Gardening Magazine

How I Live Without Driving (a Car)

By Sophiecussen

I’ve been meaning to wrote this post for a while but have never got around to it but seeing as it’s a pretty big part of my life I thought I’d better get it written because I am absolutely convinced I am not the only one who feels the following way about cars and driving.

Driving Off

I can’t drive.  I have never completed more that 10 hours of driving lessons.  I only ever had that many because some were given as a gift on my 17th birthday and I thought I had better give it a go.

Since then I have only spent about 30 minutes behind the wheel of a car and that was only to test break lights on the driveway.

As much as people find it quite incredulous that I don’t drive (they give me that smile as if to say “poor you”), I find it quite annoying that they always feel the need to ask why I don’t drive.  Like somehow by not being able to drive a ten ton machine I am somehow not quite all there.

So let me explain.  I don’t drive because I’ve never, ever (not once since being 17) felt the need or desire to learn, pay out for so much and spend time driving about in a car.  I don’t get fed up, I don’t feel trapped, nor (as someone once asked me) do I have trouble “using public transport“.

I have as much or as little freedom as anyone else.  Yes I have been caught in rain, snow, hail and gusty winds while waiting for buses but I can’t say it’s had any lasting, nor damaging effects.  I am in fact healthy, fit and excellent at reading timetables.

Of course I’m not adverse to others driving cars.  Some people make driving look good with their driving skills and breaking speeds, but I have to say in my years of experience being a passenger – they are very few and far between.

We certainly not a car-free household and yes, I do get lifts.  I’m always grateful for lifts but I never ever ask for them.  Luckily for me people usually feel sorry enough to just give me the lifts. (I’ll let them as I figure I’m helping their carbon footprints) ;-)

There are some places where I live (because it’s not a metropolis) that I have problems reaching, not so much in being able to get to them (either by foot or public transport), but being able to carry heavy bags while getting to them.

I travel cross country several times a year by train and love the journey but like anyone I also get frustrated by the delays and more often than not the over cramped conditions (yes Transpennine 2 coaches are really not adequate in rush hour).

With all forms of travel it comes down to why you need to be somewhere, the cost of getting there and if you are a car driver you will also say it’s more than anything about convenience.  

 I like to believe I can get anywhere without the use of a car.  In fact I’m writing a separate piece on it.  So far the results are positive.  Stay tuned to that one!


I believe cars have had their day.  

Yes, there I said it.

All well and good having electric models but by their sheer numbers, size and influence on the road, they are nothing but money draining, noisy, polluting pieces of metal which also kill far too many pedestrians and cyclists every year. Not to mention the sheer stress it adds to the driver (and quite possibly the passengers) and yet they are still classed as convenient.

We have speed reductions which have been proven time and time again to improve driving only to find drivers getting even more irate because they’re in a car therefore they should just be able to go as fast as possible – probably to get where they are going quickly so they can escape from the car they have just got so heated up in.

I’m not on a rampage to get everyone to ditch their cars.  It’s quite impossible for me to do this on my own, even if I wanted to (yes I do).

Of course cars (lorries, taxi’s etc) have a place on the roads, just not the volume we see today.

I’m certainly never going to convince anyone to leave their car behind and go on a train when they are already spending out so much on their state of the art car.  Especially if that one car is used by more than one family member thus increasing it’s use.  Nor will I convince anyone to use a train that cost of £100 and then gets cancelled.  I understand that.

But I am going to stop people from doing this expectation statement thing they do –  that everyone should drive.

It’s just not true.

If you’ve never owned a car you’ll feel the same way as me.  What you’ve never had you certainly won’t miss.  I have no desire to drive.  I just love to walk everywhere.

I also like cycling.  I’m not very good at it but it’s a good challenge.

I really enjoy using public transport.   The buses are the best because you never know what excitement will take place, the people you can just look at without having to talk to, the feeling of really being part of your local community, the conversations you over hear.

There aren’t many local bus journey’s I have taken that I haven’t enjoyed.  Is my personal space infringed upon every time I’m on a bus or a train?  Yes, but even as an introvert I find this a small pay off compared to the conversations I get to hear!

If you live in a big city I can’t even imagine one reason why you’d even want a car as public transport just comes into it’s own every single time.

As for living in the countryside, or more rural areas I am always being told it’s just not possible to live without a car.  It is of course quite possible but depending on where you work, how far your children’s school is, and whether you can get a supermarket delivery it certainly can pose problems.

The other exception as well that causes the biggest problems in both towns and country are those that work shifts.

I hear you.  It’s not easy.  You moved out of the towns and cities for a better life, more space and cleaner air.  Driving a car is least of your worries when your a shift worker.  Just getting a decent nights sleep would be a bonus, trying to get a bus at two in the morning just isn’t going to happen.

Then again we could just be entering into a new kind of world.

One where work is closer to home, if not actually at home, more children are home schooled, and where shopping will consist of using local shops and growing more of your own crops.  Less money will be spent and more time will be taken up in more pleasurable activities.  Communities will be born again.

No wait, that was the 19th Century, apologies, my mistake!

Having said that though while Grimsby may not be the biggest town in the world it is already showing signs of new urban developments that challenge the car driver to think differently in the center of town.  It hasn’t got off to a great start.  Even I had my doubts because it is so radical but perhaps I just need to understand it better.

There is also a housing street, in Grimsby, that is officially car-less.

And that’s just one town.  In bigger towns and cities all over Europe (and the world), urban planners and designers are beginning to listen.  No more can the car be king if we’re to live more sustainable, enjoyable, safer lives.  Perhaps there are just so many of us now that want to live a more simple, mindful existence that we can’t be ignored.

Instead new designs need to slow the cars even further (not just from traffic jams), eradicate as many as possible, increase the efficiency of public transport, while at the same time make it so convenient people won’t buy cars, and increase the use of technology thus reducing time having to be spent traveling.

I can already feel it happening…

My car-less life continues.  I won’t be learning to drive, ever.  I will however learning to be more efficient on my bicycle!

Your turn.  

What do you think?  Am I talking nonsense?

Would you ever give up your car?  Would you ever consider moving to a city just to be able to give up your vehicle?  Or do you just adore driving and would never be caught dead on a bus?

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