This is my fifth annual post about being car-free since 1/25/2005. Technically I’m car-light, since I drove borrowed cars for a job for part of last summer also visited relatives over the holidays. On the other hand, I managed my best year ever combined and walking and biking – 5,633 miles.
I did that while on a bike that has 67% fewer gears and is 25% heavier steel (Sophie) than my old aluminum steed (Sookie). I’m no Greta Thunberg, but I do think reducing car use is a good thing. Not everyone can do it, but some people might be able to try it. That’s all I’m saying. Well, in this paragraph at least.
In case you’re just joining us, and should you be curious, links to my previous posts on the subject follow. The short version is someone smashed my car and a combination of factors led me to not get another one. Instead I became the bicycling fool (but not a foolish cyclist) that I am.
One thing I don’t do which would make my life easier is take the bus more, especially in hot, cold, wet or windy weather. If I don’t feel up to biking somewhere or when I need to show up looking decent, I tend to not go. So that’s one improvement I could make. If a job requires a car, I won’t be doing that job. But if there’s a bus, I can throw my bike on the bus rack and ride home later.
The car-free/light life is not for everyone. Particularly if you live in cold climates, where the roads just aren’t safe for cycling, and when you have to drive around as part of your job. I do think most office workers who are able-bodied and live in a place with adequate bike infrastructure could consider commuting to work by bicycle. Even one day a week would get you some exercise, reduce traffic by one car, and I expect you’d have a least a little fun biking. September 22 is international car-free day, so why not put that on your calendar now?
A major reason for reducing your car usage is that climate change is real, folks – vocal minority of science deniers aside (if you’re one of them, please save your comments for the flat earth society). Cycling is one way to reduce pollution. So if you can, do it. But again I claim no moral superiority for it; part of the reason I don’t have a car is that I can’t afford the $8,000 a year that AAA says you need to maintain one in the US.
While I do feel good about it, I also know that my solitary contribution to the Earth’s environment is just that – one person’s effort. Joining together with others is how societies change and evolve. If the cost of gasoline hits $10 per gallon, I’d wager we’ll see bike shops running out of inventory because of all the people who suddenly remember how to ride a bike.
On Saturday, the actual anniversary of being 15 years car-free/light, occasional bike rider Saurabh again claimed that self-driving cars are coming very soon. That’s wishful thinking, because a quick reading of articles shows that the technology still has many glitches and is years away. Eventually the kinks will probably be worked out. He claims that the technology will make conditions even safer for cyclists. I hope he’s right, and we shall see.
Meanwhile, keep on riding, or maybe you’ll consider starting. Either way, feel free to share your thoughts below.
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