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Day 11 Frugal Living Challenge: Going ‘Car-lite’

February 23, 2012

Yes. This means what you think it might mean.

Sell a car.


Ride a bike.

For the eleventh day of the Frugal Living Challenge, Andrea of Frugally Sustainable entreats us to think about alternatives to driving our cars. Everywhere. She has an informative interview with Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens.

Andrea: In your opinion, how has our (American) love-affair with cars shaped our culture?
Tammy: I used to see cars in this way: they symbolized freedom and wealth. And that view was shaped by very sexy advertising messages. Advertising and consumer culture has created an illusion that everyone “needs” a car. However, in my experience owning a car saddled me with debt, constrained my life choices and hampered my health.”

That is so true! This is a huge challenge – to break away from our reliance on just one means of transportation. The interview continues to address questions like:

  • How do we get started?
  • What are the benefits?
  • How do you do this with kids?
  • How do you do this in the suburbs?
  • How can you do this with little to no public transportation?
  • How does going with one, smaller car set you on a course to financial freedom?

Daily Goal: Plan a time in the near future to do a tiny experiment: Keep your car parked in the garage and try going to your local grocery store through an alternative method (i.e. on foot, by bike, or by bus). Foot, bike or bus not an option? Plan a trip into town and coordinate a carpool with a friend or neighbor. Side note: If you take your bike,  it has a rack, a carrier, or a basket so you can bring your purchases home.

Me: We have made small trips on foot or on bike before to test this out, and I can answer some of these questions as well from my own personal experience. If you live in the city, you are set for almost immediate success- congratulations! If you live in the suburbs, well, not so much. All is not lost, it can be done in the ‘burbs, just on a smaller scale.

We live in the ‘burbs. We can make small trips to the drug store, to get hair cuts, donuts (when we feel extravagant), or even to the doctor. We are lucky to have a small shopping center about 3/4 of a mile from our home with sidewalks (it wasn’t always WITH sidewalks!) But that’s about it. We are still dependant on two cars. My husband commutes 45 minutes in the morning and an hour or more in the evening. The up-side is that both our cars are paid for, but the fuel costs are horrific. And no, we do not have monster trucks or other giant SUV’s just because we live in Texas.

Can you do this with kids? Maybe. We have a little girl who just turned five.  When we would try this with our daughter a couple of years ago, we put her in a chariot on the back of my bike and I pulled her. Now that she is bigger, she can ride her own bike. That presents its own different challenges. Part of our trek is on a very busy street, and although there are sidewalks, most drivers in this area are NOT used to pedestrians. So until she is a little bigger, we aren’t 100% comfortable having her ride her own bike on those errands. Walking makes it a little slower, but we feel a little safer. Safety is always our primary concern with our daughter.

We see the benefits of extra exercise and less fuel dependence when we make these on-foot errands. It’s different- and very liberating. The downside is that there is little public transportation near us. Having children makes it more challenging and the frequency of these car-lite trips is sporadic. It’s good, but in the ‘burbs, we have a loooooong way to go.


One Comment leave one →
  1. February 26, 2012 6:24 am

    This is the most difficult one for me. We live in a rural area with no public transport. Walking would take all day. Instead, I try to go out as little as possible and do all my errands at once. But pulling that bike out to go to the garden would be perfect. I have no excuse for that one.
    Let me know how you do!

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