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Car Free in Boston: My First Steps

Posted by Moshe on February 7, 2012
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When I relocated to Boston from Los Angeles, CA the thought of being car free seemed impossible. The reason was that I was car dependent, so dependent I would drive to the corner mail box. So it took a little time to get my feet used to the walking. Fortunately Boston has such a small footprint, it didn’t take long to adjust. But there were some lessons I learned along the way to being car free in Boston.

Lesson 1 on being car free in Boston: Make sure your comfortable shoes are broken in before you walk around the city for long periods.

It seems obvious, but wearing the wrong footwear for 2 hours will kill you for the next 2 days. My first day in Boston, my boyfriend and I walked all over the city searching for apartments. I thought I was wearing good walking shoes (Jack Parcels have never steered me wrong). Since I hadn’t worn them in months, and even then not that often, the blisters I got were huge.

Lesson 2 on being car free in Boston: Boston is an old city! Many sidewalks in Boston are made from bricks. Heels get caught and ruined in the gaps.

After we finally moved, it was time for the job search. I went out and got great interview outfits complete with cute shoes (high heels? of course!). I was still learning my way around and thought my apartment in Beacon Hill was close to the office where my interview was scheduled. I left later than I wanted to, so I just wore the heels and brought comfy tennis shoes for the walk back. As the saying goes, “You only get one shot at making a first impression.” Nothing makes quite a memorable first impression like walking into job interview with completely destroyed heels.

Lesson 3 on being car free in Boston: You are in the city now, walk fast. If you can’t walk fast, keep to the side so others can pass you. 

This lesson I learned came from my boyfriend who had lived in Boston before. In a city where everyone walks, it is important to realize, you need to speed up, especially when people are getting to and from work. You may not have been car free for long so I’ll put this in driving terms. When you are on a freeway, there are 4 lanes. The right lane is usually for slower speeds and the furthest is the passing lane for the fastest speeds. Keep that in mind when walking; except in the city the sidewalks are not big enough for 4 lanes, so the sidewalk is always the fast lane whether people know it or not.

The toughest part about being car free is learning and getting used to getting around on foot. After a little time, it becomes second nature and you start to realize that there are many reasons to love being car free in Boston.

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