Giving Up The Car For Good
Hannah Beal (@hannahrbeal) explains what made her decide to give up the car for good …
Back in September 2012 I agreed to give up my car for a week, after reading this article written by Phil Kirby. I tracked my week on Twitter using the hashtag #givingupmycar, and generally found the whole experience rather enjoyable.
I learned some valuable lessons for when it comes to using public transport. Always, without fail, carry an umbrella. This is Britain, after all. Secondly, invest in substantial shoes – ballet pumps from Primark do not “cut it” it Leeds, in the autumn months. Thank goodness there was no snow like this week, my toes would have been suffering from frostbite faster than you can say “saving the environment and my wallet”.
As part of the week’s challenge, I was fortunate enough to have been provided with a Metro Card, enabling me to travel across West Yorkshire’s fine network of buses and trains. It’s not perfect – far from it, and you’ll know there are some serious congestion issues that are currently being debated. However, I spent much of my youth growing up in a village whose bus service ran to the local town on Tuesday mornings, and returned on Thursday afternoons. That’s right, to go into town via pubic transport you had to spend a minimum of two nights there. So please don’t complain about the public transport in Leeds and surrounding areas, as we’re very lucky to have frequent routes that serve the majority of areas on a regular basis.
I found during my trial week that with some careful planning, I didn’t have to restrict my usual activities, although some adjustments did have to be made. Instead of attending the weekly Saturday morning parkrun in Huddersfield, I attended the Leeds Hyde Park event instead. I changed the day I took part in my Pilates class to ensure I could take part at the Leisure Centre nearest my house, rather than the one I needed to drive to on the other side of Leeds. In fact, with some careful planning, I found I’d previously been so busy trying to do everything and cram everything into the week, I’d been making things over complicated, and over expensive. So at the end of my week, I started thinking about how I could make my life car-less on a more permanent basis.
This week, my beloved Mini (now at the end of its lease) is being taken back to the garage. And I’ve not got access to a replacement vehicle. I’m going car-less, for the foreseeable future.
My intentions are simple:
1. Save £ on my travel budget
2. Reduce my carbon footprint and save the environment (a little bit)
3. Get fitter and more active by walking more
4. Simplify my life a little, but not trying to do too much, all the time
My boyfriend doesn’t have a driving license at all, so he can’t really see what all the fuss is about, but for me, it’s going to be quite a substantial change. One week is one thing, but all the time? I think that may be rather different. How do we get to Barkisland next week for a friend’s birthday? How do we get to my friend’s wedding in the North Yorkshire moors? How do we get to my parents’ home in East Sussex?
Of course, all these journeys are possible via public transport – but some of them cost an enormous amount of money. On occasion, we’ll go over to Manchester for a night out – a gig at the MEN Arena perhaps. Driving over to Prestwich and getting the tram will always be quicker and cheaper than using public transport costing more than £50 for the two of us. Scaling down our activities outside of Leeds may be what’s required where possible.
Despite my reservations, I’m keen to go car-less and see the impact this has on my life. I’m looking forward to embracing the challenge with my umbrella and suitable shoes that are ready and waiting at the back door. What good is a car when it looks like that outside anyway?