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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Going carless in Columbia


      When we first moved to Columbia we were childless and with my wife taking the commuter bus to DC every day we decided to try and live with just one car.  Columbia with its bike paths and convenient shopping just a half a mile away seemed like the ideal community to walk and bike if you didn't have a car at your disposal.    We did this for a few years until my wife started to do in home day care and needed a car to be licensed.
     I was reminded of the convenience of Columbia the past few days with one of our vehicles not in running order for 5 days.   Being retired makes it easier for me but my wife still needs a car for her part time work.  Walking a mile and a half to the Supreme Sports Club to swim, a half mile to the Giant and using my bike on a bike path to a meeting four miles away was really a pleasant change. Of course the beautiful late Spring weather made it easier to be carless the past few days.  Somehow it does seem silly to drive to the Supreme Sports Club to exercise and then drive home.  Maybe a walk there and back would be just as healthy and less polluting.
    So with my vehicle back will I revert back to my past driving habits?  I hope to take a middle ground and walk and bike more frequently for short trips but still probably drive for trips over 5 miles.  Time will tell but maybe the past few days have shown me a different way that keeps more with the spirit of Columbia having easy alternative ways to get around.



Adam Paul said...

The pathway network is overall quite excellent, and makes a great alternative to driving, particularly since most follow some very tranquil routings away from the main streets. For just getting point to point on one's own, it works really pretty well, be it on foot or on bike.

Commuting to DC or Baltimore without a car from Columbia is wholly possible from many places using the commuter buses and the 150, even if it tends to be a bit too restricted to commuting hours.

The biggest challenge to being carless in Columbia has to do with shopping. Even with the modest scale of Columbia, shopping amenities are pretty wide spread, and only a fraction of residences are within easy walking/carrying distance of the Village Centers. From where I live in Clary's Forest, I can use the 401/Green to get to Harpers Choice, Wilde Lake, or the Mall within 25 minutes, but places like Hickory Ridge, Kings Contrivance, Dobbin Center, Columbia Crossing, or the Overlook center near 108 that are no more than 30 minutes of round trip travel by auto turn into hours-long affairs if using the bus network.

Ned said...

I agree that walking to the club to exercise gives me a chance to warm up and cool down. Don't see many folks doing it however.

Hope to see you at the Open Streets event on Saturday. Should be a great event for learning more about making new trails/bike paths for Columbia. It will be an important event to convince our leaders to implement more bike friendly paths. #SavingThePlaces