About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Reducing car use

This week's Change the World Wednesday challenge is to replace at least one car trip with a bicycle or walking trip. Living out in the sticks, that's pretty tricky. I generally only use the car to go to places that are too far away to walk. The car journeys I'm making this week are:-

Visit Sarah in Capel Seion: 8 miles
Meeting in London - drive to Aberystwyth station: 12 miles
Club AGM in Warwickshire: 130 miles

The last is obviously out of the question, but the first two are the kind of distances that people cycle. Could I...? Have you seen the hills around here? My car struggles with some of them! This begs the question: Why am I hanging on to my bike?

My bike.

I bought it when we moved to the flatlands, determined to get fit and cycle to work (8 miles). Apart from the fact that my route to work was nowhere near as flat as much of the surrounding countryside, I discovered that it was very busy and the roads weren't wide enough for two cars and one bike. This is not good if you happen to be on the bike and there are two unbroken streams of cars. Frankly, it was all too scary, and I never did cycle to work.

Now I'm a lot fitter and the roads are less busy, but they're still pretty scary, with many twists making for poor visibility. They're also much steeper. When the shortest journey I make regularly is as much as eight miles (sixteen, counting coming back), that feels like a big mountain to climb. Do I admit that I'm never going to use my lovely bike, or do I man up and get in the saddle? I don't know.

I do reduce car use in other ways, though. I loathe going to the supermarket, so I go as rarely as possible. I've managed to reduce the frequency to one every five or six weeks - just ten times a year - which I'm pleased with. For perishable food we either go to the village shop (300 yards) or try to combine shopping with another trip. Ian volunteers as a community bus driver, which takes him into town once or twice a week. I give him instructions to go to the butcher or the greengrocer while he's there. This means that shopping very rarely means an extra car journey.

This is all very well, but none of this is helping with this week's challenge. There was one thing I could do with this week's car journeys. I picked up the phone:
Hi, it's Rachel. Do you want a lift to Sarah's tonight?
By offering a friend a lift, I cut out one car journey. I haven't always been in the position where car sharing is practical - I certainly knew nobody who did the same journeys as me where we last lived - but here it is, at least some of the time.

1 comment:

  1. Ooooh, I like this! Ride Sharing (or carpooling) is a wonderful way to eliminate a car trip. And it's such a nice way to connect with a neighbor. Nicely done!


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