I'm wrapping up my last week in Southern California. Excited as I am to be moving to a bike-friendly city, living without a car in the thick of car culture has taught me a lot about the power of being a pedestrian. By virtue of walking places, I feel like I'm in on this little secret. I get to truly notice the jacaranda trees in ecstatic purple bloom and the street art stenciled onto sidewalks. There's this whole luscious, nervy, colorful world that I could never exist in if I only went from climate-controlled car to strip mall (and home again).

When I can't walk, I bike. This too is a blessing. Some of my most treasured moments in San Diego have been on the back of my brother's bike as we zoom through the palm-framed streets. And when I can't bike, I Lyft Line. Getting to share a car with strangers has pushed me to embrace the beauty of fleeting connections and small-talk conversations. 

To some extent, living without a car makes me dependent on other people. I can't go camping on my own and have had to ask friends for rides home from the doctor. When I first moved to San Diego, I was a little embarrassed that I had to ask for help this way. It was the first time I'd lived in a city where my own two legs weren't enough to get me to where I wanted to go. I've both gained and lost different kinds of independence by choosing a car-free life. But its taught me to articulate my needs and reminded me that we are fundamentally interconnected. 

Mainstream American culture celebrates total "independence." This entirely self-scripted mindset doesn't just isolate us from each other—it severs us from the natural world. In the face of massive environmental injustices, learning to share resources (be it cars or food or solar energy) is increasingly imperative. Walking has helped me to perceive bridges where I once drew boundaries. 

This weekend, take the time to walk somewhere you might otherwise drive. You'll find a power all your own.

For more on alternative transportation, check out the following links:

The Neighborhood Naturalist Project Alison Znamierowski

By Bike Alone Kate Weiner

Taking A Spin With The Recumbent Gourmet Mike Claus

Kate Weiner1 Comment