The Trials and Tribulations of Being Car Free
When fellow urbanMama Olivia and I signed up for the Low-Car Diet Challenge, I was really enthused. I didn't think it through entirely, but reducing the use of our family car has been in the back of my mind for a long time. When the challenge started a few weeks ago, it didn't feel so bad. I was already commuting by bike and bus to work. My husband and I just needed to integrate the bike into our childcare drop-off and pick-up routine; and social activities. When he was around for week one, it worked beautifully sharing the load between the two of us.
Snafu 1: Reality hit with week 2 when the weather turned rainy, the week was jammed with early morning work engagements, and a husband / father that was 5000 miles away for work. Mentally, I had to change gears and really focus and plan how I would it make through the next two weeks without an extra set of legs (that are made for pedaling) around to share in the hauling. The main blip was the rain. Cole stayed nice and dry in the trailer, and Carter in his nice waterproof breathable rain coat and pants, while I was a soaking mess. When I retold my sob story, most recommended "You should get fenders." Ahem, I do have fenders, but they certainly don't keep your lower body dry. Solution 1: It's only rain! After I stopped pouting, I wiped myself dry in the bathroom and changed. When I heard others complain about the traffic and their miserable commute into work, I realized that the rain only delayed me only a few minutes and I made it to my meeting on time.
Snafu 2: The other major issue? The Eastside is hilly, you don't notice it quite as much from the comforts of your car. It also finally occurred to me that my commute distance had doubled and that I was biking 10 miles each day, most of it hauling children. No wonder why my legs were aching, and I was a sweaty mess when I arrived to work! Solution 2: I made sure I was out of the door by 7:30 am on day I had to moderate an 8:30 am session. I wiped myself dry with a towel, put on some deodorant, pulled my hair back and changed into work clothes. I hung up my wet clothes in the bathroom and left them there to dry. Who would want to steal my stinky clothes?
Snafu 3: To top the whole experience off so far in week 3, I got a flat tire after dropping kid number two off. I left my pump in the trailer left at kid number 1's daycare, and the my back up bikes had flats as well. Solution 3: I walked the bike to the local bike shop (they're awesome!) and worked from home.
Should I give up? Should I be discouraged? The good comes with the bad, and practice makes perfect. The more I bike, the easier it seems. It's been a few weeks, and I've found that I've developed a biking rhythm. And those pre-pre-pregnancy shorts that I kept around from 4 years ago? I can now slide into them.
What are your tips for biking more and driving less? How did you go about venturing into more biking activities? If you're a casual biker, what are some of your fears? We want to hear from you!