How to Live That Car-Free, Carefree Life

Plenty of people do it in New York and, uh, Venice. I do it in Denver.

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The last time I moved from Denver to New York City, I sold my car to my dad. He lives in Chicago. You don’t need a car in Chicago, but it’s convenient. I moved back to Denver from New York over a year ago and I still don’t own an automobile. This isn’t some kind of “woo-hoo, look at me” deal: Oftentimes, I wish I had a car. But cars cost a lot of money, from the dealer’s lot to the pump. As a freelance writer who likes to spend his money on IPAs and band T-shirts, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to have one right now. It’s harder to do in a city like Denver than even Chicago (maybe I should get the Volkswagen back from my dad?) but it’s doable. Here’s how I, ahem, roll.


The only thing this company rakes in more steadily than cash is controversy. But, for me, it’s my main mode of transportation. UberX is dirt cheap: I can usually get door-to-door — for most of the bars, restaurants, and shops I frequent — for around 10 bucks. And about those bars: As many New Yorkers know, not having a car is a great way to not get a DUI. Since those trophies cost around $10,000, I feel like I’m saving money when I use my phone to get an au courant cab.


I was a pretty big user — and fan of the concept — of this car-share program until they decided to leave my “home area” in the dust. (Basically, not enough users were in my neighborhood, so they cut us out.) Still, I can grab one if I’m right downtown, where I drive one of its Smart cars like I’m starring in Days of Thunder.


My mom has a Jeep. Sometimes I borrow it to go get groceries or to head up to the mountains for the day. It’s like the St. John car-share service, except she pays for everything. For most serious purposes, this is the ideal.

This is my actual bike.

Colin St. John

1973 Schwinn Speedster

While my dad may have gotten the V-Dub, I totally have his yellow bike from grad school. I’m neither a tights-wearing Tour de France aspirant, nor a fixed-gear, mustache-waxing hipster. I’m just a dude on a bike, sometimes. Denver is reasonably flat — despite its proximity to the Rocky Mountains — so I can get a reasonable amount of transportation exercise without destroying my 32-year-old legs.


The public transportation system in Denver is a rough scene. In other cities, you have what’s called “reliable public transportation.” Not here. The buses have no GPS-based system, there is no subway, and our light-rail is only an option for very specific suburban dwellers (who almost always drive their cars to the station). Still, I ride the bus often enough. The #15 up and down Colfax Avenue could inspire many a novel.

Google Self-Driving Car

Psych: But hurry up and get some of these guys bopping around Colorado.


The last time I hitchhiked was to a concert at Red Rocks in high school. Once, my friends and I also drove a hitchhiker back from a show there. So, really, I don’t do this. Unless I’m 17 at Red Rocks.


If all else fails, the very first mode of human transportation — besides, I guess, crawling — works great. Kinda just takes a while. Like that damn Google car.

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