I sold my car before I moved to Washington, D.C. a little more than two years ago. Part of it was out of necessity and of practicality. I couldn’t afford to keep my beautiful little Honda Civic on the salary I was transferring on, which was barely more than what I made in Cleveland, where my rent was half as expensive for twice the space. I also didn’t think I’d be able to find parking near my new apartment in the dense neighborhoods of U Street and Dupont Circle. I also couldn’t stand to see it get scratched and dented like other cars parked on the street.
Ultimately, though, the most important reason I sold my car was because I didn’t want one.
In Cleveland, I would sometimes take the Rapid, a heavy-rail commuter train that stretches 20 miles from the airport on the west side to East Cleveland on the east side. It is older, slower and not as well maintained as the D.C. Metro. At one point a few years ago a train caught on fire and all the passengers had to get off. In the winter, as the trains jostled from side to side on the tracks, they would sometimes lose power and stop. The train stations are also not all that close to things you’d be surprised you miss if you can’t get to them, like shopping malls.
I made it a point to take it around town, to neighborhoods like Ohio City, downtown and University Circle and Little Italy. Rolling around on a train in Cleveland was not especially practical. I viewed it as an entertaining weekend treat. I’d spend the afternoon exploring. The pictures above are from some of those trips.
Some people who live without cars do so for militantly sustainable reasons. From an urbanists’ perspective, cars are inefficient. They clog up roads and require giant parking lots, not to mention the emissions.
I certainly have sustainability sympathies, but I don’t view living without a car as my moral obligation to society. I just think it’s fun. It’s simple. It forces me to walk and observe more. It helps me appreciate details I might otherwise miss.
I’ll probably own another car someday. But for now I’m fine without one.
The escalators at the Dupont Circle Metro in Washington, D.C. were broken Sunday. Two-way traffic shared one set of stairs. It’s a long walk up.