Tess’ Car. Tess’ Bike.

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Editor's (Dad) comment: sorry Tess - I wanted to add a pic!

Editor’s (Dad) comment: sorry Tess – I wanted to add a pic!

I don’t quite know if I am writing an obituary to my car or a love letter to my bike. My emotions connected to the two have become inflamed by sheer rage. My car has recently cost me £300 in repairs.  Repairs I cannot see: no shiny new bonnet to see where the money went. It is all internal. Then, the next day after getting the money-sponge-with-wheels back, it broke down again. This time it will not start. I have abandoned my car for a while. Along with it I have also abandoned any thoughts of car ownership.

My car has been of great pleasure to me, but also a great nuisance. Its role in my life has ranged from (perceived) necessity to inconsequence – mostly teetering around the inconsequential. A luxury if you will.  For weeks on end it has gathered leaf debris, like dust in an empty house.

Yet it has been known to whip up the east coast between Leeds and Edinburgh with a happy me singing at the driver’s wheel. It has hosted happy times, I can’t lie about that.

The main reason I decided to get my car was due to an influx of new driver hormones making me broody for a life on the roads. I was also doing the trip between Leeds and Edinburgh around twice a month, but wanting to do it more. The train cost £70 for one trip. The car, well that was only £130 a month. A bloody bargain and a logical decision if my travel was increasing. I had also painted a romantic idea of driving to the hills or to the beach at every spare moment. And yes, at times the car gave me that. It gave me an option for freedom when I craved it so badly. I have been on trips with friends and with family in that car. It moved all my plants from an old home to another. It’s a secondary storage system outside the bedroom wardrobe and its mine.

But its financial implications and therefore financial worry marks the end of our rose tinted relationship. This obituary is dedicated to a human-car relationship lying in a pile of road tax and petrol cost ashes. It has drained my money and my Dad’s money (sorry Dad, thank you Dad) for very little gain. I knew how much it would cost, but to “live the cost” is a different thing. To live the cost when you want to spend the money on other things is the ball ache.

I love my life now, and I don’t want to travel to Edinburgh with every break in my calendar. Its role has become a drainage system. And no one needs a financial drainage system.

What has also become apparent, what it also drains, is the pleasures, experiences (and yes, nuisances) of public transport. And as we all know, if you have been following Carfreefamily, is that public transport is in my blood. As I write this I am on a train. I can see the snowy mountains from my seat and directly in front of that window is my gorgeous soul mate of a bike (over dramatic? Never!!) I am sat, travelling at speed, looking at my two favourite things.

Public transport: transport where you can sit and read, watch, listen and talk allows me to absorb more life than any car can. This train I am sat on allows for interaction, reflection and real experience. It’s the embodiment of ‘carpe diem’ if ever I did see it.

It’s real and its social and it makes you feel part of something.

My memories are about public transport. My childhood, my friends, drinking beer and going to the mountains are on transport. Waiting at stations to meet friends. Cheese and wine with my pall Steve. Arran with Helen when we had to run to catch the train. Missing trains. Cycling to Loch Lomond in the sunshine. Passing through Doncaster. Gosh, even getting on at Doncaster when we were so young. All transport.

When I travel I feel my place is valuable and I’m participating and funding something bigger than myself. Something wider and better, more outward looking, inclusive and environmentally friendly than my VW Polo: my tiny metal bubble.

I love getting on the train at the moment, especially with my bike. I read and I think, I write, I nap, I converse, I watch and I am happy. Right now, I can’t see these emotions or see my favorite activities within the car.  A car doesn’t support these activities like a train demands them. So, I am going to get rid of my car.

I am writing this, a diary entry or a letter to myself, or to any one, (potentially to another young Tess Cassidy out there) who is craving the freedom they have been told comes with a car.

It doesn’t.

That fresh pine new interior smell will never beat the dappled light hitting your face as you cycle through a real wood, or as you spot forests, lakes and mountains as you whizz through the landscape.

Choose Life. Choose public transport.

Tess Cassidy

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