When I heard that Sept 22 was International Car-Free Day, I thought to myself, “Well this’ll be the third day this week that I can choose a car-free day.” I have a lot of privilege when it comes to having a car-free day: I can afford to live in close proximity to my job and necessities like a grocery store, I have a flexible work schedule so am not penalized financially for transit delays, and am physically able to walk and cycle decently far distances. I also can choose to be car-free, as I own a reliable vehicle and drive to shops, appointments, and friends who are further afield. All that said, here’s a recap of my mostly car-free week (Sept. 18-22).

Monday (not car-free)

Morning: I drive to an appointment and stop at the grocery store on my way home.

Afternoon: I walk to a coffee shop to work, and walk home.

Tuesday (mostly car-free)

Morning: I cycle 2.5 miles from my home to a work meeting near the hospitals. I catch the campus shuttle bus from the meeting to main campus.

Afternoon: I cycle home from work.

Evening: I drive .7 miles to a friend’s house to babysit; they’ll be home late and I haven’t found my bike lights yet.

Wednesday (car-free)

Morning: I have another work meeting on campus, so I cycle there. My next destination is Southern Village: I zoom down the big S Columbia St hill to the Fan Branch Trail.

Afternoon: I retrace my cycle route: Fan Branch Trail to S Columbia Street. When I get to the hill I walk/cycle my way back up to campus and then home.

Thursday (car-free)

Morning: Off to campus again!

Afternoon: A regular cycle commute.

Evening: I’m attending the Carrboro Candidates Forum at MLK Park. I think about driving but decide that it’ll be just as quick to cycle, and parking will be easier.

Friday (car-free as of this writing)

Morning: I walk to a coffee shop to work for a few hours.

The ability to live car-free if I need or want to is a top reason why I chose to live in Carrboro when I moved here from D.C. five years ago. I feel so free knowing that I can get where I need and want to go with just my two feet, a bicycle, and a well-timed bus ride up hills. I’m thankful I can live in a place where this is possible. And, there is still lots more work to be done to make a car-free life more accessible and equitable for all folks whether they are car-free by necessity or by choice.

Happy International Car Free Day 2023!

Nancy Lovas lives in Carrboro and is a firm believer in being local. She volunteers at the Carrboro Farmers Market, works as a business and entrepreneurial librarian, and enjoys porch hangouts with neighbors.