At the Speed of a Bicycle

I sold our car today.

My wife and I have talked about doing this for several years now, but it was an ideal that was always deferred by her commute.  It was only recently, when she was finally transferred to Guelph, that living without a car became a real possibility.  It was also recently, at precisely the same moment, to be honest, that living without a car became a real anxiety.  What had seemed a beautiful ideal at some ambiguous point in the future had suddenly become disconcertingly possible.

We recognized, of course, that this kind of anxiety is part of making any substantial change, particularly when it is a change that involves something so socially and culturally significant as the car.  We recognized also, though not without a fair amount of reflection, that selling our car would not actually result in any problems very difficult for us to overcome.  We are, therefore, as of several hours ago, officially without a car.  We are, to use the language of Ivan Illich that I have already quoted elsewhere, officially moving at the speed of the bicycle, or rather, since I much prefer to walk than to pedal, at the speed of our own two feet.

I am simultaneously elated and terrified.

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9 comments
  1. Congratulations! I think getting rid of my car has been one of the single biggest perspective-altering decisions I’ve made in the past ten years. The world sure looks different as the speed of a bicycle/two feet!

  2. I am simultaneously realizing that I’m driving to Guelph a lot more 😦

  3. Andrew Hill said:

    it’s easy getting used to not having a car when you’ve never had one! hmmm i don’t know whether that statement is more encouraging for you or depressing for me.

  4. Lauren said:

    Mike & I bought bikes last summer and it reminded me how much I love the feeling of being on a bicycle. I’m trying to work up my nerve to ride it somewhere useful – our lovely subdivision is bordered on all sides by some major roads (and also some expressway entrances) and my lack of courage has prevented me from riding it to get groceries or some other similar activity.

  5. People,

    Slow down. If anyone else comments I might fall into the delusion that some of you actually read this stuff. I might get self-concious.

    Also, I am starting to notice a trend with these comments. When I pour my heart, my soul, and three hours of my evening into a post on some philosophical or literary topic, nobody says a word. When I toss of a couple of paragraphs about selling my car, everyone wants to talk. You guys are going to give me a complex.

    Anyway,

    James, not to swell your ego or anything, but your example was one of things that encouraged Jaya and I to make this decision.

    Dave, fear not. I have a car sharing arrangement for Wednesday nights.

    Andrew, cheer up. You may never have owned a car, but you still drive the most beautiful van I have ever seen.

    Lauren, keep in mind, in order to get groceries in true hippie bicyclist style, you first need to attach an old milk crate to the back of your bike. For extra points, tie it on with baler twine or bungie cords.

  6. Lauren said:

    I can’t just use my backpack? Man, being a hippie bicyclist is more complicated than I thought.

    I guess I need to revise my list of goals. Step 1: tap into inner well of courage. Step 2: find baler twine.

    Also, if it makes you feel any better, I have the same problem with my blog. Not that I ever post anything nearly as well-researched and philosophical/intellectual as you do, but I think the highest number of comments I’ve ever gotten was on a rather incoherent post I typed in the middle of the night.

  7. Lauren,

    I have baler twine if you need it, and thanks for commiserating. We sensitive types need to stick together.

  8. “Also, I am starting to notice a trend with these comments. When I pour my heart, my soul, and three hours of my evening into a post on some philosophical or literary topic, nobody says a word. When I toss of a couple of paragraphs about selling my car, everyone wants to talk. You guys are going to give me a complex.”

    Welcome to the web!

  9. Curtis said:

    I believe the correct terminology for those moving at the speed of their feet is ‘Leather tramp’. As well I can empathize with your fear Luke, you have left the cozy place where formerly you could have locked your doors. No longer!

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