Ten Top Tips for Cutting Your Car Use

A to B Magazine January 2008

In order to lose body weight the strategy is to eat less and exercise more. The equivalent for traffic reduction is to travel less and exercise more by using the most sustainable methods of travel. My top 10 tips to slim personal travel are...

1 Don't travel if you could stay still or make fewer, shorter trips. Moving less is safe, green, convenient and cheap. After all, travel isn't a finished product - just sometimes necessary to get what we want. Aim to buy less and travel only when essential. Strategies include carefully 'stock checking' what you have and being imaginative about alternatives. Prevent duplication by borrowing, repair or reuse. Or set the venue - invite people, goods or work to where you'll be anyway.

Direct to you and collection services are growing. Buy essentials in bulk. Make your request by post, phone, text, email, web, fax, direct debit or ask a friend. Use more delivery, working at home, home shoppping, courier services, home exercise or make it yourself. Give out good maps to where you live and work. Teleworking and web cam conferencing are high tech answers.

Flexitime and compressed working hours are helpful. Could you work longer shifts on fewer days, or part-time and cut commuting?

2 Proximity. Choose the nearest outlets, nursery, school, job, leisure venues etc for local goods and services. Act local. Only by doing most activities close by can walking, cycling or public transport replace a car. Linking reasons for travel in order to accomplish jobs in a round trip cuts mileage. Gathering wherever most people are or at a midway meeting place at a public transport hub is often efficient. Thinking ahead about what you need and having a shared 'to get' list for your family will cut urgent trips.

3 Journey planning ensures a more direct or pleasanter, safer route, ideally at off peak times and in the light for safety. Walkers and cyclists can choose quieter routes. A cycle map helps avoid traffic, busy right turns or hills.

Knowing the way avoids wasted miles from getting lost or waiting time from timetable gaps. www.transportdirect.info is a personalised planner for any travel mode or see www.multimap.com or www.tfl.gov.uk for London. Cycle maps are from most cycle shops or your council. National Traveline: 0871 200 22 33. Rail Enquiries: 08457 484950.

4 Equipment. Invest in the best quality lightweight, foldable transport equipment you can afford - eg rainwear, umbrella, comfortable shoes, a good bicycle or folding bike, panniers or a basket to carry goods, cycle trailers or trailers bikes for kids/pets or luggage, reflectives, a personal alarm, maps, mobile phone etc.

5 Go the lightest way. Cut fossil energy use by using your feet, bicycle or by being a passenger in a vehicle going your way e.g. car share, park and ride or other public transport. See www.carshare.com or www.liftshare.com to register as a car share driver or passenger. Sharing benefits everyone. You'll pocket the fuel costs as well as those of wear and tear or depreciation - at least 20p a mile even before parking, congestion or toll charges.

When you can choose, pick the vehicle with the best fuel efficiency, often the smallest. Car clubs have different vehicles.

6 Travel together as it is safer, provides company and is the basis of how public transport offers a green choice. Escorted walk to school schemes and bike buddies do help to build confidence. Pedestrian or cycle training could boost your skills.

Enjoy discounts on public transport by buying in advance, on line, with rail or coach cards or by using London's Oyster card.

7 Mix it. Exercise by going part way on foot or by bicycle. Folding bikes or push scooters are easy to take on public transport. Electric bikes mix human with power assisted movement. Or use a moped. Lock it or take a taxi part way and then switch to public transport or lift share. Waiting areas specifically for lift sharers are provided in some areas - eg Gloucestershire's Park and Ride sites.

8 Improve energy efficiency. Regular maintenance of your bike is safer and provides an easier ride. Reduce car drag by removing a roofrack, keeping windows closed and cutting excess weight. Drive off straight away. Turn the engine off if you expect to wait for more than 10 seconds. Alternative fuels give cheaper rides as does not using air conditioning. Car maintenance will keep the engine tuned. Inflating tyres to the correct pressure cuts emissions

9 Slower speeds. An anticipatory, smooth driving style is both safer and greener, plus it saves on spares. Aim to go below the limit in town where 20mph is plenty. 40-60 mph gives best fuel efficiency on faster roads.

10 Get rid of a car or change it, share ownership or join a car club for pay as you go motoring. Carplus www.carplus.org.uk offer advice. Opt for a small car e.g. a Smart Car and trailer. Cars with low emissions save on road tax as do those with dual or alternative fuels. Responsibly dispose of any unwanted vehicle. Not owning a car is the best way to avoid the temptation to drive.

Spend less time and money on travel and you'll have more for yourself. British households spend 1 in every 7 on motoring, more than on food or housing. Do you? Add up the costs of car ownership at www.cuttingyourcaruse.co.uk

Cutting car use saves money, brings better health and is green. Persevere and we'll all enjoy a better quality of life.

Anna Semlyen wrote Cutting Your Car Use (100,000+ sold). The new colour edition updated 2007 is 4.95 per copy. Discounts for bulk orders with free overprinting down to 75p each. Free copy to those considering a bulk order www.greenbooks.co.uk 01803 863260 www.cuttingyourcaruse.co.uk We are actively looking for publishers and authors in other countries (except North America). Email john@greenbooks.co.uk

Anna lives in York. She speaks on traffic reduction. 01904 654355 info@cuttingyourcaruse.co.uk.

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