Reader view: A week without driving? For some, that’s every week

First, I feel it’s important to recognize that I am not living with a disability and am able to walk or bike ride reasonable distances. Mobility considerations play a large role in living car free or car lite, by choice or necessity, and can be a significant barrier when sidewalks and other infrastructure are lacking, which is common in Snohomish County.

However, the Week Without Driving challenge, hosted by Disability Rights Washington and the Disability Mobility Initiative, aimed to allow others to experience what, “a quarter of the people in Washington state – people with disabilities, young people, seniors and people who can’t afford cars or gas,” live with every day.

Working for our county’s public transportation agency I also have a deep knowledge of public transit options, so how hard could it be…? Well…

No matter how much you know, there are a lot of barriers and considerations that impact everyone traveling outside of a car. Part of the challenge was to document both the positives and negatives of your week. Here are a few of my experiences:

Barriers: Frequency of transit service sometimes meant long waits; lack of safe bike riding infrastructure; no sidewalks or inaccessible sidewalks

Things I gave up: Outdoor recreation like hiking in the mountains, which is mostly not accessible without owning, renting, or asking someone with a car to drive you

Time impacts: Yes! Almost every trip took longer than driving

Things I enjoyed: Talking to people! On transit I almost always see someone I know or talk to another rider, even if briefly; also knowing I was reducing my impact on our climate and pollution crises

Things I didn’t enjoy: Lack of safe bike infrastructure; greater exposure to bad weather; less time with family

Over my week, I rode five different bus routes, light rail, biked, e-biked and walked across Edmonds, to my office in south Everett, and to downtown Seattle.

There is no better way to learn about our transportation systems and deficiencies than by going out and experiencing them. I hope other Edmonds residents will continue to think about how they travel around our region and consider participating in events like the Week Without Driving as we seek to improve mobility, access to essential destinations, and address our environmental crisis.

Lastly, special thanks to Edmonds City Council Student Representative Brook Roberts and Youth Commission Chair Owen Lee for also participating in the challenge, and the Disability Rights Washington teams for bringing this forward to our communities.

— By Luke Distelhorst
Edmonds City Council Position 2

  1. I’ve learned long ago, “public transit” is mostly to get the white color office worker into the major business district in the morning and back home in the evening, primarily along the north/south corridor

    For everyone else, good luck

  2. All sounds pretty bad to me. I gave up pedal bikes when I was old enough for a motorcycle for two wheeled travel and a car or pickup truck for the rest of travel. I have spent my career in the construction trades rather than the suit & tie clown commuting to a high rise “matrix” gig, so no need to “ever” get on mass transit. I have just been lucky that way. BTW: there is no such thing as an “electric vehicle”. They are all battery powered and the batteries are charged by electricity generated by Hydro, nuke, coal, diesel, natural gas and to a much lesser extent solar and wind. So much for so called ecological awareness.

  3. Interesting comments here. I’ve used public transit to get to and from Edmonds and Sea Tac and it’s obscenely cheap compared to private conveyance. Convenient, in some respects but not so much in others. Time consuming and a little complicated to make connections, you bet, but getting better all the time.

    As to not being that useful to anyone but white people going to downtown, I’d have to say patently not true. The mostly African origin legal immigrants who took such great care of my late wife spent hours on end using public transit to get to and from the Federal Way area which was the closest place most could afford to live and send money back home to help take care of their relatives in Africa.

    I agree that so called EV’s are not and will not be the panacea they are made out to be to cure all our planet woes. A balance of electric/hybrid vehicles makes much more sense than going all electric. Our biggest planet problem is really over population as much as anything else and mother nature has her ways of re-balancing that problem over time. Paraphrasing Bill Nye the Science guy, we don’t need to save the planet. It will take care of itself. What we need to save is ourselves from ourselves.

    1. Whoops – I meant “white collar” office worker, no reference to color or national origin.

      I also did not state that it is not possible for other uses, just more difficult.

      With all the publicity about the new light rail, all the publicity is about the train stations. I haven’t seen, or really looked for, any publicity about getting to or from the train station. In the outlying areas, often they require parking lots for the private car – which, in my mind, defeats the purpose.

    1. Not everyone can afford to live CLOSE TO WORK.

      Metropolitan areas are often where the jobs are for persons with disabilities, and services for seniors who want – and are otherwise capable – to live independently, but can no longer drive.

      Living in the metro areas is VERY expensive. The further out you go for affordable housing and senior services, the more limited your accessibility to transportation and safe travel by foot and by wheelchair.

      I believe these are significant points the Disability Rights Washington and the Disability Mobility Initiative were hoping to “drive home”.

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