Challenge #19: Alternatives to driving

Do not use a car for short distances.

Go by foot, use a bike or any other non-motorized mean of transportation.

go by foot

“Come rain or shine I walk short distances rather than taking my car.” 

-Sophie Ellis Bextor

Hey, there!

We don’t know about you guys, but we and most of the people we know tend to use their cars way too often. Seriously, we used to drive to the nearest store, which is less than 1/2 of a mile away from our home, basically every day. But since we’ve started with the Be a Good Earthling project, we do our best not to use our car for short distances.

What is a short distance?

You don’t have to use the same definition of a short distance as we did, but we went with 1 mile. We try hard not to use the car when going to places that are 1 mile or less away from our home.

Our alternative to driving is walking, but if you’ll be using, let’s say a bike, your “short distance” can easily be 5 miles.

It all depends on your personal preferences and the time you have. The point is to make an improvement in relevance to your current habits, to use your car for short distances less often than you do at the moment.

Old habits die hard

We must admit that sometimes we still take our car for distances shorter than 1 mile, but only when we’re in a real hurry. But, since being in a hurry is basically a daily thing nowadays, we still end up using the car for short distances way too often. We really want to change that!

That’s why we’ve decided to make it this week’s challenge not to use a car for short distances at all. That way we’ll force ourselves not to use our car for 1-mile routes at least this entire week. And hopefully, that will help us turn it into a habit, even when we’ll be in a hurry.

We really urge you to join us in performing this challenge. We promise you, you won’t regret it.

Alternatives to driving

How you want to replace driving on short distances is totally up to you. We chose walking because we like it a lot, especially when we get to take it together. We always have nice productive talks when walking and if we pick up our pace, it’s also a nice exercise.

driving_a_scooter

If you’re not into walking, you can choose to ride a bicycle, a scooter, put on roller blades, grab a skate or use some other non-motorized mean of transportation. If we compare those to walking, they will all enable you to choose a longer “short distance”, since you’ll travel with either of those faster than by foot.

At the same time, you have to take into account the fact that you’ll have to leave your bike outside and carry all of the others with you. Moreover, if you choose roller blades, remember to take your shoes with you, since you’re not allowed to drive around in them in most of the buildings.

You see, there are ups and downs to each of those. Our recommendation is to choose the one you like the best. In case you like them all equally, mix them up and use different ones on different occasions.

Things to consider when not using a car

We often tend to forget considering some obvious things when it comes to using non-motorized means of transportation. That’s why we’ve decided to point them out to you.

Riding a bike

First, don’t forget to consider your purpose of visiting your destination at the end of “short distance” route. You don’t want to come all sweaty to a business meeting or a date. Our point is to adjust your pace accordingly.

Second, you have to think about your way back home. If you have to buy your weekly supplies at a grocery store, you don’t want to go with your bike, unless you have a huge backpack with you. Consider a cargo you might be picking up at your destination. In some cases having a bag or a backpack with you will do the trick, but in others, you’ll simply have to take the car.

Third, don’t forget to think about the weather. A heavy rain can really ruin your day if you don’t have your umbrella with you while walking home with some important papers in your hands. You get the picture, right?

Walking in the rain

Benefits of not using a car for short distances

Why have we decided not to use a car for short distances in the first place? Well, there is more than one reason behind it.

We don’t know if you remember, but a few weeks back, we posted a challenge regarding the car exhaust pollution – Challenge #14: What is in car exhaust? You can easily connect the dots and see that we were thinking about how to decrease the usage of our car and with it the exhaust we produce. That was the main reason.

At about the same time, we were also thinking about a way to spend some additional quality time together out in the fresh air. We go running quite often, but if we want to have a decent pace, it’s hard to do anything else besides breathing. So, daily walks were a natural answer for us.

In addition to producing less car exhaust, we also get some daily quality time for just the two of us. Moreover, we get a nice exercise too.

You’ll also avoid the very unpleasant part of finding a parking spot when/if visiting crowded destinations.

Last but not least, you’ll also save some money on gas and parking.

Is walking a good exercise?

The answer to this question is a firm YES. Walking in a not-too-slow pace (3 mph or faster) can be a very good exercise. Don’t forget that walking is basically a full-body exercise.

Of course, you don’t use as much energy as when running, but if you retain a nice posture during your walk, maybe even trying to squeeze in your abs and buttocks a bit, it can do for your body way more than you might think.

walking is a good exercise

Furthermore, according to the latest data, regular brisk walks could be as good for us (possibly even better) as strenuous jogging. Walking counts as a cardiovascular exercise and as such it strengthens the heart and lungs which increases individual’s fitness.

According to dr. Craig Williams a sports science lecturer at the University of Exeter, brisk walking is one of the best exercises out there. Among other statements, he says: “Because it is low impact, it does not have the same potential for injury as jogging. Yet it can offer all the benefits.”

“Walking is cheap, fun, safe and acceptable exercise.”

-Annie Taylor

We really hope you’ll join in on this week’s challenge. Moreover, we are sure, you’ll enjoy your alternative to driving a car. If nothing else, we hope we gave you something to think about.

Take-home points:
  • Do not use a car for short distances!
  • There are many alternatives to driving: walking, cycling, rollerblading, running, …
  • There are benefits of not using a car for short distances.
  • Walking is a good exercise.
  • Shoe type matters – the best walking shoes.

Have a great week!

Love,

Good Earthlings

6 comments

  1. Chanan says:

    Very important!
    In our days when most of us are just sitting at the table a whole day, and locked out indoor, it is very important and healthy to get your body some movement, and also some sun and fresh air, it is beneficial mentally and physically.
    I find it funny that even when people are going to the gym, they go with the car (I thought they’re going to make some exercise……) AND hey are looking for the nearest parking space…
    So let’s get moving around a bit…
    Thanks for your great article!

  2. Kenny Lee says:

    Ok. I’m definitely guilty of driving even to the shortest distance. Maybe I’ve been too comfortable with driving. Or the weather in my country is too hot. Or maybe I’m giving excuses. Either way, I spend most of my time working in front of a laptop and the only walking I do most is getting a cup of water or picking my kid up from school. Time to walk more and drive less.

    • Good Earthling says:

      Hi there, Kenny! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. We sure hope you’ll be able to drive less and walk more. Start by performing this challenge. 😉

      Warm regards,

      Good Earthlings

  3. Hailey says:

    Ever since I started to work, I decided that I wanted a car as easier transportation. Recently, however, I started to realize the impact my car might have on the Earth. (not to mention the cost of gas) So I’ve been taking the bus and it really is quite nice. You get to sit back and relax while someone else deals with road rage and driving. Not to mention- it’s like car-pooling but on a bigger scale. I suggest for some people, if they work too far to walk, but have public transport they should opt for that option instead. It will save you hundreds in gas money while also saving the Earth.

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