An assortment of Richmond residents discover that alternative forms of transportation can offer new perspectives on their city—as well as interesting lifestyle options both economical & green.
When local artist Noah Scalin (photo above) returned to Richmond after several years living in New York City, he wanted to preserve the car-free lifestyle to which he had grown accustomed. For both health and economic reasons, he says, “I didn’t want to enter into the world of car culture.” Although Scalin describes Richmond as “driving centric,” he argues that, with effort, “I think it’s possible to be completely car free in Richmond.”
Scalin has designed his life to eliminate the need for a personal motor vehicle. He operates his graphic design business from his home in Battery Park, a neighborhood he chose in part for its easy bicycle access, and bikes to Virginia Commonwealth University to teach classes.
Scalin does have access to his mother’s car, for which he pays part of the insurance in a form of car sharing. But he prefers to have only limited automobile access. “If I have a car at my disposal and I’m feeling tired, I’m definitely going to use it,” Scalin admits.
Building Manager Amelia Glissman, (photo left) who relinquished her car when she finished college, views driving as burdensome. “The level of stress that a car involves, people don’t realize,” says Glissman.
When she moved to Richmond from suburban Chicago, Glissman chose to live in Shockoe Bottom, a neighborhood that would afford her easy walking access to her job and other routine stops.
She, like Scalin, has arranged her life to accommodate her desire to remain car free, buying groceries each day after her workout at a neighborhood gym and turning to the Internet for items that would be difficult to carry or aren’t available nearby.
“I’m a master online shopper,” she says.
Glissman also values the time that she spends on foot as a means by which to become more acquainted with the communities she traverses. She explains, “That’s when I see flyers of things to do, such as restaurants, local festivals, political events,” adding, “When you’re driving, you’re in a time warp.”
Harry Kollatz (photo above), a senior writer for Richmond Magazine, echoes Glissman’s view, saying, “When you’re walking, you interact with the world in a much different way than you would if you were in a car.”
In addition to Scalin’s and Glissman’s pedaling and hoofing lifestyle, Kollatz embraces the Greater Richmond Transit Company’s (GRTC) service as an efficient—and convenient rainy day alternative—to getting around town.
As a Fan resident, he enjoys the easy access to bus stops. Kollatz, who shares a single car with his wife, points out that people shouldn’t overlook using bus transportation as an option—citing the positive aspects that GRTC is a “thrifty and environmentally-conscious alternative.”
Noting other transportation modes with a smaller carbon footprint, Kollatz says that he has seen an increase usage in scooters and bikes on the road. He also observes, “I’m seeing a greater variety of people on some bus lines.”
Chelsea Lahmers, owner and general manager of Scoot Richmond, also suggests that there is a trend toward city residents seeking alternative modes of transportation, noting that, “Of late, we’ve definitely seen an up-tick in folks getting rid of their cars altogether. I’m going to guess that it is more than ever before.”