Golden Lesson 7: Tales of the Unexpected and Jam Tarts

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As I try to round off these Ten Golden Rules/Lessons learnt I reflect on what I felt like when we started on our car free life.  I’m not sure what we really expected but there were a few worries and plenty of optimism.

I honestly was not sure if we would last out our trial year without a car, or if we would continue being car free after that year (its now coming up 5 years).

There have certainly been some unexpected consequences of car freeness:  things I didn’t ever imagine would happen.

The biggies:

CAREFREE CAR FREE: How happy I have felt not having to “care” for a car.  The hassle of maintenance gone.  And the unexpected bills – tyres etc.  But the biggest thing is the hassle – taking it to the garage etc etc.   Car stuff.  Not for me anymore.

BYE BYE MONKEY: Not emptying the boot or cleaning the car out when it was full of toys and mess and other little things like that used to get to me. I never washed my car but this didn’t bother me at all.  But I also never really cleaned the car out. (A stag beetle once cockroach crawled into Maddie’s shoe when it was left in the boot.  I felt bad after I had forced it onto her foot ignoring her heartfelt complaints that the shoe felt funny on her toes.) Cleaning out the car and bringing stuff into the house.  It was just ANOTHER job I HADN’T done.  A monkey on my shoulder.  So its bye bye to that particular monkey.

DEMON DRINK: I have drunk more.  I have not been a designated driver.  I have taken  buses and taxis.  An alternative interpretation is that I have relaxed over a beer more often. I’ll go with that version.

WHEN IS A TAXI NOT A TAXI?: The amount of taxis I have taken has surprised me.  There’s been a lot of trip generation there.  I guess I just see taxis as justifiable now – I don’t spend money on a car so taxis aren’t a problem when they fit my need.  I have reconceptualised taxis: they’ve gone from being a bit of a luxury to being a mode of transport which fits into my life.

STATE OF INDEPENDENCE: The independence of Tess and Maddie – especially when they were younger teens.  There is no car available for me to give a lift so they walk or bus.  And they don’t think that strange.  I have not worried about them getting out and about and to their various activities  when I am out of town on work tips. It doesn’t need me to make arrangements for lifts etc and worry if they have worked.   Ok they have asked for taxis every now and then (as they have become older  - if its v late and they want to get home, or if they are v late to get somewhere) but generally they sort out their own mobility. Sweet. Oh and they love their bus passes.

THANKS DAD: Even better – IF I offer to get a City Car Club car and give a lift they are SO grateful.  It doesn’t take much for me to do this – the Car Club car is round the corner – but it is a bit more of an effort than just taking your own car off the driveway.  They know this so it’s a big thank you from them.  Of course my daughters are lovely so they always say thank you, but  I don’t feel like a taxi service.  And they are thankful. You get my point.


So this is the reality of the unexpected – and there are a few more besides.  Some of these are what the transport people like to call in-direct benefits – all the extra things that are quite often discounted by transport modellers who try to explain behaviour and evaluate decisions.  But these things are very real. And they have made a difference to me.

Eccles Cakes 008

Some (transport modellers!) see these as the fluff and extra bits left over – not the main things explaining my car free choice.  But like my Mum who always took the off-cuts of pastry and made them into jam tarts, when you rub all these extra bits together its amazing how important these “extras” can be.  Not fluff – real stuff.  Important in making and continuing a car free decision.

One Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Lynsey
    Mar 04, 2015 @ 14:02:56

    I am enjoying the fluff – one of my new years resolutions was to keep the Baked Bean (2nd car clean) and now it is off the road as we are down to one car I no longer have to fulful that new years resolution…RESULT!