Sunday, January 30, 2011

Moving without car

I grow up without a car. We took the bus to viola lessons, ballet class, walked to school and went by tram to visit my mother. Our holidays spent in the archipelago with grandma was a fast one-hour trip by car and then we move it not before going home again. My father never had a driver's license, even if he "drives" a whole orchestra almost every day in his work as a conductor. Never did I have one, or any of my seven siblings, except of one, my father's youngest. He was tired of the bus, same bus my dad took every day, year around to get to work. Now my brother lives in the middle of the city, in a walking distance to his work. And his car is in my garage.

When I was in my first school grade, school linked us together in "walking teams"- we had to wait for some other kids to walk to school or home. I had two walking friends. They lived in the same neighbourhood and I lived in another. Sometimes they had to wait for me, sometimes the other way. When we got a little bit older we started to bike to school. And it was the same team. By walking to school took us around 45 minutes. By bike maybe 20. We had a great walking and bike path to school seperated from cars, along nice houses and gardens, with safe pedestrian crossing.

A few times in life, I've been addicted to a car, for example when going to ride horses, anyhow I live in a walking distance to a stable where I live now (not in the countryside) so reason is not that they are unreachable without a car. Other times are when heading to the recycling center (paradoxically) and when to move from one place to another. One time when I had to move, we drove all the way through Finland to reach North Sweden in a big GMC van, in which we also had to sleep in (trip was a great memory) but other times I just took my things with a small push cart, but that was at that time while package was small. As older we get, as more things we have. Bookshelves, sofas, desks, kitchen tables, paintings, books, millions of shoes and clothes and things (not so easy to take on the train anymore, even if that have happen).

Recently I bought skis to enjoy some of the nice snow we got in the country. I been to Olso in Norway with them, and I've been at the tram, bus, subway and train with them now several times. They are a bit big and with another ordinary travel bag besides the skis, I'm a bit clumpsy and big, all of me. But besides that, I really enjoy travelling like this. It's just me and my bags. When I reach my distination, I can just walk away. No extra bags, seaching for a parking lot, find money to pay or anything. It's just me.

In Oslo, when prepare for skiing, we just took our ski shoes on in the apartment, took the skis under the arm and walked to the subway. When reached our distination, we walked 10 meters and then off we went! Soo relaxing. Soo much freedom. We were not the only ones in Oslo doing this. It was, were I lived, almost like an alpin village with people carring skis alover.

Another way of doing without a car or bus, train or tram would be to bike or run. After a whole life without any special exercise I started with running. What I found out in the summer was a trail  from my brother, all the way in the forest to my ordinary running trail. It is almost 10 km in the forest and it is a beautiful forest, with a spectacular view in the end, seeing over the city and I can almost see all the way to the ocean. To combine time when you have to move in some sort of a way, with excercise is not just environmental correct but time saving! To take the bus to my brother takes me 45 minutes sometimes one hour. To run, around one hour. So, combine, and I save a lot of time. To not talk about to save the unpleasure to change bus three times, miss the crowd and to have my own decision where to go and how fast. If you are lucky to have a shower at your work, this is the inspiration video for you; take your legs to work.

In the utopian future, we live in a world without cars. Cars should just be for transportation of gods and work situations where cars are the only choice, think investigations of environment, construction of infrastrucure and sorts like that.

If a society would be built up in this way, would it take the freedom away from people?! Hold that question for a while.

Take a look at the site parking lots to see what you can do instead of parking lots. Another fun site is walkscore, where you can try your own street and see how "nice" it is to walk on. In a project in Falun and Borlänge, two small towns in middle Sweden, you can be a part of theirs winter project called the "winter biker" to lead more people to use their bikes in the wintertime. The project is held from the municipailty and give participants winter tires, saddle cover and a cyclocomputer to reports their travels. See more about the project here at their homepage vintercyklisten. A similar way of encourage people to drive less is a project in Belgium were environmental organisations and local stores promots peoples daily shopping by bike; every time you drive your bike to the store you got one stamp, and when you got 8 of them you can order a bike bag from the designer Walter Van Beirendonck. See more about that project at (in Flemish).

Terrible without a car? Terrible with? You deside, but most important and not to forget; The shortest distance between two points is achieved by moving those points closer together. I.e we need to change the way we build communities.

More from this blog:
What happen to the ferries
New York, car free plaza
Low density, high density
Bike lines and bike roads
These cars
Theme; public transit
Let’s build cities for people (not cars)

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