I should be used to this by now.
I survived my freshman and sophomore years without having a car in Sioux Falls. Yet, when my Impala’s battery died earlier this week, I panicked.
No late-night Starbucks runs? No emergency trips to Target with my roommate? No safe method of transportation home after evening meetings on campus? No way.
Interestingly, though, my sense of urgency ceased after an incredibly frustrating experience with a local auto repair shop. As I sat in my apartment’s parking lot with my now deader-than-ever car battery, it hit me: in the short time that I’ve been back at school, I’ve become incredibly reliant on my vehicle. At that moment, I made the (admittedly weird) decision to just wait until the weekend to deal with the situation. After all, I’d been without transportation in Sioux Falls before. How bad could it be?
Let’s just say that this week provided me with plenty of opportunities for reflection.
When I was without a vehicle in years past, I lived and worked on campus, so my situation was only inconvenient when I needed to go home. Mooching rides/ making my parents drive up to retrieve me/ taking the (sketchy) Jefferson Lines bus to Omaha wasn’t exactly fun, but it worked. Thankfully, all of my jobs are still located on campus, and I have no need to go home anytime soon. I’ve just become accustomed to driving when I know that I’ll be out late.
My bike has been my fallback mode of transportation, which hasn’t been bad at all, considering I already bike to and from class every day. I’ve recently discovered that nighttime rides around Augustana’s neighborhood are less than pleasant, though. The lack of sufficient lighting on side streets is unnoticeable when one is tucked safely within a motorized vehicle, but as I quickly learned, an unassuming branch resting on a dark sidewalk has the potential to make an oblivious biker’s ride significantly more treacherous.
Surprisingly, though, I do not feel unsafe without the external protection provided by my car. Biking (despite a few literal bumps in the road) has generally worked well, and it is comforting to know that Campus Safety will drive me home if I am ever ambivalent about walking or biking alone at night.
Of course, I still feel inconvenienced when I want to travel to an off-campus study spot, since Augustana’s geographical location is not ideal for the carless. The selection of student-friendly (read: open after 8 p.m.) establishments within walking distance is oddly limited. My memories of feeling stranded on campus during the last two years flooded back to me this week; it is, as I’ve frequently noticed, almost a requirement for an Augustana student to have a car if she wants to experience any part of Sioux Falls outside of Augustana’s ten-block radius.
My dead battery did force me to reevaluate my transportation habits, but needless to say, once my car is back in commission, I probably will not be biking around town in the dark without a really good reason.