Have you considered a car-free or car-lite lifestyle? Have you ever sat in traffic, wondering if there were better things you could be doing with your time? Intrigued? Keep reading!
This is a guest blog post from Lisa, one of our brand ambassadors in Denver. All photos are hers.
Thankfully, it’s becoming easier to live without depending on a personal vehicle. Coupled with several modes of transportation, you could soon find that living car-free (or at least car-lite) makes your commutes more enjoyable.
What’s a car-free or car-lite lifestyle?
Glad you asked! Living car-free or car-lite means having little or no dependence on a single-occupancy vehicle (SOV). Now, this doesn’t mean never stepping inside a moving vehicle (far from it, in fact). It just means that you’re trying to avoid driving by yourself.
So why should you consider going car-free?
- Save Money: The average American spends nearly $8,500 per year to own a vehicle, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). Car payments, insurance, gas, oil, car washes, registration fees, taxes, parking, tools, repairs- all of these expenses add up. In fact, car ownership is the second largest household expense in the US, according to Bikes at Work, Inc, costing as much as food and health care combined for the average household. Could you think of other places where you could be putting this money?
- Saving the Environment: Trying to make a better choice for the environment? Replacing SOV trips is one of the best ways to do so. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports transportation as one of the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Riding a bike is an excellent alternative mode of transportation, with zero carbon emissions! (Plus, it burns calories, but more on that next)
- Saving Your Sanity: I’ve already touched on traffic jam stress (insert communal groan), but what about going car-free can help your sanity? Riding your bike is a perfect way to destress while incorporating some physical activity into your day (hooray for calories burned!). From the sunshine and fresh air to the blood rushing through your veins, bicycling can truly be therapeutic.
Ways to go car-free (or at least car-lite)
First and foremost, don’t not get overwhelmed! It’s easy to focus on what trips are harder to take without a personal vehicle. What if I’m going camping? What if I am visiting the mountains spontaneously? What about that annual summer road trip? How do I pick my kids up from school in an emergency? Don’t get hung up on these trips.
Think about the most common trips that you make. For most of us, this includes the daily commute to work or school. How can you make these trips less dependent on your personal vehicle? Is there a bike path you could take? Perhaps a bus route? Start small, then work your way into other trips- weekly grocery trips, regular errands, standing appointments. Once you get the hang of utilizing other modes of transportation, you’ll have the confidence to try out other new destinations.
Two Wheels Are Better Than Four
Biking is a fantastic alternative to driving alone. You’ll be seeing the city in a new way, getting some fitness into your day, saving money, and helping the environment. Don’t feel like bringing your own bike everywhere? Bike sharing might be your answer! Personally, I’m a huge fan of bike sharing. It’s convenient, maintenance-free, and a perfect option for short-trips. Coupled with transit, I can enjoy working and playing in the city while still living in the suburbs- all without sitting behind a steering wheel. Po Campo makes several bags that work well for cycling in the city, including the bike share bag and the Bergen pannier. Shown below, I’ve utilized a Midway Weekender bag in my Denver B-Cycle basket.
Public Transit Is Your Friend
Don’t let distance deter you from finding a new way to travel. By coupling public transit with your commute, it can make the trip much easier (and less sweaty). Whether it’s a bus or train, you can bring your bike on-board to make the journey a little easier. Check with your local transit agency to see if there are guidelines and rules for bikes on board.
Car Sharing and Ride Sharing
If there just isn’t an easy route by public transit or the weather turns upside down unexpectedly, you still have other options. Car share and ride share offer great back-ups when needed. Whether you need Uber/Lyft after a late-night concert or a ride-share to reach your destination, these can still be a cost-savings over owning a personal vehicle.
Lisa is a transportation engineer for WSP USA in Denver, Colorado. When she isn’t exploring Denver by B-Cycle, she’s likely hitting the mountains for trail running, noshing on a poke bowl, or visiting hippos at the zoo.