While I wholeheartedly support people living a car-free existence if they want to, I know that for many of us (most of us?) that’s just not going to be a reality. So in my conversations with folks I don’t ask them to live car-free, but I do suggest, however, that they try “car-light.”
Go ahead and keep your car for long trips, hauling big loads, making out in the backseat, whatever. But in the US, 40% of car trips are for 2 miles or less. Surely this is a bikeable distance for the vast majority of folks.
So here’s my proposition: keep your car, but make a commitment to bicycling (or walking) to any destination that is within 2 miles of your home. This isn’t daunting or intimidating and is absolutely achievable.
Get a rack for your bike, a good lock, some panniers, and give it a go! I’ve always found the secret to be having your bike ready to go just as your car is. If a person has to put air in the tires, find the lock, and figure out what they’re going to wear, then the odds are that they’re going to do the simple thing and just get in the car and drive. So keep the bike ready and, as the song says, just get on your bike and ride. Whatever you’re wearing is fine. You don’t have to dress like you’re in the Tour de France. (If you’re a nudist, though, then you probably want to throw on something! Bicyclists are pretty much a live-and-let-live kind of bunch, but you know how those motorists are. ;) )
Once you’re riding all the short trips, this will most likely lead to going other places and longer distances by bike. Who knows what great adventures lie in store?!
And besides getting healthier, you’ll be doing the environment a big favor. It takes time for a car’s catalytic converter to heat up and start working efficiently. Because of this, the most polluting trips per mile, are short trips and these are exactly the trips that you’ll be avoiding. Good for you! You’ll also get to wave to your neighbors (introduce yourself!), notice wildflowers growing, and be part of a more vibrant, people-oriented community.
Make the commitment for the short trips and stick to it. There’s an adjustment period for sure, but hang in there. You’re going to do just fine - and you’re going to have a ton of fun!