“It’s my best life. I can’t imagine living any other way. It’s easy, fun and full of variety. It energizes and keeps me positive. It makes me glad to be alive!“
I have a multi-coloured ‘keep cup’. I wash it and put it on the kitchen table every evening. In the morning, I see it, and start to feel excited. Where will I walk or cycle, and perhaps go for coffee today? Who will I meet? What will I see, hear and smell on the streets and green routes of York? What moment of beauty will I find, in nature, buildings, people?
Every day is surprising. Every day feels like an adventure.
Why are you ‘Car-Lite’?
I’ve never had a car. I’ve lived in cities across the UK and abroad most of my life and often struggled to get around. Until I came to York 9 years ago.
I live in the south of York and work from home and around the city. I can plan all my regular journeys – to work meetings around York, to the shops, to see friends, to enjoy the countryside – on green routes or walk/ cycle paths. I can honestly say that all my everyday journeys are an absolute pleasure!
I go for a walk or ride in York every single day. I meet and chat with people on route and often do business. I keep fit and connect with the ever-changing natural world. I feel happy, healthy, connected, and part of a wonderful community of people, place and nature. I have the satisfaction of knowing I am doing what I can to tackle some of society’s biggest issues.
I have a personal motto, “If in doubt, walk!” It’s where I reflect, problem-solve, come up with ideas, and let go of worries. And connecting with nature in the moment is wonderful therapy.
I satisfy any holiday cravings by a monthly bus or train journey to beautiful countryside or seaside, all within easy reach of York.
It’s the best life I’ve ever had. I can’t imagine living any other way. It’s easy, non-harmful, fun and full of variety. It energizes and keeps me positive. It makes me glad to be alive.
In fact, walking or cycling everyday around York gave me so much, I became determined to share my lifestyle ‘discovery’ with others so they could enjoy it too. In 2013, I founded York Bike Belles to do just that.
Have there been any challenges?
York is a city with regular strong winds, which can be challenging on a bike. My solution is to cut back on bike use at these times, walk for shorter distances, and avoid exposed routes.
I carry all my shopping either on my back or in my bike panniers. This can be heavy. I now make more frequent, lighter shopping journeys, use the bike for heavier items, and, once a month, order from eco-friendly The Green Weigh, which gets delivered to my door. This is a regularly generated car journey, so I can honestly say I am car-lite, not car-free. Happy with that.
What are your top tips for going Car-Lite?
Firstly, if you can, invest in good outdoor and carrying gear. My most prized possessions are walking trousers, waterproof jackets, comfy walking shoes and sandals, small rucsac and waterproof bike panniers. And a lovely Gazelle bike.
Secondly, find people who also walk and cycle around York. Their challenges will reassure you and their stories inspire you.
Finally, find and focus on what you enjoy. Some of the best moments of my life happen while out walking and cycling. I love the unexpected. I popped out for a short ride after our week of gale force winds, got caught in a snowstorm instead, and became a cycling snow-woman! I love quirkiness. When I load up my rucsac or panniers with fresh veg, I often end up with leeks and herbs or a plant sticking out. I love being in nature, and you can’t beat the relaxing feeling of gliding through warm summer air on a ride, or strolling through a beautiful green space. I love social and community contact, and being out and about is a real opportunity to bump into old friends, or meet new friends, and stop for a spontaneous, life-affirming chat.
Just give it a go. You may be pleasantly surprised 🙂