Monday, July 24, 2006

Car-Free Life? Can We do it?

Brace yourself for more existential angst. I took the car in for an oil change. AN OIL CHANGE. Oh, and while you have it, I need to drive it a lot in the coming weeks, so please make sure I'm not going to die somewhere between here and Nowheresville, Alabama. $2500 later, we have ... something that I don't know what it is. Something to do with the wheel and something to do with emissions.

Naturally, this started us down the path of questioning whether or not we could be a car-free family again. The long-suffering spouse could do it tomorrow and not feel any pain or regret at all. In fact, he'd be thrilled. I would be less thrilled. This is a town with tragically limited public transportation within the city and essentially no public transportation to surrounding towns. Right now, I'm very willing to ride my bike, but this town is also bloody cold and snowy and windy in the winter. Bike-riding is a LOT less attractive then.

And things do arise. See the previous post. Yes, I CAN ride my bike to Beloit and back in one day. But it greatly increases the time and energy that trips like that one take. And, for many and varied professional reasons, the long-suffering spouse and I will be living in separate towns, states, and possibly continents next year. So maybe this isn't the best year to ditch the car.

But I did go this far. In an effort to live simply with the earth and to reduce our dependence on fossil-fuels and our complicity with the car-culture, I'm willing to start off with one car-free day a week. It will just mean that errands requiring the car get consolidated into one or two days, but that's more efficient in any case. Maybe the goal is that eventually we could be car-free. Maybe. As the math-guy worked out, we could rent a car almost as frequently as once a week for the errands and crises that arise and still save money over owning our own car.

But I'm not going there yet. I am committed to one car-free day a week. That's going to be hard enough!


MegT said...

Well,OK but, what you are talking about is cutting back on fossil do that you don't have to be without a car. You could buy a hybrid or you could convert your current car to use alternate energy. My son is at MIT this summer at a Vehicle Design Conference. His team is designing and fabricating a biofuel car (also cfr yesterday's NYTimes Auto section where someone created a car to run on biofuel and called it a Volksvegan!) And, as you point out, it takes a LOT of time and energy to do without a car. Isn't your time spent more productively working for a bigger change than your own car?

Also, apologies for a non sequitur here, but as for reading, have you tried The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.Actually this ties in with your message from yesterday. It's a novel about an autistic boy, and/or have you read Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven B. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. It is a bestseller and according to people around here the econ guy is on his way to a Nobel Prize for his theories. I will reserve my comment until I find out whether you have read it.

Lisa :-] said...

I had to buy a big-ass diesel truck for my business. I felt really bad about it, until I found out about bio-diesel. Now I drive a big-ass french-fry-mobile (it reall does smell like something cooking when it runs.) It still a little bit ore expensive than regular diesel, but it gives me quite the rush to realize what I am NOT supporting by not buying gasoline...

Andrea Rusin said...

OK, I thought bio-diesel was a pie in the sky sort of thing that real people didn't do. I guess I need to get with the program, huh?