Monday, September 20, 2010

100 Useful Tips for Car-Less Living: Tip #2 Get Comfortable with the Internets

The internet can be used for hundreds of thousands of productive and unproductive uses. While some of our friends on Broadway would argue the internet is only good for certain purposes, the truth of the matter is the internet in various forms is crucial for living a car-free or car-less oriented lifestyle.

Here is a list of internet tips and websites that every person who is living or considering living car-free or car-less must know.  When it comes to all of these sites, if you have not used them before, experiment with them for a few days and you'll learn them quickly, they are all very user friendly.

  • Google Transit is an incredibly useful tool if you live in an area covered by the service.  I've found that when it comes to planning trips it is usually much more functional tool than agency trip planning websites.  It is especially useful when you are traveling by transit in areas you don't know well.  The downside to Google transit is not all transit agencies have opened up their scheduling data to allow Google transit to cover their agency.  If your transit agency does not have open transit data that allows you to use great programs like Google Transit go to and sign the petition to ask them to open up their transit data.  (Note that regionally Pierce Transit is not on Google Transit but Metro and Community Transit are).
  • If you live in the Central Puget Sound you are lucky enough to have access to a  program that is breaking the ground nationally in terms of opening up real time arrival information to bus riders.  Its called and it is absolutely fantastic in terms of saving time and cutting down your wait time for late buses.  Get comfortable with this great program and it will make transit oriented living much easier and quicker.  A few disadvantages to note, this technology is relatively new so it is not perfect in terms of the real time arrival information, give your self a few extra minutes.  Also it only covers Pierce Transit and King County Metro right now (because the other agencies don't have the GPS technology to support the real-time program).  Lastly, it doesn't give real-time information non bus systems at this point like Light Rail and Sounder.  That aside, it is an incredible tool.
  • For the third website tip you must learn I once again direct you to Google.  Recently Google added an incredible tool to their maps called Google Bike.  Its simple, go to Google maps, ask for direction just like you would when you are driving then say you want to get there by bike.  Google maps will direct you the safest and quickest way to get there using roads and trails that have cycling facilities.  Absolutely fantastic.  Its important to note that bike facility information is better the more populated and dense the area.
  • Last but not least I turn to my unconventional tip.  Often times when people talk about challenges to car free living their biggest complaint is how to conveniently going grocery shopping without a car.  My first response to that is when you have the time and option choose fresh local foods a few carry-able days at a time at local farmers markets and neighborhood store.  When that is not available, or when you need to stock up for large dinner parties I recommend looking into a variety of companies that delivery food and groceries to you, voila problem solved.  Farm shares also called community supported agriculture are great for this because they deliver fresh local food to you.  Sightline has a long list of places that do this in the Seattle area.  Other options for grocery delivery that all work well are Safeway and Amazon Fresh.  Check out these options, they are all very easy to use, save you time and the need to have access to a car to drive to the store.

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