Half of all trips made by car in the U.S. are less than 2 miles. My modest proposal is for you to just consider using a humble bicycle every once in a while instead of getting into your car. You may find you like it. Improve your health, save some money, make the world a better place--Go By Bike!
Thursday, July 15, 2010
One Year In!
It's been a year since I started "My Year Without Cars". It's a bit of a misnomer though because it's not like I just made all the cars disappear. No, cars are a fact of life--to be tolerated and dealt with like noisy children or hemorrhoids.
I started out to see if I could change my lifestyle to become independent of the automobile/oil slave culture that seems to dominate everything. So how did I do, you ask? Well to be quite honest I am somewhat disappointed with myself because I couldn't cut the strings entirely. That's the part of my personality that never accepts any results--good enough never is. My own assessment is that I could have done much more. But then again, as some people have pointed out to me, I did a lot.
Here are some stats:
167 recorded trips
127,479 feet of vertical climbing
Average speed 15.7 MPH
I actually had more mileage but for various reasons they were not recorded so I will go with the record.
Believe it or not at least 90% of the mileage was "car trip replacement". So what does that mean in terms of impact? Well, rounding the numbers a bit, I saved about 110 gallons of gas. Multiply that by the amount of carbon in a gallon of gas (6 pounds for those of you scoring at home) for a total of 660 pounds, multiplied by about 3.7 when you combine it with the oxygen in the air and I saved about 2090 pounds of carbon dioxide. Maybe that doesn't sound like a lot but imagine that we could reduce the number of car miles driven in the US by 10%. Let's do the math--200 million cars driving an average of 12,500 miles per year. That's 2.5 trillion miles times 660 pounds of carbon dioxide. I don't care who you are, that's a lot of CO2 right there! (Picture Larry the Cable Guy reading that last bit for effect.) Anyway, you get the picture, if we could reduce that by 10% we would make a significant difference. A little change individually can add up to big numbers together.
So what else happened this past year? Well,
I'm in better shape than I have been in a really long time.
I finally did sell my car and gave myself a $6000 "raise" in the process.
I joined the New Jersey Bicycle Coalition as a board member and mounted the first ever New Jersey Bike Summit bringing together advocates from around the state.
New Jersey received a Bronze rating as a bicycle friendly state from the League of American Bicyclists and moved up to eighth from 10th place on the ranking list.
I raised $1500 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and completed another ride in Austin, TX.
I inspired several people to shake the bonds of oil slavery and use their bikes for transportation.
I convinced ten other people to ride their bikes to the supermarket with me and buy a turkey and then deliver said turkey by bike to a Foodbank Thanksgiving food drive.
I experienced the changing of the seasons in a way that car bound people never will.
I rode a mountain bike with my best friend to the top of the Tourne at sunset and asked her to marry me. She said "yes"!
All in all it's been a pretty good year. So now what? In the spirit of continuous improvement (because good enough never is), I will continue my quest to cast off the oily chains of petroleum addiction, to wit:
I will double my transportation miles.
I will continue working to make New Jersey a better place for cyclists (watch out Portland, Jersey is in the house!).
This year we will get a "yes" vote on a 3 foot passing law protecting vulnerable users including cyclists, pedestrians, emergency workers, etc.
I will convince at least 30 people to join the Coalition.
So there it is. One year since I started. Maybe I should change my theme to "A Life Without Cars".
See the year in pictures here: The year in pictures