Welcome to the cartoon guide to reducing automobile use.
This is my completely subjective, opinionated, and independent guide. It is not tied to any particular place, but some of the resources mentioned are located in my home-sweet-home of California. If you are looking for help in getting around a particular place without a car, try your (U.S.) 511 phone number, transit site, or library. This site offers some general strategies for getting around and many tips for reducing or eliminating car-dependence.
This site is organized primarily by problem-related topics. This is because I had many excuses, those 'Yes but how can I do X without a car?' questions, for years. They lingered on, even when I was driving my old car only rarely. One day, on an online forum, I read a posting from a guy who boasted he only used his car once a year to carry something heavy home. He biked and bussed everywhere else. Great, but even with an old car, that one trip probably cost him 700 bucks. It seemed to me he was one problem (hauling) away from complete car-freedom.
So that got me started thinking about my own objections. I did a little research and thinking about those problems, then got rid of my car anyway and started quickly learning how to do things from experience and talking to other people.
Because I like them; because I believe activists can take themselves way too seriously, which is both boring and unwise; and because in a completely car-driven (pun intended) society such as the United States, a person needs to think originally and creatively to even consider not owning a car or even just not using it for every trip or task. Those of you out there who have never been to the United States, especially Los Angeles, cannot begin to imagine how true this is. But please visit us anyway—we like company.
And, finally, in the great cartoon tradition, I like to think of car-free livers as modern superheroes.
Because the word freedom is often associated with cars, especially by advertisers and writers. I lived car-free for a long time, so I understand that not having one is limiting but at the same time offers new freedoms. But don't be put off by my use of all-or-nothing terms like car-freedom. Most Americans would find it hard just to live with one car per family. Not everyone can or wants to completely give up cars. Many of the people I meet living without cars do not do so by choice, so they probably don't think of themselves as free but instead as disadvantaged or overlooked. I often felt this way too.
I use terms like auto-dependence because car use is a type of addiction, at the big-picture level of planning and development and at the personal level. Like any long-term habit, it can be hard to change. Just keep working the steps...