When Chris Stomp and Christina Kalman moved to Portland from Dallas, TX in April 2019, they saw Portland’s relative bikeability as an opportunity to do a complete transportation 180 and leave their car-dependence in Texas.
“This has been a decision that we definitely would never look back on.”
— Christina Kalman
“I definitely hate driving, and my commute in Dallas was about 45 minutes each way, bumper-to-bumper on the freeway the whole time,” Stomp says. “So when I found out that in moving here, I could just ditch my car and get almost literally everywhere by bike, that was an easy choice to make.”
Stomp and Kalman had each owned a car when they lived in Dallas, but when they were relocating to Portland, they decided the infrastructure was such that they could probably get down to one vehicle. And after some time getting to know Portland’s bike paths, they could sell their other car, too.
Now, fully-immersed in the world of cycling, Stomp and Kalman have realized the benefits of biking — and pains of driving and car-ownership — are too much to overlook.
“I feel freer. I feel like I can get anywhere I need to be without a vehicle,” Kalman says. “We’re saving so much money and stress and headache.”
According to a recent study by Culture Map, people in the Dallas area spend some of the most time stuck in traffic compared to people who drive in the rest of the country. But car culture impacts people in every corner of the country, and people who drive in Portland can expect a long commute, too. Driving solo is still the most popular way for Portlanders to commute — a statistic that has increased over the past decade.
Kalman says that she enjoys feeling like she might be able to encourage people who haven’t yet imagined a world beyond their car to look at new possibilities.
“It’s ingrained in people that they have to have a vehicle,” she says. “I feel like [hearing our story] is kind of a turning point for people to realize, ‘Oh, wow, you actually can do that!’”
Stomp and Kalman say that one of their favorite things about biking around Portland is how it allowed them to get to know their new city.
“Being relatively new here when we started this, I feel like getting around by bike really gave us the opportunity to slow down and get a lot more familiar with what was around us,” Stomp says.
Stomp, who works as a software engineer for Nike, sometimes supplements the lengthy commute to the Nike office from his house in Northwest Portland with public transportation. But regardless of the specifics of how you go about it, he says using non-car transportation gives you a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day that’s impossible to overlook.
“I love all the benefits. I love the fact that it’s good exercise, it gets me outside, it’s green, it’s economical,” he says.
Stomp and Kalman, who is a marketing manager at Erickson Aerospace, suggest that people who might be nervous to take such a bold step away from their old lives don’t have to go all in all at once.
“I always just tell people, just try it,” Stomp says.
But they both say they have never regretted their decision to sell their cars and travel solely by bike. Take it from these two people who have the experience sitting in Dallas traffic for hours of their lives: there’s a better way to live!
“This has been a decision that we definitely would never look back on,” Kalman says. “We’re both saving a lot of money, a lot of headaches, and just much happier in general.”
Taylor has been BikePortland’s staff writer since November 2021. She has also written for Street Roots and Eugene Weekly. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org