GTPulse: Traverse City Man Goes Without a Car Every January
Dry January is a month-long, post-holiday challenge that asks participants to not drink alcohol for a month. After the excesses of Christmas and New Year’s people want to de-stress, de-puff and give their liver a much deserved break. I’ve heard of other month-long challenges for January ranging from not shopping for non-necessities to not eating fast food. I hadn’t heard of not using your car for the month of January until I talked to Tyler Bevier. Tyler has started off the year without using his vehicle and he won’t be back in the driver’s seat til February 1st.
“It’s my fourth year doing no car January. It’s a way for me to reflect on the system’s strengths and areas of improvement. I’m always a champion for the environment, and I want to get perspective on people who ride the bus.”
Tyler is the transportation planner and data analyst at BATA. His job requires him to make sure that riders are having a good experience and he practices what he preaches by using the bus during his month of being car-less.
“If stops don’t have a shelter or a bench and people are standing in a snowbank in someone’s front yard, it gives me a perspective that, that’s a pretty awkward or uncomfortable experience. So it motivates me to get an opportunity to get more benches and shelters.”
His day starts when he wakes up at 6:20 in the morning. He gets on the bus near his Traverse Heights home at 7:09. That bus gets him to Hall Street where he gets on a second bus to make it to work a little after 7:30. The ritual may sound stressful to some, but to Tyler, it’s a welcome change.
When he’s not using the bus, he’s walking. Living in town helps with getting around, car or not, and he walks to Family Fare when he needs to pick up groceries.
“From my house, it’s 10 to 15 blocks, so that’s not bad, especially if the sidewalks are plowed well.”
Relying on the bus isn’t always perfect, however.
“My first year taking the bus, I didn’t have a washer and dryer at home so I went down to Eastfield there on Eighth Street. It was funny, I had like five minutes or less on the laundry and the clothes were still damp, so I missed the last bus. I had to walk with my laundry basket from Eighth and Garfield all the way to the Barlow, Boon area. I got a lot of funny looks from people driving.”
No one wants to be followed by the nosy, unbreakable gaze of drivers passing by, and I admit to participating in a little rubbernecking. Occasionally, I see homeless people walking on the side of the road on South Airport. Sometimes I don’t look, and sometimes I do. Being without a car has put Tyler in a position to be empathetic towards those who don’t have a vehicle of their own.
“It’s a reminder of why frequent service matters, or having later busses. It’s awkward to have people looking at you from their car.”
“One of my favorite taco places downtown is Mama Lu’s. It’s nice to not have to circle around for parking or brush the snow off my car if it snows a couple of inches.”
Tyler has already made it halfway through his month of not driving, and his one car garage has been protecting his car from getting piled on with layers of snow.
“Once a week I take it out, start it and let it run for 10 to 15 minutes.”
Soon, Tyler will be back on the road with all the thrilling Traverse City traffic and parking, until he gives himself another break from it all next January.