Time for A Few Adjustments

Reining in our automobile usage while living in the suburbs is starting to feel like trying to stay sober at a whiskey tasting: even if it’s possible, it seems counterproductive; contrary to the spirit of the endeavor. Still, we need to make the effort, for both practical and philosophical reasons.

The most obvious benefit is economic, of course: fewer miles driven will reduce our fuel expense and extend our vehicle’s service life. There are other tangible reasons, though. The closer we can stay to home, the better we’ll get to know our neighborhood, and we will help reinforce existing community ties as well as create new ones. Also, if society suddenly takes a turn for the apocalyptic, long-distance transportation and delivery of goods and services is going to take a big hit.

The philosophical and ethical considerations contain the idea of community-building, especially considering the incident with the stranger at our doorstep, but they extend beyond that: to how we live on this finite planet, how we treat those more vulnerable to the whims of fortune, and how we see ourselves as both citizens and consumers. Let’s face it: as radiation from Japan makes its way to the coast of Oregon, and ash from Mount St. Helens made its way around the world, we’re all in each other’s backyards now.

It’s not going to be easy, though. My wife would need 90 minutes to take a bus the 6 miles to her college campus, at $1.70 per trip. If our driving cost is 25 cents per mile, we save both cash and time if I bring her up there and go get her, 15 minutes each way, on the two days a week she needs to go. Public transportation isn’t supposed to work like that! It should be an appealing alternative, better in some tangible way than driving. More expensive and less convenient? That’s two giant steps backwards.

There’s more to the story, but it’s past my bedtime and I want to make sure this post goes out by Monday morning. I appreciate everyone who reads this and I’m trying to be more consistent with my updates. If you like this blog, tell a friend! (Telling me won’t hurt either.) 


About poorlocavore

Welcome to one family's journey towards a smaller food-mile footprint on a small food budget. How do our choices affect the environment, and what influences our choices? Read on and find out what I'm learning.
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7 Responses to Time for A Few Adjustments

  1. poorlocavore says:

    that’s odd; I could have sworn I posted this last week. Oh well.

  2. Patience says:

    With the exception of New York City, and maybe a few other cities, the US fails at public transportation. My own small city has three bus lines that will take riders to the faceless shopping mall in the suburbs, but it’s so difficult to take a bus home from the biggest employer in town (the University of Virginia) that I can literally walk home faster than the bus–two miles. We’ve spent time in Italy and Portugal, and it is so easy to get by without a car there. Train tickets are cheap, there are trams and buses and the metro; they run frequently until late at night, with routes to essential places like the airport, and it’s easy to make connections.

    • poorlocavore says:

      Sadly, that doesn’t surprise me. Portland and Seattle are better-than-average, once you get there, but good luck with that. I’ll tell about my bus trips to downtown Portland in an upcoming post.

  3. eatcoastal says:

    Keep blogging…and pondering! We’ve also left the city core this year for parts unknown (to rapid transit). Consider this: if you can’t not drive, how can you make each car trip as efficient as possible? Walk when you can and don’t beat yourself up when you can’t. Organize your errands. Stockpile more. Learn to love your freezer. You’ve always demonstrated plenty of ingenuity, why stop now? Happy 2014!

  4. poorlocavore says:

    Thank you. Yes, we are doing those things, and I found employment close enough for a bike commute. I shall try to post updates soon.

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