We are now a biking, busing, walking family! We’re multimodal!
After listening to every episode of the Family Pedals podcast about families who bike for transportation and are car-free or car-lite, I became convinced that we could ditch my car in favor of active transportation. I thought that I would bike the 9.5 miles from Pittsfield to Lenox daily but I soon discovered that there was only one route I could take and it was full of “no-gos”: no bike lane, little to no road shoulder, steep incline, sharp sloping curves… Perhaps with an electric bike I could make it work but not as a newbie biking mom towing a toddler on the back. I wasn’t sure how to overcome this transportation obstacle until I “discovered” the bus station near my house. The bus would take care of most of the journey from town to town and the bike would serve to get us quickly to and from each station or drop off point.
With a bus and biking plan in place, in mid-February Simeon and I took the leap and began a one month commuting experiment: I would leave my car at home and take only the bus and bike to daycare and to work.
We’re three weeks in and I am happy to report that we are all loving the change! At 2.5 years old Eli is, of course, over the moon to be riding on the bus and bike. And I’m still thrilled by the whole thing, too.
Sometimes I get grand ideas in my head and as I start to implement them they fizzle. Not so with making this very “disruptive” change to our commuting process. We still get where we need to go in about the same time frame. And meanwhile the benefits are numerous.
Biking is good for our health. I’m getting fitter, and Eli and I both are breathing more fresh air and spending more time outside. I find I have more energy throughout the day and don’t desire the usual morning cup of coffee.
Busing engages us with our community. We have met many generous and kind people on our bus treks–people we would have never come across in any other capacity. It gives me a whole new perspective into daily life in Pittsfield and helps me better understand people from different walks of life. We actually get to exist within the diversity of our town instead of appreciating it from afar.
Money, money, money. I spent $52 on a 30-day bus pass instead of the $150+ I might have spent on gas for my car. If we actually do sell a car we will benefit from the additional savings of not paying registration fees, taxes, parking, maintenance, repair, tickets, insurance. That all adds up quick!
We are being better stewards of the earth. The bus is one of the most efficient ways to get a lot of people a far distance. Instead of 20 more cars on the road, there’s just the one bus. Climate change isn’t going to go away until we change.
The more I think and talk about these and other transportation benefits, the more positively I feel about going car-lite and becoming a one-car family. But I’ll be the first to admit: It’s not a piece of cake. Especially biking those Berkshire hills! And traveling via bus takes its own kind of effort and thorough planning. I can’t just jump in the car and go somewhere on a whim. But is that really such a bad thing? Sometimes I feel overloaded with choice and opportunity. It may serve me now to have some structure limitations to navigate within in order to live more aligned with my true values. Otherwise, it’s so easy to benefit from our world of convenience.
And the best part is I can change my mind again in the future as new circumstances, needs, values, or desires arise. This is not radicalism but rationalism. If someone said to you: If you do this one enjoyable thing you to feel more connected, become healthier and wealthier, have more adventure, and feel proud of yourself every day… well… I’d try it out for while. Wouldn’t you?