How do you get around without a car?

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We live a car-centered life these days, and it feels somewhat impossible to change that, unless we give up our rural home. I was intrigued by a feature in the May/June issue of Orion about folks in another supposedly car-bound place–Los Angeles–who manage to get around by foot, bike, and/or public transportation. It’s inspiring and a little daunting; I picture facing those vast concrete distances without a car and feel a bit overwhelmed. But then, to walk from my house to the Downtown Mall would take, oh, three days.

It wasn’t always this way. I didn’t have a car for the first three years of college, and didn’t miss it. I rode my bike all around campus and occasionally borrowed a pickup truck belonging to my dining co-op when I needed to leave town. In grad school, I went everywhere by bike (including, for two memorable summer weeks, to my temp job in a town 10 miles away). When my husband and I lived in Oakland, California, I took the bus to work and found it very civilized–instead of dealing with traffic on my commute, I read books.

While walking to Charlottesville might be out of the question for me, I do know that several people in our Nelson community routinely walk several miles to get where they need to go. We often see them on the roadsides, marching along. It looks a little risky on certain roads, but there they are.

I’d love to hear from Charlottesvillians–or even better, county-dwellers–who live without cars. How do you get around? Are there places you just can’t go? How does having no car impact your budget, your sanity, your options on a Friday night?

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