Saturday, September 05, 2009

Alternatives to Driving

Rising gas prices have led to a flood of articles on saving gas dollars, but most of them focus on things other than actually reducing your time on the road. Here are a few ways I am reducing my driving time.

1. Get to know your public transportation. If you aren't in a major city, it probably sucks. As in: it will take you twice as long to get anywhere. However, this is something that you can get used to. Consider: time that you drive is generally wasted time. You are not accomplishing anything. You are not making meaningful interactions. You're just burning fuel. When you are riding the bus, you can talk to your children, teach homeschooling lessons, make phone calls, pay bills, balance your checkbook, read a book, crochet Christmas gifts, mend socks, etc. The bus may take more time, but unlike driving time it can be productive.

2. Choose one or two days a week that you will drive. For us, it is currently Friday and Sunday. Friday is my errand day; Sunday is church day. I occasionally fall back on the car on other days for birthday parties, lessons, etc, but having two official driving days makes me really avoid driving on those other days.

3. Cut back to one car. It's easier than it sounds. My husband and I have always shared a car. In his old job, our kids walked to school and he took the car. I simply did without a vehicle during the ten or so hours he was gone. If I needed the car, I would drop him off and pick him up, but this wasn't really efficient. Later, when our children began going to a school farther away, my husband took our kids and some neighbor kids to the school on his way to work and the other mom picked them up after school. She thought she was getting off easy because she didn't have to get up as early.

My husband's job for the last several years required some driving, so his company provides one for work days, which eliminates the need for this kind of planning. It's made me lazy, but I'm trying to improve. When we homeschooled, I was getting really bad about spending all day in the car. I restricted my gas budget to $10 per week, and this helped me prioritize my driving.

Cutting back to one car is not just an eco-friendly decision, it is an economically positive one as well. Half the insurance, half the car payments, etc. Similarly, driving less will also save money. It's the way the rest of the world lives, and it's a decision that will probably be forced on us by finances in the near future. As Americans, we need to get used to the idea that oil isn't the answer to every problem.


Anonymous said...

I disagree that driving time is less productive than riding the bus. One may not be able to do all things in both situations, but spending time, especially together in the car going places, can be very worthwhile with simple planning. We homeschool and do many things during commutes- practice rote math facts, listen to biographies and audio books, practice our singing and vocal lessons, discuss current events and learn cross-curricular issues from observing the world around us. Wise use of time is a skill one can learn and use regardless of mode of transportation. When I ride the bus it usually isn't full of people doing profitable things with their time.