You live in Atlanta but you don’t have a car, so…

24 May

  1. You have only a very faint idea what the “top-end perimeter” is.
  2. You don’t know what or where Spaghetti Junction is.
  3. When people stagger into work groaning about how “Highway xxxx was backed up all the way from xxxx Boulevard to Exit xxxx and it took me 30 minutes just to get to xxxx Road!” you say “Wow!” or “Really?” even though you don’t know what they’re talking about.
  4.  It never occurs to the other party in the above conversation that you might not know what they’re talking about.
  5. You’ve heard, but never actually listened to, a traffic report.
  6. You buy a lot of your stuff at grievously unfashionable places because the low-profile boutiques and out-of-the-way markets are too much work to get to.
  7. Cute shoes are something to be picked up, looked at wistfully, and put back down.
  8. When you go somewhere with a visitor who drove in from out of town and they ask “Where do I park?” you don’t know.
  9. Your driving directions are sometimes not to be trusted because you navigate at least as much by landmarks as by street names.
  10. About once a week you reflexively pull out your Breeze card instead of your debit card to pay for something.
  11. You see the same people on the street downtown so much that they long ago stopped asking you for money.
  12. You can take your jacket off, move your bag from one shoulder to the other, talk on the phone and walk, all at the same time, without slowing down.
  13. You don’t know what the big deal is about the parking at Atlantic Station.
  14. When you get a Zipcar you’ll probably either forget to turn on the lights or which direction to push the turn signal lever.
  15. People think you don’t have a driver’s license.
  16. You carry a bag, not a purse.
  17. You don’t leave home in the summer without baby wipes, a few paper towels and maybe an extra shirt.
  18. You can walk up the escalators at Peachtree Center faster than people half your age or 30 pounds lighter than you.
  19. You carry something with long sleeves in the summer if you know you’ll be riding a bus.
  20. Although you’d never say it to anyone, you don’t know or care how much gas is.

6 Responses to “You live in Atlanta but you don’t have a car, so…”

  1. atlurbanistDarin 06/05/2012 at 4:56 pm #

    This is a great list! I really enjoyed reading it. Are you car-free?

    • OO 06/05/2012 at 5:40 pm #


      I’ve never actually owned a car, but I was married when I first moved down here in 2000, so I was sharing a car with someone. But since 2004 I’ve been completely without one. It’s not so much a choice as a self-perpetuating cycle: Living in a place where you can walk to a transit station sometimes costs so much that you couldn’t buy a car if you wanted to. Add to that the five-digit grad school loans to pay off and, well, forget it. It’s not such a big deal during the day on weekdays, but at night and on the weekends, it can be a tremendous pain – especially on those “single-tracking” weekends when you can spend almost 40 minutes waiting for trains (one way) if you need to go toward North Springs. The winters down here are so mild that they’re a non-issue, but the middle of June to the middle of September – yikes.

      If MARTA was operating at half or two-thirds of its capacity instead of one-third, it would change the entire experience of living here. But, honestly, this is a city in which I can’t use the term “car-free” with a straight face. I lived about three milese outside DC from 2006 to 2009 and coming back here after having gotten used to Metro was rough.

      • atlurbanist 06/05/2012 at 9:27 pm #

        “this is a city in which I can’t use the term “car-free” with a straight face”

        I see what you mean. Even though I want to be able to live without a car, I know realistically that Atlanta has a way to go when it comes to having good walkability and transit access. It’ll be a while before being without a car in Atlanta can be considered true freedom and less of a hassle.

        I should probably put an asterisk on my use of the phrase “car-free” so that I don’t sound like a nut. I think I should specify that I want to live someplace without a car and, if that place is Atlanta, then I’m talking about a dreamy future Atlanta that’s more ped-friendly and has transit improvements.

  2. Wendy Darling 06/05/2012 at 4:57 pm #

    OMG, this is me! In Atlanta since 1997, never had a car.

  3. atlurbanist 06/05/2012 at 4:58 pm #

    This is a great list! I really enjoyed reading it. I assume this means you’re car-free in ATL? That’s my dream. I know it’s a strange thing to wish for given the inconveniences, but I still want it.

    • atlurbanist 06/05/2012 at 9:28 pm #

      Oops, I didn’t think my first comment went through. Sorry for the double double comment comment.

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