Commuting car-free can be freeing

Sunday may have been World Car-Free Day, but for our team, it's more than just one day a year.

We loved seeing what people around the country and world did to ditch their personal vehicles on World Car-Free Day, but it doesn't stop there. At Sustain Charlotte, we're proud to say that car-free commutes are commonplace. We have multiple staff members who walk and ride transit to the office each day, one who regularly bikes to work, and even an electric scooter rider. In fact, it's not uncommon to overhear discussions between staff members about how they'll be commuting to meetings. ("Did you drive today?"..."No, I took the light rail. How about you?"..."I biked in.")

For us, being able to commute without a car provides that warm and fuzzy feeling of truly living out our mission to promote sustainability. But there's even more to it than that. As an organization that strives to view transportation and land use through the lens of equity, the experience of getting around Charlotte without a car is not just nice, it's necessary. Despite improvements to our bus system that make it more frequent and reliable, and last year's opening of the Lynx Blue Line Extension, there are still a lot of places in Charlotte that you just can't get to without a car. In fact, Charlotte was recently listed in the bottom 10 large metros when it comes to living without a car. Many Charlotteans cannot afford or don't have access to a personal car, and understanding that experience is something that our team strives for. Walking a mile in someone else's shoes can shift your perspective immensely, and it allows our staff to relate to community members with whom we wish to partner.

We also see the connection between the policies we are promoting (transportation and land use that create mixed-use, walkable/bikeable communities) and reducing carbon emissions and fighting climate change. But advocating for those policies while our staff continue to burn fossil fuels without regard for its impact would be inauthentic and in direct opposition to the mindset we're asking Charlotteans to adopt. So we walk the walk (no pun intended) by leaving our vehicles at home unless absolutely necessary.

Finally, we all know that burnout is real, and in the nonprofit sector it's a pervasive problem. Studies have shown that commuting by bike or walking can actually make you happier, and our team agrees. Travelling to work by car-free methods frees up commute time to be used however the person chooses, and is less stressful than driving in stop-and-go traffic.

How or why do you commute car-free? Leave us a comment below or tweet at us @Sustain_CLT and share your car-free story!