This Orlandoan gave up her car and has been walking a new path ever since

We recently asked Pulptown readers on Instagram to share their experience with transit in Orlando, and many of them told us they wish it were a lot easier to commute without a car. But a lot of them also had helpful tips to help their fellow Orlandoans get around without a car.

  • “Double, even triple time you think it will take you to get there.” – @morganelyce
  • “Use your GPS map, open up a Lynx bus map and the Sunrail app, learn the systems to use them together.” – @elscasta
  • “Find a carpool buddy.” – @jackellyn
  • “Use your bike for short distance commuting!” – @kylecamp

Today we’re profiling another Orlandoan who has some tips of her own to share. LeeAnn Huntoon is a digital marketing director who lives downtown, doesn’t own a car, and, for the past few years, almost exclusively walks to work and to run errands.

We talked with her about what prompted her change, and what we can learn from her car-less life in Orlando.

What made LeeAnn switch to walking?

The decision to switch started about seven or eight years ago when LeeAnn got into an accident on the 408.

“My car was completely wrecked and I had just started a job downtown,” she said.

She was living in East Orlando at the time so she was initially commuting on the bus for about a year. Then she moved into a place downtown, and started wondering if she should finally invest in a car again.

“I was like do I need one, and with Uber and Lyft will I need one?” LeeAnn recalls asking herself.

Ultimately she decided against getting a new car and for the past four or five years she primarily walks to get to work, run errands, and get around the city.

Why does she prefer walking to other forms of transit?

Cost is a big factor for LeeAnn and she noted that she’s saved hundreds of dollars by not paying for a car or car insurance.

LeeAnn uses ride sharing if she needs to buy a lot of groceries that will be difficult to carry by herself, if she’s going out around town, or if she has work meetings far away from downtown. But even those rides only cost her about $100 a month, she said.

And beyond the savings, she said it helps her get outside and exercise more while still getting to where she needs to go. She does admit that she’s fortunate to live in the Lake Eola Heights area, which is a bit more pedestrian friendly than when she lived in East Orlando.

She said that the “city has really tried to make things better” for pedestrians and that she’s encouraged by some of the progress that’s been made on pedestrian safety through plans like Vision Zero, which is a plan proposed by the city and Mayor Dyer aimed at eliminating pedestrian traffic deaths and accidents by 2040.

So what’s LeeAnn’s route?

If she’s heading to work, then LeeAnn walks along Harwood Road to Broadway Avenue, then she crosses Robinson Street and walks along Lake Eola until she gets to her office on Wall Street. It’s about a three-mile walk total to and from work.

Any tips for potential walkers?

The first thing she suggests is to not rush into the decision, and to look at your budget to get a sense of what you’re spending on gas and tolls and other car payments.

“If you’re within a walkable or bikeable area, before you get rid of your car, try it out for a couple of weeks and see if it’s something you’d be comfortable with,” she suggested.

Does LeeAnn ever miss her car?

She said she did for the first year but not any more.

“I don’t have to worry about car maintenance, or a $350 car payment, or car insurance,” LeeAnn said.

And more than anything she’s grateful for ride sharing.

“I don’t think I could go without a car without that,” she said. “Then it would really be a moment of, ‘How am I going to get from my office to a meeting in Altamonte Springs?’”

Want a first-hand look at LeeAnn’s commute? Head to our Instagram highlights to check it out.

By Lance Dixon
Lance is the director for The New Tropic. Send story ideas and/or memes to lance@thenewtropic.com