So, after what was in the end a sort of week of car-less-ness – Monday morning to Friday evening – here are my findings (*clears throat, shuffles papers*):
1. It’s possible that driving a car is all in the mind. I have diagnosed myself with car-brain, which is the mindless assumption that I need a car for any and every journey, and planning – or not planning – my life accordingly. Well, it turns out that car-brain is a thing! It must be, because neuroscientists have studied it (thanks disgruntled). Apparently we make the transport choices we have always made just because it’s easier to do what we have always done than make the effort to change (gosh, neuroscientists are clever, aren’t they?). In the run-up to the car-free thing, I caught myself making at least three unnecessary car journeys, actually thinking ‘But why am I doing this?’ as I turned on the ignition.
2. I refuse to add to school-run congestion. London has a massive problem with this. ‘Despite its infamous congestion levels and excellent public transport, London is the third worst offender [in the UK] with half (50%) of parents living within one mile of their school still opting to jump in the car’ * (Zipcar, 2013). I’m thoroughly ashamed that I was ever one of those parents, even if the girls’ school is closer to two miles away – the bus service is fantastic, and active travel to school is do-able, though Dutch-style cycle lanes would make it at least 83% easier. Whether or not we choose to keep the car, I’m not using it for school.
3. There are other things with wheels on. Wheelbarrows, bikes and scooters spring to mind. For the school run, our new scooters have really come into their own. The Cutester can do 1.7 miles uphill on hers without a single complaint. I’m going to use Mr. Suburbanite’s bike for all local shopping / pub trips, and either attach paniers to it – or just get my own proper Dutch bike with a chain guard and a cute basket at the front. As for cycling to school, the jury is out about whether I can bring myself to let the girls cycle on the road, but if I do I’ll be tempted to drag the Cutester along behind me with one of these:
(Thanks to Sara Dorman for sending me in this direction.)
4. There are people who don’t own a car! – even people with children. Thank you for telling me on Facebook or in the comments. At our church weekend away, one non-car-owning couple told me that they realised they could hire a car every weekend of the year for less money than actually owning one. Some of you have found car clubs invaluable, which was a new concept for me. On the other hand, some of you have tried life without petrol and not found it so easy.
I’m going to carry this on for another three weeks (but don’t worry, I won’t pester you with a daily blog about it). I want to see how many situations come up that really seem to merit a car, and whether a hire car or car club would be a convenient and cost-effective enough alternative. Then it may come down to what Mr. Suburbanite’s thoughts are on the subject…
Maybe I should look at how our food is transported. For instance I see no reason why Sainsbury’s cannot bring me my fortnightly online delivery like this:
…thank you Kate! And goodnight all.