Day 1: My life with Car

I have this picture in my head that describes–though a tad exaggerated–how I feel about having a car: it’s the scene from Network where Peter Finch stands up and says, “I’m mad as hell,” etc., and gets entire neighborhoods and populations so worked up about the crap on their TVs that they throw the damn things out the windows.

Well, I won’t be throwing my car anywhere any time soon but still the scene runs through my mind.

Today is the beginning of a long term project to extricate myself from my car.

This is big. I actually like my car, and growing up in SoCal really can’t imagine life without a car and yet….more and more I view my car as a real drag.

traffic jam

Some of this is environmental–just what the world needs: another cement byway full of cars. Some of the reason is financial–cars are dumb and expensive. Some of it is the sub-conscious recognition that I’m part of the stupid reason we’re in Iraq. A good part of it is simply the question: can’t we come up with something better than millions of cars flying down the road for one reason or another–most of those reasons having more to do with convenience than need.

Yesterday, I signed up for Flexcar and assuming they don’t find something untoward in my driving record, I’ll begin using the system next week.

My short term goal is to find out how it works, up close and personal, and see if I can reduce my car usage to one or two times a week. I’m an ideal target since I don’t really, really need my car, but I use it because it’s easy and allows me to live my life without planning in advance–it’s as simple as that.
bianchi bike

The long term goal is to eliminate my car all together and replace it with a combo of bike, bus and Flexcar. I have no idea at this point how much I’ll have to retool my life to make this happen or even if I can do it. I’ll chronicle the progress here.

Today I have to drive to Bellevue for a business meeting. This is a standing meeting, I could plan for it and use Flexcar but I’m not approved yet. Can’t bike it because I can’t show up sweaty and dirty. Can’t bus it cuz the bus service between West Seattle and Bellevue is insufficient. So I’ll drive it today with a mind towards a future plan.

The trip including meeting is about 1 hr long. The drive over is 20-30 minutes x 2 = another hour. If I stop at the gym, that’s another hour, so basically I’m at about 3 hours where I need a car. With Flexcar in Seattle, that would come to $27 or $36 if I hang around.

That’s gas, insurance, everything.

Now, it’s estimated that owning a car runs the average user around $7 to $8K a year. If I drove my car every day (which I don’t, and I certainly don’t have to) then it would cost about $20 a day. In fact, it costs about $20 a day whether I drive or not, right?

If I drive the flexcar 2x a week, bike the other days, bus it when possible then I’m saving about 40 or 50 bucks a week. Not to helping to work towards a “one less car” future for Seattle.

But I did wonder as I was driving along: would I feel pressured to get back? Would I go to the gym? How would I get to the gym if I didn’t drop by on the way home and if I did, then the cost of the Flexcar actually adds to my gym costs.

Also, there’s the issue of the mileage–the whole trip was 30 miles. At approx. .45 cents a mile, that’s $13.50.

More to be revealed.

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