Going car-free

Sorry I haven’t been posting much lately — been busy with work, finishing up the last bits of apartment decorating before Carrie and family come visit, and exploring the city now that it’s Damn Hot out.

On Father’s Day we drove back to Belleville to go out to dinner with my father, the first long drive we’ve done in the caar since my trips back and forth to Ottawa while Candice was still living there and me here. About halfway home: grindy noise! It came and went but performance, temperature and so on didn’t seem affected, and I noticed a wobbly pulley, so I figured it’d get us back to Toronto fine (and it did) and then I could take it in.

A couple days later, I had a new A/C compressor, and the wobbly pulley (and the serpentine belt) replaced too. And parts are not cheap for this old Swede.

Combine that with how often we drive — I filled up the tank for that trip, and before that the previous fill-up was March 25 — and the crazy cost of car insurance living in downtown TO, and the conclusion jumps out at you: We really don’t need a car here.

I take the TTC or my bike to work every day. Candice walks a few blocks to work. Grocery stores are even closer. Whenever we head downtown or to the Annex or Queen West we just take the TTC or walk. Hell, we don’t even have parking — the car is on the street all the time. And for the odd errand that does require a car, we can just use Zipcar or Autoshare in town and a regular car rental for road trips, and come in way, way under what we’re paying to have a car sit on the street, even though the car’s fully paid for.

I was car-free in Montreal from 1994 to 2001, but then as soon as I moved to Ottawa I bought the Saab, partly because Ottawa (and the neighbourhood I was living in) was pretty car-heavy, and partly because I had the disposable income and an excuse. But for someone who’s read car mags since childhood, I didn’t find car ownership all that fun. Too much maintaining and not enough spirited driving, maybe? Or maybe too sensible a car, or maybe too sensible a place to drive.

(The same thing happened with the motorcycle, I think. I’m not sure why, specifically.)

So the car’s going for sale later this year. Not sure when yet. Not looking forward to the process one bit, either! But I’ll be back to car-free soon, and I’m pretty happy with that, and especially happy living somewhere where I can, and not be too inconvenienced or treated like a freak for relying on transit.