Our challenge: Give up your car for a week this summer

Good news from this week’s New Scientist magazine: it looks as though we will have freed ourselves from our over-dependence on petrol and diesel before ‘peak oil’ hits and we start running out. How come? Worldwide sales of electric and hybrid cars are steadily increasing. And at the same time, electric car battery technology is coming along in leaps and bounds. Which means batteries should soon drop in price from the current cost of around £7,500 each.

Once electric vehicles are the norm and we find more ways to generate electricity cleanly, we’ll be getting somewhere. In the meantime it makes sense to drive less.

Which brings me – at last! – to the point of this post. Which is to challenge you, our lovely readers, to give up your cars for a week this summer and see how it goes. You never know. You might like it. It mightn’t be as inconvenient as you think. And one thing is certain – you’ll save money.

Our challenge: go car-free for a week this summer!

Why now? Because the weather’s getting better, it’s lovely for walking and you won’t freeze your bits off at bus stops and rail stations. Why a week? It’s a reasonable goal and it’s a short enough time frame to be bearable if you’re seriously car-reliant.

I’ve researched attitudes to public transport on the quiet, bringing it up with people to see what they say. A surprising number of us who moan about buses and trains never use public transport. Which is odd. People who use public transport think it’s great, as long as they live somewhere with good access.

I like bus travel so much I wrote a poem about it. I go into a weird sort of bus trance, almost as relaxing as hypnotherapy and I admit it… I’m probably addicted. You never know, you might feel the same.

Anyway, here’s a few tips to help you:

  • train yourself to enjoy the journey as much as being there – smell that coffee!
  • buses and trains are often faster than going by car but if your journey’s slower, make the most of it. Factor the extra time into your routine for the week and appreciate the view, read, play with your smartphone, learn something new or have a chat with your fellow passengers
  • walk whenever you can – you’ll get fit in no time, and it’s a great way to see the world up close and intimate instead of being insulated from the outdoors in a fast-moving metal box
  • make a note of how much money you save on fuel for the week
  • jot down how much longer it takes to get to and from the places you visit regularly
  • evaluate your car-free week, deciding which bits were too painful for words and which were OK
  • based on your experiences, make a plan to use your car less in future. Work out how much petrol you’ll save over the next 12 months as an incentive

Let us know how you get on

If you take up the challenge, we’d love to know how you get on and we’ll feature you in our blog if you like.

I’m starting my experiment next week and I’ll cover the results here.