September 22 is World Car Free Day, and in celebration we’ve enlisted Freight Farms co-founder, Brad McNamara, to give us some insight into his decision to become car free, and his experiences over the past few years!
I’ve been living “Carfree” since February 2011. I still remember the first day when my mom met me at the Subaru dealership on Rt.9 in Framingham after I turned in my vehicle and I needed a ride to campus at Clark University in Worcester, MA. She dropped me off outside the library and I immediately realized what I just done to my life!
The most common and pressing question I get is “Why did you do this?” and the beauty of keeping a blog during this journey is to have a window into my mind during each step of the way. This is a blessing and a curse because I can’t BS and rewrite history to make myself feel better, look better and/or seem cool.
WHY DID I DO THIS?
I’d like to let April 2011 Brad answer that question from a post on carfreebrad.com.
“Truth is, I don’t know and that is kind of the point of this whole experiment. I didn’t start this with a point to prove or goal to meet. I can’t say exactly what I hope to gain from all this or where it might take me. I don’t know if it will open doors for me or slam them in my face.
I’ve been getting the question, “So you don’t use cars at all?” more often than I had expected. The answer is, I have nothing against cars. They serve a very distinct and good purpose in my life and I embrace that. My mission is very simple, to live my life without a car and using other forms as my first mode of transport to see how my life is changed and document my struggles good, bad or indifferent. My entire life has been so car-centric, I want to see if I can shift to a new modus operandi. I can’t say I’ll never own a car again but at this point, I can say that my life is possible without it!
The way I see it, if an MBA student with every intention of making obscene amounts of money someday, likes khakis and a sweater vest (argyle is best) and constantly makes fun of patchouli (even though I don’t really what it is) can take a step to being part of the solution, anything is possible.”
NO SERIOUSLY, WHY?
“I love driving! Always have, always will. I’ve grown up as many people have, with a car. A car is just part of me, it never seemed to be a choice to me.
So why would someone dependent on having a car realize it is a choice and then choose to go without. I made this choice for many reasons, and to be honest, none of them are noble, brave, or even for a greater good. In fact, most of them are just plain selfish.
I try not to be, but find that I plan and run my life according to logic and reason (most of the time) and this major life change is no different.
Lease is up
Clark & multiple degrees are EXPENSIVE.
Insurance is expensive.
Gas is expensive
I own a bike (2 actually) and consider myself to be able bodied.
I live on campus and/or within 3 miles.
Electric cars are the new black.
To prove that I can live without it.
Put my money where my mouth is.
I got it in my head that someone like me couldn’t, shouldn’t, wouldn’t give up his car.”
Those that know me well may not be surprised to find out I made this choice because it is a sound financial decision. But most importantly, it flies in the face of who I am. I never like to be self-righteous and rarely like to be serious so I try to let me actions speak for me.
FOUR YEARS LATER- No Regrets!
The last four years haven’t been all roses and rainbows. Off the top of my head, I’ve been hit by two cars, put my hand through the side of one taillight, broken 3 bikes, had at least a dozen lights stolen from my bike and fallen around 5 times on my own accord.
In the face of these facts, I’ve never regretted the decision. I’ve had more than a few days (most mentioned above) in which I cursed bikes, biking and my stupidity for choosing to do this to myself. The longer I’ve been living my life “CarFree”, the more I confident I am in my decision all those years ago. I could write some prolonged description of the all the things that this life choice has done for me but that’s not really my style and I’d much prefer to point out what I think it has done for others.
Safety- I’ve had more than one car driving friend tell me that they used to “hate bikers” and wish they could just hit them…until they learned that I could be that biker! Now they just go about their business and secretly hate the biker but give them some space and try to coexist.
Awareness- Biking IS an option. It often comes up in conversations with friends, family and colleagues and I always enjoy preaching the benefits of only having two wheels…and I feel a sense of joy when someone I know trades in their car keys for a bike lock.
Community- I’ve only known one person so far that didn’t have fond memories of riding their bike as a kid. Everyone else I’ve ever met immediately relates to that original sense of freedom that your first bike gives you. The biking community has grown significantly over the past few years, and even though we may choose this mode of transportation for different reasons there is an overarching sense of comradery that in incredibly refreshing. Also by traveling via bike, I get to familiarize myself with parts of the city I didn’t know existed. I’ve ridden through streets and parts of town I would have never considered before. In many ways, I feel connected to these areas in the same way many of us feel forever connected to the neighborhoods we grew up exploring as children.
WHY YOU SHOULD TRY IT
It’s easier than ever in many communities to get started without much effort. In the Boston area, the growth of bike sharing programs like Hubway makes is really easy for anyone to try biking without any pressure. Pick a nice day when the weather behaves and start small. There are stations all over the city so you can ride for 1 block or 1 hour.
Give it a try, embrace that freeing feeling of being on two wheels and before you know it you’ll be getting an annual pass or finding yourself looking at bikes online during lunch!
For more information about how to get involved with the Massachusetts Clean Air Challenge, visit their website!