Decelerating Life, One Car at a Time

January 16, 2009

I meet the neatest people. Christa Clark-Jones is founder of CarFreeLifestyle.combobbycar, a user-generated website for car-free enthusiasts.  She is an award-winning short filmmaker who has worked with the City of Davis, California, studying the impacts of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.  Christa received her B.S. degree in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning from the University of California at Davis.

CLH: You went car-free in December 2007.  How has that impacted you?

carfreelifestyleclip1Christa: Exploring by foot and bike has taught me to appreciate my community more.  I enjoy looking at gardens and exchanging smiles.  Sometimes I will have a random conversation with someone.  These moments make my day.  Another nice side effect is increased health and longevity.  No gym membership needed.  Stress dissipates.  Also, with no vehicle upkeep, I save plenty of money and time.

CLH: I agree that going car-free is easier in places such as Portland, OR where there are bike paths and flat surfaces. What about people who live in colder climates such as Alaska? Would you recommend the return of the dog sled?

Christa: Dog sleds sound fun!  Living car-free is possible if you are in an urban environment.  For example, my friend who has lived in St. Petersburg, Russia – where freezing temperatures are normal – tells me that people rarely use a cars.  Cars are actually a hassle in St. Petersburg.  Instead, everyone uses the elaborate and efficient subway system.  It is so successful that trains usually arrive every five minutes.  In other words, an urban environment with high density and access to public transportation provide more flexibility.

CLH: What things can people do to go ‘carlite’ if not ‘carfree’? What organizations exist that support people’s efforts for sustainable transportation?

Christa: Be prepared, take baby steps, and make the transition fun.   Join your local pedestrian and bicycle advocacy groups for a supportive network.  Also, I have created, a user-generated website for car-free enthusiasts. It’s a hotspot for advice and motivation.

Top five tips:
•       Wear comfortable walking shoes.
•       If you like cycling, use a sturdy and comfortable bicycle (i.e. cruisers and Dutch bikes).
•       Become familiar with you public transportation system. Have the schedule accessible.
•       On weekends, walk, bike, and use public transportation to get to your favorite places.
•       Find local friends who want to try the car-free lifestyle with you.

CLH: Thank you for this enlightening chat!

Christa: Thank you!


2 Responses to “Decelerating Life, One Car at a Time”

  1. Tomorrow my husband and I will celebrate TEN YEARS of no car. We were happy to leave the one and only car of our lives–a by-then thirteen-year-old Chevrolet–at the airport in Iowa as we flew out to our new home in Munich, Germany. As a native New Yorker, I was thrilled to be headed for a city with functional public transportation. We have never looked back,

  2. powerofslow Says:

    Congratulations on your ten-year commitment to car-free living, Marlena!

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