I am totally in love with my bicycle at the moment. Just look at her will ya? In’t she gorgeous? My husband found her at the tip (love knows no bounds) and restored her with a plush leather seat and clip-on basket. Until recently, I have been either too pregnant or had my arms too full of baby to ride much, but this winter, my bike (and the second-hand trailer) has come into her own.
Of course, the benefits of cycling are obvious: great for my buns, fresh air for the kids and a fun outing to boot. Only these days, we are not just taking the old lady out for a ride, more often than not it’s how we get around.
See, a month ago, I was wondering how I could offset my flight to Fiji and realised that my portion of CO2 emissions was equivalent to a year’s worth of car travel. So I thought I’d have a bash at not driving so much. I decided to try to have a minimum of three car-free days a week.
For you city dwellers, this might be an easy feat, but out here in the burbs, it’s a different story. Short car journeys characterise my region – most of our housing developments are designed with the car in mind. We pop to the shops, duck down to the beach, nip up and grab the kids from school. Until I started paying attention, barely a day went by when I didn’t make a car trip or two.
It’s not just us, across Australia around half of all car trips are less than five kilometres. And yet we complain that we don’t have time to exercise… oh the irony.
Now, I hear your excuses because I’ve used them all too. How do I carry my groceries? What do I do with the kids? What if it’s raining? Well, you know what? All these little issues are overcome one way or another if you have the will. I’m not going to tell you what to do, but for my little family, Mummy pulling the kids around in a trailer works. We go to the shops, I shuttle the kids to and from day care, we go visit Daddy or to playgroup. It’s fun. The kids love it and I am getting fitter and stronger every day.
I’m not suggesting you get rid of your car (although that’s where I’m headed), but can you consider driving less or having a couple of car-free days? And that doesn’t mean saving up all your chores for one long day of driving around!
With petrol prices going up and up, it’s time to start thinking about clever ways to get around.
Here are some suggestions for how to drive less:
- Buddy up with a neighbour or friend and do the grocery shopping together
- Shop locally – within walking or cycling distance
- Think ahead about the car trips you need to make and find ways to combine them. For example, on Wednesdays, we pick up our FoodConnect box from our city cousin, who is close to the library so we can drop off our books.
- Consider walking or cycling short distances. As Sarah Wilson says here, it often takes just as long. I can vouch for the fact that strapping the kids into helmets and the trailer takes just as much fart-arsing around as getting into the car.
- Find alternate ways to buy what your family needs. For example, you could get involved in a bulk-buying co-op or start buying milk and bread from the local convenience store.
- Reunite yourself with public transport and reclaim some reading time
How often do you drive your car and are all those trips really necessary? Be honest now!
To read about about the environmental benefits of cycling, read this factsheet from Deakin University.