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Car Free is Hard to Be (But Worth It)

By Robert Kam

In the morning when I am getting ready for work I have to plan my outfit to my method of transportation for the day. If I am going to drive the car I can wear whatever I want. If I am going to ride my bike I need to wear comfortable clothes and a comfortable pair of shoes. If it is raining it complicates things even more because you can't use an umbrella on a bike. You have to have rain proof boots, rain pants and a rain jacket. If I am riding my longboard I need to wear comfortable clothes and shoes I don't care about because I wear out the soles when I brake going down the hill. If it is raining it complicates things even more. As with a bicycle you cannot carry an umbrella. If I am riding the bus I can get away with wearing nice slacks but I still need to wear a comfortable pair of shoes. If it is raining I need to wear my rain proof boots but I can bring an umbrella with me. If I am walking to work I need comfortable shoes and comfortable clothing and if it is raining I will need my rain proof boots and an umbrella.

Another factor for this decision making process is what I need to bring with me to work and how I am going to get it there. Everyday things I need to bring include wallet, cell phone, keys and headphones. But sometimes I also like to bring my iPad, a pair of glasses, and maybe a lunch or snacks. Sometimes I need to bring larger objects. If I am going to drive the car I can bring whatever I want. If I am going to ride my bike I can take a backpack with me or I can just put things into my handlebar bag. Wearing a backpack is harder to do when it is raining because it needs to fit under my rain jacket making me look like a hunchback. If I am riding on my longboard I can bring a backpack or I can fit everything I need for the day into pockets. Cargo pants come in handy for a commute on a longboard. Riding the bus I can bring the backpack or even just carry a canvas handbag. It's harder to bring things with me if I chose to walk because wearing a backpack for a 30 minute walk tends to hurt my back.

This entire decision making process happens after I take a shower and before I get dressed. Sometimes it will start to rain after I've gotten dressed causing me to rethink my preferred means of transportation and sometimes resulting in changing my outfit. Another underlying factor I forgot to mention is lunch plans. If I drive the car I can go wherever I want for lunch. If I bike, longboard, bus or walk to work that limits the places I am able to get to. Of course, I may bring my lunch that day. If I bring a lunch I need to find a way to carry that lunch unless I have a frozen dinner already in the fridge at work. Sometimes I will bring several lunches on a car trip so that I can bike, walk, bus or longboard the rest of the week.

If you are like me and you strive to be car free just know you aren't alone. It may seem that your co-workers have an advantage over you because they don't ever worry about things like planning out their outfits and lunch plans according to their transportation plans. They just get in their cars and go. But there are those of us out there that are up to the challenge. Hopefully it will catch on and we will be a healthier and safer society in the future.

Robert Kam is a member of the City of Olympia's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC). For more information, visit http://www.olympiawa.gov

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Updated 2015/01/07 21:14:22