Back out of the driver’s seat (again)

This month I’ve been working in Sydney, Australia on a research project at the University of Sydney.  This is my second trip here– I was on sabbatical last fall (spring Down Under) and wrote here about the transition from life with a car (and bikes, of course) to life without a a car.  I experienced sore feet and shoulders at first, courtesy of all the walking and bag carrying.  But soon it became a real pleasure– it was a way to slow myself down, look at what was around me, notice how I was feeling, and really interact with the people and sights of this new place.

This time, I’m here in a different season (late winter in Sydney, which is pretty mild to this Bostonian).  I’m also busier, working with students and other researchers on this project, giving two talks, and of course socializing with my Sydney friends (old and new).  I split my time between two different centers on campus, so there’s lots of scurrying back and forth.

With chillier weather, university activity in full swing, and a lot of work to do in a short time, I haven’t taken any side trips out of town or gone swimming or kayaking or diving.  They’re definitely on the agenda when I return in better weather, but for now Sydney for me is about work and after-work play in the city.

But being on foot, taking public transport (with the occasional lift from friends– thanks y’all!) and some bike riding (which I wrote about here— thanks again, Janine!) has reminded me (yet again) how great it is to be able to function without a car.  Here are some pictures to show you a few of the unexpected benefits of getting out of the driver’s seat.




One evening, I caught the wrong bus, and got dropped off at a waterfront park.  No problem– I walked through the park and on to my place, stopping briefly to admire the Anzac bridge and the glittering lights of the foreshore.  Gorgeous.





Even in the winter, Australian flowers are intent on poking their heads out and blooming. These beauties adorned my walk to the office– a 25 minute journey, mostly through a park.





These are buildings at Sydney and Macquarie Universities.  Walking to and from places makes me see both time and space a little differently– it slows my pace of life down and opens up my perspective.  I enjoy architecture and geometric forms, and capturing images like these (with my phone) is fun.




I saved the best for last.  Cities with ferries are undoubtedly better than cities with no ferries.  Here they are an important part of the public transport system, and this one took me to the light rail line I use for going into and out of downtown Sydney.  This was taken on a late winter afternoon, in low light.

This week I return home to Boston, to start teaching for the fall semester.  My life will be more car-dependent, but once again I got a reminder (and more motivation) for staying out of the driver’s seat as much as I can.

What about you, readers?  What are some of the pleasures of public transportation for you?


3 thoughts on “Back out of the driver’s seat (again)

  1. Great post about the joys of active commuting. Amazing pictures. I’m a big proponent of using public transportation and active commuting in Boston. My family chose to live less than half a mile from my kids’ school so we can walk/scooter to school. Give me a shout if you’d like to sample a kick scooter to commute; I’m helping a Swiss maker (Micro) get more scooters in the hands of Boston urbanites.

  2. Yes, very true. Either bike or relax on a commuter train. Vancouver’s Sea Bus ferry from North Shore to downtown Vancouver is key for daily commuters.

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