Car-Free Living — Meeting With Friends

CC BY 2.0. Mark Haynes

Continuing my series on car-free living, let's delve into the issue of friends. We may not visit friends as frequently as we go to work or school, but such trips are quite regular and very important to your ability to live free of a car or not.

Some readers asked how I met up with friends, or implied that I perhaps didn’t have any friends. Frankly, it didn’t cross my mind to discuss this matter. I haven’t found it a challenge to meet up with friends in any of these places. Sometimes, the trip is a bit further, but not so much that I even thought about this as an obstacle.

Of course, living in 6 different cities, I’ve had friends living various distances away and accessible via various modes (sometimes only via transit), but it’s never come up as a problematic downside as far as I remember.

I understand some people end up with more challenging situations. However, not having this problem in 6 different places with plenty of friends and activities to attend in each, I can’t really say much more about that. The only thing I might add is that places may actually be much easier to get to for some of you than you think. A lot of friends have thought that I’d have problems getting somewhere when I didn’t at all. I think it’s often simply a matter of not being aware of the alternatives, and how convenient they actually are.

Also, it helps when you are centrally located, as that is often the area where people want to meet. One of our readers made this point regarding his own situation:

As for friends... well, that central location helped a lot, although we didn't settle down downtown - just close to where I work.

Further down in the comments, another reader added:

I do know some people who live car-free here in Phoenix, and their friends often give them rides just so they can see them more often and make their lives a little easier.

Actually, I have had many friends who either didn't realize how easy living car-free was or felt guilty for driving a lot themselves. These friends would offer to give me a lift here or there. If it was out of their way, I'd generally decline. I had no intention of being a leach (or creating unnecessary pollution), and I really didn't feel I benefited from it practically anyway in most cases.

If they were simply eager to spend more time with me, I'd take the offer. Though, I think much of the time it what simply down to the fact that people didn't understand how easy and enjoyable it was to live car-free, even in nicely planned college towns; or, as I implied above, that they were trying to rationalize their own driving.