In 2000, Bill Poindexter weighed 400 pounds.
As part of his plan to lose weight, Poindexter started walking or riding his bike wherever he could. He ended up enjoying it so much that he eventually sold his car and committed to getting around Kansas City entirely under his own power.
Today, Poindexter is a trim 195 pounds. He works as a consultant and yoga instructor and is celebrating a decade of car-free living. Here’s what it’s like to be totally car-free in Kansas City.
▶︎ I started to use a bike for transportation in Kansas City in 2001. At that time, I lived in Prairie Village, on the Kansas side. It’s a lot different now, but back then, I was the only commuter on a bike.
▶︎ In 2009, I had a car that I had just bought the year before. One day, I opened my garage and realized I had not touched my car in months. This was the end of summer, and [the car] was covered with a layer of dust. I had lawn tools piled on top of it. I looked at the car and just decided, “You know what, I’m going to go car-free.” I wanted to just see how long I could do it. I sold my car within a week.
▶︎ In 2011, I ended up moving to the Missouri side, and that was a revelation. I moved over to Waldo, and there were just a lot more people using bikes for transportation.
▶︎ On an average day, I walk between 8 and 12 miles if I’m just walking or bike between 30 and 60 miles. Those are just the averages. I once rode more than 9,000 miles on a bike over the course of a year.
▶︎ Car-free means car-free — no Uber or ridesharing. I’ve taken a bus once in the last 12 months. With large items, like furniture or a TV, I can have them delivered. Or I can use a trailer with my bike. For regular grocery shopping, I use panniers or a backpack.
▶︎ I don’t work in an office, but I usually work from coffee shops, and I have clients all over the area. I will sometimes go to Olathe for business meetings. I have a client in Lawrence, and I’ll go there for meetings, which takes some planning because that’s a day of riding out and back. I try to avoid going up north of the river because the routes are not great, but I can get anywhere I need to go.
▶︎ I’ve ridden in every type of weather, and there are no limits — with the exception of solid sheets of ice. You can’t ride on solid sheets of ice; you have to walk. I take a bus one or two times a year, usually when it’s really hot out and I have a business meeting I need to get to.
▶︎ People will see me walking in crappy weather and they’ll pull up and say, “Hey, you want a ride?” It’s Kansas City. People are very generous. And it’s like, “No thanks, I’m good!”
▶︎ I’ve been living car-free in Kansas City for 10 years now, and I’ve been off and on for over 20. It’s an extraordinary lifestyle. I wake up every day, and there are only two choices: Am I going to bike or am I going to walk?