How to Go Car-Lite

Before we get started explaining how to adopt a car-lite lifestyle, do you need to be convinced as to why going car-lite is so great?

Orchard Grocery Pannier & Vernon Bike Trunk Bag | Po Campo
Pictured: Orchard Grocery Pannier (left), Vernon Trunk Bag (right)

Why Should I Go Car-Lite?

1. You’ll save money.

First, think about how much money you could save if you learn how to go car-lite. The AAA estimates that it costs an average of $894/month to own and use a car when you factor in car payments, insurance, gas, maintenance, taxes, parking, and repairs. That adds up to $10,728 per year – nothing to sneeze at! That’s a nice tidy sum to sock away for a rainy day.

Atria Bike Backpack | Po Campo Bike Bags
Pictured: Atria Backpack

2. You’ll improve your health.

Active transportation like biking and walking is undoubtedly good for your health. Consider this: according to the League of American Bicyclist's "Women on a Roll" report, bicycling just 20 miles per week reduces women's risk of heart disease by a whopping 50%.

The health benefits aren't all physical. Moving your body supports your mental health: it reduces your anxiety and stress, helps you sleep better, and boosts your memory and creativity. (source) Pretty much the opposite of sitting in car traffic, right?

3. You’ll reduce your carbon footprint.

Besides being good for you and your pocketbook, active transportation is also better for the environment. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics says that the transportation sector is responsible for 71% of U.S. petroleum use, while researchers have discovered that more CO2 is emitted by the United States' transportation sector than any other nation's entire economy, except for China,  which is not something to be proud of. One way to combat the damage to the environment is to trade in your car for a bicycle, at least part of the time as part of a car-lite lifestyle.


Hopefully, we’ve persuaded you that going car-lite is something you should try to do, at least on Sept 22. Now here are three tips for how to go car-lite:

how to go car lite

Pictured: Orchard Grocery Pannier

How to Go Car-Lite

1. Start Small to Ease into the Car-Lite Lifestyle.

Just because you want to learn how to go car-lite doesn't mean you have to quit driving cold turkey. Instead, pick a couple of destinations that are possible to get to without a car, either because they are close by or because they are along a public transportation route. This could be anything from the post office to the convenience mart to the movie theater.

Once you have a shortlist of non-car destinations, aim to travel to at least one of them each week without a car. Soon you'll have some new transportation habits in place and you can continue to grow your list of places to get to without driving. Before you know it, you'll be living a car-lite lifestyle.

how to go car lite

2. Go Multi-Modal.

That fancy phrase simply means that you should try mixing up your transportation options. Sometimes hopping in the car is the best way to go from A to B. But what if you just drove to the nearest train station instead? If you're fortunate enough to have bike share in your city, try taking the bike one way and the bus back. Variety is the spice of life when going car-lite, and you'll probably discover that some trips are best served by a mix of transportation options - especially when it’s raining or showing!

Chelsea Trunk Bag

Pictured: Chelsea Trunk Bag

3. Gear Up with the Right Clothing and Accessories.

No, you don’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe or a pricey new bicycle when learning how to go car-lite. But, if you’ve always gotten around by car, you will find yourself having to think a little bit more about what you’re wearing to make sure you’re comfortable all day.

If you wear heels at work, keep them at your desk or in your bag and put them on when you arrive at the office.

If your commute includes travel on foot, bike, or scooter, we recommend investing in some reflective gear. Our City Lights Collection is made with reflective thread that looks sleek and subtle during the day, but will help you be seen by cars at night. 

how to go car lite

Po Campo Ambassador @CargoBikeMomma Wearing the Reflective Aster Hip Pack

We’re also huge fans of Vespertine NYC and GoFluo, two women-owned brands that produce stylish reflective jackets, vests, and accessories.

If you choose to bike to work, we recommend getting a bike bag that helps you carry what you need without wearing a backpack that will get you all sweaty. Unsure which type of bike bag you need for your commute? We’ve got you covered: Po Campo Bike Bag Guide.

You may also like:

How to Bike to Work and Arrive Looking Presentable
E-Scooter vs. E-Bike: Which is Better for Commuting?
The Best E-Scooters for Commuting: A Buyer’s Guide
How to Carry Things On Your Bike When You Bike to Work
My Top 7 Items for Winter Biking

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.


  • Doug

    Good article! The reasons and opportunities to Go Car Lite only continue to increase. I started a small business in 2009 with the website of and many of my customers now use electric bicycles to commute 20 or more miles each way. Electric bikes are catching on slowly in the U.S., but it is a growing segment; albeit, a far far cry from what it is in Asia or Europe. Cost is getting better especially by using an electric bike kit on an existing bicycle that people tend to have collecting dust in the garage. I have also seen people that are moderately disabled or sedentary change their entire life with the use of this up and coming mode of transportation. Going car lite is a great life style!

  • daniella

    Thanks Maria for sharing these tips! I’m going to share this with my family. Some members of my family could benefit from being less sedentary. I think this will help!

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