reality, it's an affordable expense if a person isn't paying a monthly car payment, insurance, for gas and regular auto maintenance.

By getting rid of my car, I could basically be adding an additional $500 to my monthly budget.

And by taking on a scooter and riding the bus more, I will gain some new experiences and dig up some new writing fodder.

I can't wait to see what kind of impact this will make in my life through 2011.

Creative Commons License
Car Free In The Queen City by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Tara @ Tara Being Tara said...

I'm so excited to follow this journey... thanks for having the courage to do what the rest of us wish we were doing!

The Notorious N.A.T said...

Good for you!

Supernatural Botanicals said...

This will be so fun to experience this with you. Much luck with your new venture, Kate the Great!

Eric said...

I pondered doing a similar blog, but I live out in the boonies (that is, Boone County) so saying I live in Cincy was a stretch. But if you ever want a guest blogger (car free in the Queen City's suburbia?) on the joys of biking to the strip mall or up the hill from Cincinnati with a hangover, let me know

jkkmmck said...

I've heard that scooters are actually less safe than motorcycles, due to a higher center of gravity, smaller wheels, and less power. Would you consider a motorcycle? Myself -- I stick to pedal power.