In my fourth annual post about living without a car, 14 Years Not a Slave to Cars, I talked about the obvious benefits of riding a bike and not having a car. Of course there’s helping the environment, getting exercise and Vitamin D, and getting to write blog posts that are read and celebrated by 10’s of people around the world. But there are downsides, too. Let’s talk about it!
NOTE 1: If you clicked on, read or liked my Southern Walnut Creek post, please feel free to do so again. I accidentally duplicated it so removed the post.
NOTE 2: You may have seen that sometimes I’m scheduling posts for early on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday. Normally I post late Monday, Wednesday or Friday. But I think I may be losing a few potential viewers the latter way, so I’m trying the former. What are your thoughts about the schedule? Please let me know in a comment.
Prose & Kahns (Pros & Cons)
Of course, limited mobility is at the top of the list when you can’t hop in a motorized vehicle that goes six to 10 times faster most people go on a bicycle. Overnight I took care of some friends’ cats, and had their car to use. Since I had that faster option, and it was raining and thunderstorming again, I took the opportunity to go to an early morning laboratory test. Normally I’d have to bike there and even though it’s only five miles, to do so in the rain is daunting. There are also places I just never go and people I never see on a bike, so that’s a downside for sure. Although if I was the sort of person who rented cars, I could overcome that. But I don’t. Anyway, score that one for cars.
Going places with people ain’t easy by bicycle. That is, unless you have a tandem bike that you and your beloved travel as one together. If that’s true for you, whoop-dee-dooh! But tandems are kinda silly looking. In a car, no big whoop. So until someone invents and easier and more appealing way for bicyclists to travel together, cars win. Of course, people can and do ride their own separate bikes next to each other all the time.
I just referred to it, but it deserves its own section: protection from the weather. Not just rain, but sleet, winds, hail, heat, tornados, hurricanes, lightning, and Lady Gaga. (Not really, but I hear she’s a force of nature, so I thought it’d be fun to include her.) When driving to the clinic for my blood test (for which I did NOT study), I was comfortably warm and dry, ensconced in the steel carcass of the automobile. While a car won’t protect you from flooding, like the idiots who routinely drive into rising waters, tornados (especially the shark kind) or other strong weather, it does offer alot more than rain gear. Try appearing to a job looking professional when it’s raining cats and dogs. Not likely. So again, the cars have it.
Carrying schtuff is a big deal on a bike. If you have panniers (those bags that hand on racks on the side), a basket, or even a trailer, you can get more than a backpack, but you’re still limited by whatever weight your legs can pull. Cars and trucks are made for transporting all kinds of stuff with ease. Whenever I need something heavy transported, I have to bug friends to help. That’s why I never shop at Costco; how the heck am I getting 48 rolls of toilet paper home on a two-wheeler? If I do make a bigger purchase, I have to have it delivered or again, bother a friend. Even things like dry cleaning, large bags of ice, or my favorite example — watermelon — are just not easy to move on a bike.
There may be other reasons, but for purposes of this list, the last one that comes to mind is that little matter of having a special place to do stuff. There are all kinds of things people do in cars besides drive them: take naps, eat snacks, make phone calls, do office work, make babies, etc. Bikes simply aren’t made for any of that, save maybe unless you have a recumbent for a nap. Having a refuge away from the office, or traffic, spouse, whatever, can be a very nice thing to have as an option sometimes. Cars 1, bikes 0.
But all said, I’m still not ready to trade in my bike for a car, because of the cost, pollution, isolation, increased risk of death or injury, and hating to be stuck in traffic. Someday I may be forced to. But until then, if a car is available to do some errands in 1/6 the time it would take by bike, I’ll accept. Don’t judge me, I’m doing my best for Mother Nature, and she’s pretty proud of me. You should be too, and of yourself, if you’re also car-free! Even if you’re car-lite, good job for reducing your combustible engine use some.
Questions to ponder:
- Are you car-free?
- If so, what’s hard for you about it?
- If not, what keeps you from trying it?
- What other downsides can you think of to not owning a car?
- Do the pros outweight the cons?
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