Wednesday, September 28, 2011

CAN YOU DO WITHOUT A CAR?


For those who drive, it's a daily grind on the city roads.
My answer is YES. But the question I am more often asked is "HOW can you do without a car!" Indeed, coming from my friends, it's not even a question, but rather, an incredulous exclamation.


I gave up driving in 1998. At the time I was driving a blue Chrysler Alpine 1300. Before that I had a Volvo 121. These were imported vehicles that were heavy to drive, and costly to maintain. Both cars had no power steering. I remember working up a sweat everytime I manoeuvred my car into a parking bay.

Driving in the 1970s and 80s was really stressful. There were more STOP signs than traffic lights. You had to take your chances at junctions. Busy roundabouts were for the brave-hearted or the reckless. I was neither, and often the cause of a minor traffic build-up behind me. Added to all that stress was the high cost of keeping my car in running condition. Just replacing the tyres took a huge chunk from my modest teacher's pay.

I didn't have a choice then. I needed a car to go to work, and to ferry my girls to school. As soon as they left to further their studies, I found little reason to hang on to my Chrysler. I sold it for a song, and gave my parking bay to my neighbour.

It's been 13 years now without a car. I've survived mostly on public transport and on kind friends who give me rides. I still have a valid driving license which I renew faithfully in case I have the urge to get behind the steering wheel again.

So far, that urge hasn't surfaced. I've been quite content to remain a passenger in the bus and let the driver take on the stress of getting through the traffic gridlock. I make sure I have a book with me or a notepad to jot down ideas and thoughts that come into my head.

I've become quite good at keeping my mind busy while waiting for the bus to arrive. Patience has become my middle name. No point complaining about delays, queues or congestion. It only raises your blood pressure. I've learned to bear with the inconvenience. I look at it positively. I'm saving money, enjoying peace of mind, and contributing to a cleaner environment!

Sure, the bus doesn't drop me off at my front door. But I regard brisk walking as good exercise for my legs. Carrying shopping bags and groceries is part of my strength-training regime and a little daily exposure to the sun is great for health.

I get all these benefits at a fraction of what I would spend if I still owned a car. With my senior citizen's Touch n Go card, I get to travel anywhere in the Klang Valley by RapidKL bus at half fare. Of course, our public bus system leaves much to be desired. And I can write an entire book about it, but I shall leave my grouses to the next blog post.

So there, I've done my small part to reduce traffic congestion, air pollution, and fuel consumption. I know it won't be easy to convince city dwellers to give up their cars. At least not until they see significant improvements in the public transport system.

Related post

ARE AGEING DRIVERS A HAZARD ON THE ROAD? 

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

everyone can do without many things....you are lucky to be healthy enough to walk, carry your shopping and be unaffected by the sun and rain.....

i wonder whether your views will change when the arthritis sets in and the muscles are weaker....

el-f said...

I know what you mean. I have friends who are not so mobile, and some are house-bound.

As long as I can still walk and carry, I shall continue to do so. Hopefully, daily exercise will delay the onset of arthritis. My knees do creak sometimes, but I won't let that stop me from my activities. I'll deal with the aches and pain when the time comes.

elaine said...

I thank you for your article. It help me to make up my mind about whether to take up driving or not (and at my age -56 years)! REason being, my daughter will be leaving overseas for study next year and no one will need the car then. To sell or to take up driving myself has been bothering me. But now I know what to do with the car.

Antares said...

It's only with the benefit of hindsight that we realize nobody spends much time contemplating their own physical decay and death - and so cities are designed and built by those who imagine they will never find it impossible to cross a busy motorway or climb five flights of steps.

Florida Advanced Driver Improvement said...
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Delsie Maidens said...

Some people can live without a car 'coz they think that not having a car can save then more money. But there are a lot of benefits to owning a car. So if you have enough money, go and buy a car.. =]

STEEST said...

Now that I've moved to Singapore, I can do without a car.

Don't miss it at all.

I guess it is different here.