Many Willamette students will agree that Salem is a small, cozy city full of hidden gems. From The Governor’s Cup and the Salem Center, to Riverfront Park and Silver Falls, there are many distractions around the city for all types of students.
However, some attractions may be more accessible to students depending on what modes of transportation they have access to. Only some students have a car on campus, and others are reliant on biking, scootering, walking, skateboarding or asking their friends for rides. Some may call services such as Uber or Lyft for transportation. With so many alternative options, this brings up the question of whether having a car is worth it.
Nyrie Mietzke (’20) drove her car to campus from Washington for this school year and has found it to be a great convenience for running errands and traveling to locations in the outskirts of town.
“Sometimes the parking can be tricky, but for me it is worth it.” Mietzke said. “I drive about three to four times a week, sometimes more. Most of the places I go to you could probably get to by bus, but I find getting to work and to my favorite grocery stores is far more convenient with a car. The best part about having a car is the freedom of being able to go on adventures or easily and quickly run errands. Also, I get to drive my friends around. I went on a couple day trips to Portland and have driven to Washington to visit family.”
Mietzke, while enjoying the benefits of having a car here on campus, still finds the city to be extraordinarily accessible to students who don’t have a car.
Callia Stylianou (’21) has enjoyed walking around Salem while still having the option to commute with her roommate.
“I definitely think downtown Salem is accessible without a car,” Stylianou said. “The bus system is pretty reliable as well. My favorite place to walk to is Riverfront Park — it’s beautiful and doesn’t feel like you’re downtown. It’s nice to be able to walk to a park without paying for gas or worrying about parking.”
Helena Middleton (’21) has found an alternate way to explore Salem: by her bright green razor scooter. According to Middleton, a trip to Montag for ice cream can take just 30 seconds from her room via scooter.
“Having a scooter on campus is the height of luxury,” Middleton said. “You can speed past your classmates as they look on in jealousy, and its speed allows you to sleep in a few minutes later before class. There is no end to the joy of a scooter on campus. Just don’t trip and die while riding at night.”
Other than riding across campus, Middleton has made frequent trips to Safeway via scooter. She enjoys exploring nearby parks on her rides as well.
With so many alternative options to driving, having a car on campus may not be a necessity for everyone. However, for students seeking a job in another city or wanting to go on weekend trips, having a car can be a great convenience. When returning for the 2019-2020 school year, it will be important to consider whether the convenience of having a car on campus is worth the cost.