Home > Economics, Editorial, Tips & Tricks > I’m Giving Car-Dependency A Try (For A Week)

I’m Giving Car-Dependency A Try (For A Week)

The beagle is looking forward to more car rides this week!

A couple of week’s ago I dedicated to walking everywhere I needed to go for an entire week, which is mostly within city limits. For my routine, that’s at most 3 miles one-way. It sounds like a lot, but it isn’t really when you start to trip chain (doing several errands en route) and realize that you can forgo the scheduled run or, perhaps, have an extra beer (or two)–it depends on that day’s scheduled exercise for which.

Plus, when walking there is almost too much opportunity for social exchanges.

This week I’m taking car-dependency for a spin. Everywhere I go, I will drive. Normally, I’m a full mode-range opportunist. My priority is by foot or by wheel, with the bus and the car thrown in for good measure. We are a one car family, so on most days the choice is an easy one as the car is gone, but I still personally manage to put 10,000 miles (with big trips) on my car a year.

I started yesterday with a busy day of meetings, one of which was in Suttons Bay, so it was likely I would have driven there anyway. Still, it started with a trip downtown that all told (finding my car keys & parking included) took 15 minutes; I can bike it in 7 minutes without breaking a sweat and walk it with no fuss in 20 mins.

After that meeting, I drove less than a mile (sacrilege) to the next engagement only to discover I had missed it. It was shortly then after that I posted this tweet:


2.3 miles into my week-long experiment in car dependency and I’m already feeling like I’m missing out during the journey.


One of the experiences I really like about walking or pedaling places is that there is never a wasted trip. If you reach somewhere under your own power to discover that it’s been canceled, you still have a sense of accomplishment. In my car, I just get anxious and frustrated. Luckily, my mind is still pedestrian enough that I turned yesterday’s mishap into an opportunity for breakfast with a friend, which delayed me enough to be able to offer another friend a ride across town that was on my way. The rule is that I’m car-dependent this week, not other people; I can use this exercise for good.

If you see me driving by, flag me down for a ride. If I’m going slow enough I should see you.

I’m working out the framework as I go. For instance, I haven’t quite figured out if I need to drive the block to the grocery store when the time comes. My neighbors do and that might be over the line for me. We will see. Another rule, similar to the one I had with walking, is that I can’t choose not to do something because it would involve a drive.

I’ll keep track of the specifics and report back. I’ve already waited about 15 minutes at red lights this week more than I normally would have. It felt like 30. I do stop at red lights on my bicycle, but more often than not I simply avoid them.

So, for this week I’m ignoring my 2011 transportation resolutions and driving more…actually, driving by default. Clear the streets, I’m coming through.

Do you have any rules I should add to this week’s challenge?


Your Comments Matter

Comments: we welcome your comments, please don’t be shy. The more questions, perspectives and general participation we have here the better. What’s on your mind?

  1. January 11, 2011 at 10:26 am

    From Facebook: “You should park as close to your destination as possible.”

    This is a primary assumption. Still, yesterday I chose to walk a block after realizing I wanted to make an unplanned stop. Felt slightly guilty. I should have drove.

  2. January 11, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Nice idea Gary. I think it’s a good idea to entertain new perspectives when you can. The stop lights are what gets me too…

  1. January 11, 2011 at 10:11 am

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