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Rain Doesn't Deter Car-Free Commitment

By Beth Potier, Media Relations
May 7, 2008

It’s been a week since we parked the family car in the garage and pledged not to use it until June. Here are some observations on the experience so far:

  1. Life is different, but not necessarily worse. We’re reconsidering our needs and journeys and staying more local. Instead of dinner and a movie in Portsmouth this weekend, for instance, my husband and I celebrated my birthday at Three Chimneys in Durham and rented a movie. Instead of devoting a weekend afternoon to a major grocery shopping expedition, we’re picking up dinner supplies at the Durham Marketplace on the way home.

  2. We live in the right place. The single biggest factor in making our car-free month possible is the fact that several years ago, we moved to a neighborhood near downtown Durham. It’s a real estate transaction rather than any sort of save-the-planet heroics that let us consider giving up our car.

  3. Bike trailers are awesome. The Burley trailer that usually carries our son to and from preschool has been pressed into service for groceries, dry cleaning, and other unwieldy items. It adds a cargo bay to a bicycle!

  4. Wildcat Transit, too, is awesome. I biked to Portsmouth over the weekend; there I bought something too bulky to transport back to Durham on my bike. So I hopped on Wildcat Transit at Market Square, loading my bike onto the rack on front and relaxing for the 20-minute trip. And around Durham, I’ve noticed the bus drivers are extraordinarily considerate of cyclists.

  5. Rain? Not so awesome. We were sorely tempted to drive to downtown Durham during Sunday morning’s downpour. But we resisted hopping into what my husband called “the motorized umbrella”. We suited up in rain gear and walked.

  6. Our insanity is infectious. Friends and colleagues have told us they have been motivated to dust off their bikes and try a car-free commute. Rochelle L’Italien of UNH Dining biked 32 miles round trip from her home in Exeter Monday, juggling her own schedule with those of two sons who attend two different schools. Go Rochelle! I hope others will share their stories.


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