Monday, July 21, 2008

"Low Car Diet" - Day 1

I decided (very last minute) to participate in a program Zipcar is doing called the Low Car Diet. I've often considered giving up my car altogether and there are definitely pros and cons. Part of the program is blogging on their site - but if you know me, you know that I have more to process than just a post or two... so here I go!

Here's my car-driving profile... my current commute (5 days a week) is (approx) 2.5 miles each way. Yep, that's a total of about 10 minutes in the morning and 20 in the evening. And I have free parking at home. And free parking at work. Parking expenses alone could be a good reason to get rid of a car and I have none.

My monthly insurance (as a female, over 25, daughter of a Navy retiree, with no major reasons for it to be any higher) is barely over $70/month. This is another area where a lot of people see dramatic savings in giving up their car - but it isn't a huge expense for me. The Zipcar plan that is about $50/month + driving wouldn't save me a lot in that respect. There's another one that only includes an annual fee - the hourly rate is a little more expensive.

My car model gets, on average, 25 mpg. Gas prices are always changing, but if you look at JUST my work commute, that's 25 miles a week right there. That means only 1 gallon in a week.

Of course - my life is NOT just going to work. That's where my driving can increase.

I play on 1.5 soccer teams where games can be as close as Greenlake or as far as Seatac, Shoreline or Redmond. We carpool - so that means I only drive this on ocassion.

I have a significant other who lives about 4.5 miles from my house and 6 miles from my work. There is a (fairly) direct bus line from my work to his place. However, I would either have to transfer to get there from my house (this will change in October when I move) or take the more direct route along Aurora (which just means getting over my fear of Aurora... not everyone who stands along it is working, right?).

I have older (not 100% healthy) parents who I try to see a couple times a month who live 30 miles away - approx a 50 minute drive in good traffic. The same trip on "public transportation" includes 2 hours on a bus and 40 minutes walking. Sounds like good exercise and reading time, but come on! This is where Zipcar will have to come in handy. However, it will be harder to spend the night (which is helpful in with my parents' current health situations.)

I had a moment today where I wanted to grab something I often have in my car. D'oh! I don't have my car here. That means that when I leave in the morning, I'm going to have to know what my plan is for the day. This means planning ahead as far as soccer clothes, casual post-work clothes, gym clothes, etc. I do this a lot anyway - but on ocassion I quickly run home before soccer or going over to the significant other's place. Not to mention stopping at the store to pick something up (beer, something for dinner, etc). I think I need a good portable cooler/lunchbag that I can put in my backpack and just try to be more "prepared" for anything. The good boyscout that I am and all.

When I move, I will have 1 parking spot with my unit. I like the idea of having it free for guests - which would take coordination, but might be worth it in this neighborhood. We'll see...

I anticipate being a little frustrated in not getting to go places on a "whim" as easily. I'll have to be a little more intentional about planning ahead (as I already mentioned). And I'll have to count on friends to help me get places. (Thanks in advance!)

I sure do wish Seattle had even better public transportation options - and this is something I will likely echo a lot this month!

1 comment:

Grounded Girl said...

I didn't have a car until I was 24 years old. I lived first in Washington D.C. and then in New York City, both of which have outstanding subway systems. I never felt the lack of wheels. My parents, who live in a rural area, were always accessible by private bus lines (and then they picked me up at the bus stations).

When I first lived in Seattle, I lived within easy walking distance of my job. It was fantastic. (Okay, the job ended up sucking and the boyfriend moved on, but it was fantastic for a while.) I now use my car way too much, even driving to the LIBRARY which is just down and up one hill, although since I live in the Central District, it's a very steep hill. I am looking for a new job for many, many reasons, but one of my fantasies is having a job I could take public transportation to. I miss commuting.

I just returned from Turkey and would you believe that ISTANBUL has better public transportation than Seattle? (Of course you would. Istanbul has been hip for millenia.) We are so far behind the curve on this one and I cannot figure out why it's so difficult to solve the problem. Seriously. Political will and creative thinking, people. Right now, it's a catch-22, though.

Good on you for tackling it head on and actually doing something about it!

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