Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet.” Take back the use of your feet by choosing a people-powered car or vehicle (like Flintstones - using your muscles, lungs, and limbs) instead of getting around in a fossil-fuel based vehicle. Not only is going car-free much more cost-effective than owning, maintaining, and fueling a vehicle, it also keeps you exercising which helps you stay fit and healthy. And being outside in nature also benefits your mental health by reducing stress. The other benefit of going far free is that you’ll get to your neighborhood (and your neighbors) much better!
Quick Guide: Cultivating a Car-Free Lifestyle
- Be healthier with human-powered vehicle: Putting your body in motion to get from one place to another will help you will enhance your vitality, improving cardiovascular health, helping you lose weight (and preventing diabetes), and much more. It is estimated that Australians save $227.2 million every year simply through the health benefits of cycling instead of driving.[i]
- Save money with people power: It may cost you $0.30 or more per km ($0.48/mile) to operate your vehicle,[ii] whereas you could invest in a good bicycle for less than $500 and maintain it for less than $25 per year. Depending on the length of your commute, that could add up to big savings. Plus, cycling paths are 10 times cheaper to build and maintain than highways, which will help your community save money (and lower your taxes), too![iii]
- Help clean your community’s air and save lives: A recent study showed that by swapping human-powered vehicles for short automobile trips (round trip of 8 km [5 miles] or less) 50% of the time, a community of 37,000 square miles could cut air pollution drastically and reducing mortality by 1,295 deaths/year simply because of improved air quality.[iv]
- Save CO2 emissions with people powered transport: Your passenger vehicle may contribute 5.1 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year or more.[v] Cycling 20 miles instead of driving could cut 1,020 pounds of carbon dioxide from your annual emissions. In fact, in the US, if one out of every 10 car commuters were to choose walking, cycling, blading, running, or some other form of people-power to get to work, the nation’s CO2 emissions would be 25.4 million tons less yearly.[vi]
Take Action! Human-Power your Transportation
- Ease into car-free living: Slowly wean yourself off of fuel-dependent transportation by using human power for getting to work, school, or the grocery store 10% of the time at first, and gradually increase your people-powered outings over time.
- Cycle with your kids: Add a child seat to your bicycle to take your kids with you. Clever Cycles has all kinds of other creative ways to cycle with your children.
- Gas-free car: Try a human-powered land vehicle like the Aerorider.
- Commute by bicycle… standing: Combine your love for walking and riding a bike with a Trikke.
- Run, walk, roller blade transport: Go old fashioned and run or walk instead of using a vehicle. Or strap on some roller blades and head to the trails to get to your next destination.
- Paddle your way there: If you live near the water, consider using a canoe or kayak to transport yourself and your family.
Dig Deeper: People-Powered Transport
- Try the Gas Savings Calculator to find out how much you can save by cycling instead of driving.
- Get lots of information about commuting by bike at CommuteByBike.com.
- Check out these benefits of regular physical activity via the Mayo Clinic.
Image by Ryan McFarlands
[i] Bike Commuting Australians Save Millions in Health Care. (n.d.). Retrieved from Commute by Bike: http://www.commutebybike.com/2008/07/09/bike-commuting-australians-save-millions-in-health-care/
[ii] Yes, You Can Bike to Work! (n.d.). Retrieved from Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition: http://www.gvcc.bc.ca/commuting/commutingtips.shtml
[iii] Alvord, K., & Mills, S. (n.d.). The Benefits of Cycling. Retrieved from Ecolife: http://www.ecolife.com/transport/green-commuter/benefits-of-bicycling.html
[iv] Greehouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle. (2011, December). Retrieved from US Environmental Protection Agency – Office of Transportation and Air Quality: http://www.epa.gov/oms/climate/documents/420f11041.pdf
[v] Grabow, M. (2012, January 120(1)). Air Quality and Exercise-Related Health Benefits from Reduced Car Travel in the Midwestern United States. Retrieved from Environmental Health Perspectives: http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.1103440
[vi] Are You Biking to Work This Week? Why or Why Not? (2009, May 14). Retrieved from Us Department of Energy – Energy Savers Blog: http://www.eereblogs.energy.gov/energysavers/post/Are-You-Biking-to-Work-This-Week-Why-or-Why-Not.aspx