Mom to Mom

Living Car-Free In The City
April 3, 2012 at 12:00 AM

Technically we aren't car-free, we're more like car-light.  We do own a car that my partner uses for work - and we do take advantage of it for larger outings on the weekend.  Still, my day to day reality at home with Leo, our toddler, is without a car.  My partner leaves for work as we are beginning our day and doesn't return home until a couple hours before Leo's bedtime.  So we spend our days without a car - and for the most part, we don't miss it. 

Knowing we were going to be without a car for the most part was a major factor in choosing to live in an urban area.  Not having a car would be a lot harder if we couldn't walk to coffee shops, grocery stores, playgrounds, libraries, restaurants, a post office, and a several types of public transportation.  

What are my favorite benefits of being car-light?

  1. I get a lot more exercise
  2. I support more local businesses
  3. I really get to know my neighbors as we are out and about in our neighborhood
  4. It's great for the environment
  5. It saves money
  6. I think it's a great example to set for our kids

Is it a bit more challenging sometimes?  Absolutely, but it is worth the extra hassle.  Here are some of my best tips for going car-free; even if just a few days a week.

  • Plan your route.  Try and make a circle to loop back home - and try and schedule errands that require carrying heavy things - like the library, post office, or groceries - for first or last (depending if you are picking up or dropping off). 
  • Pack a fantastic diaper bag.  Snacks, umbrella, water, and a change of clothes accompany the typical diapers and wipes in our bag.  You do not want to get stranded across the city without a key item.
  • Invest in a light stroller with some undercarriage storage, a good carrier and/or in some reusable bags that zip-up small to throw in the diaper bag.  For most of Leo's life I primarily wore him in a carrier and resigned myself to being a glorified pack-mule on library/grocery days.  Now that he's over 25 lbs and I've got a third trimester belly brewing I am using the stroller more and more - which has been nice for holding the diaper bag and items we pick up along the way - but I do miss the ease of wearing him.
  • Explore public transit.  When trying a new route either allow yourself plenty of time or test it out without a hard timeline (like an appointment you can't be late for).  Make sure to walk around near the transit stops - it's a great way to discover new areas of your city.
  • Invest in some good walking shoes and cold weather gear.  Both you and your little one(s) need to stay warm in colder weather and if your feet are going to be the main transportation - they deserve to be comfy!

How much do you rely on your car?  Do you live in a walkable area? 


  • Pootinky
    April 3, 2012 at 12:12 AM
    We have a seat on my bike that my little guy just adores (made buy "Yep"- check it out). As a busy Mom, with a regular 9 to 5, i wasnt able to fit exercize into my schedule. Now, i drive my little guy through th park every morning, before I bike 4 miles to work, then do the same in reverse on the way home. This is cherished time for us to spend together, it sets a good example for him to see me exercizing, and it burns fat and saves money!
    The Northside just got a subway extension here in Pittsburgh- and it's free for the next 3 years. So now we frequently eat meals down town. This allows Mom and Dad to each have a martini with dinner! We have a strict- no drinking alcohol with junior in the car, though we feel it's safe to have just one if he is in tote, but we aren't operating any vehicles;).
  • Leelee1008
    April 3, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    I depend on my car ALOT! We dont live in the city but my area isnt secluded from things either. In front of my neighborhood there is a shopping center. And on those few days to weeks where we have had a car on the fritz or even no car at all, having that shopping center, dollar store, gas station/convience store, take out shops, and drug store all within nice walking distance, really has its perks. Sometimes we just walk up there for the heck of it.

  • dusky_rose
    April 3, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    We live in a suburb so we could walk to my son's school (he's starting kindergarten in the fall), but walking to stores is a bit far for us to go. We would have to rely on the transit system if we wanted to go car free during the week. But I am thinking about walking him to school when the weather permits and coming to get him after school too. It will be good exercise for us both.

  • momkaribg
    April 3, 2012 at 12:15 PM

     We do not live in a walkable area. It would be nice if we did,

  • amy7243
    by amy7243
    April 3, 2012 at 12:23 PM

     We live in the middle of no where so we depend on it alot. 20 miles from the closest grocery store.

  • slw123
    by slw123
    April 3, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    I wish things were close together here.  Unfortunately in suburbian areas things are all spread out and where we are public transportation is very light.  I would love to be car free, it just isn't feasible.

  • millerbunch
    April 3, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    i'd rather drive places.. i would think spending money on a cab/bus could get expensive  and relying on the schedules of those.. no thank you.

    now if it is just down the corner store, i take my wagon or stroller for th kids.

  • Jerichos_Mommy
    April 3, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    We live in the country.  The nearest convience type store is about 12 miles one way,  The nearest real grocery store about 18 miles away.  Public transit 15 miles and it only runs hourly.  A car is a must here.

  • Rushn311
    April 3, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    We do not live in an area where we can walk-so I rely on my car everywhere. I don't drive much tho, and my car is a 4 cylinder Honda Civic so I don't think I am harming the environment as those with 8 cylinders etc.

  • MamaMandee
    April 3, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    I live in a small town now & can walk to everything in town: schools, store, park, library, post office to cover my basic needs. But I do missing living back in Portland Oregon were they truly have the best mass transit were I could walk down the street hope on the bus or Max and get anywhere in the city. 

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