This is a good story. What I find amazing is that she's saving 12K a year being car free. She must make good money because even I can't save that much a year!
While she's not using a bicycle, it goes to show you that you can be car and bike free. I will say that she can make her life a whole lot easier with a human powered machine. But I find that women who are car free also tend to be bike free out of fear.
That woman who walks’
Kim Griswell gave up her car and gained abundance
By SANDY LONG
HONESDALE, PA — While others spent hours during recent snowstorms shoveling out cars, parking spaces and driveways, Kim Griswell gained free time to stroll the holiday-festooned streets of Honesdale. As others plunked down upward of three dollars for every gallon of gasoline guzzled by their vehicles, Griswell watched her savings grow. While people paid for memberships at fitness facilities, Griswell kept trim by walking all over town. All of it came about as a result of her decision to downsize her car.
Griswell came to Honesdale to accept a job as coordinating editor of Highlights Magazine. She moved here from Portland, OR, one of America’s most pedestrian-friendly cities, which offers free public transportation throughout its downtown. She was accustomed to a more environmentally aware lifestyle there, and the seeds were sown for the action she took in March 2007.
The editor of the hugely popular children’s publication had been reading Chris Balish’s “How to Live Well Without Owning a Car” and the lease on her car was about to expire. “I had been spouting stuff about getting rid of my car and realized it was time to step up,” mused Griswell. She allowed the lease to run out and began reaping the benefits of a car-less life.
The most obvious proved to be financial. “The average person saves about $8,000 by not having a vehicle, but in less than a year, I’ve seen a savings of $12,000,” Griswell said. “When you factor in all the expenses associated with owning a car—gas, maintenance, repairs, parking, insurance—it adds up quickly.”
Ironically, Griswell discovered that in reclaiming this income by eliminating the costs associated with local travel, she now has the opportunity to consider things like international travel.
Other benefits have included the physical fitness that comes as a result of walking everywhere—to work, to the grocery store, even to the laundromat. And a surprise benefit of being out and about has been the response from people as they become familiar with seeing Griswell throughout town. “I meet so many people in the community through walking,” she said. “They’ll often say, ‘You’re that woman who walks!’ Now I receive offers for rides. It’s amazing how people invite you to do things once they know you don’t have a car.”
Griswell cites the opportunity to be out in the fresh air as another bonus, and discovered a form of stress reduction in making the transition from work to home. “For many people, commuting by car can be an additional form of stress at the end of the day. By the time I walk home, I’m already relaxed,” she said. “In cars, people are often unhappy, stressed out and angry. When people see you repeatedly on the street, they joke and are friendly as they start to recognize you and make connections.”
Making the change has not been without its challenges, though. Griswell occasionally rents a car if needed and relies on transportation by bus to get to places like New York City. She was surprised to find no means of public transportation to nearby Scranton, other than a costly taxi ride.
While pedestrian travel is well supported in many European countries, it is not prioritized in America. “Cities are sprawling and public transportation isn’t always convenient or affordable,” said Griswell. “As we go forward, we’ve got to plan differently, with an emphasis on walking and biking trails that can allow people to move safely from one place to another without cars.”
Griswell applauds the creation of walkable communities that restore amenities such as the corner grocery store to the local landscape. “People miss that. It’s enjoyable and it connects us to one another.” As a matter of course, Griswell “buys local,” and buys less, since she must transport her groceries on foot. “I used to buy more when I had a car and often ended up throwing things away. I find I don’t waste things anymore because I buy in smaller batches.”
“Where you live is a choice and its affects what lifestyle you want to live,” said Griswell. “People need to know it’s possible to live without a car.”
To encourage people to make the change, Griswell said that decreasing dependency on our cars requires improved public transportation systems, the creation of pedestrian and bike lanes and crosswalks that must be well maintained by towns. “We need to make it possible for people to make this choice. City planning and suburban planning doesn’t consider the pedestrian enough. The opportunities to make these changes are there.”
Griswell is the mother of five children—four boys and a girl—all of whom are grown and living independently. Two of them, a daughter and son, have also elected to eliminate cars from their lives.
Resources for going car-less
In addition to the availability of public transportation such as commuter trains and buses, bike sharing programs are popular in many European countries. Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world. Visit http://members.aol.com/humorme81/citybike.htm
to learn about the City Bike project, a public/private partnership that placed 1,100 specially-designed bicycles throughout downtown Copenhagen for public use.
Paul DeMaio, who created MetroBike LLC, a bicycle planning and bike-sharing consulting company based in Washington D.C., hosts an informative blog about bike-sharing at http://bike-sharing.blogspot.com
Car-sharing is another alternative. Learn more at www.carsharing.net
. For those who want to bring car-sharing to their city, a beginner’s how-to is available at http://www.autoshare.com/beginners/guide.html
In addition to the text cited in the story, check out “Divorce Your Car” by Katie Alvord.