540Blog will be promoting car-free community members and featuring the perspectives of Rochester professionals that do not have a car by choice of otherwise. The first blog in the series is from community member and 540WMain supporter Eileen L. Fay.
I moved to Rochester in August 2010 and in that entire time have not once owned a car. This has been a source of bemusement for some people, as Rochester is apparently viewed as a car- dependent city due to our extensive suburban sprawl and at times brutal winters. Actually, winter bicycling is perfectly doable as long as the roads are clear, which unfortunately isn’t always the case here. Luckily I have found the bus system sufficient to get me to and from work during inclement weather, while Lyft (a more ethical company than Uber) has been a godsend. In fact many of the world’s most bike-friendly cities – Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Malmö,
Montreal, Boulder, Minneapolis – are also located in chilly climates.
“Many of the world’s most bike-friendly cities are also located in chilly climates”
Another objection is that most of our retail is concentrated in suburban strip malls, shopping malls, and big-box stores. Yet it seems that one lifestyle choice is usually co-morbid with others. Besides being car-free, I am also a minimalist (and child-free) and have found that lacking easy access to Target et. al helps reinforce my unclutterer habits.
Actual necessities arealmost always available at grocery and drugstores, both of which I can find within walking and biking distance of me, while First Fridays, festivals, and a few boutiques and gift shops (Parkleigh, Little Button, Peppermint, Statement, etc.) are perfectly sufficient for wants. This year’s Christmas shopping was entirely local and purchased within the city, mostly at the various holiday events. The exception was a single item from the Bed Bath & Beyond in Pittsford Plaza, to which I biked. I also could have taken the #47 bus.
While I did still end up with a very large December credit card bill, the money I save throughout the year by not owning a car has been immeasurable. To this day I have no idea what a good price is for gas. I buy art instead. I joined the Rochester Art Collectors earlier this year and recently acquired a pastel by Phyllis Bryce Ely and a small landscape by Jim Mott. I like to read too, and enjoy walking to Rick’s Recycled Books or biking downtown to Greenwood, North Star, and Small World. I went to Cuba while I was still paying grad school tuition and traveled to Greece (the real one) in May.
In summation, I guess I can say that I really don’t know what I’m lacking in lacking a car. A friend of mine once complained on Facebook about a $600 auto repair bill. You could get a really nice bike for that amount.
Eileen L. Hayes is a transplant to Rochester by way of Clinton, NY. She’s also lived in Old Forge and West Chester, PA. Born in Huntington Beach, CA; Eileen currently resides in the Park Ave area and works in Human Resources for the University of Rochester. When not cycling Eileen spends her time practicing a minimalist lifestyle.