Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Carless and Careless?

Just before I left Adelaide last June (2010) I got rid of my old Toyota Camry wagon with the vague notion that I wouldn’t replace it on my return. Now that I’m back and using public transport for my day to day transportation needs, I’m not so sure about the wisdom of that decision – but I am determined to persist for as long as practicable.

I’ve even bought myself a bicycle!

Hey, I used to ride a bike until I was 40 or so, but gave up when I took to a job that required me to have a car and use it. Unfortunately, the timing couldn’t have been worse in terms of my health and fitness needs. At forty, men’s waistlines begin to expand as a result of the dreaded ‘middle-aged spread’ and I was no exception. Now that I’ve reached my 60s I am even more conscious of my weight and know that if I don’t work hard at trimming down now, it will be almost impossible as I get older.

So it’s now or never.

The advantages of not owning a car include
  • reducing my carbon footprint
  • reducing my expenses – I figure I’m saving at least $200* a week when I take into account the price of fuel (currently around $1.50/litre), insurance, registration, parking fees, maintenance, wear and tear, etc)
  • reducing my waistline as a result of walking and riding my bike
  • improving my overall health, wellbeing and fitness levels
  • umm, help me out here! There must be more advantages than these…
There are of course disadvantages

  • the time it takes to get from point A to point B is exponentially longer
  • some destinations are not on transport routes
  • having to rely on family members/friends for some of my transport needs
  • getting caught out in bad weather
  • problems associated with moving large (and small) objects
  • the inconvenience – no spur of the moment decisions to go somewhere
  • and don’t even mention dating!
While it may seem that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages, I will persist. Besides, now that I am officially a Senior, I can ride public transport around Adelaide for free between the hours of 9.00AM and 3.00PM, Monday to Friday, and for free all day on weekends and public holidays, which helps save me even more. I can also use my Seniors Card to travel cheaply in other Australian states as well.

However, it is taking some adjusting on my part.

But why?

I recently returned from eight months of worldwide travel which required me to use public transport, or my legs for the bulk of that time, and I didn’t think twice about the inconvenience or otherwise of not having my own vehicle. I did hire a car for a couple of days to get me from Flagstaff, Arizona to Grand Canyon and back to Flagstaff, and I also had the use of a vehicle during my stay on the Greek island of Ikaria. Other than that I was happy to use public transport in America, France, Greece and Cambodia.

So why not now? Obviously, I can, and will, make use of taxis and car hire companies when necessary, so all in all it promises to be an interesting experience which I will report back on here from time to time.

*Western Australia's RAC (Royal Automobile Club) has PDFs outlining running costs across ten categories which suggests that $200/week for a medium sized vehicle is probably conservative.

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