How to Travel Less
Car Busters 23, April - June 2005
I need help. At first I enjoyed driving - it felt like freedom on four
wheels. Now, sitting in traffic jams all day, unable to open the window
because of the bad air, and the high gas costs are making it feel more
like a four-wheeled prison.
I want out, but it keeps pulling me back in. Please, tell me how to
Rethinking car use is vital. Staying still or making fewer, shorter
trips are superb ways to cut traffic. Travelling less is safe, green,
convenient and cheap. After all, travel isn't a finished product - just
sometimes necessary in getting what we need.
Imagine a desire comes to mind. How can you achieve it with minimal
Is it essential? In general, aim to buy less by distinguishing a
want from and a need. Taking stock of possessions, repair and reuse all
Full intention requires that your heart truly desires the goal. Also the
belief that you can attain it and total willingness to have the outcome.
Consider buying essentials in bulk, if you can carry them. But, if you
are unsure then conserve resources, relax and think again.
Can it be made here? I create self employment at home or close by.
My work includes a yoga business, writing and organising events.
Unpaid, I do housework and childcare (jointly with my husband). We grow
some spinach, window sprouts and berries and use a breadmaker. Making
cards and presents is fun and creates personal gifts. We know how to
exercise at home and don't need a gym.
Could you compress your working hours (e.g. work four days a week
instead of five) or telework? Even one day at home a fortnight cuts
commuting by 10%
Favour locally made and sourced goods. As well as cutting personal
travel, total product miles are reduced.
Can it be delivered? Brought to you services are fabulous. Put out
a request verbally, by phone, internet, post, email, text, fax or
written list. Remember to ask family, friends and neighbours as well as
delivery staff. Examples are post, financial services, take aways,
groceries, milk, news, babysitting, renewals, cleaning and hairdressing.
For years we rented cloth nappies and had them laundered.
Others will easily find you if you provide the address, written
directions, public transport details and/or a map.
Can it be collected? Things that can be collected: Me, my family,
equipment, direct debits, recycling, child from school, charity bags,
cycle and rubbish are collected. Use bicycle couriers if possible.
Share a lift to work from your home; is there a nearby pick up system?
Lift share and car pooling are mainstays of travel plans. Park and ride
is another example.
Can I set the venue? If you must meet, invite people to where you'll
be for another reason. Teleconferencing and web cam are the high tech
solutions. Usually my private students visit me. If they arrive late,
they haven't wasted my time. Otherwise, reduce your travel by choosing
the nearest place or meeting mid way.
Where is the nearest place for this? Proximity is crucial. Kind
neighbours give, lend or sell me child care, nearly new clothes, pet
feeding, plant watering, videos, books, company, sometimes food and
more. Otherwise, the corner shop often has what I need. I hire a
nearby hall for my yoga business and rarely make appointments that are
inaccessible by cycle or public transport. When going somewhere you've
never been before, ask for directions so that you won't get lost.
When? Urgency often determines transport choice. Thinking ahead can
help avoid congested areas or times. Home shopping, walking, cycling or
public transport are attractive options when there is no hurry.
Can it be linked with another purpose? Overal mileage is cut by
doing complimentary jobs together. Aim to do your errands in a round
trip. For instance, post boxes can be found en route and when I visit
the children's theatre I'll often change our library books as the
buildings are nearby.
Have I got a 'to get' list? Write and carry a list or risk forgeting
a crucial item. Shared lists are best. My husband and I both know what
the other needs getting.
Is the life I want available locally? In Britain people move every
eight years or so. Aim to live well by staying put, walking, cycling or
taking public transport.
Travelling less raises everyone's quality of life. You'll also be
better prepared for when oil prices rise. Good luck.
Author of Cutting Your Car Use, www.cuttingyourcaruse.co.uk
firstname.lastname@example.org. Sales 55,000+. We are actively seeking
publishers and potential authors in other countries to produce local
editions (except North America or Wales). If you are interested email
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