It feels good to be writing a post again!
To begin I have to come clean and say that the second half was much more difficult and challenging than the first.
Beginning the Car-Free challenge I was really enthusiastic and excited about proving that it is possible to use alternative forms of transportation in the city of Memphis. The first weeks in the challenge were really successful. I was able to bike, bus and walk home from practices without a problem. After the halfway mark the energy was flowing and I grew even more excited. This all changed in one weekend. I decided to ride to the grocery store with my parents out in Winchester. During this ride, I experienced nausea, irritation, and headaches. My family stopped at a ice cream store, but I grew so irritated that I decided to walk the rest of the way (just across the street). Once out of the car and getting fresh air I felt elated. I thought that was a weird, but after shopping I slept the rest of the day at home. The following week, it became very cold. The weather affected my sleep/wake schedule and I was unable to wake up in time to catch the bus. The next day, it happened again and I knew that I wasn’t going to be a good week. Although, I completed roughly 75% of the challenge I was satisfied with my efforts due to my circumstances.
Travelling across town to school and back, became a bit more difficult than I expected. Although there aren’t that many bike protected lanes in my area I did not encounter any “close calls” with automobiles (then again there weren’t that many Memphis drivers when I traveled haha). A forty five minute commute by bike in the morning everyday sounds feasible, but when put into practice is a bit more challenging (sleeping at 9 and up by 4 isn’t ideal). Later in the challenge, I noticed that when traveling by bus an hour did not seem like a lot of time, but with more than two trips the day went by fast (maybe too fast). I found it increasingly difficult to complete school work (darn those teachers and senioritis) and daily tasks when worried about how to get home, which can be really inconvenient for a student or busy person. That being said I wish Memphis’s layout was more closely connected (like really why is it so spread out?). Nonetheless, I would have to agree with others that say that completely going “Car-Free” is possible, but takes patience, determination, and time to properly adjust. One has to be able to plan out their daily lives according to bus schedules and be ready to adapt to any changes. For example, one day on my way home from practice (4:30). The recommended route was to catch the 42 bus to 52 bus, however the route wasn’t schedule for another thirty minutes. I decided the plan was to bike to Jackson and then take that bus to Austin Peay, then bike the rest of the way. I waited for the 42, and after waiting for half an hour then decided to bike as far as I could until the bus caught up, so that I could cover more ground. What ended up happening was that I had to bike up Jackson until the 52 caught up with me and I took that to Austin Peay.
All in all, I am surprised that I was able to go so long without driving a car. I will most likely continue going “Car-Free” whenever the opportunity strikes and during the summer (good bye cold weather!). A bit of advice, when you consider riding the bus bring a bicycle just in case.