Having lived and learned in central Phoenix for the past decade, Edward Jensen is a midtown Phoenix resident and an advocate for alternative transportation. He is on the Downtown Voices Coalition’s Steering Committee where he works to advance bicycling and alternative transportation. A 2011 alumnus of ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, he is presently a technology and IT consultant for his new firm, Downtown Technology Company. His blog is edwardjensen.net, he is on Twitter at @edwardjensen and has a Facebook page at facebook.com/
Imagine not having a car in Phoenix. It seems almost impossible to get around, doesn’t it? Phoenix is so sprawling: the city measures over 100 miles at its widest point.
But a few brave friends and me, we don’t have cars. We’re car-free people. And we’re care-free people too: We enjoy not having to worry about rising gas prices or the negative effects that cars and gasoline have on the environment. We enjoy being able to take public transportation and getting things done while we are taken from one place to another. We see things on the human scale, not automobile scale. Even at the depths of Phoenix’s infernal and seemingly endless summers, we’re out standing at our bus stop, light rail station, or bicycling around.
I don’t have a car. In fact, I’ve never had a car growing up. It’s just something that I never really needed and something that I’ve definitely not wanted. And, living in the heart of midtown Phoenix near the Heard Museum light rail station, I’m enabled and empowered to travel to many places. I can hop on light rail and in eight minutes, I’m in the heart of downtown Phoenix. In twelve minutes, I can be to Camelback and stop at cool places like Smeeks, Practical Art, or Central Music. Plus, there are a lot of locally owned coffeehouses near light rail stations.
Because I know of a few others who are car-free (or car-lite), I’ve joined with a few others to create a Facebook page in which we share hints, tips, and advice for others who are already car-free or considering joining the club. It’s called Car(e)-free in Phoenix. The name really shows off that we’re car-free and also care-free.
If Facebook isn’t your thing, I’ll share a couple hints here for how to be car-free in Phoenix:
Google Maps is your friend. About a couple years ago, Google Maps integrated Metropolitan Phoenix transit data into its maps so you can now get transit directions around town. A word, though: some of the transit data is missing. So check valleymetro.org for the latest information.
Get a smartphone/tablet computer. With the time you’ll be spending on light rail or on the bus, you can do things. And while you can work on things or read a book, it’s a good thing to have a smartphone. The transit information from Google Maps is easily accessible from iPhones, Android-powered devices, or BlackBerries.
Go and explore. If you have a free day, take public transportation, your bicycle, or whatever means of non-car transportation and go exploring. Alight from the train at a stop you’d normally skip and see what’s in that neighborhood. Or take the bus to a place you’d normally drive to. Or ride your bike to somewhere different and interesting.
Have a sense of humor. You’ll probably get frustrated right away because things aren’t going the way you’d thought. Everyone just misses their train or bus. So shrug it off and wait for the next train or the next bus. Or even walk to where you’re going (if it isn’t far away).
It’s sometimes a challenge not having a car in a car-dominant city. Getting around sans automobile isn’t always easy. But it is possible. And when you’ve mastered the challenge, you’ll feel good.
Photo Credit: Photo from thetruthaboutcars.com.Tags: bicycling in phoenix, bus stop, car(e)-free in phoenix, car-free in phoenix, car-lite in phoenix, carlessness, central music, downtown Phoenix, edward jensen, google maps, Heard Museum, Light Rail, light rail station, not having a car in phoenix, phoenix, phoenix coffeehouses, phoenix sprawl, practical art, public transportation, smeeks, sustainability in phoenix, transit, valleymetro