September 22nd is car free day, where everyone is encouraged to get out of their cars and spend the day walking, biking, and taking public transit. Of course, we know not everyone is going to be able to sell their car and live without one, but if you’ve been considering it, here are 10 benefits of going car free!
You reduce traffic
Anyone who has to commute regularly or lives in a busy area of town knows that traffic can be a real nightmare. The congestion, the pollution, and the noise can be frustrating. Traffic is also hard on our auto infrastructure; roads, bridges, etc. By walking, biking, and taking mass transit, you reduce the overall strain that heavy traffic brings with it.
Driving isn’t exactly safe. There are a number of different studies, each with different findings, but the general assessment seems to be that taking the bus is the safest form of travel, followed by rail and air travel. According to a study conducted in 2000, walking is about 36 times more dangerous than driving. A 2007 study by the CDC found biking to be about 500 times more dangerous than riding the bus.
Vehicular travel is the source of about 75% of the carbon monoxide pollution produced each year in the United States, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. Transportation produces about 27% of our total greenhouse gas emissions. The average 20 mile-per-gallon car produces about a pound of carbon dioxide for each mile driven. Reducing or eliminating how much you drive leads to a cleaner environment!
Cars depreciate quickly
There are a number of financial benefits to saying goodbye to your car. Cars depreciate in value rather quickly, especially if you’ve purchased a new car. If your current car is on its last leg and you’re debating whether it’s time to start using public transit or buy a new car, consider how much money is wasted through depreciation.
One of the responsibilities of law enforcement is to enforce the rules of the road, and many police officers won’t hesitate to give you a ticket if you’re disobeying the rules of the road. Even if you’re a safe driver, a brief lapse of attention paid to your speed, turn signals, and other basic aspects of driving can lead to expensive consequences. But if you’re not driving, you’re not going to get a ticket! Note: rules of the road do apply to bicyclists too. Riding a bike doesn’t mean you get to violate these rules.
As the decades go by, fewer and fewer people know who their neighbors are. A survey conducted by Pew over the last 10 years found that neighbors seem to know less and less about their neighbors each year, which is a significant change from 30 years ago. As a result, neighbors are more mistrustful of one another, and without a healthy civil discourse, some ugly divisions can surface. Getting out of your car and walking or biking means a significant increase in the likelihood that you’re exposed to the people who live around you. Choosing to go car free means opening yourself up more to knowing your neighbors and building a better community.
You save on fuel
Fuel prices spike and drop fairly regularly, but over the decades, the cost of gas has just gone up and up and up. That’s not likely to stop any time soon. In most places, riding public transit is less expensive than fueling up your car. Biking is even less pricey, and walking is just about free, except for the cost of shoes.
No insurance cost
No car, no insurance costs! Pretty simple, right? And without a car, you’re not going to wind up getting into an accident and seeing your insurance rates spike too. That’s not a bad deal!
No more worries about expensive repairs
If you purchase a new car, chances are you’ll only find yourself spending about $100 a year on routine maintenance services. But as time goes by and your car gets older, that number begins to increase dramatically. Vehicles are now built to last longer than many of their parts. Once a car has been driven 100,000 miles, many of these parts need to be replaced. Without a car, there’s no worry about these expensive repairs!
This one’s a no brainer. The health benefits of walking and biking are fairly clear. Those two activities are known to reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease and glaucoma and increase bone density, which is important as you age. However, increased exposure to heavy traffic can increase the risk of heart and lung problems. It’s up to you to determine whether or not it’s safe to walk instead of drive or take the bus.