Un-driving the car, Part 3

My experiment with not driving continues, and I’ve been consciously thinking about lifestyle choices this week that I thought I’d share. First, if you missed Part 1 or Part 2, go, read them now. I’ll wait.

This week has continued winter’s long slow ascent into our part of the hemisphere here in Indiana. Temperatures have been chilly, but not uncomfortable, in the upper 20s to mid 30s.

Monday, I needed to go downtown to a speaking engagement. This meant I needed to be dressed nicely. I had intended to ride my bike downtown, and it was dark and raining, but I didn’t for two reasons — I actually drove. One, I would have ordinarily taken the motorbike, but since I’m still not allowed to ride at night until I get my full endorsement (and after the obligatory waiting period), I couldn’t. Also, I had taken the Rav out that afternoon to get it appraised at a few places and ended up not having enough time to get from where I was, to home, then to downtown. So I just drove straight downtown. But I was prepared to ride the bike and have spare clothes handy.

On Tuesday, I rode to Lowe’s to pickup some lightbulbs. They didn’t have what I needed, so I left empty handed and wasted my time. It was, however, chilly enough that my hands were cold. The rest of me was fine, but my hands were cold so I need better gloves. I kinda already expected that — they’re $6 things from the Gap after all.

Today, Wednesday, I recognize I still need lightbulbs, and may just order them online at this point since I don’t know where else to go for the bulbs I need. I don’t want to go traversing around the city from hardware store to hardware store. I also need to visit the bank to cash a check, go to the library to pick up a book and swing by somewhere to look for gloves and rain/snow shoes.

It occurs to me now that, ordinarily, I would have hopped in the car and went. Went to Lowe’s yesterday, go again today. Go to the bank today, go again tomorrow because I know another check is on the way. Go to the library today, go again tomorrow, because I know another hold request is on the way and will probably arrive tomorrow.

So, instead, I’m exercising some prudent patience and waiting. I’ll cash both checks tomorrow, pick up both books tomorrow and visit Lowe’s again for bulbs. If they don’t have them in yet, I’ll order online. Then I’ll go right next door to check out some cheap snow shoes and gloves at Wal-Mart.

They’re several things at work here, all good, I think:

  1. I’m saving fumes. By not driving 3 miles to Lowe’s today, another 3 to the library and 1.5 to the bank and instead saving them for tomorrow, I’m not wasting (albeit a little) gas or polluting (what little I do with the motorbike). I’m cutting my mileage by half. My carbon footprint on the bicycle is already very, very low, but now it’s even lower.
  2. I’m saving time. By just waiting and exercising a little patience (that I absolutely would not have thought about before), I’m able to stay here at home and keep on working.
  3. I’m saving some money. By not adding any wear to either bike (and I’d take the motorbike because it’s windy — I hate pedaling in the wind), I’m saving a tiny bit of money.
  4. I feel a lot calmer. Forcing myself into not rushing around to be “busy” all the time is very satisfying.

“Well, Justin, you could have always done that and saved yourself the time.” Yes, I probably could have, but I didn’t nor would I have even thought about it. You probably don’t think about that much either unless you actively have something else that needs your attention. We think we need something, we hop in the car and go and our time can be much better used elsewhere or consolidated.

At this point, my driving looks like this assuming I know I have to go somewhere:

  • Is it under 10 miles one-way and is the wind calm? Yes? Then ride the bicycle.
    • If it’s windy or longer than 10 miles one-way, I take the motorbike.
  • Is it raining? Yes? Then take the motorbike. It keeps my drier.
  • Is it dark or will it be dark soon? Yes? Then take the bicycle if it’s under 6 or 7 miles one way and turn on the lights.
    • If it’s dark and further away or windy or raining, then I’ll take the Rav. Until the BMV allows me to take my skills test, I can’t legally drive the motorbike at night.

The experiment continues…

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Photo of Justin Harter


Justin has been around the Internet long enough to remember when people started saying “content is king”.

He has worked for some of Indiana’s largest companies, state government, taught college-level courses, and about 1.1M people see his work every year.

You’ll probably see him around Indianapolis on a bicycle.

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