Another one rides the bus

Faced with impending half-blindness, I’m seriously considering going car-free for the duration of my surgery and recovery (x4). A lot of small factors have come together to make me consider this. The white halos around the ceiling lights even in daytime. The registration renewal bill for my car. The annual decision about what level of parking to shell out for on campus (approximately $600).

But the big thing? The thing that has just about settled the question this morning? Today, when I was schlepping around my house with just the left contact in, pushing my left eye to adapt, I turned my head quickly and my left contact just popped out and stuck to my eyelashes. Within a second I wasn’t half blind, I was totally blind. This happens once in a blue moon — I think it’s happened twice since I got new contacts back in December. But it happens, and it only has to happen behind the wheel once for me, or someone else, to die. There’s one avenue I can try (and I will) which is to get a scleral lens fitted to my left eye. Those are huge dishy lenses that rest on the white part of your eye and vault over the entire cornea, and it would take some getting used to, but at least it would not pop out easily. If I end up being able to wear a lens over my transplant and stitches, that’s the kind it will be in the right eye as well, so I suppose I could start getting used to the idea.

The University just announced that they are in talks with the city for a pass arrangement that would allow faculty and staff unlimited access to the city buses and light rail for $75 per year.That means the total cost of commutership would be $75/year plus the occasional cab ride plus time spent walking (which I need to do anyway for my health), while the cost of car-ownership is something like $2540/year, not even getting into the part where the Prius is old and is going to need some work sooner or later.

Of course, after the light rail had been promised for the start of the new school year, it’s now been moved back substantially. I was not pleased to see this announcement from CATS:

That means my subsidized commute to work would still consist of two buses, for a good portion of next year.

Charlotte’s a total car city, but it is really making an effort to be more active commute friendly. My side of town has a way to go on that yet, but it’s slowly happening with projects like the X-Clt. I’ve spent the last few weeks testing out the experience of walking to places I commonly go. The bus stops on the main street that would bring me into Uptown are less than a half mile away. There’s also a shady stop just a mile away, deeply buried in a neighborhood so rich that the neighbors don’t know where the bus is supposed to stop, and that walk keeps me entirely on the back streets and the greenway. It’s also a bus line that will take me right to the Parkwood light rail stop when the light rail opens. The nearest little mini-cluster of urban life, Plaza Midwood, is about a 1.8 mile walk if I stick to streets that are pleasant and not the Central Avenue pedestrian hellscape. In my foot radius are Vietnamese, Mexican and soul food restaurants, dry cleaners, pharmacies, bars, and various other necessities of life.

The things that I typically need that truly require a car for transport are bags of cat litter and…well that’s about it really. And there’s this service called Amazon Prime that will deliver those babies to your doorstep, along with other stuff that you might typically have gotten at the big box store.

I’d have to give up the more car intensive parts of playing Ingress, and casual drives to places like the mall or to the houses of certain far-flung friends. On the other hand, my commute would bring me into proximity with Uptown, daily — making it more likely that I’d see and touch the truly city part of our city more regularly. Getting the cats to the vet is slightly worrisome, but that, and rare and far-flung medical appointments, are what cabs (and friends who have volunteered to help) are for.

There are plenty of arguments against this, I suppose (Gasp! No CAR? But how will you live? You won’t want to walk in the rain!) but here’s the main one. Charlotte’s summer heat is not negligible. Charlotte’s summer heat is potentially lethal. I don’t think I have a choice, though. I don’t think it’s responsible for me to drive, not with that chance that suddenly I’ll be behind the wheel, able to only see macro-scale blurry shapes.

Maybe I’ll get the extra awesome scleral lenses that look like this:

And wear them. On the bus.