go car free course

Lesson 21

Go on a Ride-Along: Friends, Relatives, and Coworkers

“No use earning karma points by giving up your car and then using them right up by demanding people drive you everywhere.”
 – Patricia Collins

Don’t expect this or rely on it, but in practice, friends, family members, and coworkers who still own cars often become a source of ad hoc transportation for people who live car free. They know many of the same people you do, and they’re often going to the same places you are. Who better to give you a ride?

Once your car owning friends learn you no longer have a car, you’ll be surprised how frequently they invite you to go with them to the mall or grocery store. The key to accepting these offers without guilt – and without taking advantage – is to make sure that each ride you accept is a win-win for you and the driver. Think of it as a form of impromptu, informal carpooling – they drive, and you help pay the cost of gas and parking, and maybe even buy them lunch.

Shared Transportation: A Win-Win

When it comes to accepting rides, you must remember one important law of human interaction: people like the feeling of helping others, but they resent feeling that someone is taking advantage of them.

The key is to always make sure the driver knows how much you appreciate their help. Words are a good start, but actions speak louder.

Below are some thoughtful ways to make your friends and family glad they gave you a ride. Any one item from the list below should do the trick.

  • Always say a sincere “Thank you!”
  • Offer to pay for parking
  • If you go shopping together, treat the driver to lunch
  • Fill up their gas tank
  • Pay for an automatic car wash
  • Check the oil and wash the car windows when you stop for gas

Try these suggestions and you’ll quickly see how a little sincere gratitude goes a long way. And you’ll be astonished at how willing people are to take you places, so long as they feel appreciated.

That goes for the person you’re dating, too. Just don’t go overboard; you don’t want anyone to feel obligated to drive you.

Car Free Success Story:

My friends will often offer to give me a ride to an event we are both going to. I don’t think they mind, especially since I offer to pay for gas (or buy the first round). And I never take their generosity for granted. Even if none of my friends were able to give me a ride, I could still rent a car without any problem and go to those few events that take me beyond the metro. Always have a plan B.

Heidi D., 31

Public Health Program Manager, Washington, D.C.

Bonus: More Time with Friends and Family

When you live car free you don’t rely on other people for rides. Rather, you proactively seek group activities and shared transportation.

Another potential benefit is that you might spend more time with the people you care about. This can lead to deeper friendships, closer relationships with coworkers, and connections with new people.

    Let’s move on to Lesson 22, Fun Times: Socializing and Dating without a Car

    When I first moved to Los Angeles in 2006, I was single and dating car free. Back then, when I asked a woman out on a car free date, I got a lot of funny looks and most said no. But these days most people think it’s admirable how I live my values. Wow how times have changed.

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