I am in the process of transitioning to a car-lite life.
Using a bike to commute, to run errands, to essentially do everything other than get myself to or from the sanctuaries. And maybe at some point I’ll figure out how to go car-free without giving up the sanctuary visits as well. My first step is to get in gear with bike commuting.
It is a mere 14 miles each way.
Entirely doable by bike. There’s a great local bike advocacy group, there are great published maps for finding bike routes, there are bike commuters online who can help with routes. Millions of people already do this, I’m just going to be one more.
I had heard about a book called “How to live well without owning a car.” I happened to see it at the library this weekend so I picked it up. A lot of the information didn’t apply that much to me. The guy writing the book went car-free by accident, in that his car sold a lot faster than he’d expected, and he went car free while looking for a new car. He saved $800/month by going car free.
Between gas and insurance I’d save under $300/month. Add another $100 monthly for projected yearly maintenance – repairs, tires, and oil changes. It is a fair amount, and more than I’d have necessarily expected. I have no car payments (I paid cash 11 years ago), I have very low insurance (it is a 14 year old beater), and I have no property taxes on it (it is a 14 year old beater). Still, it would be about $400/month, thanks to the gas costs.
And that’s not why I’m doing it. The environment, pure and simple, with an added bonus of the kind of independence that is really only possible when you’re getting around on your own steam.
Another reason the book listed for why to go car free (or at least car-lite) is “Animal Casualties”. It was its own header in this particular chapter. Of course it caught my eye. I couldn’t help but to think about the many deer I see on my travels, sometimes the turkeys, always the small sometimes unidentifiable animals. I can picture the lifeless turtles, raccoons, ground hogs, birds, cats and dogs I’ve seen.
It often makes me feel sick when I see them. The lost lives themselves, but also that I’m in one of those same machines that puts their lives in obvious risk. I find myself braking for butterflies.
“An estimated one million animals die on U.S. roadways every day.” (p. 39) That would be 365 million animals every year. I don’t think butterflies are included in those numbers.
That’s a lot of animals.
“According to the humane society, the most serious threat to wildlife in the U.S. is habitat fragmentation caused by road and highway construction. Fragmentation forces animals to live in areas too small to meet their basic needs for food, water, shelter, and finding a mate.” (p. 40)
Well, you know what’s coming next from me, the person who pointed out the problems inherent in palm oil, and thus products like Earth Balance. And ABC cookies. (I looked online – I used to get them sometimes, but obviously not anymore.)
Yes, indeed, I think that from an animal rights perspective, our transportation choices can’t be ignored without consideration to the costs to the animals. I haven’t even touched on the environmental costs to the animals from the extraction of material that goes into making the cars themselves. This is just the obvious and more immediate cost to the animals. Our sprawl is taking away what they require for life. Our cars are hitting and killing an incredible number of animals.
I just can’t deal with that anymore. I need to align this aspect of my life as well. If I can’t stop it, I at least will limit my contribution to it.
And I’d hope that between the incentives of the animals and the environment and your wallet, you might think about how you can lighten your car usage as well. It is estimated that the majority of car trips undertaken in America are 2 miles or less.
Food for thought, I hope.
I know some will argue that this type of thinking makes veganism less achievable than if we ignored these pesky issues with habitat destruction.
And so perhaps this is really a post for current vegans more than those in the process of transitioning, and a reminder that our consumption is more than the food we eat, and our impact is more than our consumption. I hope most see that veganism is a path, rather than a destination.
Or maybe that’s just me, too willing to see areas where I need to improve to better align the path I’m traveling with where my ethics point me.
Besides, biking is a hell of a lot of fun! In a similar way to veganism opening culinary doors for me, so will biking add to my life. Sacrifices they are not.