Friday, July 3, 2020

Living Car(e)free in Coronado

Enjoying the car-free commute to work. No traffic woes here!

“You don’t have a car?!”

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If I had a dollar for every time I was met with a shocked reaction when people learn that I do not have a car in Coronado, I would have a lot of dollars. But I wouldn’t use any of them to buy a car.

What began in August 2018 as a year-long commitment to try living without a personal mode of motorized transit — turned into a lifestyle where the benefits of being car-free consistently outweighed the ‘necessity’ of ownership.

The first few months without (four) wheels were met with the benefits I had anticipated: reducing my carbon footprint, increasing physical activity in the forms of walking and biking, and of course – cost. With no car payments, insurance bills, maintenance costs, or regular gas-station fill-ups, my day-to-day expenses were considerably reduced. However, the number one perk of having no car in Coronado also happened to be the greatest surprise: convenience.

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No need for the treadmill at the gym. Over the course of a year with no car, my daily step count nearly tripled.

It wasn’t until I was rid of traffic woes, parking headaches, and navigation nightmares that I realized how much each of them compromised my illusion of ‘convenience’ in getting somewhere. Collectively, it was even worse.

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Getting rid of my car also meant I had one fewer thing to take care of.  I was relieved of having something else to clean. Sure, there is great satisfaction in a freshly detailed car (which inexplicably also drives better), but there is greater satisfaction in not having to think about it at all. Thinking, as it happens, really hinders convenience. Is my car locked? Was that scratch there? Is my car going to get vandalized? Broken into? Am I going to be publicly shamed on social media for the way I parked? Is that traffic cop following me? Have I had too many drinks to drive? Did I just wreck my suspension driving over that pothole? Do you hear that noise? Whose car are we taking?

Oops! Expired registration.

In the newfound liberation from car-responsibilities, I also discovered fantastic transportation alternatives that I now consider to be the most underrated conveniences of all.

Uber, Lyft, and Turo are the market-leading car-share services available across San Diego. The availability of drivers and cars translates to an average wait time of fewer than five minutes. They all have tiered pricing structures and reward programs and other benefits that exponentially increase the more you use them. Free rides and happy hour pricing are just a few of the perks of being a regular car share rider (or renter in the case of Turo).

Peace and tranquility on the train up the California Coast

In addition to private transportation options, public transport in San Diego is also remarkably good. Anyone who has taken the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train along the coast can attest to its convenience. Onboard Wi-Fi, power outlets, a well-stocked café carriage, and an unrestricted panoramic view of the Pacific is favorable to gridlock traffic any day.

No message espousing the virtues of being car-free would be complete without a respectful nod to the City of Coronado for providing its residents and visitors alternatives to driving. The Free Summer / Holiday Shuttle Bus is a vacation in and of itself. Everyone onboard is happy because they are en route to a fantastic destination and aren’t sitting in traffic trying to get there. Another transportation perk gifted by the city is the Coronado-San Diego Ferry. With free rides for weekday commuters and a mere $5 other times of day, the ferry service easily qualifies as the best commute to work or jaunt “overseas” to Little Italy, Petco Park, or anywhere else in highly walkable downtown San Diego.

So, what about day-to-day operations? Those essential errands firmly entrenched in the weekly routine when one simply needs a car?

Target? Home delivery. Groceries? Home delivery. Anything else you could ever possibly need? Likely available on Amazon.com — for — home delivery.

An added bonus of online shopping is that your favored products are saved in the archive of your orders. Every brand of every product I could want is already pre-populated in my grocery list. A few simple keystrokes on my smartphone and the grocery genie is at my door within two hours. The time saved in driving, parking, shopping – priceless.

The price of gas ever on the rise in California.

As consumers, we are led to believe that the more we have, the better the quality of our lives. Time and time again, research disproves this. More things require more resources, which requires more work and more time and more maintenance. Sometimes more isn’t better, sometimes more is just – more.

Sunday, September 22nd is Worldwide Car-Free Day. Along with car-free advocates and environmentalists across the world, I encourage everyone in Coronado to ditch their cars and join me on foot or bike for the day. Once you experience the benefits of being car(e)free in Coronado, you might just be shocked that it took you so long.

To learn more about World Car Free Day 2019, visit https://www.awarenessdays.com/awareness-days-calendar/world-car-free-day-2019/

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Aimee Richer
Aimee Richer
Aimee was a ‘nado Navy baby in the 1970s, where her love for adventure and travel began. After growing up and finishing college in the Midwest, Aimee spent more than a decade living and traveling overseas. She returned to the US in 2009, and made her way back to Coronado to raise her own baby – now a first grader at Village Elementary. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com
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