Living carefree and Car Free
The norm for most Americans is to get up, shower, get dressed, have breakfast, and head out the door to work. How they get there is varied, but the millions of people do it by car. Some only drive to the parking lot of a commuter train, some to a ride sharing parking lot, and the rest hop on the freeway. That’s a lot of driving no matter which way you go. It’s hard on your car; it costs a lot of money for gas; and let’s face it, it can be an extremely stressful way to start your already stressful day. But what are you going to do?
Like you, I drive a car. After all it’s convenient, fast, and protects me in any kind of weather. But with all the stories we hear on the car radio about climate change and air pollution, I kind of felt guilty every time I turned on the ignition. I felt justifiably part of the problem. I started paying attention to when I really needed the car and when I could either walk or ride a bike. It’s amazing how fast you can do things using a bike. How many times have you gotten out of your car after running errands and felt physically good. Whenever I return from riding my bike to do errands I stretch out and feel both physically and mental refreshed. That gave me an idea.
I’m both the creator of Downtube and a math teacher. I love math, I love fitness, and I love adventure, so in September I moved to Oregon to teach at a University there. While not a minimalist per se I flew in with just a folding bicycle and not much else. That was my great idea; I would not use a car the entire time I was going to be there. It was the first time in 10 years I lived car-free. Some might think of it as a restriction to living a normal life, but what is normal. To me, normal is what you make it. I had a 3 mile roundtrip commute to work every day, a 2 mile roundtrip to the supermarket to get supplies, and a 3 mile roundtrip to the gym, which I have made a big part of a healthy life style. I meant I was riding an average of 10-15 miles per day - in addition to my normal workouts. It has been a wonderful all around experience. I lost 10 lbs and gained tons of fitness in my first month alone. Who needs a fancy weight loss program when you can ride a bike and have fun while you are getting into shape? Since I can’t take a day off when it is rainy or cold I have become more aware of the weather and how to work with it by dressing to suit the temperature, humidity, or the amount of precipitation.
You may not be able to ride your bike all the way to work, but think how good you would feel if you rode it to the commuter train, or the ride sharing parking lot.