How to Give Up Your Car for Good

There hasn’t been a better time in decades to give up gas guzzlers for good. Not only does living car-less significantly reduce one’s carbon footprint, it saves money, promotes a more active lifestyle and lessens the eventuality of contributing to political unrest in oil-producing countries. And, thanks to a last-minute addition to the federal bailout bill authorizing reimbursement benefits for bicycle commuters, there’s even an additional financial incentive to sweeten the transition. Here are a few ways to get started down the road to fuel-less freedom. 

  • Invest in a decent bike. You probably spent thousands on your car, so shelling out a few hundred for a road-worthy bike should be within your means. Hybrid bikes, which combine the sturdiness of mountain bikes with the speed and smoothness of road bikes, are excellent for most all-weather commutes, though train commuters might prefer the manageability of a folding bike.
  • Invest in bad-weather gear. Nothing is drearier than riding in the rainy season without a good set of waterproofs, or maneuvering through snow without warm boots and gloves. Keep a spare set of dry clothes at work — even in decent weather, it’ll be nice to change out of your cycling togs and, in winter, almost imperative.
  • Research your public transportation system. Do buses and trains come on a schedule? Do they stop running at a certain time of night? Do they allow bicycles to be brought on board? Are there pre-tax commuter passes available, or discounted rates? Develop a contingency plan of alternative routes to avoid getting stranded.
  • Change your lifestyle. Live far away from your job? Consider moving — or finding work closer to home. Love to go out of town on the weekends? Join a car-share program or check into rentals, rideshares, carpooling, even buses. Got groceries (or kiddies) to haul? Consider a lightweight bike trailer, or shopping for less more frequently.
  • Can car-free really mean carefree? Like any new routine, it takes some getting used to. But there’s no more significant way you can immediately shrink your carbon footprint than by giving up your wheels, and that alone should be worth the challenge.

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