In Malta, it is widely believed that no one can possibly get by without a car. And yet, I’m 41, I’ve lived in Malta most of my life, and I’ve never owned one. I do not have a partner to drive me around either, and although I often get offered a lift, I rarely ask for one. I am, I suppose, what you could call an ‘anti-carist.’
I haven’t always been against cars. I was never that keen to drive but I still got my driver’s license on my first attempt in my early twenties. I never enjoyed driving lessons, and to this day, the words “clutch” and “gear” stress me out. Lucky for me, passing the test back then was much easier; all you had to do was avoid knocking over the barrels as you reversed between them and then drive around for a couple of minutes (in my case, with the instructor yelling all the way).
I’ve driven once or twice since then, mostly influenced by all the people who kept asking me the same question; “How can you live without a car?” But I just couldn’t do it; I can’t see myself as a driver and I can’t ever imagine enjoying it. To me, it just feels like the benefits (of which I’m sure there are quite a lot) won’t ever outweigh the negative aspects.
“I never enjoyed driving lessons, and to this day, the words clutch and gear stress me out.”
Personally, cars strike me as smelly and noisy from the outside, and frustrating and claustrophobic from the inside. Sometimes I wonder whether I’m the only one standing on the outside of car culture, and when that happens, the things I don’t like about cars are further amplified.
I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who questions the sanity of building even more roads and petrol stations, but I still feel alone in this regard.
“Sometimes I wonder whether I’m the only one standing on the outside of car culture, and when that happens, the things I don’t like about cars are further amplified.”
I confess I love passing past traffic on foot, watching people’s frustration… although what I see while crossing the road is distraction. I see countless looks of horror when a driver suddenly notices me. Good job I was looking out for the both of us, sinjura, since you absolutely had to send that message right then.
To try and raise awareness and create a community of people who can offer tips to each other on how to survive in Malta without a car, I recently opened the Facebook page Malta Car Divorcees, and it’s been getting quite some traction lately. We share experiences, life hacks, and some humorous posts that are meant to help people realize that maybe, a car isn’t as vital as they might think it is after all.
Photos by Chris Sant Fournier