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Why (and How) You Can Go Car-Less

Why (and How) You Can Go Car-Less

With populations as high as they’ve ever been and density becoming an issue, our municipal systems can’t seem to keep up with us. More and more cars on the road mean more pollution, more traffic accidents and more time logged behind the wheel.

In the United States alone, the number of miles travelled by passenger cars and light-duty vehicles increased by 45% between 1990 and 2016. Population and economic growth had a lot to do with this bump and urban sprawl has factored into our being on the road more and more often.

Does your pocketbook have those cartoon moths flying out of it when your bills come through? There are a lot of ways to save some cash and cut your costs, but have you yet considered giving up your wheels?

Why are you spending so much time and money on something you may not actually need? Before you gasp in disbelief, take a peek at our topic today; why – and how – you can go car-less.

Why You Should Go Car-Less

Environmental Impact

You’re lowering your carbon footprint. In 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency found that 28% of US greenhouse gas emissions came from transportation. Now, before you ask, no, it may not be possible for all of us to give up cars, planes and lawnmowers for good, but if 100 of us take the bus instead of driving our cars, it’s a really good start!

Cities around the world are making a commitment to lowering their gas emissions – and they’re getting creative about it. In Milan, Italy, they’re test driving a new way to incentivize citizens to keep their vehicles at home. Anyone who does is compensated with free public transit vouchers. To make sure no one double dips, internet-connected boxes on their dashboards track the actual location. Results are unclear, but according to the sootfreecities.eu website, they have shown committed improvement when it comes to their smog issues.

Improve Your Community

If you’re moving, why not consider a neighbourhood located close to your job – or vice versa? People are looking more and more at living, working, and playing in the same community, which can be healthy for the economy and your social life!

Farmer’s markets attract a lot of locals and you’re supporting small businesses and folks who are trying to make a living, instead of big box stores who ship in sprayed products from different countries. Sticking to the one in your own ‘hood instead of driving across town can help you get to know some new folks who frequent the same Saturday cheese vendor as you.

Carpooling is another viable option – it can help you save some cash and even build a relationship with someone you haven’t been able to spend much time with at work. You can split the gas and save on parking once you get there too. Some organizations are even compensating office carpooling or ridesharing by giving participants preferred parking spots, discounted fees or even rewards and prizes!

In Hamburg, Germany, a new ‘green network’ is in the works, planning on connecting existing parks across the city of 1.8 million (2016) to make biking and walking available throughout. Thought to happen over the next 15-20 years, this project will surely get people off the roads and heading to work together.

Finances

Whether or not you own your wheels outright, having a vehicle can really depress your wallet. Getting regular maintenance may save you some big bucks in the end, but it can be hard to shell out that cash every few months.

Gas prices aren’t exactly going down - in fact, as we run out of this ancient, refined resource, it’s more likely prices will hike even more exponentially. What are you waiting for? We’re not saying go out to the nearest used car dealership to make a quick sale, but getting ahead of the game when it comes to ditching fuel-operated toys may be the smartest thing you can do for your savings.

You save money on gas, insurance and repairs. Your car payment? Thing of the past, plus you might be able to pay for a few years of transit passes if your wheels are in good enough shape to sell.

Want to check out how much you’re really spending on your vehicle every year? Nerdwallet.com makes it easy! You can pop your own costs in their calculator and face the reality of what your wheels are worth. According to their research from AAA (American Auto Association), in 2017 average car ownership costs for vehicles that drive 15,000 per year were about $8,500, not counting car payments.

Health & Wellness

Increasing the amount you walk can help relieve stress, lead to weight loss and give you some much needed time in the great outdoors. We know that getting out into nature improves our mental health, so think about all that glorious fresh air

If you need to go somewhere that’s less than 30 minutes away, why not use your feet to get there? Pull out your backpack and burn some extra calories by walking to get your groceries.

According to www.livestrong.com, logging 10,000 steps per day can lead to a pound of weight loss per week! This number will vary depending on where you’re starting from, but it’s a good way to start thinking about the benefits of ditching your car.

Choosing to not drive yourself can have a huge impact on your stress levels as well. Letting someone else drive in rush hour means that instead of your everyday road rage, you can relax with your headphones and a book, or even sneak a peek at your work emails and get a head start on your day. Make your coffee instead of bearing the line up at your local café and sip away as you enjoy the view – instead of worrying about getting in an accident because everyone drives like lunatics.

Have More Time to Do – Whatever

According to this Fast Company article, LA commuters spend an average of 90 hours per year stick in traffic purgatory. In busy London, the average cyclist moves faster than traffic! With a population of 8.7 million, it’s not a shocker that traffic congestion would leave you feeling like a snail on your way to work.

In some cases, depending on where you live, it may be faster to walk or ride your bike – transit can be slow or non-existent and if you have to transfer 15 times in order to make it to the mall, you might as well put on your trainers and hoof it yourself. Where I live, we have a saying, “We have two seasons – winter and construction.” Much easier to get there of my own volition than to suffer through detours, roadblocks and slow zones.

How You Can Go Car-Less:

Let’s be real – you should have at least a little interest in ditching your ride to make this happen! If you keep reading, we’ll assume you do.

Start by monitoring your routes and how long it takes you to get to and from your most regular stops. Work, grocery stores, family visits:

  • Where do you go most often and how far away are they?
  • Are they fairly common roads with lots of traffic lights or loads of commuters?
  • Are they within walking or biking distance?
  • Is there a public transit route that gets you relatively close, within a similar amount of time?

You don’t have to give your vehicle away in an altruistic fit of excitement, start slow by checking out what’s available to you. Many cities offer rideshare services like Uber, car and bike sharing programs and public transit like buses, light rail or subways are usually an option as well.

Now, do some comparisons on how much you’re spending – and see if you could start socking some bucks away into – whatever people use for piggy banks these days.

For one month, track your gas, vehicle payments, parking fees, and insurance. This is the tip of the iceberg, of course, if you can add in any expected maintenance costs, that would be ideal. Oh, and if you’re anything like my husband, better add in any speeding tickets to the mix!

Do your research first. Be real – is this a realistic option? Motivation to save cash is one thing, but factor it all in before you take the plunge. It could really be worth it!

Conclusion

With so many cities getting on board with green initiatives and supporting the globe in lowering our carbon footprint, we should research all our options before we sneer at going car-less. Have you looked into what’s available in your own ‘hood?

Get to Ecosia and start looking at what you can do – and how it can potentially improve your life! If you take the plunge, be sure to let us know. Don’t hold out on us when it comes to sharing your own tips and tricks you’ve discovered by going car-less!

Sarah McCullough

Sarah McCullough

Sarah focuses on stress management, healthy sleep, and how interior design and colour contribute to relaxing environments. By day, Sarah works in Human Resources, eagerly absorbing knowledge about the human psyche and why we behave and interact the way we do. Sarah started her career journey with a single year... Read More

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