Way back in June, Sean98125 posed this question:
“Just out of curiosity – how many of the dedicated non-car owners here are raising kids?”
Recently, I asked my friend Coby (aka Bus Chick’s favorite rock star) to weigh in. Coby was a bus-based dad for several years and has only recently begun using a car (a gift from a friend who no longer needed it), so he’s well qualified to speak on the subject. Here’s what he had to say:
As far as the bus-based life with a kid goes, it’s obviously a bit less convenient than just jumping in a car, but I did it for 5 years and it worked pretty well. The key is to live in a good location. We’re near 55th and 25th, so we’re close to the U-district hub of bus routes, we’re midway between North Seattle and Cap Hill/CD, we’re ten minutes walking from QFC and Safeway, and ten minutes or so from the Ave, so everything we need is either walkable or easily accessed via bus. Groceries were difficult, but the boy is getting stronger, and so recently I’ve been loading him up as much as is ethical. Also, if you miss a bus and have to wait a long time, you have to make sure your kid has something to do to occupy him or her until the next bus comes (Nate has an iPod).
I miss the purely car free life. A prime example of why was on Halloween. We walked down to U-Village to get Nate’s costume, (I’d procrastinated). His main trick or treating was to be done at U-Village, as it’s so convenient to go from shop to shop rather than trekking up and down the blocks of the neighborhood in the cold. I’d forgotten the camera and we went back home to get it. We would have walked back, but I was pressed for time to go to the wedding reception. So, to save time, we drove to U-Village, and then spent five minutes circling and looking for parking because the lots were packed. The time saved driving was offset by the time spent looking for parking. A car is equal parts convenience and hassle.
I also asked him how his son, Nathan, liked the bus–whether he thought it was cool or wanted to ride in a car with the other kids.
When Nathan was 5 and 6 he loved the bus more than the car, and still likes it. He loved reading the schedules, and he loved looking out the window and getting a chance to pull the cord or push the tape. He was amused and excited by how much everything vibrated and bounced and shook, I think it felt like an amusement park ride to him. Now he likes them equally I think, as the bus has all the cool stuff it always had, but the car has a CD player.
P.S. – If you’re interested in learning how a family of five gets along without a car, check out Alan Durning’s blog.