Last week, the Eco Women reviewed their eco goals for 2010 and how successful (or not) they were in meeting them. One of Recycla’s goals for the year was to have 40-50 No Drive Days — days in which she and her husband did not drive their cars for an entire day and instead relied on their feet, bikes, and public transportation.
A bit of background: Recycla and her family (husband, two daughters) live in a small college town. Their home is near downtown, so they are close to many of the places they need to go, including the library and stores. Recycla’s husband bikes to work most days — an 8.5 mile round trip — so he only uses a car a couple days a week. Recycla works at home, so she does not need to drive most days. And, as of this past fall, both of Recycla’s daughters take the bus to school. In short, not driving should be an easy thing for the family to do.
However, it turns out that not driving was not always easy — in particular, the girls’ extracurricular activities involved that use of a car three week days and every Saturday. Beyond that, however, there were days when Recycla’s husband had to drive to work because of off-site meetings or other appointments and Recycla herself also had other days when the use of a car was necessary. While the family wasn’t trying to go car-free, they were surprised at how dependent on four wheels they were.
One thing that did help the Recycla family move toward their goal of 40-50 car-freedays was the inordinate amount of snow their home state of Virginia got in 2010. From Christmas 2009 to the end of February 2010, 60 inches — 10 times the norm — of the white stuff fell, which allowed the family to build up a dozen No Drive Days with no difficulty in the first two months of the year.
Another thing that Recycla and her family started doing more of was walking or biking some of their errands — instead of automatically hopping into a car to go to the library, farmers’ market, and other places, they instead laced up their sneakers or put on their bike helmets. In fact, just yesterday, Recycla grabbed her backpack and then walked to the bank, library, and the market for a few veggies. Her total distance was 4.25 miles and she got in a great workout. Eco-friendly exercise at its finest!
Recycla’s bike Bubbles, which she loves to ride on around town.
Recycla’s family also has a tandem bike in their fleet of two-wheelers, which they used in various combinations to get to the farmers’ market, to work and school, and even on date nights. You’d be amazed at how much fun it is to ride a tandem bike with your Special Someone.
The bottom line to all this is that from January 1-December 31, 2010, Recycla and her family had 51 No Drive Days!
But what about you? Can you park your car on occasion and not drive? That depends a lot on where you live and work and what your lifestyle is. While it might not be possible for you to have one No Drive Day per week, could you manage to squeeze in one or two per month?
The important thing overall is to look at your driving habits and see where you can make changes. Instead of taking your car out for multiple errands, can you bundle them into one trip? Can you carpool? Do you have convenient public transportation?
For 2011, Recycla and her family have not decided how many No Drive Days they will have. For now, they’ll just continue to keep track of how many days they go car-free and see where things lead. As of today, the fourth day of the new year, they’ve had one No Drive Day and are planning for this coming Friday and Sunday to also be car-free.
Tell the Eco Women: How reliant are you on your car? Do you ever walk or bike places or take public transportation?