ECOnomy- Give up a Third of Your Car for a Month

Last month, when I turned 39, I took stock of a few things, one being that I sometimes talk a good game but don’t always put my beliefs into action, like, for instance, my stance on the environment. 

I have, in the past, sometimes played the part of the liberal green girl with my family.  My father likes to joke (and I still don’t think it’s funny Daddy) that California is the land of fruit and nuts.  While I’ll admit that moving to California shifted some of my viewpoints even farther to the left, I don’t believe that caring about the environment is actually a left or right issue.  God gave us a great planet with off- the-charts natural beauty and I can’t stand the idea of my nephews not having the chance to see some of the things that I’ve been privileged to see, care of Mother Nature. 

So I felt that I needed to put my money where my mouth was and not be one more exhaust pipe poisoining the environment.  I don’t have an air conditioner, or a dish washer and I try to recycle, but I do have a gas guzzling car and I live pretty close to everything, including work.  I don’t need to be a walking/talking example of the song “Nobody Walks in LA”. 

On the day before my birthday, I challenged myself to cut down my gas usage by 1/3 or use non-gas transportation for a month, to see if I could do it.  I bought a three-speed-bike, lock and helmet, checked bike routes, and signed on to gasfreecommute.com to log my time.  The website shows you how much gas you save, calories you burn, and green house gases you don’t put into the environment. 

The first month is coming to an end in a day or so.  I have been averaging walking or using my bike about 2 1/3 days a week. It’s easier and harder to do this than one might think. 
Easier– 1)it rarely takes me more than 5 to 10 minutes longer than it did in a car and parking is a cinch.  2) The low humidity in LA means you don’t sweat that much.  3)  I have lost weight.  4)  I actually see and hear things I never experience in a car.  5)  It’s really refreshing and invigorating.

Harder– LA is not bike friendly.  1) “Bike paths” as they like to call them aren’t marked and cars while normally polite, can be a little scary when they pass you. 2) I can’t really dress up too much for work on the days that I commute so I’m a bit limited. 3) There are some days I simply have to drive in order to make meetings. 4)  LA actually has alot of hills.  5) Rain, although this hasn’t been an issue yet. 6)  There aren’t alot of safe bike racks in town.  7)  Sometimes I really don’t feel like riding my bike. 

Now that I’m getting used to the harder aspects, I have become more adventurous.  Last week, I really felt like going to a movie but it was a day I had committed to riding my bike and it was already 7 PM.  I put my strobe reflectors on and rode to the Grove.  I got there in 15 minutes.   I have also ridden to Santa Monica with my dog (I know a little Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz.)  Our final destination was Corn Dog on a Stick.  While we took a lot of breaks, it was really fun, but totally exhausting.

So here’s my challenge….anyone out there want to join me in giving a day or so of their week to public or non-gas transportation?   Burn calories, save money and your kids, grandkids, nephews, nieces, friends kids will thank you!

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2 Responses to “ECOnomy- Give up a Third of Your Car for a Month”

  1. nicolette Says:

    I’ve been riding the bus a lot more this summer and it’s great for reading. I recently subscribed to the New Yorker and the damn thing comes EVERY WEEK (I was counting on once a month!) and now I’m desperately trying to read at least two articles and the fiction before the the next one arrives. Not doing much for my waistline (the bus, that is, not the New Yorker) but I’m with you on the green.
    Keep pedaling!! Gore would be proud of you and so am I.

  2. colin Says:

    Kudos! I love this. I wish that I had a job to commute to – my commute is walking from the back house to the front. How do we get employers to provide showers/changing rooms seems to be a concern atop the concern of making LA a “bike friendly” place.
    -ps: love the place of fruits and nuts quote.

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