Hey world! It’s me, Mario…I mean Steve. If any of you were in South Station this past Wednesday, you may have seen our friends at Zipcar launch their Low-Car Diet challenge. RUNmyERRAND was on hand to welcome the brave participants along with Mayor Menino, Zipcar, and other area businesses. The idea is pretty simple: participants give up their cars for a month and try new ways to go about their daily lives. While this may seem difficult, maybe even frightening for some people, I can assure you there’s nothing to be afraid of. Take it from me, a two year veteran of the No-Car Diet.
As a kid who grew up in the suburbs, I always relied on a car for all my transportation needs. Ever since I came to BC though, I’ve been without a car almost all the time and I’ve gotten along just fine. Sure there are times when I wish I had my trusty Civic with me, but you learn to adapt. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve discovered in my two years:
- Ditch the gym membership but buy some comfortable shoes: Boston is a really walkable city, especially when it’s nice out. I’ve done more walking than I ever imagined to places that I would have driven to if I had a car. I also get a nice upper body workout whenever I walk back with groceries. In addition to being great exercise, it helps you take in the sights around you. Other items to invest in: boots, iPod or mp3 player
- The T isn’t that bad: I know it can be slow and unreliable at times, but it does get you almost anywhere you need to go and it’s really cheap. If you’re a heavy traveler consider investing in a Weekly or Monthly pass. You only need to take 9 and 35 rides to break even respectively. And if you want to avoid delays, sign up for T-Alerts for your email or cell phone. I don’t go into the city too often during the school year (I have an annoying thing called classes) but the monthly pass and T-Alerts combo has come in really handy during the summer.
- Befriend your neighbor with the car: I admit, there are some times that do call for a car. Therefore, it’s always nice to know someone who has one and wouldn’t mind letting driving or letting you borrow it for a couple of hours. Just remember to thank them for their help, like the way I’m thanking Cody right now for giving me rides to the office.
- Get a Zipcar: I can’t wait to turn 21: then I’ll be able to drive a Zipcar! Zipcars are great if you need a car but you can’t find anyone you know with a car. They’re available all over the city and they’re really cheap (especially if you include gas and insurance). Plus their cars are really nice!
- Post an errand on RUNmyERRAND: Whether it’s dog food or donations, our community of runners are always here to help! Maybe someone’s going to the same place you’re going. Or maybe they have a car. Either way, it’ll free up more time for you to do what you want to do.
- Slow down and organize: One of the great things about being carless is that it forces you to slow down the pace of your life and become more organized. Going places and running errands is no longer on demand and it’s something you’ll have to accept. Take some time to relax or catch up your summer reading while you’re waiting for the T. Keep track of the places you need to go so you’re not making multiple trips. Kill as many birds as you can with one stone (metaphorically, of course).
That’s what I’ve learned from experience, but I’m sure there are many out there who have gone carless at some point. What are some of your recommendations? Any funny/memorable experiences from your no-car or low-car days? Please share them with us at twitter/runmyerrand! Best of luck to all the Low-Car Dieters: We’re all in this together!