In his "The Year of Living Car-lessly Experiment," Sightline director Alan Durning documents his family’s first year of functioning as a car-free household in 2007. The blog catalogues the pros and perils of going car-less in his community of Ballard, in Seattle, WA. (And, as the Durnings discover, it’s not as tough as they’d thought.)
The Durnings embarked on the car-less experiment after their 1986 Volvo wagon bit the dust. Parents Alan and Amy bribed their three children with cell phones so they’d buy in, though they learn that being car-free with kids poses one of the year’s greatest challenges. This sentiment was loudly echoed by readers who commented on the blog, as well as by guest blogger Clark Williams-Derry.
This stellar documentary offers a thoughtful, honest, and comprehensive commentary on car-free living. In the blog, Durning explores both the expected (i.e. biking in the rain) and unexpected (child molesters running amok? Unlikely, but most parents are still too scared to let their kids take the bus). He also considers other surprising effects of going car-less, like feeling a greater connection to and awareness of his community and immediate surroundings, being in public (versus within the protective, private confines of the car), that cars travel so very, very fast (!), the joy of a car-free vacation, and how living without a car can lead you to be more contemplative.
The Durnings do occasionally borrow friends’ cars and rent FlexCars, though their overall savings–in both cash and carbon emissions–is tremendous. If you’re considering taking the plunge to car-free (or going on a "low-car" diet), this series is a must-read.
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