What if you didn’t have a car?
Think about it. Would it really be so bad? Okay, those living in remote locations where transport is an essential part of life would be lost without their four wheeled friends. But what about those of us who live in urban splendour? In cities and towns where the transport infrastructure is extensive, modern and well maintained, the argument for having a car gets harder to win.
More and more people are going car free these days. The high costs of insurance, fuel, parking, congestion charges, tolls and road tax combine to make owning a car the expensive option. People who ditch their cars in favour of alternative forms of transport rarely miss the expensive garage bills or the added responsibility that comes with motor vehicle ownership.
You could put aside all the money you shell out in one year on a car, and spend it on a holiday in the sun. The extra money that suddenly appears in your bank account when it isn’t being drained by fuel and other car-costs will put a big smile on your face. In short, without a car you’ll be happier. As well as extra dosh, there will be other peripheral plus points. You will feel fitter and healthier because without a car it is inevitable you’ll walk, cycle, skate or run more to the places you want to go. Physical exercise is clinically proven to elevate mood – so, again, you’ll be happier without the motor.
And it’s not just you who will gain when the car goes. Mother Earth will thank you for removing another pollutant from the road. Yes, cars have got a lot cleaner and there are some exciting developments with hybrids and electric vehicles, but they still make their mark on the environment and can be difficult to recycle. Parking your car for good boosts the environment and enables you to tell your friends you are an eco-warrior!
A lot of people who dispose of their car leap onto a bike. This cheap, healthy mode of transport is getting easier and more practical as a means of regular travel and commuting because of the many cycle routes and bike lanes being introduced by urban planners. A safety helmet and protective gear is essential as when bikes and motor vehicles share the same space, accidents can happen.
Many commuters combine compact fold-up bikes with train or bus transport, using them at either end of their journey to shorten travel times. Also, battery powered bikes are growing in popularity in areas where hills and steep inclines discourage cyclists from hitting the road – never before has climbing a steep hill on a bike seemed so effortless than on a battery powered model.
Being totally honest, there will be times when a car is the only option. It may be raining, there may be no buses – you may just fancy a bit of comfort, speed and privacy. For these occasions there are always taxi cabs on hand to take you places. When you say goodbye to your car for the last time, say hello to a reliable, efficient and affordable taxi firm in your area that will be able to take up the slack. Taxis are wonderful services that mean you can have a drink with friends after work without worrying about being over the limit, they can take you to the airport in the early hours of the morning for a flight to somewhere exotic, bring you back from the supermarket with your shopping bags after a long working week – taxis are always available – like having your own car, but without the added hassle.
Reacquaint yourself with the world of public transport. Whether it’s trains, tubes, buses, coaches, trams or planes, they all have their good points. As the roads become more congested, travellers are realising that public transport is a much quicker option. With extra competition, investment and modernisation, the public transport infrastructure in this country compares well to the rest of Europe. It might not enjoy some of the subsidies of other nations, but alongside car ownership it tends to compare favourably on a cost basis.
Giving up your car is not a decision to be taken lightly. Keep a diary over a couple of months and note down how frequently the car is used. If it only comes out of the garage at weekends because you commute during the week, trading it in for a permanent travel card could be your next move. If you need a car for weekend jaunts, hire a rental vehicle, organise a taxi or get a lift with a pal. Simple! Forget all the complications and baggage that owning a car brings and start enjoying the freedom and choice of all the fine transport alternatives on offer…