Man-and-woman-looking-stern-in front-of-silver-car

DAY 1: Without a Car, Do We Exist?

We’re seniors having a millennial moment. For the next 90 days, we’re going car-free.

My name is Paul. This is my idea, so I’ll go first. Stephanie will also contribute posts, assuming she doesn’t regain her sanity.

YesterdayImage of white sign in city saying "Be aware of invisibility" we drove our 2014 VW Passat TDI to a Volkswagen dealer. Yes, that VW, the clean diesel machine with exploding Takata air bags.

In return for handing over the keys, we’re getting a big fat deposit in our bank account. We could have driven home in a new, gas-powered VW. Instead, we boarded a METRO bus. And when we got home, we found for the first time in our adult lives (drumroll) … an empty garage.

“Houston is the most auto-dependent city in America, one of the most spread out, least dense cities in the country. It’s a city totally built on the basis of the automobile.” — Rice University sociologist Stephen Klineberg

We do not own a car. We live in Houston.

Among Houston households, only about 10 percent don’t have a car. And that percentage is way lower in the suburbs.

For at least the next 90 days, we’re going to be a zero-car family. We’re going to take the bus, walk, ride bikes, use Uber and Zipcar and, undoubtedly, bum a few rides from our extremely generous car-owning friends.

If you’d like to follow our transportation makeover, subscribe (see top right) or see the associated Facebook page.

Next: Our 90-Day Car Detox

Photo credits: Funny Traffic Signs by Ronny Welter

18 comments

  1. We pretty much just did the opposite. We live in Honolulu. Worst traffic ever, except for maybe Los Angeles. There are more cars than people and limited roadways with poor public transportation. You can drive around the island of Oahu easily in a couple of hours, about 76 miles. Until last month we had a 1997 Camry with 88,000 miles and change. Which means we drove about 4,600 miles a year, which makes sense, since we live 15 minutes from the center of downtown, a 20 minute walk to the state’s largest shopping mall and one of the top ten largest in the country by sales volume and size. My wife’s brother’s car broke down and was too expensive to fix, so we gave him our Camry (yeah) and I was finally justified in buying a new car, which I happily did. So bottom line. We live in a place where you don’t really need a car, but I’m really happy to have a new one after holding on to that Camry for 19 years! It’s outta here. What a relief!

    1. I understand. You’re definitely in a bubble. I had a modified Dodge Dart that kept dying in intersections. Was glad to see it go.

    1. Big strong guy like you? #40 bus goes from Hobby Airport to within 6 blocks of our house. You can walk the rest of the way. But we will have a cold beer waiting for you.

  2. I’ve been without a car for almost 2 years…
    My choice…I’m an almost senior as well…
    Make SURE you wear sunscreen and HAT
    Get a decent umbrella, rain boots, and gear!

  3. Welcome to the club! Zero car is the key to happy, healthy badassity. You will get back so much life and time that used to be wasted riding around in a car. I turn 50 next month and getting rid of my car in April 2016 was one of the best decisions I ever made. Best of luck. Let’s stay in cahoots! xo, Zero Car Mom in the Hudson Vallyey, NY

    1. Thanks for the encouraging words, Zero Car Mom. Hey, ever done the Bon Ton Roulet ride around the Finger Lakes or ride from Albany to NYC? Gorgeous country!

  4. Yes. I know that ride, but I have never done it. It is beautiful up here indeed. I am still pretty much an amateur cyclist.

  5. You guys are awesome absolutely great writing and humor to boot!
    Keep it real and get nice new hiking and walking gear go Coogs!
    farfegnugen!

  6. Congrats, Babb’s!
    You know for several years I actually walked to work, albeit only a couple of blocks away, as the school where I taught was in the neighborhood. In fact, we chose our home there for that reason. So I was one of the suburbanites in the < 10% category.
    I applaud your big step and will gladly drive over so we can compare notes in person (another dying trait.)
    Enjoy grocery shopping….
    Missing you and wishing you well,
    Janice🚴

    1. Thanks, Janice. Good for you. We’ll catch an Astros game this summer. The bus and bikes are great ways to get there from our place.

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