Last year when Chic started school, I hated whined about complained incessantly about did not like the drive to school. She goes to a private church school, so it means driving. It is less than 7 miles to get there, but we have horrible traffic. Between the traffic and unloading everyone and walking her in and talking to this teacher or that (since I am involved in many school activities) and getting home, the minimum round trip time was 45 minutes. Often it would be an hour or more. I had to do that twice a day, except Wednesdays when I taught art, then I was there all day and it was only one trip. This was/is a serious time drain on my life. 1.5-2 hours a day DRIVING. I cannot get anything accomplished then. (Not even phone calls because a large portion of the trip is in a “dead zone.”) And not being the type to be running around town all of the time, the gas used for these trips to school really bothered me. It wasn’t over $3/gallon yet, but just USING that much gas bothered me. I tried all year to find someone with whom to carpool. Several lived in my area, but none wanted to do it. It was frustrating.
I wanted to ride my bike–I had a bike trailer–but there were two obstacles. One was that there was not a bike path the entire route, and the part without would be VERY dangerous for a biker, especially hauling a bike trailer. The other obstacle was a giant hill. GIANT. Cars with smaller motors have trouble getting up that hill. How would I ever make it on a bike, hauling a bike trailer? Biking just was not an option.
Summer over, the whole school grind started again, and I was no closer to a carpool, and still had the same obstacles preventing my biking. Until… a rocket scientist (because apparently it takes one to come up with a different idea) had the idea of driving to an area, then biking from there to his work. I started thinking about where I could drive and then bike. Driving part-way is not as good as not driving, but biking part-way is better than not biking at all. So each day after dropping off Chic, I would scope the route. There was a library at which to park, but there was the block in front of it without a bike path, and I was not sure how to safely get to a bike path from there. There was NO parking where the bike path started. Finally I found a sand road between the library and the bike path. Not optimal, but it would work.
So a month ago I began driving about 2-1/2 miles to the library and biking the rest of the way to school three mornings a week. I make nine trips to school a week, and am now biking 3 of them. Considering the amount I drive, my guess is that I am using 25% less gas every week. Would I like to do more? Yes. Is more realistic? No. 25% is better than nothing.
Biking is somewhat of an inconvenience, but I have decided that to be friendly to the planet, we have to be willing to be inconvenienced. My phrase for this is “conveniently inconvenienced.” The time factor is fine. I spend only a small amount more time biking to school than I did before with the combination of drive and exercise. The incovenience for us is that we are leaving our house 40 minutes earlier than before, meaning our children get 40 minutes less sleep. I allow that they rest a little in the bike trailer. Also, I have to drive Prince Charming’s truck (mid-size) on those days because I do not have a bike rack on my car. (And am not yet willing to spend the money to get one.) I am not a fan of the truck, but most days I do not have other errands. Another factor is that I have to eat breakfast earlier than before, at 5:45 a.m., in order to allow about an hour before exercising. (My body needs that.) And I cannot get dinner made most of the time before I leave for school (which used to be my goal). There are many inconveniences, but it is worth it. If we wait until being ecologically friendly is convenient, it will never happen.
Edited: After many of the comments, I feel like I should edit this to say that this was not meant to be “preaching” about ecology, the environment, or anything else. Not everyone can do this. My point was that for a whole year I wanted to do it but could not figure out how. Someone else gave me an idea to make it possible. But although not everyone can ride a bike or something similar, we can all do something, but it might require thinking beyond our regular ideas and routines. (Or allowing someone else to put the idea in our heads.)
These are a few of the things I have seen on my bike trip. I would be seeing the outdoors if biking around my neighborhood, but some of this would not be seen in my neighborhood.