Saturday, 8 November 2008

Why It's Ok To Drive Instead Of Walk

One thing that’s often talked about on simplicity and eco blogs is the use of cars. While I have absolutely no doubt that we really must cut back our use of said vehicles, but there are times when, no matter what’s said about using your legs or a bicycle, that a car should be accepted as the preferred method of transport.

Let’s say you work shifts and finish really late. Or that you’re going to a friends who lives quite a way away. Or even the cinema, the bowling alley or the local social club (but only if you won’t be drinking). Not everywhere is safe to be walking around late at night, especially not if you’re a woman, and unless you’re a really good cyclist who can easily manoeuvre out of sticky situations, in my opinion you’re better off in a car.

I try to use my car less than I used to, even though I neither walk more than a couple of hundred yards or use a bike, but even if I was fit and healthy, I’d still use it at night and especially if I had to travel though a less pleasant part of town than the one I’m lucky enough to live in. Why should I put myself in danger to save the planet? I do what I can, but there’s a limit. I’m not a martyr to the cause and neither should anybody else be. Well, I don't think they should be, anyway.

In fact, there are some places - although not in this town, fortunately - where I wouldn’t walk even if broad daylight let alone at night. If a person has to regularly go to or through those kind of places, I certainly wouldn’t condemn them for using a car.

What I don't like is when people continue to make short, unnecessary trips in their cars. Every day I see neighbours go out in their cars and within minutes they're back. They can't have gone far so surely they could have walked it? Ok, so maybe now and then they're not feeling too well, or have to take something heavy somewhere, but I'm pretty sure that most of the time it's just down to laziness and/or the need for everything to be done quickly.

I know I use my car more than I'd like to, but I have reason to and I do try to combine my trips as much as possible. It's rare that I just nip out for one thing these days. Instead I plan ahead so that I know what I'm likely to be needing and do as much as I can in one hit.

Neither do I like the use of cars that are TOO BIG for a person’s needs. One person can manage fine in a small hatchback and an average family has plenty of space in a medium sized MPV. When I see single people in big, posh cars or mum and her two kids doing the school run in a huge 4x4, my immediate thought is that they’re merely showing off. They’re using stuff to increase their worth within society. Ha! What worth?

It’s what you do, how you do it and why you do it that shows a person’s true worth, not what they drive or own.

They say they have these cars to ‘stay safe’, but what’s so unsafe about taking the kids to school by foot?

Stay safe by all means, I’m all for that, but only when there‘s a real possibility of danger.

Sharon J


Image Credit: Knots


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Teena said...

absolutely! I wont take the risk either. No sense in nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Senisble advice (as always). People can easily put themselves into dangerous situations through their determination to be green but its important to know where to draw the line.

Anonymous said...

My ex boyfriend used to take his car to the garage a few hundred metres away just to buy crisps. Then one day he decided to walk and he was knocked down by a Range Rover crossing the road.

Sharon J said...

@ Teena. No, that's why it's called NONsense :)

@ Anonymous. Yepp. I'm all for being environmentally aware but not if it means putting myself or my family at risk.

@ Anonymous II. Now that's what I call bad luck.

Sharon Rose said...

Hi there-we drive a H reg nissan Micra that cost £350! It gets us from a to b, mainly for work and the weekly shop (very essential for the heavy bags!). A car to us is a tool, not a status symbol!

Simple Sapien said...

Great post, Sharon. I agree with you. I sold my car a few months ago and have been getting around by walking or by bicycle. I did it for mainly financial reasons, but the environmental part is also great.

For those of you who do have cars, there are definitely situations where they are necessary, or at least preferred. When you need to do a big shop, travel in a dangerous place, or get to the hospital for an emergency, a car is definitely necessary.

However, I feel that too many people get in the mindset that if they don't sell their car and get rid of it entirely, that they should not cut back on their driving at all. It is all or none.

Keep the car around use it when you have to. However, you should analyze the situation each time you leave the house. Do I really need my car for this trip? Or could I get some exercise, fresh air, and get to where I need to be by bike or by foot.

I am lucky enough to be sharing a house with my girfriend who does have a car. It is nice every once in a while to have it around for different reasons.

Thanks for stopping by my blog, Sharon :) Love what you are doing here!

- Jack Rugile
Simple Sapien

Anonymous said...

i think there is always an excuse for why we can or cannot do something. i *live* in a dangerous neighborhood (ie, people getting mugged, shot, etc), and i don't own a car.

but at the end of the day, we make the decisions we make. if we can live with them, then that's all that really matters.

Sharon J said...

@ Sharon Rose. Yes, the heavy shopping can be a devil and not everybody lives close to shops. And I agree, a car shouldn't be a status symbol - I for one am not impressed by them. In fact, quite the opposite.

@ Simple Sapien. I don't think there should ever be any all or nothing situations, life isn't that black and white. Unfortunately, as you say, not everybody sees things that way.

@ Paradigmshifted. Rather you than me! But yes, we each have to live with our decisions.

Anonymous said...

I have a biggish looking car but it's only got an 1800 engine. It's quite old and I'm single so usually only drive myself around. I only use it sparingly and drive carefully. I walk if I need to go anywhere in town. I never accelerate hard and I don't speed. Although it's quite old I wouldn't get rid of it for a smaller one. Why? Because if I sold it to someone with a family it would be far more polluting carrying 4 than 1 and I'd just have to get another one - one that someobody else had sold to get a new car they didn't really need perhaps. Twisted logic maybe but it makes sense to me.

Sharon J said...

@ Anonymous. Yeah, when you put it like that, it does make sense. I trust that when your car eventually gives up the ghost that you'll get one with a smaller engine, though?

Canadian said...

Well, if we all starting walking/cycling/taking the bus, it would be more safe, wouldn't it?

I don't have a car, never had one, but I don't feel unsafe.

I have heard friends and family justify their ownership of a car to me (the mere existence of a car-free person makes them feel guilty??), but I've never heard "safety" as a reason. Usually it has to do with 1) tranporting children, 2) transporting stuff (e.g. Ikea shopping trips), 3) public transit not being efficient enough.