I was nervous about giving up my car in Richmond, Indiana and heard that Wayne had been car-free for ten years. I invited him out to lunch to hear about his experiences.
He accepted, but his experiences weren't what I expected.
I braced myself for the horror stories. The story where he nearly freezes to death, or the one where he shows up late and sweating for an important meeting. I was prepared for cynicism and stern warnings.
Wayne really had little to say about being car-free. He got to see a lot of the area, which he enjoyed. In the winter he wore a snow suit and took the bus sometimes for a cross-town trip.
That was about it. He was jovial, laughing, and happy to talk about all manner of other things. The sense I got was that this part of his life was not a big deal to him.
It took me some time to process this. At first I was disappointed. I had not received the horror stories I feared, nor stories of inspirational heroic feats. Wayne had communicated a very powerful non-story.
Life was just a different kind of normal for Wayne. A different kind of normal, I decided, was what I was looking for. I sold my car.
Now it's about 20 years later. I'm employed in a job focused on shifting commuter behavior to greener options. I continue to write about bikes to help people go car-lite or car-free.
Charles Wayne Copenhaver passed away in 2020 from COVID-19. Haiku for Wayne:
bought a bike for just as much.
Best investment yet.