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OT: Have you ever tried not using a car for a period of time?

Posted by on Apr. 22, 2012 at 1:02 PM
  • 16 Replies

An Earth Day Challenge That Also Makes My Butt Smaller? Yes, Please!

Last week, in honor of Earth Day (and because I want to lose 10-15 pounds), I decided to challenge myself to a few days without my car. Living right outside of Boston, Massachusetts in a very large city that is also very bike friendly, I knew how I could do it. There are bike lanes everywhere, signs and a bike store on every other corner, it seems.

When my husband and I were first married, I was an avid cyclist who rode my bike almost everywhere. I commuted to work by bike in snow, ice, high winds and every kind of weather condition a person can imagine. But once my kids came along all that stopped.

Simply put: It seemed impossible.

Of course, it isn't. One of my good friends is almost completely car-free with her two children and my daughter's two best school friends both commute to school on their parents' bikes.

But for me, despite the unbelievably annoying burdens of car ownership in the city (constant taxes, parking woes, parking tickets and fees), I was a driving kind of gal.

Still, a few years ago, I was lucky enough to receive a Chariot CX2 from the company and loved using it with my kids. We hemmed and hawed quite a bit over the safest way to travel with our kids, but through all our research the trailer kept coming up the winner. Since most bike accidents are related to the rider being doored or losing a tire or flipping in a ditch, kids would be less safe on the back of a bike. In the trailer they are protected by the cage and also low to the ground. Even if the bike falls (and it has), they are safe.

Of course, now that my children are 5 and 3.5 years old, pulling them is a whole other thing. One hundred pounds of baby is not easy. But that's another story.

 Day one of my experiment was an easy day. My husband had done all the pre-school runs (and he was not doing this experiment with me), so my only rides were to a doctor's appointment and out for drinks with friends.

Riding at night after so long in a car was weird and somewhat scary. But once I got over that, I realized I saved myself $15 for parking and had pretty much door to door service instead of wasting a half hour looking for a spot only to end up in the $15 lot anyway. Winning!

The next day was the first day of drop off and the first day I officially decided I can't be hauling the trailer in and out of my house every day. It needs to be stored outside. So I moved it to the trunk of my car and that is where it has been all week. Still not ideal, but better than fighting to get it out my door.

The kids were thrilled to go via bike. My butt was less thrilled. But it went well. Now we are on week two and I can officially say that biking has made my life a lot easier.

With gas prices as high as they are right now, the savings is actually noticeable. But it is more than that, too. I am getting an additional workout, burning calories instead of gas. It took me three days of experimenting with gears to get all the way up the super steep hill dragging 100 pounds of baby+trailer. When I finally did it, my daughter screamed: "you did it, mommy!" It was a proud moment I never would have had in a car. Of course, there were other moments, too. Going up another steep hill, I was standing up to pedal on my third big ride of the day (this one home from meeting friends at a park about five miles from our house. In the trailer, my kids were chanting: "Mommy has a big butt! Mommy has a big butt! Mommy has a big butt!!"

Thanks guys!

There were drawbacks, too. Cars do not notice bikes and even in a city as bike-friendly as mine, I got a lot of weird looks and attitude. But you know what? I was doing something healthy and they were guzzling gas, so who gets to be sanctimonious about this? I think I win that one.

I was lucky to have great weather for my challenge, but all in all, I finally got up the courage to do something I have been wanting to do for years. My guess is I will be biking more than driving for at least the foreseeable future. My wallet, my butt and the planet will all be grateful.

Have you ever tried not using a car for a period of time?


by on Apr. 22, 2012 at 1:02 PM
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by on Apr. 22, 2012 at 1:28 PM

 If I don't use a car I don't get to go any where because I live out in BFE & the closest anything is over 7 miles away!

by on Apr. 22, 2012 at 2:05 PM

We only have one car, so I'm usually stuck at home anyway, and we are 4 miles from the nearest town. I couldn't fit all my little kids in the bike trailer. I go to town once a week. That's enough for me.

by Jinx on Apr. 22, 2012 at 2:22 PM
I can't imagine doing it here. When I was 22 and lived in Oregon I rode all over the place. I would love to ride more here but everything except church is several miles away.
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by on Apr. 22, 2012 at 3:38 PM

Quoting usmom3:

 If I don't use a car I don't get to go any where because I live out in BFE & the closest anything is over 7 miles away!

I here you there!  We're 10 miles out!  But we don't do any unnecessary driving like going to the city.  Most people who live in rural kansas have no thoughts to driving 1.5 hrs away several times a week.  That's the nearest walmart.  But, since we boycotted big business, we don't  need to go to the city anyway!

Mum of 4 boys 9,8,4 and 2

"Bless me, I couldn't get on at all without my flock of dear, noisy, naughty, harum-scarum little lads!!

                                                                                                    Louisa May Alcott in "Little Men"

by on Apr. 22, 2012 at 3:44 PM

Yes. While I lived in town I would take the bus anywhere I went walk, or carpool.

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by Jinx on Apr. 22, 2012 at 5:59 PM
DD and I rode our bikes to go shopping today. It was 6 miles round trip. Whew....HOt out too!
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by on Apr. 22, 2012 at 9:31 PM
I went without a car on and off for almost two months and it was hard! You never need it until you don't have it! Lol
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by on Apr. 22, 2012 at 9:43 PM

Out of the 5 years of homeschooling I have only been driving for the last 2 years, and out of these two years I have limited my driving.

Prior to getting a license I walked myself and the kids everywhere.  By the time the kids were two years old they could walk on foot form one city to the next, but as the years have passed and I had more children and less time we've walked less and less, driving is quicker.

by on Apr. 23, 2012 at 9:54 AM

 oh yes! i had my little red wagon, i would pull the kids with, we went without a car for about 6 years, good thing we grew our own food!

by Platinum Member on Apr. 23, 2012 at 10:50 AM

I live in the suburbs. We'd never get anywhere if I didn't drive. LOL We do like taking walks, though.

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