I love actions that combine personal changes with community change! Yesterday I spent an entire day car-free AND I got to help with a project in my community to improve bike transit; a winning combination.
First, to the car-free day: if you are, as I am, a suburban mom, this is far more challenging than it seems it should be. Right now I am not working outside of the home, and my kid takes the bus to school, so my goodness, it should not be hard for me to minimize the use of my car! And truly, if I look at my long-term car use, its quite minimal: Ive got about 65,000 miles on a car that is 10 years old, so that’s pretty good. According to the US Department of Transportation, the average annual mileage for a female in my age group is about 11,500, so I’m at about half of that: in large part due to my extensive use of public and non-motorized transit (ferry, bus, bike) for commuting to work the last 10 years.
But somehow as a parent and in suburbia, its very easy to get in the mindless pattern of just using the car all the time. My kid has after-school activities and playdates; the basics of groceries and such are within 2 to 3 miles, but its so much more convenient to hop in a car! I realized that I have really been getting in a pattern where I don’t even think about jumping in the car two or three times a day to run all kinds of errands for the sake of convenience; and that’s not consistent with my desire to live with a very conscious focus on my carbon footprint.
I am therefore starting small, but aiming for at least one completely car-free day a week. For me, that means rearranging my schedule enough so that I think a bit in advance about consolidating my errands (which is more efficient anyway) and then, if I need to get around, using a bus (around here, that service is pretty limited outside of commuting hours) or bike. Yesterday, I managed to do this, hopping on my bike to head to a meeting where I was helping a friend who is working on the Sound to Olympics Trail, a regional trail aimed at improving connectivity and non-motorized transit opportunities around our county.
So two bike-related, carbon-lowering actions in one day felt pretty good! FYI, speaking of biking, May is Bike Month here in the Seattle area and many other areas beyond. Cascade bicycle group has a great competition to support bike month efforts in May, its one I captained for my company for several years running and the spirit of competition and prizes are great incentive to get on your bike now that the weather is more supportive of this activity! Check out the Cascade May Bike Month Challenge here.