Vincent Cheung

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Living without a car

Living in downtown Toronto, I've managed to get by without a car. This is a far cry from suburban living in Winnipeg where I started driving at 15 and a half, got my full license (none of this graduated licensing crap) at 16 and one day (my 16th birthday was a Sunday), and I drove everywhere. I could have a car here, but it doesn't make sense practically, financially, or environmentally. I get by mostly by rollerblades, subway/streetcar/bus, and bumming rides off of other people (when going places outside of downtown). I'm actually quite adept at the latter. I got rides from 4 different people today :). I've also been able to get rides from people I only met mere hours before. I guess I have a non-intimidating appearance along with a look of desperation.

Why it's better not to have a car in downtown Toronto:
  • Cheaper (no car, no insurance, no gas, no parking, no repairs, no maintenance, no car washes, no having to pay a locksmith to jimmy your car because you locked your keys in the truck). I keep my license though.
    • Money saved now means more money in the future because of the time value of money

  • Less stress. Traffic aggravates me and having to find parking aggravates me even more.

  • Reduced carbon and environmental footprint

  • No need to worry about drinking

  • You get to know people when they drive you around (outside of downtown)

  • You get more exercise when you have to engage in human powered commuting

  • Faster to rollerblade downtown since traffic, one way streets, and turning restrictions are irrelevant and you don't have to find parking or walk to your car

Why rollerblading is superior to biking:
  • Cooler

  • Funner (sic)

  • No need to follow the street rules: do as a pedestrian would do, use the sidewalk or the street or both, no laws about wearing a helmet.

  • Smaller profile so its easier to weave in between pedestrian and vehicle traffic

  • Going over curbs is less jarring (just step onto the curb)

  • Comparable speed when you take into consideration the time it takes to lock/unlock the bike (especially if you don't take off your rollerblades indoors)

  • Cheaper and less maintenance

  • Pant legs don't get caught in the chain

  • Rollerblading inside of stores and buildings is like gliding on air

  • You can carry more stuff (like 5 grocery bags in each hand)

  • No need to worry about having your rollerblades being stolen (wear them inside, carry them with you, or even sneak them into a club and check them at coat check)

  • I'm 5'10 with rollerblades

  • Easier to blend in with pedestrian traffic (either on rollerblades or carrying them)

  • One way trips are possible, where you rollerblade to the destination and bum a ride back home (subway/streetcar/taxi is also possible)

Tips for bumming a ride and being a professional hitchiker like myself (I can easily count 20 different people that I've gotten a ride from this year):
  • Make nice with people that have cars, especially those that live near you or drive by your area

  • Reduce the inconvenience imposed upon the driver (they should be going your way and if the ride is not for the immediate circumstance, you should be punctual at the pick-up location)

  • Have no shame in asking for a ride (it's a common occurrence for me to ask everyone in the group if anyone is going downtown as we are about to leave to go home)

  • Looking a bit hopeless or desperate helps

  • Play hard to get by being a bit reluctant if it would overly inconvenience them (you need repeat drivers :p)

  • Be good company in the car

  • Show gratitude

  • Don't think about how you're gonna get back, just get to where you need to go and figure out the next ride later (backup plans always include subway/streetcars/night buses/taxis

In all fairness, when I am driving, I do my fair share of giving other people rides, even if it is out of my way.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

I wrote about precisely that not too long ago. Nice to see I'm not alone :)

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