Yesterday at about 3pm, our little Sofie drove away into the arms of her new owner. After moving to our new place in NE Portland, and the changes we’ve made in our life since then, we have just not been using our car enough to justify the expense of keeping up insurance, registration, maintenance, etc. So, we decided the time was here to let her go.
I’m not one of those people who is morally opposed to the idea of owning a car, as long as it’s used reasonably and not excessively, and we really loved having our little 1974 VW Bug. It’s been a great car for the 4 years we’ve had it, it’s worked great for driving in town (small = can park anywhere!), but it was just time to try something else for a while and see how it goes.
I know this is a bike blog specifically, but I must also say, being without a car, we are not only focusing on biking more, but using public transit. Thankfully, we live near the last light rail stop in TriMet’s “free rail zone”, which extends from that stop into downtown Portland, so we can easily walk or ride our bikes over there, and then take light rail into downtown (or vice versa) if it’s raining or very late at night, or we’re feeling lazy :) Given that we have friends living in Downtown, that has already proven very useful.
Portland is also in the process of installing an East-side extension to the streetcar, which will run North-South along Grand Avenue on the East side of the river, and then into SW Portland eventually, via a new bridge, and then continue on its current route through downtown and NW Portland, and then over the Broadway Bridge, back to the East side. This will provide a great North-South route across inner Portland, and should also really help the development of an area of Portland that is both heavily car dominated (Grand/MLK, which now form a one-way-couplet/state highway) and a bit on the run-down side (notice how this tends to happen on major automobile thoroughfares which become space to move through quickly, and not to be in?).
We also have a ZipCar membership, which will be very helpful for us too, for the occasional large grocery run, trip to IKEA, or if we need to make it across town in a short span of time. There are about 4 ZipCars of differing types in our neighborhood (within about 5 blocks), so it’s unlikely that we’ll get stuck without any option the few times we really need it. Understandably, ZipCar is not the ideal solution for everyone, or for every situation, but I think it will be very useful for us, in helping to mitigate circumstances when we really legitimately need a car for something.
As time has gone by, we have reigned in our lives more and more, in terms of the distance from home in which we live. When we got married about 8 1/2 years ago, it was not uncommon for us to drive 30-40 miles in a day going places, as parts of our lives were in the suburbs, but we were living in the city. As time has gone by, we have reduced that further and further, until our longest daily trip (me going to work) is under 5 miles, and other than that, most everything we do is within 2 miles. Velouria’s post on Lovely Bicycle the other day struck a chord with me, because, as we have gone through this process of living closer and closer to home, and spending more and more of our time making our home a place where life happens, rather than just a stopping point at the end of the day, I feel much more connected to my home, my life, and the area in which I live. I feel like I have a coherent mental and emotional grasp on the area I live in, the places I go to, and the spaces I move through on a daily basis. They are not just a blur between endpoints, they are places I stop, eat dinner, get a drink, take photographs, meet friends, watch films, mail packages, get film developed, take my bike to be repaired, or just sit and relax when it’s nice out.
We have also come to a place where my wife is unemployed by choice, and working on some crafting, sewing, and business plans with friends, so the little bit of extra padding to my income that not paying for insurance, gas, registration, and maintenance for the car will add is a nice little boost for that transition period.
So, all that said, the decision to sell our car seemed like a natural progression for our lives to take at this point. We are happy she found a good home with someone who will take care of her, and we’ll see how things go. I’m sure you’ll hear about it here, at least from time to time.
Hope you all have a splendid week!