The Car-free Mitzvah – A Rite of Passage into car-free living

The first ever car-free mitzvah was held at the High Point Cafe at Allens Lane Station. Over coffee, iced cocoa & iced elixir friends gathered to honor & support Barb Pearson (52), a Mt Airy resident who decided to sell her car and attempt to live car-free in Philadelphia. With a job about 2 miles away, Barb often bikes to work. When too hot or rainy, she opts for a combination of walking and the bus. Barb decided that she could save about $600 per month (see AAA driving costs) and use PhillyCarShare (Philadelphia’s unique car-sharing system) the occasional times she needed to drive someplace.

Barb with friends

Barb with friends, holding up transit map of Mt Airy

Smart woman.

An adult American giving up her car is breaking new ground – a decision to honor and support.

Suggested gifts to celebrate this step were…

  • stories about (y)our relationship with (and dependency on) cars
  • bus tokens
  • bike & transit maps
  • gift certificates to keep her bike well-serviced
  • refill on her High Point Cafe Yummy card; remember.. food is fuel for a cyclist!

By sharing her decision with friends, Barb has found them offering to include her in their driving plans. So for example, she was going to the Manayunk Arts Festival later in the day with a friend. Turns out Another friend gave a coupon for rides to the vet.  We learned about a car-sharing arrangement between friends, where the costs are split and a contract spells out details like who gets use of the car when both want it. Barb & I are considering  modifying this contract to try a car-sharing scheme amongst ourselves, since my car often remains at home.  Anna, a friend that couldn’t make it to our mitzvah, shared that she, too, chooses to live car-free, and just hearing about this celebration has greatly added to her self-esteem.

Though ready with the 12 suggested steps of Oilaholics Anonymous, and this ad asking if it’s OK to support terrorism if it’s only a little bit, I held back on the political, and instead pulled out a transit map of Mt Airy, showing bus & train routes to get in and out of Mt Airy. Though familiar with the bus system, Barb found the map useful, as did neighbor & friend Rick.

Ideas for future car-free mitzvahs to celebrate this significant rite of passage are welcome.

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2 responses to “The Car-free Mitzvah – A Rite of Passage into car-free living

  1. Am discovering more & more people living car-free by choice. Marney, of the Burbridge St Bed & Breakfast (burbridgestreetbandb.com), stopped in to get a flat fixed. She’s lived car-free since 1986, getting around on a 3-speed bike with front basket and the SEPTA bus system.

  2. Love the mitzvah to go car free. Perhaps Barb also decided to donate a portion of the sale of the car to a bike charity in her area?

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