A European in the States
by Frances Rasker
When my husband told me last December that he had gotten the post-doc position he really wanted in Colorado, we decided to take the leap and leave our home (and bikes) in Amsterdam to take on the adventure in the United States.
During our first week in Colorado, we stayed in an apartment complex in Lakewood. Located close to the Colorado Mills mall, I-70 and lots of car dealerships, it was exactly how we expected the States would be: big streets designed for drivers. We concluded we would both have to buy our own car to get around.
The next day, feeling a little displaced we went on our search for a place to live. After visiting several apartments in neighboring suburbs and towns, we stumbled upon an apartment complex in Boulder that was in walking distance to shops, close to bus stops with routes taking us to all directions and bike paths! This was certainly not the USA we expected to find.
Although some part of me still felt like I had to to buy car – simply because of the fact that we were in such a car-centric country – we decided to try our other options and live without a car for a while just like we did back home.
Six months later we still don’t own a car and it feels great. Not having the worry about the maintenance of a car, saving lots of money, being able to bike and bus to work, occasionally using an carshare for errands and renting a car for weekends in the mountains, has been way easier than we thought.
Of course, being used to not having a car in the first place has made the switch to a car-lite lifestyle in the US easier for me. But I do hope my experience shows others that it is possible to live car-lite in parts of the US where you have access to different transportation modes and that it is easier than you think – just give it try!
Being part of Project Shift and meeting so many motivated people who enjoy active transportation, and seeing changes in Denver’s streetscape every week, really puts a smile on my face and shows me that it is possible to – slowly but surely – move away from cities for cars and create cities for people instead.