For the moment, we are not car-less. Tracy's father passed away suddenly last month, while he was visiting us. For now, we're still using his car, a Subaru Forrester. Having the car has made it a lot easier for Tracy to pop down to visit her mom in Connecticut and help out and check in.
Having a car again reminded me quickly of how much having a car in the city adds complexity to life. I suddenly had to figure out where we were going to park it, fill it up with gas, get the oil changed, think about insurance, keep track of keys, etc. Over the past two years of having no car, we'd gotten used to be car-free. There's a certain simplicity to getting around by foot, bike or T, and I like it.
Since it's summer vacation, we have been trying to make the most of having the car handy, and have taken a few driving trips around Massachusetts. (We love to visit farms and farmer's markets.) (Though we could have done with Zipcar.) If we're in a rush, we can use it to get to our garden and run errands on the same day. Having a car can let you pack more into your day, and I'm certainly one to try to jam in as much activity as possible. But I now recognize that that's not always a good thing. I like getting places by walking or bike, because I like the pace of life that comes with that. It's a good way to set some limits for myself of how much I'm going to try to get done in one day.
We have found a good way to keep from using the car too much. Friends are letting us use a parking spot on their property, and the spot is a little more than a quarter of a mile away. This helps cut out car use for close errands. If you have to walk a quarter mile to the car, you realize you might as well just walk or bike the whole way. Imagine how much gas we would save if everyone parked their cars at a neighbor's house five blocks away.
I'm still grocery shopping by bike because I like the exercise, the stores are close to home, and the parking lot at Trader Joe's is always full and a little scary in a car. I also avoid buying too much if I know that I have to pedal it home.
We'll have the car through the rest of summer, and perhaps a little into the fall. There's always an excuse to keep it around (Kira will have field hockey practice, and the school doesn't provide sufficient transportation. I'm attending a farming class in Lowell in the fall), but I also know we can do without it.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
London's bike traffic is increasing dramatically, and according to this video, they're sinking serious money into infrastructure to encourage even more people to cycle. Serious money meaning $111 million pounds! Can you imagine an American city putting $100 million into improving bike access? (Boston, take note.)