Carefree life, car free day
We don’t NEED a car do we? Or do we?
After leaving my last job, my wife and I were forced to examine our family budgets in an attempt to save some money.
Upon realising that we wouldn’t save much on biscuits or bus fares, we decided to go big and to try out life without a car. It seemed like one luxury we simply didn’t need. We live near the city centre and most of our life is contained within our local area – the daily school-run, the weekly shop, the ‘infrequent’ nights at the local (for which I wouldn’t use the car anyway). Extended family and friends all seem to live fairly locally or abroad.
The savings would easily justify train journeys when necessary, the odd weekend car-hire or taxis here and there.
Eighteen months on and I’m sure you are bursting to know how it’s going.
Okay, I admit the weekly shop can be a bit of a slog by bike (please please can my second favourite German supermarket hurry up and move into my neighbourhood) and there are times I wish we could spontaneously jump in the car and head down the coast (I still can’t justify a taxi for that regardless of initial bravado).
But generally this has been an amazing experience. I love my cycle commute and it’s great knowing there are health and fitness benefits too. As for those that say they don’t want to turn up for work dishevelled, alas I no longer have a decent hair-style to ruin (lucky me) and can’t go fast enough to get sweaty.
The kids have adapted without fuss – neither were great car passengers but both love the train and are developing a strong sense of road safety on their bikes. We have as many days out as we used to as a family but the journey is now much more a part of the day than it used to be.
I should say that we made a family decision based on our circumstances. We’d never have contemplated going car-free had we needed wheels for work, for school or for other family reasons and it is entirely possible that we’ll have a car again in the future as circumstances change and the kids become teenagers in need of an in-house taxi service. Regardless, it’s the little car journeys I’ll try to avoid in the future: the ones where I’ve ended up grumpy in gridlock when I should have walked or jumped on the bike and still made it to my destination more quickly. I know differently now.
As a final point, it’s World Car Free Day today – an initiative which aims to encourage the public to consider using the car less than we do currently. It’s worth a thought.