Today I bought gas for the first time since moving to North Carolina . . . in August.
That might tell you a little bit about how much I drive… Actually the only reason I needed gas at all was that I went out of town last weekend — I could have continued on that tank for another two months at least at the rate I was going.
It occurred to me as I was pulling into the station that I don’t even know how much gas costs anymore; I am so far out of the commuter culture that defined the last year or so of my life.
No lie: it certainly wasn’t a bad feeling. Especially when I found out that regular unleaded is $2.67/gallon here! Good grief. It cost me a little over $30 to fill up my very empty car — the gas light was on and everything.
I drive an ’04 Hyundai Elantra. She gets about 30 mpg in the city and 35 on the highway. Good car, pretty reliable, decent mileage.
I drive to the grocery store . . . and that’s about it.
This isn’t a great walking city — lots of big, scary cars — but it is walkable for the most part. I walk about 1.5 miles roundtrip to get to campus, about 20 minutes of walking each way. At the beginning of each month, I walk 2 miles to drop off my rent check. The city’s downtown is another 2 mile roundtrip, but on a sunny autumn day, that’s no trial at all. I enjoy walking; it’s good physical activity and it fits the pace of my life right now.
I’m also very lucky because students ride the local buses for free. Now, most of what I need is in walking distance so I don’t generally take the bus, but I’m a big fan of public transportation, as you might imagine, so the fact that the option is there is pretty wonderful. The bus goes downtown and to most of the major shopping centers. If I went grocery shopping more often (fewer items per trip) it would be a viable option, but two weeks of groceries is a lot to carry!
I know busier people like driving because it gives them the most control over their time and that makes sense. And not every community is set-up for walking, bikeriding, or PT. But it seems to me that if you have the option of not driving at a given time — whether it’s between home and work or work and lunch or really anything you might want to do, then a little walking or use of the local public transportation is one way to decrease your carbon footprint.
Just something to think about on this dreary Monday.