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I'm 41 and don't know how to drive. People make fun of me, but I'm better off without a car.

I'm 41 and don't know how to drive. People make fun of me, but I'm better off without a car.
a man on a bike
Gary Nunn prefers to cycle and will never learn to drive.Courtesy of Gary Nunn
  • Gary Nunn is in his 40s and has never driven a car or had the desire to learn.

  • He lives in Sydney and prefers cycling everywhere. He takes public transportation when necessary.

  • Without a car, he's saving money, helping the planet, and staying healthy.

When I tell people I'm 41 and have never learned to drive, reactions vary depending on where they're from.

If the person was born and bred in a big, well-connected global city (except car-obsessed Los Angeles), they might shrug at the idea of not driving. As the cost of living keeps rising, not owning a car seems sensibly frugal. Plus, since Uber and other ride-hailing apps came along, owning a car has become less of a necessity.

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But as I get older, people I meet seem more surprised by the fact I've never taken a driving lesson in my life and have never once driven a car.

One former colleague in Australia asked if I had a disability that prevented me from driving (I don't). Since there are vast distances between places in Australia and public transportation can only reach so far, driving is a big part of the culture.

Maybe if I had grown up in Australia, I would've taken lessons. I grew up in Medway, Kent, in the UK, and most people where I'm from learned how to drive, so I was in a minority there, too.

When it was time to learn, I chose school instead

When I was 17 and others were taking their driving tests, I remember my dad saying he could either chip in to help me go to university or help with driving lessons, but he didn't have the money for both. Nor did I on my meager Saturday job wage, so I chose university.

After that, I always lived in well-connected cities. I often move around and split my time between London, Sydney, and Buenos Aires. I'm currently in Sydney, which has many bicycle lanes.

Some of my friends like to poke fun at my non-driving status

One of my friends took aim at my diminutive stature (I'm about 5-foot-six) and asked if I don't drive because "I can't reach the pedals."

These jibes don't bother me — they amuse me. I'm actually quite proud that I don't drive because I don't congest the roads and the environment. I can also skip leg day at the gym because my calves are huge from all my cycling.

I've been borderline obsessed with cycling ever since I was a boy. I always prefer it to public transport, unless, of course, it's raining.

I do love to go-kart. My 30th birthday was spent go-karting with friends, and I've done it several times since. I enjoy the thrill of the speed and the novelty of being behind the wheel since it's rare for me.

I have my boating license, though, and I take my friends and family for trips on the harbor. I don't own one, but I hire the same boat whenever I want to do this.

a man driving a boat
Nunn driving a boat.Courtesy of Gary Nunn

The main reason I don't drive is pure economics

Driving is expensive — outside the cost of the car itself, you have to pay for insurance, parking, registration, and gas. It just seems indulgent to me.

I spend maybe $20 a month on public transportation. I love taking buses and seeing the world go by while safely using my smartphone. Status symbols like cars don't impress me.

I also don't drive to prevent myself from being lazy. If I started driving, I'd miss my bike too much.

Because I adore cycling and being outdoors, I even made it my job to cycle by becoming an e-bike courier as a supplementary job.

I feel safer this way

I can count on one hand the times not driving has been an issue. On a long drive to a festival, my friend got tired and I felt guilty I couldn't just jump in and help out. It'd sometimes be nice to be a designated driver when my friends want to drink, but I can call them an Uber instead.

I've been in a car when there've been some nail-biting close calls. Once, after a night out in Mykonos, a friend and I ended up in a slightly dodgy unlicensed "cab." Our villa was at the top of an extremely steep hill. The driver's gear crunched on the hill, and the car began rolling backward, gathering terrifying momentum.

I remember the glistening sea getting closer and closer in the back window as my friend screamed her lungs out. We threw the doors open and jumped out of the moving car just as the driver put the handbrake on.

Getting in a car is sometimes unavoidable, but I don't need one. I'm healthier, have more money, and can bike, take public transportation, or jump in an Uber to get anywhere I need to go.

Read the original article on Business Insider