I have owned my dear automobile since 2000. She is sleek and beautiful. When I lived in Los Angeles, though I developed distaste for driving at an early age, she allowed me to escape the city mayhem for long road or mountain bike rides on the coast, in the desert, and across the mountains. Yet while great for long trips, I have always chosen to live within 6 miles of my place of work, because I do detest a driving commute.
Now that I live in Boulder, Colorado I donât even seem to need my car for trips outdoors anymore, because everything I need is within biking distance. I walk to the grocery store or take my 1950âs Shwinn Hollywood with cargo baskets. I run a few blocks to the trails at Sanitas Mountain. And I ride the bus to Denver for nights out on the town with friends. My 1.5 mile commute to work is all downhill on the Shwinn so my work clothes donât even get soiled on the way. The uphill ride home invigorates me after a day at the desk, so Iâm ready to enjoy the afternoon. And my Toyota just sits in the driveway. And sits. There must be a better use for all that metal and rubber.
Iâve been meaning to sell my car on craigslist and use the money to buy a commuter bike that is a bit easier to ride long distances, and that will encourage me to continue my bike commute even on the coldest days of winter, when Iâm feeling sick, when I have large and/or heavy packages to pick up, multiple errands to run, and when I know I have long distances to go with physically exhausting terrain. (The Shwinn, while my darling, is a rusty single speed that I rarely take up large hills nor ride on icy terrain etc, so my distances feel limited). Then, just yesterday, I discovered the Car Swap. While I do make the Tour de Fat a must experience event annually, I somehow missed the fact that you are offering to trade the car for the bike. This is ideal, as Iâve been prepping myself for just such an occasion for quite some time. Yes, I think it is time to say goodbye to petroleum based transportation, and hello to dedicating myself to a year of pedal-powered locomotion.
Over the past year my husband and I have been planning a number of means to a local-based, carbon reduced lifestyle.
First, location. We chose to move from the mountains (a 20 minute car commute I detested, there were not even any options for public transit) to the center of the city in Boulder. Check. This meant neither of us would ever really need to get in the car to go to work. (Though we often do, and it does make us guilty! Time to get rid of the guilt!) Our house (built in 1890) is even rated as 20% more efficient than a new code-built home due to energy efficiency improvements completed last year. So weâre polluting less through home energy use as well.
Second, fuel. While I am more than happy to trade my Toyota for a wonderful commuter bike, we do have a love of independent American travel to out-of the way places, and purchased a westfalia campervan this year. But we find petroleum burning unacceptable, so we are almost done converting the gasoline engine to biodiesel, and plan to make biodiesel in our shed with waste vegetable oil from local restauraunts. We have three friends running their diesel cars on straight vegetable oil, so weâll be working together and it will be a great lifestyle challenge to make the time to make our own, renewable, fuel for those occasional weekend adventures in the woods.
Third, food. (body fuel). I realize the importance of buying local and organic. But I am not satisfied sitting there not contributing my part. We have some waste-scape areas of my yard that I plan to convert into the optimum biodynamic gardening spaces. I spent the last year prepping my compost, and this fall I have dedicated towards preparing the soil and planting crops for the winter. The goal is not just food for a self-sustaining diet, but following the advice of John Jeavons at Ecology Action, growing crops in proportions that, when composted, replenish the soil year to year. By starting small and adding growing areas annually, in five years I plan to grow enough food on my land to sustain myself and my husband for a year. I really would like to be an example of how it is possible to live in this self-sustaining manner in the city, with less-than ideal growing conditions and without large, gas and water guzzling mono-culture farms.
Fourth, Choice. Even with the above three goals accomplished. It all comes down to a matter of choice. How often will we fly out of the country to experience other cultures, or to the coast to see my parents? When will our old habits get the best of us and we hop in a car instead of biking a short distance, potentially with no excuses such as bad weather? I donât know the answer to this. But what I do know, is receiving a bike from New Belgium and making a public pledge in front of the Denver Tour de Fat with a commitment to choose my bike for a year will greatly aid my chances. And perhaps it will motivate some others to do the same.