Trying New Modes Of Transport – Days 24 & 25 of Low Carbon Living

3 paper bus tickets

Source: Gill King, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Days 24 & 25 of 365 Days Of Low Carbon Living.

How do we get out of our ruts, the same ways of thinking and doing things?

I find consciously undertaking a challenge far more effective than just deciding to ‘try’ to change.

Telling other people that I am doing it – and then recording my experience takes it to a new level of effectiveness.

In the past, I have used – and blogged about – undertaking a carbon fast for Lent or Ramadan to try things like travelling without a car. My 365 Days Of Low Carbon Living builds on that.

The situations

1  The day before yesterday, my car needed serious attention. Could I make it to appointments and do some work without car travel, in an area a little outside my travel comfort zone?

2  Today, I had a lunchtime meeting in the CBD followed by another meeting in the adjacent town on the other side of the border to my city. Could I do all my travel by public transport?

What I did

1  I didn’t know how long my car repairs would take, so I ensured that I chose a repairer fairly close to places where I had some appointments that day and could work during the gaps in between. That way, travel during the day would be minimized.

An important question was how I was actually going to get around during the day. The weather was hot and the distances involved were long enough that they were outside quick and easy walks, yet short enough that I didn’t think I could justify the expense nor the time and stress working out bus times and waiting for buses. So I decided to travel only by walking.

However, deciding to get around only by walking introduced another consideration: how could I equip myself for my appointments and suitable other activities for the day in a way that (a) would enable me to do what I needed to do and (b) I could carry without over-burdening me?

Amongst the things I had to factor in were:

  • computer and cord, and key notes, for my work and speech
  • clothing suitable for an assessment at my gym, for a speech (thankfully in an informal situation!), and for walking during the (hot) day
  • hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen, to protect me while I moved about in the sun
  • decent-size water bottle (with water!) to keep me hydrated with all the physical activity and talking
  • towel (in case I needed it at the gym)
  • breakfast/lunch/snack (to keep costs and packaging down)
  • wallet, money, keys, phone etc

That’s quite a bit to cart around, so I opted for a backpack (to reduce strain on my body) – and no heavy piles of paper or anything unnecessary! The load was quite manageable and, rather than cart around or buy multiple bottles of water, I carried my 375ml bottle in my hand and re-filled it at every opportunity.

I also opted for a single multipurpose outfit: nice T-shirt, light pants (shorts), light cardigan (because one venue is always overly cooled), and comfortable trainers on my feet.

How did my day of walking travel go? Fine. While the total walking distance was a few kilometres, the individual elements I needed to walk were quite short. (The longest was about 2km.) Of course, I tried to walk in the shade as much as possible.

2  For my little interstate trip, I caught the intercity bus for the first time.

It was pretty quick, with much more sensible routes than what my local bus routes have become.

And, contrary to popular local opinion, I found the intercity fares quite reasonable. (As I had misplaced my local travel card, I had to pay cash for my local bus today, so I had a direct comparison.) For double the distance of the local service, the fare was only just over 20% more – a relative bargain! And the fares were lower than they were some years ago (according to information from several intercity bus users I know)

I also enjoyed a delightful walk through a lovely park at the end of the brief walk to my destination.

On the return trip, I caught the bus to the nearest stop to my home. While some may say it was inconvenient compared with local bus services, in reality it was only about 5-10 mins longer than the 10 min walk I now have to my local bus services since the last route change. Forecast rain did not eventuate, and I enjoyed a mild evening walk home.

All in all, I’m very glad I tried the challenge: it introduced me to a lower carbon and healthier way of travel that I previously would have consigned to the ‘only if desparate’ bucket.

Why?

I am to minimise my contribution to damage to our common home:

  • Transport is a major source of the pollution that damages our climate and air quality.
    • As electricity generation shifts away from coal and fossil gas and oil, transport will account for an increasing proportion of pollution – unless we rapidly shift away from fuel-based transport.
    • The consequences of damage to our climate are coming faster and worse than generally predicted in the past
  • Car travel is the least space-efficient form of travel, and it requires lots of infrastructure, which is made from materials that damage out climate and that absorb and re-radiate out heat (contributing to localised ‘heat islands’ ).
    • The faster we use cars less, the faster less cars will be on the road, so the faster less road will be needed…and the faster our urban areas will become more people friendly (designed for people rather than cars), less expensive to construct and maintain, and less of heat islands in summer.

I am trying to improve my health. A key to that is undertaking more physical activity. Dietary and lifestyle changes are leading more and more of us to become overweight and unfit, with all their consequences. (Some of the consequences related to climate change are more discomfort during heatwaves and less speed and agility during emergencies.)

I am curious to see if I could live without a car – and reap the financial and other benefits. (Ownership alone costs me about $2000 per year; running costs are on top of that.)

The challenge

Is there one local trip in the coming week that you could make lower carbon? (Think public transport, walking, cycling, shared ride/car, taxi.)

Join me!

Any change or challenge is easier if you have company along the way.

So let’s embark on this journey together.

  • Read my blog every day for ideas, thoughts and experiences for living a lower carbon lifestyle, more in harmony with nature – while also adapting to the consequences of our damaged climate.
  • Subscribe to get posts direct to your inbox.
  • Commit to taking action yourself.
  • Add a comment to let me know you’re joining in the effort to turn around our world so it can remain liveable – and what your experiences are.
  • Share with others my posts and what you’re doing – our efforts, progress, experiences and challenges – on Facebook, on Twitter, in conversations with friends, on talkback radio and in letters to the editor.

A problem shared is a problem halved. We’re all affected by the changes to our world so we need to be all in on the action!

Till next time…

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