Monday, November 7, 2011

From auto to bike, in stages

While I still own a car and will need one for the foreseeable future, I have been in the process for some time now of moving from using an auto for short-runs and daily commuting. I began by saying to myself that I would not use the car for trips from home to my office (in my case, a church) under “normal” circumstances.

This, in itself, made an enormous change. Suddenly I was using the car much less. In addition to cutting my fuel bill down dramatically, all sorts of other things began to happen: combining trips became important, making sure I packed a lunch (thus spending less on meals and trips back home for lunch), organizing my day to avoid peak travel times when possible, learning multiple routes and the neighborhoods along the way, and the like.

I then began to make more of my pastoral calls via bike. In my spiritual tradition, that means often bringing communion to members of the community. I had done this years before in a much smaller town, but now I began to do it anew. The hospital is on the way, as well, and it has good bike parking facilities: so, that too was added to the list.

The same with lunches/coffee out. This is a preferred way for folks “in my line” to meet with others, and many of the places I meet with people are in between where I live and where I work. Another part of my driving could now convert to cycling (the photo is from one such coffee meeting).

Eventually, I began to organize my schedule of visiting people further out (and I have some significant driving to do from time-to-time, as well some folks in terrain just too hilly for me to bike). Now, outside of emergencies, I am often able to limit my own car use to one day a week.

The point of all this is to say that becoming a “transportation cyclist” has been a step-by-step process for me. I don’t have a narrowly-defined “goal” for this: it is work in progress. Mostly I am trying find the right balance that leads to enjoyment, good health, connection with the environment and community, effectively living out my work, and cutting down costs.

One of the things I most enjoy about many cycling blogs is the various ways people have come to integrate biking into their lives overall. For me, it continues to be part of having a life where all the parts make sense individually and together. I doubt I’ll get there completely, but to be making some progress in this regard has been delightful, especially in a time when so much of the news we hear isn’t very inspiring or hopeful.

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