By Rick Bernardi
I’ve been car-free since 2002, when a teen driver slammed her daddy’s SUV into my car, while I was stopped at a red light (The first words she said when she got out of her ute were “I’m such a bad driver, this is the second time I’ve done this.” The second words she said: “Oh my God, you’re bleeding!”). I guess she didn’t see the red light. Or me. Or the line of cars in front of me.
I didn’t plan on going car-free, but it worked out that way, and now it’s by choice. Sure, I’ve occasionally thought about getting a car, but when I add up the costs, I change my mind. But looking back, it’s hard to believe that it’s been so long since I last owned a car.
Anyway, I recently joined Zipcar. A friend needed a ride to an appointment that was two and a half hours away by bus, and while she doesn’t have a driver’s license, I still do (although I don’t own a car, I have driven occasionally over the past twelve years).
So I signed up for Zipcar, and there I was, behind the wheel again, driving my friend to her appointment. After dropping her off, I returned to Portland, and then later in the day, drove back to pick her up again. On the way, I noticed a cyclist riding in the bike lane. And it occurred to me as I was passing him, that it didn’t take any special effort at all to see him. I wasn’t intently looking for cyclists, I was just driving. And there he was, easy to see—all I had to do was pay a reasonable amount of attention to my driving, and I saw him.