The modern family spends a lot of time shuttling kids around to various activities and shopping mass quantities at big box stores to save a buck and stock up. My own country living dictates long car trips, however infrequently they occur compared to the daily commutes of suburban dwellers. I would love to live car-free, and I imagine it would be easy for a city dwelling couple, but what about schlepping kids around public transportation or walking/biking shopping trips? Can the average family live car-free?
Single mother Cecilia Kingman did it! Two kids and car-free! Alternet describes Cecilia’s experience:
Kingman’s children now say that growing up without a car not only brought their family closer together, but also helped them develop a more relaxed schedule, environmental consciousness, and a strong sense of their own independence and capability. “They learned to take public transportation at an early age, and by middle school could get all over town on their own,” she says.
I feel my family’s relaxed schedule of country living has created a closer bond between my children, as they are often their only playmates, so I can see how eliminating a car from the family would have a similar bonding effect. According to Cecilia:
We ended up supporting a lot of local businesses, because big box stores and malls were much harder to get to. We bought our groceries every few days, which supported a healthier diet. And most of my children’s friends were in the neighborhood, because I couldn’t drive them across town for play dates, and that helped us know our neighborhood, which has benefits beyond our own family.
Certainly where a family lives would make car-free living easier. For example, living in an older neighborhood with stores within walking distance, as well as mixed aged residents, would ease life without a car. Life in a McMansion suburb would not.
Similar to how families examine schools when moving to a new area, they should consider how their new location would make them more or less dependable on a car. Alternet points out:
Although one can worry about paper or plastic, the Union of Concerned Scientists explains that the most influential environmental choices an individual can make boil down to three: Drive less; Eat less meat; Live in smaller, well-insulated homes.
Yes, a family can live car-free when supported by the proper neighborhood and community. If there are any car-free families reading this post, we hope you will share your story. I envy you.