Thursday, July 26, 2012
Ally Ringer: Living downtown is practical, fun, reduces carbon footprint and expenses
My husband and I live in downtown Lexington. Neither of us are quite what you could call “city slickers.” I think it’s safe to say we are both intimidated by large crowds, long lines, and streets full of traffic. We both grew up in the non-urban Oldham County, where everybody has at least an acre of land, and you’d get hit by a car if you tried to walk to dinner.
Despite our fears of the big city, we moved downtown last summer in an effort to save a little money on gas and reduce our carbon footprint. My husband works in one of Lexington’s high rise buildings (I attempted to call it a skyscraper, but Wikipedia says a building with less than 30 stories probably doesn’t qualify), so he walks to and from work each day.
Prior to our move downtown, he drove 3 miles roundtrip to and from the office each day. Three miles doesn’t seem like much, but it does add up. That’s 15 miles a week, 60 miles a month, and 750 miles per year (when you take 2 weeks of vacation into account). And that’s a gas savings of around $100 per year. Add that to the fact that we were able to downsize to just one car, and we’ve done the environment (and our wallets) a little favor.
Aside from the close proximity to the office, we’re also enjoying the amount of incredible local food within walking distance. We can walk to brunch at Doodle’s or Stella’s, dinner at Alfalfa’s, and grab some wine at Wine + Market. And picking up those forgotten grocery items doesn’t require another 15-minute drive to the grocery store. I can walk down the road to Shorty’s and find the ingredients for late night chocolate chip cookies. And all of this extra eating is canceled out by the fact that we’re walking, rather than driving, right? Right.
And, of course, there’s the proximity to the Lexington Farmer’s Market, which may be the best thing about living downtown. I can walk down the street, pick up some local produce in my reusable bag, and make my way back home without producing any pollution or creating any waste.
With the addition of the Lextran COLT Trolley, those who don’t enjoy long walks across town can still be more environmentally friendly. The free trolley runs from Transylvania University to Chevy Chase, making stops in between, letting you give your car a little break.
In the five years I’ve lived in Lexington, I’ve watched the downtown area truly become the center of Lexington. Whether it’s for Gallery Hop, Thursday Night Live, Fountain Films on Friday, or the Mayfest Arts Fair, people are always downtown. And that means people are walking and biking, rather than driving. They are eating at local restaurants, supporting local businesses, and enjoying local entertainment. And that’s a downtown even a non-city slicker can love.
For more on what’s happening in downtown Lexington , check out the Downtown Lexington Corporation’s website.
Ally Ringer is an Environmental Educator at Bluegrass PRIDE. She is originally from Crestwood, Kentucky, and has a B.A. in Community Communications and Leadership Development from the University of Kentucky. You may email her at email@example.com