We can attempt to teach the things that one might imagine the earth would teach us: silence, humility, holiness, connectedness, courtesy, beauty, celebration, giving, restoration, obligation and wildness.
David Orr from "Earth in Mind"

Apr 4, 2007

Car Dependency of Varying Amounts

The environmental and personal economic impact of one car per adult is high. When you are living in a city where most places you need to be can be reached by foot or bus there is no need for a second car. We have made it for most of the past seven years with one car between the two of us.

When we first met we each had a car but a year later my car's engine block was cracked. We considered getting me a car but never did. To begin with my record with cars is bad. I've only had one accident in all my years of driving but I just seem to cause problems with cars (I've had two alternators go out on me while I was driving). We functioned fine in Durango with only one car for a few years.

I did briefly buy one for a trip to New York because at that point it was cheaper to buy the car that I did than fly. Of course there is the debate about which is more damaging to the environment flying cross country or driving. This one time I chose not to weigh the sides to experience the trip. So for almost six months we were owners of two cars (both over ten years old).

Then we moved to Paonia to live and work on the same property and soon sold my car and kept Kevin's. "Joey" served us well for years until right before we were getting married when he gave up, a good effort for an almost twenty year old car. At that point we were gifted an old mini van for our wedding "Rosy" we named her. She has been great, reliable, sturdy and great in the snow. But she is big and uses lots of gas. In some ways she is a great Denver car, since we rarely drive in town and when we go out of town it is great to have the space for things like skis or boats. Of course we are still leaving our trail of emissions but they are less often than most.

So here we are living in a public transit friendly city with one big car that doesn't get used too much. I guess we are leaving a fairly small carbon foot print, not as small as we'd like but since we can not afford to get a new car, well you know.

And then this two week came upon us. Happily, Alder and I were getting ready to drive to meet friends for a while before we went down to Colorado Springs for the night. But Rosy would not go. Through some wonderful friends we managed to get to the Springs for my dentist appointment but since then we have been car less.

At first we thought this would be no problem. We even contemplated not fixing her for a while, going the bus pass-bike route. Except with a small child that's difficult, especially when you don't have a bike trailer. We've done the best we can, but it's hard to shop for food when it's limited to what you can put in your backpack and the bottom of your stroller. Alder and I have also been stuck missing activities because the bus rides would have been so many and long that it was not worth going.

While we strive to live as green as possible we still rely on a car, more than we thought. In fact last night we went to a Seder across town. The bus ride there was fine, we walked to the stop and literally jumped on the bus. But dinner ended at 9:15 the bus was seven blocks and five minutes later, instead we had over an hour to wait. It was okay since we were in a good mood and decided to walk around the park to a different stop for entertainment. But if it had been raining or Alder had been upset it would have been miserable.

So this morning Kevin took the commuter bus to Colorado Springs to pick up a lender car from his family. A smaller, leaner car. Not our Rosy but then closer in line with our green hopes for ourselves.

All of this has made me wonder about how dependency on vehicles happens. I grew up in New York City where many of my friends did not have cars in their families, many still do not have a car. Groceries were either carried or delivered and there never was anything you couldn't get home on the train or a cab. My family did have a car. We used it every two weeks or so to go away for the weekend. But it was a luxury not a necessity.

I did not even get my licences until I was twenty one, and only then because I had to get somewhere by car.

When in the last fifteen years did I become dependent on a car?

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