Washington D.C.’s Annual “Car Free Days” are coming up soon, so it’s time to start planning!
D.C. is one of the best cities in the world to get around without a car, especially in an age where more and more young adults are postponing their drivers’ licenses and ditching their cars. Some say living car-free is just the latest millenial trend, but I think it’s something more. The car-free lifestyle is a grassroots, citizen-inspired movement – a new way to live sustainably. And with D.C.’s accessible public transportation system, miles of bike lanes, and 38% of households in the city already enjoying a carless lifestyle, it looks like living car free is here to stay.
Luckily, even if you do own a car, you still have a chance to get involved with this movement: pledge to be car free for an entire weekend, September 20-22. But how can you get around without a car? Let’s start with the obvious:
Take Public Transportation
The DC metro is arguably one of the best underground inner-city rail systems, and the buses aren’t half-bad, either. Bring a book, or start up a conversation with a stranger, and it could turn into a fun experience as well! You can take public transportation to go out of the city as well; take the train to Baltimore, or have an adventure on the Appalachian Trail, like EcoWomen blogger Dawn Bickett.
Personally, I’d rather be flying on my bike than stuck on the metro (or in a car during rush hour, for that matter). There are many venues to access a bicycle if you don’t own one. Capital Bike Share has hundreds of stations set up all throughout the city for rent. Or, if you want to go on a longer ride, it might end up being cheaper to rent a bike, which you can do at Bike and Roll, Big Wheel Bikes, and others. You may find that purchasing your own bike is well worth the investment, especially if you buy a nice used one on Craigslist.
With 11 miles of bicycle lanes, and many more miles of trails, DC is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country, so give it a shot!
During college, it wasn’t uncommon to traverse upwards of 5 miles a day on foot – students walked to get absolutely everywhere! However, the culture of walking tends to evaporate after graduation. If you live in the city, chances are it’s easier to walk around than to take a car in many areas. Either way, think about your next trip: if it’s only one or two miles, try walking instead.
(Bonus: walking is an easy way to get some extra exercise.)
Ok, bear with me here. Some people run their daily commutes to work, and love it (you can learn how in our previous blog post). I wouldn’t suggest running to the Governor’s Ball, but you might try taking a running tour; if you’re walking from the Lincoln Memorial to the Jefferson, why not run? You’ll get there in half the time!
Rollerblade or Scooter
If you’re going to roll from place to place, why not have some fun with it? Whenever I see rollerbladers pushing along on the bike trails, they might get a couple weird stares, but I think the onlookers are secretly jealous. Rollerblading and scootering brings me back to my youth – and it looks like a pretty good workout, too!
Hitch a Ride, Carpool, or Zip Car
If you simply must go somewhere that is completely inaccessible without a car on the weekend of September 22 (Virgin Mobile Feefest, anyone?!), feel free to hitch a ride with a friend, or rent a zip car. The whole point of the car-free pledge is to show that you don’t need to own a car to get around.
Committing to a car-free lifestyle for an entire weekend can be difficult for those that are not used to it. So start planning now! And don’t forget to fill out the car free pledge. With so many different options for mobility, the whole district is at your toetips.
How are you planning to spend your car free weekend? Let us know in the comments!