You probably already guessed how: Ditch your car.
Now, before you say, “That’s impossible” and start listing the reasons — you’re a real estate agent who has to drive clients around; you work 50 miles from home; you have to arrive at your destination clean and coiffed; you’re a contractor who has to haul 100 lbs of bulky tools — check out the following video.
These two normal guys in Arlington, VA, gave up their cars for 30 days in a Car-Free Diet challenge. It takes quite a few repetitions to develop a habit, but apparently a month is long enough. By the end of the month, both guys found that they could live perfectly happily 2,000 lbs lighter.
But what about all those good reasons people don’t want to give up their cars? There are so many options, it’s really hard to know where to start.
- Xtracycle, Madsen, or similar cargo bikes. Equipped with a Stokemonkey, even fully-loaded you can tackle those humongous Seattle hills with ease. It’s fun and it’s doable, as you can see from these pictures:
If those pictures don’t convince you that a cargo bike — capable of carrying up to 200 lbs, including another person — could be a good option, check out the Tacoma Bike Ranch, which documents a Tacoma dad’s car-free ways. He moves his kids by Madsen and Xtracycle.
- Electric-Assist Bikes. Already popular in Europe, e-assist bikes make living life by bike achievable for normal non-athletes. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn rides an e-assist to City Hall (a number of other prominent Seattle politicians and Spokane City Council members also opt for two wheels over four). Many mainstream bicycle manufacturers have begun producing e-assist bicycles, along with quite a number of lesser-known manufacturers, as discussed here and there on the web. Electric Bikes Northwest offers a fairly comprehensive discussion of the beauty of e-assists.
- Trailers. Coupled with an electric-assist, a cargo trailer can haul hundreds of pounds — or a double-bass — by bike easily. Burley, BOB, and innumerable other manufacturers offer cargo trailers for bicycles. Fortunately, Bikes at Work provides a handy-dandy bicycle trailer guide to help shoppers sort out the details. For specialized items, Haulin’ Colin in Seattle custom-builds legendary trailers.
This list is by no means a comprehensive discussion of car-alternatives. It doesn’t go into multimodal bus/bike options or give any serious how-to details, as numerous other websites (Way to Go Seattle, for example) already cover those details. Instead, I hope that this post will remind you to “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Advocacy helps, which is why we do advocacy. Education helps, so we educate motorists and bicyclists. But most of all, making the change in your life that you want to see in the world will move us from vision to reality.