Thursday, January 20, 2011

Carless in Ann Arbor

I've just spent a 10-day stint without a car in our little town (which seems much bigger when you've only got a bicycle to get around). It was largely uneventful - I got a friend to drive me to Trader Joe's so I could get cheap food for a dinner party - but a little bit frustrating. Actually, that's generally how I imagine life in A2 to be without a car, or roommates with a car to borrow.

I didn't use the bus system, but I did bike distances much further than I would normally, including a two mile ride down Packard to watch Top Chef at the house of two friends. They worried about my returning home late on a cold January night with only some blinking lights to prevent an accident. Luckily, nothing remarkable happened.

The whole episode has certainly made me value my car more. I also wonder if the city might consider some improvements to the bus system (or other mass transit options) to help those without cars. I know BCB has blogged extensively about the city's plans, but are there other things local government might take into consideration?


  1. I think my carless lifestyle would be much more difficult if I weren't flush with cars to borrow.

  2. Zipcar might be another option...i've never tried it but Ann Arbor seems like a decent place to start.

    Anyone remember those Link busses that AATA used to run downtown?

  3. monorail.... Monorail... MONO-RAILLLLLL!!!!!

  4. Apart from being difficult to leave the city, I think this is a matter of convenience. AATA is actually pretty decent. If you live in the city, it is possible to take the bus pretty much anywhere (with foresight, of course).

    10 days is enough to make you appreciate your car. It takes a few months to realize you don't actually need a car.

    That said, improvements to city and inter-city public transportation are supported.

  5. Inter-city public transportation like high speed rail?

  6. Yes, like high speed rail. Or, as GH put it ... pork.

  7. Don't be such a wimp Gautam.

  8. I'm always impressed by people who go low/no-car for a while and don't utilize AATA. It's really a decent system, within its limits - we bought our house in part based on access to bus routes.

    I mean this as a genuine question, rather than with any hostility, but, what improvements do you think AATA needs, and how did you come to that conclusion without, y'know, using it? I'll readily admit that I want more - but I also use the system, and have for about a decade.

    Fortunately, too, you've got a chance to make your points where it matters - the County-wide transit master planning process is holding a series of meetings over the next month:

  9. @Murph I don't use the AATA frequently because it is much easier for me to use a bike for my main commute: 3rd and Liberty to Central Campus. I also just enjoy the freedom and independence a bicycle offers.

    That being said, I would probably frequent Corner Brewery and Sidetrack much more often if there were reliable and convenient mass transit options from Ann Arbor to Ypsi during prime drinking hours.