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Oct 29, 2012

Why You Should Try and Reduce Your Car Usage

There has been a little more chatter than usual in the media about how people in North America are using cars and how those usage patterns are contributing to all sorts of problems to us as individuals and to our society in general.  Health problems like obesity and heart disease are on the rise for children and adults.  CO2 emissions from transportation are a huge contributor to global warming.  Gridlock in the biggest cities in North America is getting worse everyday.  People are spending hours per day commuting in their single occupant vehicles, wasting time, wasting resources, and slowing productivity. Car crashes continue to be the #1 killer of children and teenagers.

I can summarize it like this - we drive too much, it is costing us zillions of dollars, and it is costing us our health too.

However there is a way forward and it is pretty easy to do. Stop driving so much.

Just to be clear - we are not anti-car.  We understand cars are an integral component to the mobility of our society and that cars will be around for the foreseeable future.  Our cities have been built around the use of them and we cannot just "turn on a dime".  Converting everyone to transit, walking, and bicycling overnight is not the goal here.  Changing the way we live our lives takes time, but how much time do we have?

What we can do though is make the choice to use our cars less.  The Pembina Institute in Canada has recently released a report called "Behind the Wheel" showing us just how much time, money, and resources are wasted by excessive driving and how we can help correct the problem.  The benefits for the average household in Canada can be huge, get rid of one of your vehicles and you can keep $10,000 in your pocket.

Less driving is really good for business too.  People and goods stuck in traffic costs the economy billions of dollars every year, even the average Jane/Joe who owns a car has to work 2 hours per day to pay for that car.  That's added to the 1 hr+ that many Canadians spend car commuting to work.  Seems crazy when you look at it like that.  Why not get rid of one of the family's cars, move closer to where your family members work and go to school, pocket the $10,000 per year and invest it somewhere else?

The best part about driving less is biking more.  It saves you money and you get to feel like a kid again.

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