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Ideas…easy. Changing habits…not so much. Two weeks ago I said I’d track my trips in an effort to reduce car driving. I proceeded to rush on through life without changing or tracking anything, until today. Today, I looked back over five days and wrote down the trips I made. Turns out, I was in the car  for seven round trips. (Is that more or less than average?) And did I need to be in the car for all of them?

  • 3 trips could have been better planned (choosing different destinations that were within walking distance or providing more time for taking the bus) to avoid driving.
  • 1 trip was taking my dog to meet a friend so we could run together. Impossible to change unless I ran in my own neighborhood without her or left my dog at home and biked to her house. More than likely, with those options, I’d have stayed in bed for extra sleep. This is where convictions collide…exercise or reduced footprint?
  • 1 trip was with friends with our four bikes traveling together in one car…pretty efficient so that’s good and necessary because the alternative would have been to bike three miles to catch a bus for a 2-hour ride (instead of a 20-30 minute car ride) one way. I’d rather stay home and eat donuts (and I hate donuts).
  • The last 2 trips were social outings. I looked up the public transportation options. They are very limited on the weekends when I need them most (since I walk to work). For these trips, we would have been on the bus from 2 – 3 hours (one way) with transfers and walking or biking an extra 1.55 to 2.42 miles just to get from point A to point B. By car, these trips took 20-30 minutes.

So…going car-less isn’t in my immediate future…but I can go car-light. I could have easily cut my car trips by almost half with better planning. And I can consolidate more trips as well. Long term changes will require advocating for better public transportation options and improved walking and biking facilities. Which I need to do…even though it’s hard work. I feel great empathy for those who have no choice but to deal with the inefficiencies of public transportation and hostile walking and biking environments. And for many, weekends and holidays (like on this Labor Day) when services are even more reduced create greater challenges in getting to work. This is why testing the options and getting involved is so important. May God grant me the courage to really do it.