7 Jan 2009
Five Months and Counting…. the realities of giving up driving
I often liken breaking our collective and individual addiction to oil as being like giving up any other addiction. My family has now passed its fifth month without a car, and the process of getting used to life with no car has been very similar to giving up drinking or smoking. I can’t for a moment say that it has been easy and hassle-free, but at the same time, we are still here, no-one has starved to death or died of boredom, life goes on, and we are, in many ways, the better for it. What I want to do here is not to give some rosy ‘it’s been so easy’ account of the process, but rather to give a warts’n’all account of where we have got to, in order to stimulate discussion and debate.
It maybe useful first of all to set the scene. We live about 2.5 miles from the centre of Totnes, and about the same distance from the different schools my kids go to. We live in a small cul-de-sac of houses, and there is a general store with a post office about half a mile from the house. We have 4 kids, all at school, and I work in Totnes. We had a car until just after the summer, when the car we were car sharing stopped being available.
We decided at that point that we would just see if we could make it for a week without having to buy a new one. This goes back to the alcoholic thing. If we were to decide to give up having a car for ever, that would be too much, we would have panicked and bought one. So we just decided to see if we can get to the end of each week without one, and when we get there, to look to do the same the following week.
My eldest kids walk or cycle to school, and the youngest two go on the bus, walk, or get lifts from passing parents of kids who go there too. I cycle to town and back, and if I need to go further afield I go on the train. Some things are easy to do, other things harder. So here, as a condensed overview, are the Transition Culture Pros and Cons of Not Having a Car.
- Obvious things like it saves you money, makes you less carbon intensive and is better all round for the environment and society (but you knew all that stuff already…)
- You no longer find yourself dashing about to places just because you can
- None of that messing around with tax renewals, spending hours on the phone to insurance company call centres and so on
- Walking and cycling mean you get to see more of the world around you, feel more connected, and have good space to think and form thoughts ( I find that cycling to town and back is when I get to think through talk I need to give or things I need to write)
- Children walk and cycle without moaning now, because they know that it is not going to make any difference!
- Some things become very difficult. In terms of children socialising after school, you become quite dependent on the parents of the other kids in terms of dropping kids home again. It also is very hard to do drops-offs and pickups of ‘stuff’, i.e. taking stuff to the recycling centre, picking up manure and other materials for the garden, stuff we need for the house and so on. What increasingly happens though is that car-owning friends let us know in advance when they are going to certain places and we get lifts with them
- Getting to the beach in the summer will be a great deal harder (although not impossible)
- Getting shopping back to the house can be difficulty, as we are about half an hour’s walk from the shops. Big shops tend to come home with my wife in a taxi or on the bus
- The weather. The cold is really more of an enemy than the rain. Rain is far less of a problem than many people think; over the whole of last year, there were probably only 3 times when I got soaked cycling in. Getting kids excited about walking to school when it is freezing is much harder. Luckily there is a country bus that goes from very near our house up to near the primary school
- Visiting friends in surrounding villages, which means we tend to invite people to visit us more, as they still do have cars. Clearly this is not a long-term solution, as it would not work if they also gave up their cars. It also means we tend to do more of the cooking, and hosting of get-togethers, which has its own pros and cons (although fortunately we rather enjoy doing that…)
I never really suffered from the Clarkson-esque male torment about not having a car. I don’t associate with my car, it has never been something I have become especially attached to. I hate driving, and I always have. A car has always been purely a way of getting from A to B, one which, in an ideal world, has a good stereo in it. I know for some, the idea of driving much less feels almost like a personal insult, an affront, a diminution of one’s masculinity, which would of course make giving up the car much harder. All those records about driving south on Highway whatever do very little for me. I consider myself lucky to have never suffered from that one myself.
At the end of the day, not having a car affects me less than it affects my wife. For me, the main impact is that I cycle everywhere, which I did mostly anyway, whereas my wlfe looks after more of the home matters, shopping, children etc, and even sourcing things for the building work/retrofitting we have been doing recently which can prove to be quite tricky, in fact some elements of it would have been nearly impossible were it not for one very helpful friend (with a car) who has been very generous with her time driving around collecting stuff and sourcing materials (thank you Nina!).
In times like this it is very useful to have some support, some words of wisdom. Mine came in the form of a book I have had for years, and which I blew the dust off recently, Anna Semlyen’s Cutting Your Car Use, a good, concise, practical guide for the aspiring car rejecter. In it she writes;
Planning is vital to success. Look at your lifestyle. Is it feasible to give the car up? Look at alternative ways to do things, including work, shopping, leisure and escort journeys. Do you have everything else required at your fingertips? An umbrella, waterproofs, alternative travel plans, good shoes, taxi numbers, public transport details, the relevant maps and car hire details etc.?
It is this aspect of being organised that is key to it, I think. When you have a car, the car gives one the freedom to be less organised. You can, on the spur of the moment, decide to go somewhere or do something having done absolutely no planning in advance for it. You can just pop to the shops because you need a pint of milk, nip to to Moors for a walk, pop to meet a friend for tea in the next town. It requires no advance preparation. Yet when you have no car, you need to think ahead.
One of the things that has been coming across time and again in the oral history interviews I have been doing over the last month or so, which have focused on the period from 1930 to 1960, has been the degree to which less energy availability, more localised economies, and the lack of personal transportation meant that people were far more organised in their daily lives. People had their days quite tightly timetabled, people outside towns only came in once every week or two, and needed to make sure their shopping was done in such a way that they didn’t need to ‘pop out’ for stuff.
Being organised doesn’t come easily to us, but we are having to learn. Doing a weekly big shop, planning meetings with friends, pick ups, drop offs and so on. It certainly makes life harder in some ways. Yet, as Richard Heinberg argues, the sooner we start learning to live without oil, the easier it will be when it simply isn’t an option. In my family’s attempt to cut our carbon by 9% a year, having already stopped flying, then the car is the next thing to drop.
The other great thing in Semlyen’s book is the section that invites you to calculate how much having a car actually costs you. We had sat and done something similar, thinking to buy a second-hand car large enough for my family might cost, say £4,000, which would last us 4 years, so let’s say £1000 a year for the car itself. To tax it for a year would cost £120, and to insure it, say £300. There’s the MOT too, I can’t remember the cost of that. Then say £1000 a year for fuel, £400 for repairs, that’s £1,820. That’s about £35-40 a week.
By our reckoning we spend about £8 a week on bus fares, which leaves us the possible use of 4 or 5 taxi rides a week if necessary (in reality we rarely take more than 2), and still staying below the £35. Of course all this changes if we take longer trips, but having a family railcard and buying tickets in advance helps greatly with that, and it is a much more relaxing way to travel with children than all being squished in a car.
The thing that will make it all much more effortless would be to be part of a car share scheme, something like this one. That would mean that on days when we fancied a trip to the beach, or needed to haul stuff around, we could. There are moves afoot to start one here, I think it would be a key factor in lots of others letting go of their cars. We are also still keeping the option open of going on a friend’s car insurance, in order to have access to occasional car use. So, for now, we are taking it a step at a time, but with each week that passes, the resolve grows stronger that actually we really don’t need a car after all, and that perhaps we might actually manage without one. It is still early days, but from here, life without a car doesn’t look too bad.
7 Jan 9:59am
Well done Rob (and especially Emma and the kids)! My sister uses Streetcar in London. It works really well – great use of hi-tec to improve sustainability. Not sure how viable it would be in smaller towns – but if it was government subsidised….
7 Jan 11:52am
Congratulations. I have never owned a car but do not have children, so I imagine that my “big shop” is significantly smaller than yours. I am able to pack most things into my pannier bags.
An accountant friend did some similar sums on his car and decided to give it up based purely on the finances. He is not particularly environmentally conscious.
I hope that more people will follow your lead and that the government quickly puts infrastructure in place to make a car-free existence more bearable.
7 Jan 12:05pm
Hard times…..however isn’t it a bit like giving up alcohol but drinking when it’s bought for you or buying sips off your friend’s drink? You’ve given up your car but you haven’t given up the car. Your carless existence is dependent on the availability of other people’s cars. It is easy for me to say because I live in an urban area but the general question still persists of whether we sometimes lean on other people’s energy use and lifestyle and so are not fully preparing ourselves for life beyond oil etc…I know I do.
I’m about to try and go cold turkey from today and not watch TV just because its on in my housemate’s room when I could be reading the Transition Town Handbook. I’m fighting the small battles right now.
Well done tho
7 Jan 12:08pm
Well done to you & your family Rob.
I’ve managed to radically cut my travel/ landscape photography miles in my little blue camper van by car sharing on business trips with Linda (my partner).
In fact, I’ve cut the trips so much that the van front brake discs have gone rusty!
Hopefully our food miles will be far less this year cuz our new years resolution is to allow ourselves a maximum of 100 meat days in 2009 & we’ll be growing much more homegrown veg (less shopping trips).
Giving up the car altogether would be difficult for us right now; I think we’d need to plan much further ahead than we find ourselves right now – it’s good to have an insight though, and I like the ‘ take it a week at a time’ idea.
Thanks for the Streetcar link Tom.
Do you know of any similar schemes with electric vehicles?
um, that is assuming that an electric vehicle would be more eco?
7 Jan 12:58pm
One way round the heavy object transportation is a bike trailer.
You can get free plans how to build one here:
Another idea is a bike trailer co-op
7 Jan 1:10pm
For those short distance trips where you need to lug stuff around (especially for people in towns/cities), I’d really recommend getting hold of a bike trailer.
I have a pretty unique and inordinately large one that I trust with up to 100kg or so, which means I only need a vehicle a couple of times a year for really bulky stuff (there’s a great long-running car pool in Leicester that covers that).
It’s great for changing people’s expectations of what you might need a vehicle for though. For example, when we did a Transition stall at a community festival last summer, i had the great pleasure at the end of the day of packing up our hefty stall (gazebo, fold-up tables and chairs, display boards and a box of other gubbins) into my trailer and cycling off. Made me wonder how many years it’ll be ’til we’re not the only ones arriving to do stalls by bike…
7 Jan 1:18pm
Rob – very laudable. I don’t see the driving or owning of the car as being the problem, so long as we can keep it going for a long time and its eight years old now and has another eight left if we keep the miles down, rather for me its the through-put: how much fossil fuel are we using. We’re getting this down for non-work travel (from 15,000 miles/year)by:
Using recycled chip fat about 90% of the time (not long term but we’re in transition!);
Adopting an “Is your journey really necessary” frame of mind;
Using public transport, walking and cycling;
Making a bike trailer to replace panniers for heavy shopping;
Abandoning the mega-supermarket shop by breaking down shopping to little and often;
Educating the kids.
Travel to work is a different problem that requires moving jobs (painful 50 mile round trip) – very hard to move jobs from a City to a small town – even worse now. So far thoughts are around:
Local government, NHS, civil service etc offering a job swap scheme to move people near to home! People passing each other on the roads to do the same or simlar jobs in opposite locations! Big organisations have some mad travel to work patterns.
Negotiating some home-working.
Lift sharing – works 95% of the time for me.
7 Jan 1:20pm
Ours failed MOT 4 years ago now. I think we’ve come across the same pro’s and con’s. The advantage of doing it pre-kids is that we could plan nursery (and hopefully school when we get to that) to be on route to work – with the bike trailer. Seeing more bike trailers round Exeter now which means you get stared at less – more comments like this mornings “that’s a good idea!”
Getting to gear to gigs is an issue – I can just about do local gigs and we car share for further away.
We are in the car club in Exeter which is always the backstop: http://www.co-cars.co.uk/
7 Jan 2:32pm
Good work on the no-car front, Rob, but having 4 kids ain’t really sustainable – unless 2 of them aren’t biologically your own or unless 3 of them are triplets.
7 Jan 4:04pm
It may be life without “a” car, but it’s not life without “the” car is it!
You are still reliant on the goodwill of others who own cars.
7 Jan 4:19pm
True; and it’s also life without “a lot” of car!
7 Jan 6:33pm
I used to have this wonderful old Bedford Dormobile Camper, exactly like this one http://www.dormobile.org.uk/Images/caporthole.jpg but in red and white, built in 1958 (it was 2 years older than me!) that I owned for 10 years, after buying it off Jenny from Sunrise Screenprint who does my teeshirt printing. She’d previously used it for many years for travelling around the festival circuit where she ran stalls, etc, and before that it had been stored in a garage since goodness knows when, but I did find a couple of 1970s tax discs when clearing it out. It was great to drive around, a real museum piece with real character, and children used to point and laugh when I stopped at traffic lights. I was also rubbish at maintaining it, despite the idea that one day I would ‘do it up’ and teach myself ‘basic motor mechanic skills’, although i managed to even f**k up changing the spark plugs and had to call in a grown-up to help me out. I was thinking of applying to have SSSI status conferred upon it due to the fine collection of rare mosses growing in the window seals. Eventually though it became a burden in my life, as I was always worrying about MOTs, insurance (not tax though as it was old enough to be exempt!!) and I was hardly using it apart from taking things up and down the allotment. In fact I put 10 quids worth of petrol in at Xmas 1999 and still had a quarter of a tank in May 2000. Although I was very attached to it, when I finally got rid of it it felt like a real burden had been lifted, and a source of stress in my life removed and have never regretted it. Generally we get by now using bikes, with a trailer for small loads, public transport, the odd taxi, very occasional loans or lifts from friends, and on 3 occasions hiring cars for family holidays. I do however miss our local LETS scheme as that was always good for accessing a car if ever one was needed, and it would be great if some kind of car share scheme could be set up around here, maybe a longer term project for transition westcliff when we get a transport subgroup up and running (hey, I can dream can’t I???)
PS. Last year I got an email from Sunrise Jenny, she’d seen a photo of ‘our’ van (the actual one!) in The Sunday Times accompanying some article about the history of camping or something, it was great to see it restored to its former glory, obviously looked after and cared for somebody with the time, inclination and skills to maintain it, and still in use after 50 years!!
7 Jan 9:17pm
Graham – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Share_taxi
looks interesting if you’ve not found it. Pat Murphy in Plan C talks about the Smart Jitney which looks interesting http://www.communitysolution.org/rideshare.html, like the man says we’ve lots of roads and cars that we could use more co-operatively and cut down on a lot of fossil fuel through-put.
7 Jan 11:07pm
Rob – I was very pleased to find your blog.
I would recommend you to read the AtoB magazine which advocates a (mostly) car free lifestyle.
AtoB is a small bi monthly publication produced by David and Jane Henshaw in Dorchester, specialising in folding Bikes (majoring on Brompton!) and electric bikes. Their website (www.atob.org.uk/)gives plenty of information on bikes available on the market and their practical use.
The magazine is fiercely independent and not afraid to poke fun at industry figures…tho they have a heavy Brompton bias.
I have written and sent an article for the magazine about transition and its relevence to AtoB readers but have not had a reply…. I think I need to work on them some more!
Meanwhile…good luck with the car free life style -I cycled up the hill out of Totnes (on a Brompton!) to your village last autumn to go to a French dance event in the village hall-it nearly killed me!
Transition Haddenham/Thame and District
8 Jan 2:43am
Congratulations! I got rid of my car last May, and I figure the US$9/month senior bus pass is a great financial relief and worth any inconvenience. I did keep my cell phone so I can call for a taxi if necessary (if I were to buy entirely too much stuff or go to something in the evening). But I haven’t driven since last May and keep telling myself I must rent a car, not only to do misc. errands but so I don’t get too rusty about driving–keep one foot in the present while preparing for the future. Maybe the car co-ops will expand to new places. Anyway, enjoy the fresh air!
8 Jan 5:19am
I put on a Car-Free Conclave last Saturday. It wasn’t too well publicized, so only six people showed up. I thought we might wrap up at 10:40, but we talked from 10 am to 1 pm– sharing ideas on how to improve things, telling war stories about walking without sidewalks and bus problems.
While this wasn’t part of a Transition Initiative, it was definitely influenced by this website.
8 Jan 6:04am
Thanks for this wonderful account. I am surrendering my vehicle in the coming weeks and while I look forward to rediscovering my freedom, I am a little apprehensive mostly because I realize just how much my life has been structured to driving. I look forward to reflecting back on this next year.
8 Jan 10:27am
I suppose we can all remember a time when learning to drive and getting your own car was considered almost as one of the rites of passage in the western world. It still is to a large extent among those who don’t know about peak oil (ie quite a lot of people!) I can certainly remember a time when an adult who didn’t drive was looked upon as a bit of an oddity.
At the time I fell for it like everyone else. I can remember the jubilation I felt on passing my driving test and how wonderful it felt to buy my first old banger with the small pot of money my grandad left me when he died.
The sad thing is that I was once a really seasoned and fit cyclist. I always cycled to school and continued cycling into my twenties. It was only once I hit my late twenties that the car addiction set in. Now it’s almost with envy that I look at people cycling round Bristol, all firm thighs and tight buttocks. I bought myself a bike a while back, and I always feel really happy once I’m actually out on it, but as yet I haven’t quite got round to using it regularly enough, and still find myself making excuses as to why it’s ok to use the car on this or that occasion. (Addict behaviour!)
As I have been active in the Transition movement in Bristol for a while now, this makes me feel a bit of a hypocrite, like someone championing alcoholics anonymous but swigging from bottles of spirit hidden under the sink when nobody is looking.
One thing I have done which means I use the car less is to stop using big supermarkets for a weekly shop. I have found that by boycotting the big four supermarkets and using my local grocers little and often I can no longer use the excuse about needing the car for big weekly shops.
This year I am going to use my bike more. I’ve never owned an umbrella and haven’t had a decent raincoat in years, but I’ve just bought a great raincoat in my local charity shop so now I can walk more as well as cycle.
8 Jan 1:32pm
Thanks for this Rob – I gave mine up about 3 years ago, like you with the intention of seeing how it went and maybe replacing it eventually. I haven’t looked back, and can’t now imagine that I’ll ever want a whole one of my own again. I save up all the things that I just can’t do without the car (visiting friends in remote areas and trips to the garden centre mostly)and about 3 times a year hire a car for the weekend. I usually find that I can’t wait to take it back (specially this last time after spending 2 hours gridlocked in a carpark, doing something I could have perfectly well done on the bike). I don’t give myself a hard time about this occasional dependence on ‘the car’ as for me it’s just about doing the best I can, not trying to be perfect.
8 Jan 2:17pm
Way to go Rob and Family! I gave up my car about 3 years ago, and like some comments above, I’ve never looked back! On those rare moments that I REALLY need a car, I do have a membership to a carshare/club here in Austin, TX. Check it out: http://www.austincarshare.org/
I also find it really handy to have a bike trailer to hook up to the bike for the times I need to haul stuff like books, bulk food items, my cats to the vet, etc. Just like Andi said about using the car available for hire, I too regret it sometimes while going nowhere in gridlock while people on BIKES zoom past me without a care in the world! Keep up the great work writing for this site and publishing such a helpful, well written book “The Transition Handbook”! Still having trouble putting the book down, as I’ve read about half way through.
8 Jan 3:06pm
Although I can drive and had a car for a few years, when my job moved onto one site, I started to commute by public transport. When it got to the point when I had to take the car out for a ride every few weeks just to keep it going, having had the brakes siezed up twice, I got rid.
My local shops and facilities are adequate and in walking distance. I also have access to a small town centre and shops from work and pass through the city centre twice a day. I could join the local car club for big items. My big challenge is the tonne of CO2 the commuting generates.
I travel successfully to visit people around the country by public transport, but there are some areas where this is difficult.
The first hurdle is my hosts’ lack of knowledge. For example, the small market town I visited recently is served by four buses a day that link with the West Coast main rail line but my host had no idea even though the bus-stop could be seen from the front door.
The second problem is the paucity of transport outside major cities and towns. When I travel to Totnes I can get to the nearest town by bus in the daytime on weekdays, but I am still nearly 5 miles from my family, along very tight, windy and sometimes steep country roads. I could not get the bike from the train to the local town on the bus even if I had one. There is one bus a week from the town which stops half a mile from their home.
Another more local rural family member is more accessible but since the revised European legislation last year, I have to leave her by 4.20pm as the later bus home has been withdrawn. However the adjecent dale has no bus service unless one of the local children is of secondary school age.
Tesco’s home delivery (with free vouchers) can take care of bulk shopping for those living in these areas, but they may have no shop within 5 miles from which to buy perishable goods.
A visit to the doctor by bus means finding somewhere to go whilst they wait for the bus back in two/three hours time, and another visit of equal length two days later to pick up the prescription. Not fun if you are poorly and the weather is bad.
There are usually no other kids with whom the parents can share drop-offs and pick-ups if their teenager is going to a party or the youth-club, or attends an out of school activity and no public transport option either.
In those areas where public tranport exists, early and late buses are often timed for secondary school children and cease to operate in school holidays, making it impossible to manage without access to a car part of the year.
We rely on people in these areas to grow much of our food but make it practically impossible for them to live there without a car.
8 Jan 9:00pm
In response to RS putting a bike on the bus – get a folding bike. My Brompton is British made from mainly European components and goes with me everywhere. I take great delight in pedalling up to a bus stop, folding the bike up, getting on the bus with it and just watching the expression on people’s faces. It makes my day everytime. As for carrying luggage, the Brompton is a real pack-horse. Put a trailer on the back and you can almost manage a substantial shop. There are folding trailers but they are a little more difficult on the bus, although I have done it.
9 Jan 1:46pm
Sensible move Rob!
I was a car obsessive when I was in my teens and completed an OND in Automobile Engineering in 1980. However, after a life changing holiday in 1985 I became much less enamoured of cars and by 2003 personal efforts to reduce my CO2 meant that for me it had to go. I held on, loosening my grip for a while but it was carrying two bags of HEAVY shopping from my local store that kept the car outside the house. Then one day I found the solution – a shopping trolley. Not a square tartan one of course, but a super chic French brightly coloured trolley. Sorted, and the car was gone.
I live in Brighton and can’t imagine why most people here would need a car – there are such good bus and train links and good (but nowhere near good enough) cycling facilities. I’ve toyed with joining a car club but still never find that I need one enough to even do that.
Now I tend to see a car as a bottomless financial pit into which you throw money and as a side-effect it carries you around. I’m sure in time the adaption will become easier – after all it’s invariably the mental readjustment that’s the most difficult part.
9 Jan 4:31pm
Like the “mollycule theory” in Flann O’Brien’s “The Dalkey Archive”, I think the bumpy Dublin roads have facilitated an exchange of molecules between me and my bike so that it’s practically family at this stage and it remains the fastest, cheapest, friendliest and most sustainable way around the city.
But hats off to anyone with a family who, especially in the countryside, decides to go car free.
As for travelling by the charity of other car users – that’s a fair exchange for reducing their carbon footprint 🙂
9 Jan 6:34pm
Ok. I have a challenge for you.
Rob- you have been exceptionally successful in formulating the Transition Movement- in figuring out how to get people to do difficult things together. Exceptionally. Really. Nobelish. 🙂
NOW- here is another right-in-front of you and highly significant task.
Figure out- from scratch, please- how you could share the ownership and use of a vehicle with some of your neighbors in your cul-de-sac.
Easy? Heck no. But if anybody could do it- that would be you. And what a fantastic example and model that would be.
Everybody else here- chime in, and let’s get him to do this. Heck he’s got all that spare time, from not owning a car, right?
One hint to start with- you probably couldn’t share a pre-existing car- too many ownership feelings. More likely; make the agreement, then buy the car together. I think.
10 Jan 12:46pm
I don’t drive anymore at least not very far and not very often, but living in a small village that is 5 miles away from nearest town and having M.S. means that I get lifts from others everywhere I go. The fatigue makes it impossible on all but the very best days to consider the hour long journey into the nearest town by bus, do whatever I need to do and then wait for the bus back maybe two or three hours later. It is possible if you are fit and healthy, but very difficult for me, which makes me sad. We still own a car, not sure how the other half would do his work without it, but he is working on bringing his work closer to home, so that will help. We look at how to live without it and in the meantime use old veg oil to make biodiesel and are looking at a veg oil conversion. none of this is perfect or inspiring to hardened transitioners. Yes, I am still dependent on ‘the car’, but I also know that the amount of traveling I do is vastly diminished since M.S. and that to an extent mitigates ‘the’ car use. Heard about a website yesterday where you can go on holiday without leaving home, set up by a woman with M.E. Apparently on the link from the You and Yours web page. I haven’t checked it out yet, but the article led me to wondering how I can contribute more to my village and create a feeling of ‘community’. My idea for a community garden has been rejected recently, but I am working on what next. In the meantime we grow as much of our food as possible, wheel the manure in the wheelbarrow from the stable down the road and share some surplus produce, helped my sister get going on her allotment and have a drawn plan for a basic herbal medicine garden!! When I lived in town I never owned a car and did all my traveling by bus,train, bike and shanks pony and when we moved here I used to cycle into town to go to the library to go swimming and do bits of shopping and still would if I were physically capable of it. we can all only do what we can do. There is a couple down the road from me who recently have had to take to walking and public transport in a big way, because neither of them are able to drive due to health problems. They look really happy stomping down the road with their rucksacks on their backs!! But are still happy to accept lifts when they are offered! I agree the point is we are in transition and not everything we need is necessarily available in our locale and so we have to work on that as we go. well done Rob for putting into practice what you preach and inspiring us all to at least ‘think’ about the issues.
11 Jan 11:15am
I got rid of my car in 2003. I moved house into the center of Edinburgh from the Suburbs, bought a big rucksac for big shopping and hired vans when I needed to shift big stuff. I had been making an effort to cut private mileage for a couple of years before that, using bikes on trains for mountain biking expeditions etc. Using public transport for mountain expeditions means you can do point to point adventures rather than going round in circles every time. I also had some crazy road rage experiences which convinced me that I just did not want to be a part of the whole speed/conflict/anger cycle. (could cars be powered from anger?) Central Edinburgh is very walkable, and parking scarce so it all made sense. I think it is better to point out the advantages of car free living rather than dwelling on the negatives.
I have since moved to rural Aberdeenshire, 5 miles from the local market town of Turriff. Its a low rainfall area here which makes things alot easier. I use supermarket home delivery (free with orders over £25), there is a fishmonger who tours the lanes, and a basic bus service for when I can’t be bothered to cycle. I have a bike trailer which takes up to 100kg for building materials and sacks of spuds. Builders merchants deliver big stuff which saves my backbone. If I want to pick up someone from the bus stop (2 miles) I take my brompton folder in the trailer to the stop, and we can cycle home together, or we we can walk with their luggage in the trailer. We’ve no kids to deal with. I have a friend who uses his tandem to pick up and drop off kids.
13 Jan 11:17am
My attachment to both car and home have changed in recent years, not primarily through concerns about environment or oil, but as side effects of a living experiment of “living in the now”. It feels like my life is becoming more in synch with greater systems, like the planet, and I wonder whether this might offer an alternative approach to modelling pathology? I have started to feel that the planet is a major organising system, which if you let yourself be part of more, leads to more compatible behaviours as a side effect?
13 Jan 6:06pm
In reply to the challenge from Greenpa – how to arrange a shared car amongst all the neighbours – the answer is already in the thread in Iain Baines’ reply. There is already a fast growing number of ‘car club’ cars, which are in effect shared by all the members, but the hassle of maintaining them, running bookings, insuring them, setting rules (and inflicting penalties on those who break them) is done by the company that runs the club. This means that you don’t have to risk falling out with your neighbours. We went nearly car free in 2006 and use car club eg when I needed to visit nearby town to talk about Transition (still own a 1966 triumph vitesse which is more of a pet than a car, we drive it maybe 50 miles a year, selling it wouldnt really alter our footprint)
14 Jan 4:19pm
Angela Elizabeth- you make good points; I like your answer; as one solution.
But I’d still love to have Rob tackle it anew; he has a skill. I just have this fantasy of finding a path for neighbors to share this resource – that doesn’t include a profit for some corporation. Risky, troublesome, time consuming- sure. But done Transitionwise- it might actually be a force to bring neighbors closer. At least in my dreams.