You know him as “alley guy”. I know him as, uh, me.
How do we, a family of two adults and two children, 5 and 7, live without a vehicle in Edmonton, Alberta?
I discussed my family’s choice of neighbourhoods in this post about our house in Mill Creek. It is virtually impossible to live in the new suburbs without a car. The ‘burbs were created with the “certainty” that cheap gasoline would last forever. They were designed around the car, which means that they were explicitly built without humans in mind.
We chose to live somewhere north of 51st Ave., south of roughly 118th Ave., east of 149th Street and west of 60th Street or so. There may some gem of a neighbourhood outside of those boundaries that I don’t know about. Please let me know about this unicorn breeding ground if it exists.
So location is a deal breaker, and of course it’s where the denial kicks in hard. Edmontonians look at the cheap houses in Rutherford Heights and start making their list of reasons to live in empty, soulless neighbourhoods. They choose to ignore the basic reality that oil is finite, and that some day they will be priced out of the drive-everywhere-you-go market.
If you manage to keep a clear head about you, a car-free-possible house/apartment has the following features:
- A bus stop within two blocks that has at least two route numbers on the sign. Our bus stop has seven bus routes. We get annoyed if we wait two minutes for a bus during peak hours.
- A grocery store within a few blocks. We have two small stores within four blocks, and a Save-On foods within eight blocks.
- A farmer’s market within walking distance. Yes, we are modern-day hippies.
- Restaurants, a community garden, a library, medical offices, and a bank, all within walking distance.
- A job or two, that someone in your household works at, within 35 minutes bike ride and 40 minutes on the bus.
Not owning a car isn’t the same as never driving a car. A half-dozen times a year, we rent a car for one or two weekend days. It’s incredibly cheap to rent cars on the weekend, presumably because the rental companies make most of their money on corporate clients, and therefore have a surplus of cars sitting around on non-business days.
We rent for $10-$30 per day. $10/day gets you 50 km of mileage, $20-$30 is usually unlimited km. read more... »