Transportation Liberation

Save the Planet, Save Money, and Save Your Sanity by Not Driving

Hybrid vehicles and bio-fuels may help, but they are not the solution. Solving the global warming problem will take dramatic action, and becoming car-free is an action with a lot of impact.

Saturday, September 22, is World Carfree Day, a day that people around the world are gathering to showcase how livable our cities would be without cars. It is also a day for each of us to reduce our dependence on cars (and trucks), and to take new steps toward becoming car-free.

The average car releases 20 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for each gallon of gasoline it burns. This adds up to dozens of tons annually from each car on the road.

Hybrid vehicles and bio-fuels may help, but they are not the solution. Solving the global warming problem will take dramatic action, and becoming car-free is an action with a lot of impact.

With fewer cars on the road, more highways and parking lots can become green space. And we can cut back on the obscene amounts of energy consumed to process steel and build our cars.

Along with saving the planet, being car-free saves money. Car payments, insurance bills, parking tickets, and registration fees can be a thing of the past. The price of gas can be a curiosity, rather than a variable in the monthly budget. Tax money would be better-spent if we didn’t need to keep building bigger highways, bridges and parking lots. And if we don’t need much oil, we should be able to get all we need from Texas… no need to deploy the military to protect an oil supply.

Driving is also expensive in terms of time. A typical commuter spends ten hours driving each week. This is time we don’t get paid for. Instead, we could be getting fresh air and exercise, socially interacting with our fellow travelers, reading, or hanging out at home. But we’re driving, and that makes us irritable. The road rage epidemic is a symptom of how stressful driving can be.

So by becoming car-free, you can save the environment, save money, and save your sanity. But how can you get there? Everyone will find a different path to becoming car-free. What we’ll do is recall the path we found ourselves.

We had each experienced the expense and stress of car-dependence, so when we chose our home we made a conscious decision to live where driving is optional. Yet for many years we kept our car for the occasional road trip (four or five times per year). But when we got one insurance bill too many, we calculated that it would be cheaper to rent a car when we needed, so we sold our car.

It has been four years since we’ve owned a motorized vehicle, but we’ve never felt deprived of mobility. Everything we need is within walking distance. We can escape the city on the state bike trails. Amtrak works well for longer trips, and we’ll drive a rental car a few times each year. In retrospect, owning a car was a tremendous burden.

To ease your own burden, consider driving less often. Consolidate errands into fewer trips. Try walking or bicycling for short trips. Learn how to use your public transit system. Move closer to where you work and shop. The more you reduce dependence on your car, the closer you get to transportation liberation.

The World Carfree Network has many visions of a car-free society, and a wealth of ideas on bringing those visions to reality. More information on World Carfree Day can be found here.

One thought on “Transportation Liberation

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