They don’t call it a challenge for nothing!
I’m an editorial intern at the Memphis Flyer downtown, but when I’m not covering the news, I’m finishing up my last couple of semesters at the University of Memphis. This has provided me with a pretty difficult task—getting to work and class on time without using my car!
So far this month, I’ve used the trolley to get to work, the bus to get to class, and a bike for every in-between. Lucky for me, living downtown has given me a huge benefit to getting to work and my apartment building is right next to the #5 bus route, express to the University of Memphis. My amazing friends have also stepped up to the challenge too, offering rides when we go out. (Carpooling has actually made it easier to organize outings with friends!)
One thing that I was worried about in going car-free was losing my independence, but I am happy to report that I feel even more liberated not being tied to my car whenever I go anywhere! I like not having to find a parking spot or worry about my car being damaged. I’ve found reading on the bus is pretty cool—and yes, even catching up on a bit of homework.
I’ve only had two real hiccups regarding going car-free. I tried hopping on a bus downtown to head back home—instead of using the trolley—and ended up missing the bus because the stop on Google Maps still said “Linden Avenue,” when the street is now called Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. Despite being frustrated, I ended up rerouting. No worries—I just ended up hopping on a trolley with my bike. The learning curve is not steep!
The second hiccup, early in the challenge, was not offering myself enough time to transit. I’ve been so used to traveling last-minute with a car that I forget that I have to actually manage my time when I’m going car-free. Thankfully, planning my trip the night before has helped tremendously. Google Maps is incredibly accurate for traveling with public transit and bike routes in Memphis. It even outlines what streets have bike lanes, which has been super helpful in figuring out where I need to go.
Thankfully, despite a couple of bumps, my challenge has been going pretty smoothly! I hadn’t realized how easy it really was to get around without a car as long as you have the time. I look forward to these next couple of weeks and see how the rest of the challenge fares.