The other day it was raining and my significant other didn’t need the vehicle. She asked if I wanted to drive it. In the past, I would have done it for sure. But not this time. This time, I put on my raincoat and I biked.
This is a relatively new development for me. I used to have a car. I still have it, actually, but it doesn’t run at the moment. I put it on parking insurance when we moved to Vancouver Island, and never took it off when we came back.
At first I thought I would only temporarily be without my own vehicle, just until we got some footing. Bought a house, got a steady paycheque, then I would be able to afford it. But that sort of thing takes a while, and I needed to get around. So I got out my bike I’ve had since high school, bought a bus pass, and that’s where I’ve been ever since (except I don’t bother with the bus pass once the snow is gone).
It’s not that I don’t ever use a car. Just not for my daily commute. I am a twenty minute bike ride away from my job, and it’s right on a bus route.
The thing is, at this point I don’t even see it as a hardship. I’ve gotten used to the daily dose of exercise. It helps wake me up for work, and helps transition me out of it on the way home. If I DON’T bike, I feel off. Driving can make me downright grumpy.
I’ve now made it two years without my own car, and as long as life circumstances stay the same I really don’t think I’ll be getting another one. We’re a two-person household and one vehicle is all we need. Our one vehicle was recently in for repairs, and it would have been nice to have another one to fall back on, but the fact of the matter is for the number of times we could possibly NEED a second vehicle, it is far cheaper to rent then it would be pay for insurance, let alone everything else.
Once you make it through a winter like the one we just had on public transit, you realize how unnecessary a vehicle is for most days of your life. Don’t get me wrong, there are days where I definitely wished I had my own, and the fact that we have a car makes a big difference. I don’t think I could go without completely given our current lifestyle (1. it gets cold, 2. we like to go camping, and 3. the bus system still needs a lot of improvements to be the only mode of transport in the winter– especially if you like to go out at night at all). But the costs off gas, insurance, maintenance, not to mention the PURCHASE of even a used vehicle– these are all things I’m happy to do without. The fact that it’s good for my health and the environment doesn’t hurt, either.
Today is the first day of bike to work week. Hopefully, lots of people out there will be breaking their habit of using cars and be pedalling themselves along. At first, some of them will probably hate it. But hopefully by the end they get used to it and keep going.
If you are among those who keep going, I will tell you now it’s easy to backslide. If you want to sleep in a bit more, or the days get shorter and it’s kind of dark, or you have a late meeting after work. All of those can make you go back to your car. But stick with it long enough, and eventually you’ll get to a point where you see some dark clouds, put on a rainjacket, and bike anyways.
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