I gave up everyday driving in 2008. Living in a small town, being in good physical shape, and never one to shy away from challenges, I gave away my Jeep and took to being a bicycle commuter. At the time, my fitness studio was located 5-miles from my residence.
The town grocery stores, hardware store, and most every shop and restaurant were located along the 5-mile route between my home and my workplace. If I had a need to go longer distances or carry heavy objects, I always had the option of borrowing or renting a vehicle. For years this is how I lived — without a car.
The smaller environmental footprint notwithstanding, saving money on gas, on insurance, and on car-related maintenance offered me a unique kind of freedom my social contemporaries didn’t understand — or didn’t seem to care about.
There was only the occasional downside to living exclusively by bicycle. I have a clear memory of December evening in 2012 — needing toilet paper at 10:30pm. The local grocery stores closed at 11:00pm. Five miles into town wasn’t a very long bike ride, but that roundtrip on a cold winter’s night felt like an eternity. It was also a good lesson for me in better planning.
When I relocated from Fallbrook to the mountains of Colorado in 2014, I’ve vowed to continue a car-free lifestyle. My only change-up was switching to a mountain bike as a commuter vehicle. Though I stayed just one year, I rode my bike most every day and for most every errand — even through heavy winds and subzero temperatures. If the weather was too severe, I would ask my landlady for a ride into town. If I needed to go into Boulder, I’d throw my bike on the municipal bus, do my errands in Boulder, throw my bike back on the bus, and ride back up the mountain where I lived.
In 2015 I returned to Southern California — still car-free. This got ugly quickly since I opted to rebuild my business in the town of Fallbrook, but initially lived in Temecula — 15 miles to the north. Thirty miles of bicycle commuting each day got old, and I became increasingly dependent on rides. I usually rode to work in the morning, and hopped rides home in the evenings when possible. Eventually I moved back to Fallbrook and continued riding a bike for all my errands.
Later in 2015 I rented a house that could serve as both my residence and my fitness studio. Shortly thereafter I relocated my mother from Colorado to join me. Around the same time my mother gave up driving and I purchased a car for the first time in nearly a decade — a used Prius. My intent was to use the car exclusively to get my mother to and from her errands, entertainment, and medical appointments.
Within weeks though, I was using my car for virtually all of my personal errands. I would use it to go to the grocery store, the hardware store, and to pick up takeout. If the morning paper failed to be delivered, I drive to 7-Eleven to get one, even though I’m looking out my window at that 7-Eleven as I write this — just a couple thousand yards away. Lazy spreads easily within my bones and psyche. It became so automatic to use the car for even the shortest errand, that I quit feeling guilty about it within a few days — after all, a Prius.
I’ve been thinking about that more recently though — how unnecessary it is for me to drive to do anything in this town. The unnecessary use of anything/everything might is at the center of most of our national issues, and yes, I actually believe that.
I own X# of bikes. I ride between 25 and 30 miles every day of my life — for recreation. If I need a Chapstick though, I’ll drive to the store. That doesn’t add up. There is no reason why I can’t dedicate one bike to being a ‘town’ bike, fixing it with appropriate racks, and using it for all my nearby errands. As pharaoh said, “And so it shall be done…”
I will continue using my car to transport my mother to and from her errands and on my personal trips beyond town. I‘ll also use it to transport my dog to and from our daily walk at the local nature preserve. At 16, he’s too old to make the 2-mile trip in a bike basket. For any local errands, needs, or visitations, I will use my town bike, ongoing.
I know there will be exceptions to this and I know I’ll fail on occasion — that I’ll use the power of rationalization to make decisions to drive rather than to ride, but I’ll do my best to keep those to a minimum. Though this coincides with the closing of the year, this is not any kind of resolution. At a time when I hear the term climate change several times a day, and almost never in a good context, this is something I should just be doing — something many people should just be doing.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 4
16.0 mph avg
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there is this worthy cover from Clutch. Enjoy…!