Carless in America

4 min readJul 10, 2019
Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

I recently completed my eighth year without a car and I’m not missing them

When I tell people I no longer own a car and why, there are typically two reactions. There is the expected ‘really?’ and the unexpected ‘I wish I could do that’. The latter is the more common response, which I really didn’t see coming. When I break down my logic in making the choice, everyone understands the why of it. It is the how that takes some time to sink in.

300 miles a month

I had a very nice car that was coming off a three year lease. I was considering buying it until I started looking at the numbers. I no longer needed it to get to work as I had transitioned to working remotely much of the time. As a result it was only getting used for short hops to buy groceries, etc. I live in a city, Rochester, NY, with the shortest average commute times in the country for a city its size, averaging less than 15 minutes from anywhere to anywhere. My last commute was twelve miles and it took me about fifteen minutes, during rush hour. Commuting, for the average driver, is where most people rack up the miles. When that went away, I found myself down to 300 miles a month. After three years of a lease, I’d only racked up 21,000 miles of my 36k allotment. When I added it up it made no sense financially to plunk down a big chunk of cash for the car. So I decided to try going without one. I promised myself that if I ever wanted or needed one I would go out and buy another one.

In hindsight it looks like I was subconsciously preparing for this for awhile

After a relationship ended that involved a house in the suburbs, I couldn’t wait to get back into the center of our urban downtown, where I could walk to things. My gradual transition to remote work eliminated that commute, which freed up time and money. I do not have children or grandchildren, which would have been a big factor. And I am an environmentalist who understood very early how the fossil fuel economy was destroying our way of life. So, the decision was relatively easy to get to.

Being single, I wondered how being carless would impact my dating life. Would I look like a hopeless loser or someone hiding a DWI conviction? I’m happy to…


Mastodon:, Writer, nine non-fiction books, two novels, Buddhist, train lover. Amateur cook, lover of life most of the time!