Living Car-Free: 5 Questions with City of Victoria Mayor, Lisa Helps
For some people, the idea of living car-free can seem impossible or, at the very least, a major inconvenience. However, with increased investment in accessible public transportation, infrastructure like protected bike lanes, and the rise of carsharing, living car-free (or car-lite) has become a common way of life.
After years of owning a vehicle, Mayor Lisa Helps has decided to go car-free—and we’re happy to be here to help. Being car-free doesn’t mean never driving in a car. It means actively reducing your reliance on privately-owned vehicles and, for times when a car is needed, looking to alternatives like carsharing.
Before we signed up Mayor Helps for her membership, we had a chance to ask a few questions about her decision to go car-free and why she chose Modo.
What motivated you to sell your car and go car-free?
Victoria is a human-scale city; for me it’s easy to get around without a car. I’ve noticed since I’ve made an even greater personal commitment to reducing GHGs that my car has been sitting in the driveway more often than not. Last winter when it was really cold – too cold to bike – I walked to City Hall. In previous years I would have driven. But last year we had so many people shopping downtown for the holidays that I thought I’d do my part and walk so there’d be one less car and one more parking spot. So it’s really just a waste of space to have the car in the driveway and a waste of money to pay for insurance when there are so many other good alternatives.
What did you find most appealing about Modo that encouraged you to join?
I’ve known about Modo (previous Victoria Car Share Co-op) for quite some time; I’ve been with friends who’ve used the service and it’s so easy! Fob and go. I can’t wait to have my own Modo membership.
Do you foresee any initial barriers going car-free?
The only barrier is that I’ll have to be more organized. For example, I’ll need to plan trips out to the farms on the peninsula to get produce earlier in the week rather than waking up on a Saturday and deciding to drive out there. But I imagine as Modo grows so too will the fleet, making more cars available to more people more of the time.
What will you miss about owning a car?
“Convenience” and I say that with quotes because I don’t really believe it’s all that convenient to blow carbon into the atmosphere when I have a choice to do otherwise. I honour and respect that some people can’t go car free for various reasons. But for me, my short-term convenience is a compromise that I don’t want to make any longer weighed against the long-term impacts of climate change.
In your opinion, what are the benefits of a carsharing service like Modo over other forms of shared transportation?
To me it’s not that carsharing is any better than any other form of sustainable transportation –it’s a key piece of the sustainable transportation ecosystem. My dream and vision is that we’ll have an integrated sustainable mobility system in the region, that mobility will be a service with all modes linked in one easy to use platform. Check out the MAAS Alliance for more details. Modo is one part of this and it’s an important part; I’m happy to become a Modo member.