Why Going Carless Isn’t As Crazy As You Think

February 19, 2019

Cars were not always kings of the road. Before the automobile—and some clever lobbying from the newly emerging auto industry—streets were for people. And what a simpler time that was...no need to make sure you had the space to park a multi-ton machine; fewer road accidents (and even fewer related deaths); and, of course, no registration fees, car insurance premiums, or maintenance costs. Sure, cars can be convenient, but if you’re focusing on being smarter about your money, this is one big-ticket item whose elimination would pay serious and immediate dividends.

If you’ve ever fantasized about doing away with your vehicle, consider the following reasons to do just that. 

Leave the Traffic for Someone Else

Not owning a vehicle eliminates being behind the wheel in traffic, one of the leading causes of stress in daily life. According to data from 2016, the average Denver driver spends about 36 hours a year sitting in traffic (we can only assume that number has gone up since then, as congestion has increased on local roads). Across the U.S., drivers also lose an average of $1,400 in gas per year while idling in traffic. If you take the bus or use a ride-share service, you can spend that time in traffic reading a book, catching up on social media, or even getting some work done.

Having a More Earth-Conscious Lifestyle

Regularly-used cars emit tons of carbon dioxide each year and every gallon of gasoline burned creates 8,887 grams—or about 20 pounds—of CO2, according to the EPA. Plus, as of 2017, cars and trucks are the largest contributor to greenhouse gas pollution in America (for the first time in 40 years, mind you; previously it was the country’s production of electricity).

There Are Other Ways to Get Around

We know that some neighborhoods just don’t lend themselves to being carless, but Denver is actively working on increasing its overall mobility, including multiple expansions to the light rail line, upping the city’s walkability and bikeability, and reducing the number of traffic deaths by strengthening overall road safety. In addition to the more conventional ways of bettering transit like bus lines, light rail, bike paths, and sidewalks, the introduction of e-scooters and e-bikes can also help bridge Denver’s mobility gap. Consider mapping out what your carless commute would look like via RTD, bicycle, foot, and other rentable public amenities.  

All the Ways You Save Money

If you buy from a dealership, you’re playing their game and you’re the predetermined loser. In fact, the value of the average dealership-purchased vehicle depreciates by about 10 percent in the first month after it’s driven off the lot. Then, once you have the car, you have to pay upward of $706 a month—or $8,469 a year—to own it, according to AAA stats from 2016. Those regular expenses are only going up (the cost of gasoline alone, for example, has doubled in the past 20 years), and tend to be a particular burden on the middle class and low-income households.

Having Less Liability

Not owning a vehicle means you have less opportunity to accrue parking tickets, get towed, wind up in an accident, or otherwise have a ball-and-chain attached to you (and your credit score). Want to leave town for a couple days without worrying about that pesky street-sweeping ticket? Or travel for a few months without being bogged down by regular insurance, registration, payment, and storage bills? Well, ditch your car and now you can.

Have you gone carless? What have been some benefits that you’ve experienced since ditching your car?