Stage 1: “Go car free? Stop that crazy talk”
- If you’re at this stage, there’s probably little we can say to sway your opinion.
- To move from this stage it’s probably best to try doing some of your trips with alternatives like public transport and walking rather than going car free straight away.
- The distance from your home to amenities, public transport and work also play a big part in this.
Stage 2: “Maybe I could go car free but I think it might be too hard”
If you’re at this stage, here’s a simple trick. Grab your diary or calendar and see what you did over the last year. List all of your trips into three categories:
- Trips where you didn’t use a car.
- Trips where you used a car but could have walked, rode a bike, taken public transport or reorganised something to be closer to home (e.g. shopping more locally).
- Trips where you needed to use a car.
You may be surprised to find that very few of your trips needed a car. This is what happened to us 8 years ago and motivated us to go car free.
Stage 3: “Ok, maybe I’ll give it a go but I don’t know if this is going to work”
- If you’re ready to give it a try, simply park the car for 2 months. This is a great, no pressure way to try living with one car or no car.
- During the 2 month trial, your car will be sitting there waiting for you if you unexpectedly need it or if going carfree really doesn’t work out for you. Allow yourself a couple of weeks to adjust.
- If you are parking your car for 2 months, disconnect the battery at the negative terminal so it doesn’t get drained by the car’s electronics. Make sure to open and close the doors and boot/hatch every few weeks to keep the rubber seals from sticking.
- If you are not confident to disconnect the battery, do a trip every week or two in the car that you could easily do without the car so that you can truly experience what a carfree 2 months would feel like.
- Familiarise yourself with local public transport services, timetables and walking/bike paths for the trips that you’ll be regularly making.
- If you need occasional car use, Australia now has five car share services including two peer to peer services .
- For outer suburban and regional dwellers, Car Next Door and car hire companies serve these areas better for occasional car hire.
Stage 4: “Hey, this is not so bad. I could get used to this”
- After an initial period of adjustment, you may find yourself getting around just fine without your car.
- You may enjoy the extra fitness of riding and walking more, the extra time of getting to read on public transport or the reduced stress of a more relaxed way of travel.
- Even if you need to use a bit of car sharing or occasionally get a taxi, you may find that it’s a lot less than you expected and therefore much cheaper.
- When you see the cost of car use upfront, it is a big motivator to minimise car use to where it’s actually useful.
Stage 5: “The car is now a pain to keep around, I can’t wait to sell it”
- At the end of a successful car free trial, something interesting happens; your car is no longer your “freedom” machine because you have discovered your own freedom.
- Your car is now a big useless block of steel, rubber and plastic that is taking up space and eating up time and money.
- If you have reached this stage, congratulations! It’s time to sell the car and free up some cash.
Stage 6: Living without a car
- In the first year, you may rely on car sharing, car hire or taxis a bit more than a seasoned car free pro and that’s ok. Give yourself time to adjust.
- Like car travel, there will always be some trips that are unpredictable. We find the 95% of trips are a pleasure and 5% are not because of bad weather, public transport delays or a flat bike tyre (though we’ve solved that one, see The commuter bike).
- One big difference is that we rarely encounter congestion issues and any breakdown on a bike can be fixed on the road quite cheaply or a breakdown on a public transport service costs us nothing.
 Most car share services offer a service for either no monthly fee/higher usage charges or a higher monthly fee/lower usage charges. Once you’ve signed up, just book online and access your chosen car with a provided swipe card.