catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 8, Num 1 :: 2009.01.02 — 2009.01.16


Human pace

In former years, I commuted no less than an hour-but usually more like two hours-a day.  After a year of near car-freedom, I reflect on the joys and sacrifices of keeping my car in the driveway.

Ten benefits of going car-free:

  1. Fossil-fuel freedom and a smaller carbon footprint.
  2. An integrated daily workout.
  3. Bike culture (check out the Chicago Critical Mass bike ride, averaging about 3000 participants).
  4. Seeing people on walks and saying “hi” to neighbors.
  5. Moving at a human pace.
  6. Becoming more observant and aware of my community.
  7. Saving money.
  8. People-watching on the bus.
  9. Nothing to scrape off in winter, no searches for parking spaces.
  10. Rethinking priorities and staying home more often.


Ten things I miss about driving:

  1. Music (there’s something about the sound-quality in a car).
  2. Burning incense on the dash.
  3. Moving 70 mph and reveling in my ability to maneuver through any jam.
  4. Heat and A/C.
  5. NPR—trust me, it’s different in a car.
  6. Spontaneous travel and a smaller world; that feeling of setting out on a road-trip.
  7. Drive-through windows and eating on-the-go.  
  8. Offering people rides and jumps (it lessens the guilt of driving).
  9. The comfort and safety of “belonging” on the road (not always so on a bicycle).
  10. The freedom to sing aloud, scream and cry out for repentance (all in a day’s commute).


Looking back, I would definitely take the joys of alternative transportation over the convenience of the automobile.  However, I won’t pretend not to enjoy it when I’m forced to drive, and while I’d love for the car to go out of style, a part of me will always love the thrill of sitting at the wheel.

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