Step One: Get a nice bike
After giving my beautiful car to my father, my parents graciously offered to help me out with my new bike. We only went to two stores before I found one that I loved. The company even made it in red so, of course, I needed it. One week later, I walked over to the bike shop to pick it up and it was truly love at first site. After the friendly, bearded men at the bike shop taught me all the basics and made me give them all my money, I officially became the owner of a beautiful, red hybrid bike.
On day 1 with my new bike I was only able to ride it home before it started raining. Instead of trying to ride it around town to get used to it, I threw in the towel and got some froyo.
On day 2 with my new bike, I still hadn’t decided on a name and I didn’t feel like going to the gym. So, I hopped on my nameless bike and pedaled around my beautiful city for about an hour. In my first fitness ride I went 6.3 miles, almost got hit by a car, almost ran over a squirrel, and may have swallowed a beetle. Most importantly, I came up with a name. I decided to name it after the county I have grown so fond of, the host of American Bandstand, Superman’s nerdy civilian identity, and one of the greatest American explorers of all time. From this point on, I will refer to my bike as Clarke.
Step Two: Learn about public transportation
Though this decision was a long time coming, it came around at a pretty inconvenient time. In other words: (Day I give away car) + 16 days = Thanksgiving Break + 23 days = Winter Break. In other, other words: I need to find a way to get to Atlanta without a car and without asking for a ride. Luckily, Megabus drives between Athens and Atlanta for under $6 per ticket. Some tickets are even as low as $1. It’s amazing and so convenient. So, I purchased my ticket for Thanksgiving Break for the Sunday after a football game I wanted to go to. The bus departed from a campus bus stop about a mile and a half from my place. I was all set to take a campus bus from my bus stop over to the other one… but wait. Campus buses were not running the Sunday before Thanksgiving Break. Why? Because UGA wanted me to carry all of my belongings across campus. At 6am. So, I did just that. I took a lovely walk before the sun came up. With two giant backpacks full of laundry. It was a sight to see. Except no one saw. Because everyone was asleep. Oh, except for the two police officers who thought I was hitchhiking.
So, to and from Atlanta is easy, but a little inconvenient. What about the every day stuff that used to be so simple with a car? How do I get to the grocery store? And the doctor? What about the times I want to visit a friend who lives across town? Well, that’s when Athens Transit comes into play. Even the tiny college town I live in has pretty decent public transportation, so I figure this serves as good advice for anyone reading this. Even if I have to run on a bus schedule instead of my own, I can go grocery shopping; go to the mall to buy new jeans; visit my friends who live in apartments off campus. It may take a little longer, but it’s free and sustainable. Two birds. One stone.
All of the other stuff is easy. Class is just a bike ride or walk away. Most of my friends live on campus with me. My office is four floors below my apartment — I don’t even need shoes to go to work.
Step Three: Know your resources
Athens is a unique city filled with tons of stuff I still don’t know about, even after four years of exploring. I have always tried to take advantage of campus and community events, but without a car it became even more important. For example, I bought my fresh veggies from a supermarket for the past four years. Now I know that during most of the year there is a farmer’s market downtown once a week. Once a week I can take a 10 minute bike ride to get the freshest food in town. I can also order from an online organic and locally grown food market and pick it up from a bike shop right down the street. Who knew?
Step Four: Avoid being “that guy”
This “guy” I speak of is the universal term for someone who everyone doesn’t want to be. In this case, I am talking about that guy who always asks for rides everywhere. Don’t do it. Try to be as independent as possible. If you need to go somewhere that someone else happens to be going to, that’s a different story. Don’t do it every day, but if someone offers to take you grocery shopping with her, go! If someone offers to drive you home for a holiday, go! But don’t be that guy. It’s annoying and no one will like you.
Step Five: Don’t be lazy
This one needs no explanation. Laziness = opposite of why I have no car.
Step Six: Be creative
Creativity has always played a huge role in my life. From the day I had my first rap/poem published in the 5th Grade, I knew my brain worked differently than everyone else’s. Yes, I said “rap/poem.” I will share it with all of you the day I get 100 followers on this blog. So, never.
Creativity comes into play when you’re living without a car because of all the conveniences you lose. If I bike all the way to the grocery store and come back to find that I am missing an ingredient, I better start thinking of a way to fabricate it out of thin air or replace it with something I have. If I get invited to a birthday party last minute and I want to bring a card, I better learn how to handmake cards (done and done).
Step Seven: Be proud
This one is a no-brainer. If you are living without a car — even if you didn’t choose this lifestyle — be proud to be part of a small(ish) community that helps to save our planet with each gallon of gas saved. Pat yourself on the back and stand up tall on your daily walks to accomplish medial tasks. It will all be worth it in the end. Which allegedly is in less than a month.