Why trade the car for a bike?
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Why I traded in my car for a bike
Submitted by Mark Stosberg on September 26, 2006 - 9:22pm.
posted under bicycle <http://www.progressivewaynecounty.org/tags/bicycle>
This is the story of why I traded in my car for a bicycle.
It's not that many people have asked about this. Rather I have sensed that
people wonder about this unusual lifestyle choice and do not ask.
My story isn't going to be about lifestyle comparison or counting karma
points. I want to convey the emotional parts of this transition.
I had some selfish reasons for wanting to get rid of my car. I don't
particularly like driving them or riding in them. I don't know how to fix
them if they break, and I'm not interested to learn. I didn't like car down
payments, car insurance payments, car gas payments, car breakdown payments
and car break-in payments.
At the time I was considering this, I could also use the saved money. I
calculated that on average my car was costing me about $300 every month.
I reached point where I realized I could get rid of my car, and I really
wanted to. This path was very much in line with my values, and felt right.
Yet, I held back.
I was afraid. I was afraid I would lose my freedom. I was afraid I would
lose my freedom to take a quick weekend trip to Kentucky to see my father. I
was afraid that I wouldn't be able to cut loose and hit the open road.
I was afraid that it would interfere with my business life, that I wouldn't
be able to make it to meetings.
I was afraid that winter would be too harsh to get around without a car.
I was afraid I would become a burden on my friends who had cars.
I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to get my own groceries.
So I put off the decision, despite feeling it was want I wanted to do.
Soon after, my engine died in the middle of a four line interstate just
south of Cincinnati, as I drove home for Christmas. I was indignant that the
mechanic offered me $35 to buy the car. Instead, I paid $1400 to put a new
something-or-rather in it, which was probably an engine.
I drove it home and decided to practice. I would leave my car parked in the
driveway and pretend I didn't own it, unless I had an emergency.
This helped me overcome some of my fears, but it didn't help my car.
Eventually, the battery died from sitting there, and the windshield wipers
need to be replaced. Later, it developed some other reason it wouldn't
start, and seemed to have a brake problem as well.
In the meantime, it got broken into twice will sitting there, by thieves too
incompetent to actually remove the stereo.
By the time I eventually sold it for it for what it worth then, about $800,
I would have put several hundred more dollars into beyond the $1400 for the
While it was nice to conclude this comedy of errors, I had already begun
receiving much value from the experience.
September 11th, 2001 was a memorable day. Besides the national crisis that
erupted in the morning, I had my own crisis in the afternoon. I had a Cope
Environmental Center board meeting that I needed to get to in a hurry. I
decided this was the sort of important event worth driving my car to make it
My emergency-use-only car didn't start. It was useless. I grabbed my orange
1970-something road bike and pedaled towards Centerville. Other people were
still showing up when I arrived. I'd made it fine without my car.
I can pinpoint the first time my car failed to start and I got along fine
without it. I can't recall the moment I knew I was comfortable with my
decision. It's like trying to recall the moment relaxation begins. Sometimes
there is an instant release, but more often then is only an awakening, with
the realization that you've drifted to somewhere pleasant and have been
there a while. That's what my transition was like.
When I awoke, a surprising transformation had happened. I found that my
greatest fear, that of losing my freedom, was unfounded. Not only was it
unfounded, it was completely wrong.
Getting around under my own power provided a sense of freedom and control
far greater than driving my car ever did. I felt alive and connected. When
the weather changed, I noticed.
I was- I am- making a difference. Each foot step or pedal stroke is my own
power transforming time and space.
More than anything, going car-free has been an opening to understanding that
this was only the beginning of difficult but worthwhile fears to face, and
other potential rewards to follow.
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