But today we celebrate! It’s Car Free Day again, so I’m sending my wishes for a wonderful holiday. What? It’s not a holiday? That would explain the traffic.
I’m celebrating, as I always do and as I do every day of the year, by simply trying to avoid cars. Being truly car-free doesn’t just mean not driving or passenging—new word alert—but not engaging in any involuntary car contact. As Greater Greater Washington regularly chronicles, that is easier said than done. Sometimes I wonder if drivers think those red and green lights are perennial Christmas decorations that they are free to ignore like other faith-based displays in public.
Of course, the carful—new word alert #2—are not reading this or the links posted herein, because they’re supposed to have their eyes on the road and their hands upon the whee-yul. Right? You’re paying attention aren’t you? Hey stop reading! Only the carless can read while they commute!
And that, reading, is one of the secret pleasures of being car free, along with many others. For example, yesterday I walked about a mile to my first meeting, hopped on a bus down Mass. Ave to Dupont Circle metro, and took Red Line to my next. Then I picked up a SmartBike (I haven’t activated my Capital Bikeshare account yet, although I got the cool black t-shirt, so I’m still SmartBiking) and rode across town to Foggy Bottom and took the Blue Line to meet my class, returning on the same Metro-Bike combo. Topped it all off with my typical Metro + walk home.
What did I get for all that in addition to around? I got exercise, fresh air, the chance to gaze at the city around me through the bus window, a civic experience, and I read the entire Washington Post, not just that little Express thing.
My city, Washington, makes this possible for me. Not everyone is as fortunate…yet. Car Free Day isn’t about trashing drivers, as entertaining as it is for some of us in a cheap-shot, over-the-top sort of way. It’s about pointing out that we really all ought to have a choice about how to get around. We ought to be smart enough to figure that out.