(Almost) Car Free

We are bike commuters. Nearly every day, we dutifully don our helmets and mount our two-wheeled machines for the short commute to work. Even on the rainiest Portland winter day, I tend to prefer to commute by bike, to feel a part of the small but growing tribe of die-hard bike commuters. Despite this, for the last eight years we have also had a single car, a Prius, that we drive more than we should. It was invaluable for getting out of the city to go for a hike, or loading it up with the detachable roof rack to head out for a weekend or week long rafting trip. But it was also all too easy to drive it to the grocery store, the doctor’s office, a friend’s house, all of which can easily be reached on bike. In preparation for our trip, we decided to sell our car.

Given that it had 98,000 miles on it, we decided to sell it sooner rather than later, thinking that being below the 100,000 mile mark was an incentive for would be purchasers. We checked blue book prices as well as those on craiglist and listed it for $500-800 over the blue book value since Priuses of our vintage were selling for our blue book equivalent with salvaged titles. We were inundated with inquiries and sold it for list price within 36 hours.

The other incentive to selling early was the generosity of Alex’s parents, who offered us his mom’s 20-year-old Camry to use until we leave town. A couple of days after we sold the Prius, it was replaced in the driveway by the Camry. And there the Camry has sat for almost a week, driven only once for a trip to a friend’s house. Sitting in rush hour traffic that evening, we quickly lamented our decision to drive rather than bike.

And thus, we have donned our helmets and mounted our two-wheeled machines for every other trip in the last week, including to friends’ homes in NE Portland, where we would normally have hopped in the car. It doesn’t hurt that we’ve had some of the most gorgeous pre-spring weather on record, making those rides warm and comfortable. But it has been a conscious choice to make the effort to bike more than we normally would have over the last 10 days since we sold the car. And we have been rewarded for that choice, gazing at the full moon lighting our way home one evening even on the darkest streets, noticing the raccoon crossing the road not detered by our silent approach, or enjoying some guilt-free chocolate after a ten-mile ride. I expect that this trip will change, test and reward us in ways we can’t even imagine at this point. What I didn’t expect was that the rewards would start before we even left Portland.

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