Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Going car-free, part 1-car alternatives

  Well, we have done it. The old bongo-van is sold and gone, and we are completely car free. The only transport we have is provided by leg-power, not petroleum. And it feels great. But that can probably be attributed to the fact that the bongo-van was old, decrepit, and had done far too much paddock bashing. As a result stuff was breaking everywhere and it was getting very stressful-the final straw was the husband driving through a watercourse we knew, which had been carved out very deeply by the January rains. Crash went the car as it bottomed out……….and half the exhaust fell off. Added to the loooong list of things-that-are-wrong-with-the-car, it was obvious the only sensible thing to do was to cash in the rego and sell it, which was over a month ago.

RIMG0022 Me in the poor old bongo-van-and this was normal everyday driving for a while!

  We tossed up buying another straight away, but decided against it. It’s an interesting challenge to go without, and it means the money we would use to buy another is saving interest on our mortgage, instead of depreciating in a hunk of metal. In saying that, I do like the security of knowing I could go out and buy a car tomorrow if something dire happened-I wouldn’t be so happy if I couldn’t buy one, full stop. Knowing it’s a choice makes all the difference.

  So, how do we get around?

  We knew the car was on it’s way out when we moved back to town, so we got a house that was well located. In regional Queensland this is of utmost importance-the public transport here is crap (says me, spoilt by jaunting around on Melbourne’s public transport for my teen years). So we have not yet caught a bus. Instead, we have plentiful bikes. These have all been found at the tip shop or op-shop, and are extremely old, but I think they’re groovy. Everyone else in town probably just thinks i’m a hobo. Especially with the milk crate on mine. There is a baby seat on one for Frosty, and we’re working out how to get a baby seat on another, for Shorty. For now, I ride slowly with Shorty and tow him (with baling twine, more proof of hobo-ness) when he gets tired. The girls can ride for miles without tiring, and love it. They’ve asked us not to buy a car again.

DSCF7589 My not-so-new wheels

  Otherwise, we walk. We have the monster pram, which comes in very handy for carting the boys, along with food shopping and a few tonnes of library books. The girls can also jump on top if they’re tired. I will have to tackle the public transport system to go to the next town for Shorty’s hearing test in a few weeks, but it all seems straightforward.

  Oh, and I stopped to talk to a friend at a bus stop a few days ago. I left when the bus arrived, and beat it to the centre of town, about 3kms away. With a 15kg Shorty behind me. It is seriously faster to ride our old, gear-free bikes than it is to catch a bus, or even drive most of the time. There’s no finding a park, we can dump the bike right next to the door of wherever we’re going. It’s only now that i’ve realised how seriously time-inefficent cars are, in distances of under about 5-10kms. Plus, the bike is free.

  If we want to go further afield, we can catch taxis, buses, trains or planes. We can hire a car (although, after getting one for free for two days and working out what we would have paid, it’s not really on our options list. If you have 5 or under to transport, and a Rent-a-Bomb nearby you could do it all the time).

  Next, i’ll post about getting things done-food shopping, big bags of animal feed etc, that you would think you “need” a car for.


Tamara Kelly said...

What's wrong with the crate on the back? Looks quite normal to me. Panniers are a pain.

Miss Practicality said...

It's because I went for the elegant black one-black is elegant, right?!?