Category Archives: travel

Days 161-165: MLwC and Hybrid SUVs

Whoa–lost a chunk of time there, it seems. We went over to Sandpoint, Idaho to visit our friends Diana, Shannon and the young man Henry over the weekend. It’s not an easy spot to get to, but it sure is pretty. We flew into Spokane and drove a rented car from there to Sandpoint.

They have an annual Music festival which this year featured Lyle Lovett and his Large Band (it’s not Big, it’s Large). They also have a number of races and outdoor events; my partner swam the Longbridge event (1 3/4 miles in 1 hour and 15 minutes), while our friend Di did the Olympic triathalon in 1 hour, 34 minutes–both beating their own estimates by quite a little bit. Yeeha!

While there, we got into a discussion about Hybrid SUVs. When the time comes, they’d like to get an SUV for traveling around the countryside of Idaho with their growing family; for their in-town commute, maybe they’ll stick with their smaller car. So, they wondered about the Hybrid SUVs on the market. I wasn’t much help; I follow it a little, but my schtick is really learning how to live with very little car-activity at all.

Just so happens that EcoChic has a very recent article on her blog about a test drive of the GM Yukon and Tahoe SUVs. Alas, the story isn’t altogether a pleasant read for those considering hybrid SUVs–she found the whole experience of driving such a large hunk of metal embarrassing and uncomfortable.

She was invited to test drive the car by GM itself and was accompanied by a spokesperson for the car company. That individual expounded on the fact that these cars are very much in demand by women, due to safety concerns. EcoChic counter-expounds that SUVs themselves mean almost certain death for regular car drivers involved in SUV/car accidents. So, safety for these consumers is a one-sided issue it would seem.

But she does note that in-city driving get 40% better gas mileage and highway driving gets 25%. That’s something, even if the benchmark for improvement starts at 14-15 mpg in-city driving.

She accurately bemoans our government’s failure to pass fuel economy standards, particularly the one in 1991 which would now be saving us a million gallons of gas a day. Who put the kibosh on the deal? Ford and GM, who else?

All in all, she said she would wait for the Chevy Volt–a car more to her liking.

Daily Stats (Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon)

Car: 5 miles (2 tasks, 1 person)
Bike: 8 miles
Ped: lots and lots and lots
Bus: 0
Air: approx 1300

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Day 99: MLwC and a top 5 list

Everybody loves lists so I thought I’d offer a quick one for the MLwC project and for those who might be trying to think differently about transportation in this post-peak-oil age.

Top 5 things to keep in mind (and Please! Add to this any thoughts you might have–I’m just making this list up on the basis of my experience so far)

1. The goal is to simply become more conscious of how you travel, where, when, why, with whom. That is, how many tasks can you combine in order to avoid multiple trips; how many people with tasks can you combine; why are you jumping in the car–are there other alternatives? Is the weather great and do you have a little time? If so, why not walk or bike? Just note what you’re doing–easy shmeasy.

2. Once you’re more aware, little personal contests help a lot. For example, at first I was aiming for a reduction of one day per week of no car usage–just one day. It was a very modest goal and it took a while to achieve it; it may have been a huge hurdle in retrospect. I’ve since completed two work weeks sans car usage without even breaking a sweat. Keep in mind that no car usage doesn’t mean staying home, locked up and out of action. I’ve taken buses, passenger ferries, my bike and of course, walking on my own two feet.

3. It help to let others know what you’re doing. Yeah–they’ll think you’re a freak, but if you’re reading this, you might already be a freak so who cares. Let them know that it’s a sort of game or experiment you’re doing–just to see. They’ll be curious, I’m betting, based on my own experience–and it’ll give everyone a chance to think a little differently about car usage. Especially let your signif-other in on it–who knows, you may be able to figure out some way to jointly think differently about getting around.

4. Make sure your other means of transportation are in good working order. If your bike sucks big time, it’ll be a pain (really!) to ride and you won’t want to continue. If you have to struggle with change for the bus, buy a packet of tickets or a pass–it’ll make life so much easier and you won’t give using the bus another thought. Also, I don’t know about your city, but most companies in the Seattle area do a lot to help their employees use mass transit–check it out. It’s usually the deal of a lifetime–some companies downtown offer their peeps what’s called a Puget Pass which lets you ride the train, the ferries, the buses–whatever, whenever. It’s an incredible deal.

5. This goes along with awareness, but as you move away from using your car as much, be aware when you do use your car–how does it feel? Notice any difference, a tad more sensitivity to traffic, congestion, stress, etc? Just be aware–maybe nothing in your perception will change, but maybe something will.

have great holiday weekend!

Daily Stats (Friday)
Car: 0
Bike: about 8 miles (we ended up riding to the beach for dinner;-)

foot: approx 12 blocks + approx 3 mile walk/run in the park
bus: approx 14 miles

Day 15 & 16: My Life with Car

The thing about business travel is that the “throw-away” culture hits its apex–you keep nothing, you come with only the bare necessities…your trash quotient is likely at its highest, and dislike that as I might, I find myself eating off plastic plates with plastic utensils…everything ending up in landfill.

Daily stats:

Car: approx 20 miles, 10 passengers
bike: 0
flexcar: 0
bus: 0
a pied: 3 miles

San SalvadorĀ snap