Thursday, June 19, 2008

80 miles, 4 forms of transportation

In an attempt to reduce my dependence on cars, I decided to implement a plan of car free days at the beginning of this summer. But after finding that car free days simply shifted when I drove but did not reduce how much I drove, I decided to commit to being car free for all trips within three miles of my home. This meant that I would use my bike for all trips to the grocery store, library, coffee shops, and hardware store.

My plan worked for about a week. After many frustrating bike trips back and forth between home and store for forgotten items, I hung it up. I was obviously addicted to the car culture which allowed me to not have to think before backing out of the driveway. So what if I was only buying enough groceries for one day or forgot something for tomorrow’s dinner, I could easily run out later. But this way of thinking did not work when I switched to the bike. I needed to change my approach to all errands and get organized but instead, I got off the bike.

That was until yesterday. My son and I had plans to meet friends in downtown Chicago to see the play “Wicked” and while I knew that we would be taking the train from our town to the city, I figured that I would take the car from our house to the train station. That all changed when the day dawned perfect for bike riding. We quickly shifted gears and rode our bikes the three miles to the train.
It felt so good to be pedaling down the road, and once at our destination, it was especially good to see so many bikes locked up at the bike racks at the coffee shop in town and at the train station just down the street. Obviously, during my time away from my bike, when I had continued to spew CO2 emissions into the air with my car, others had gotten the message and had switched to greener transportation.

The Chicago area is fortunate to have so many great forms of public transportation and bike paths. It really makes it easy to get out of the car and form a different kind of relationship with the area you are traveling through. Our train trip downtown, about an hour in length, gave my son and me some time to talk and connect in a way that would not have been possible had we been in the car. Once downtown, the availability of a water taxi on the Chicago River, gave us time to make a quick trip over to the Lego store on Michigan Avenue, before walking back to the theatre to see the play. We figure that we used four forms of car free travel yesterday- bike, train, water taxi, and walking. Other options that were available to us that we did not use were bus, trolley, and the elevated train. Maybe another day we will do a complete public transportation feast and use them all.

I must say that after yesterday, my interest in getting back to the bike in some capacity is renewed. I just need to come up with a workable plan that does not take on too much too soon. Just like my change to eating organic took place over several years, I think this bike thing will take time too. Slower changes will allow my attitude to adjust in step with what I am trying to take on. Now I just need to figure out a good starting place.

1 comment:

cateepoo said...

I like how you turned your trip into a fun adventure. We still haven't tried the water taxis. It sounds like a perfect day! Cathy