Motivation – why bother?

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Never had a Guest Post before – but Lynsey has bitten the bullet and the second car has gone.  So here’s the story of the transition of Lynsey and Gordon (and her their three boys Munro, Jock, Hector) to having one car….plus a pic of one of the (sore) unexpected consequences!

Motivation – why bother?

The main catalyst for trialling our “One Car family” project  lies with me being caught for speeding -  in excess of  50% of the limit.  As it was January and the time where all household insurances and contracts are renegotiated I thought now is the time to live with one car since my car insurance would inevitably go up.  Further to this I had recently changed to a three day working week and the office is supplied with good transport links which I used to cycle to when I was a good bit fitter and healthier.  Now is the time to get fitter and healthier and use the car less.

Other contributing factors which although not paramount were my personal concern with climate change.  As a beekeeper I have noticed a significant change in the way my bees behave in the unsettled climate. Taking a car out of the equation would surely help –wouldn’t it?

Furthermore, my husband already cycles to and from work and needs a car for work perhaps once a fortnight.  If the day he needs the car overlaps with my work then I have many options such as public transport, car share with my sister-in-law or cycle. No problem there!

So the question becomes “Why not? – to me there seemed very few barriers that good communication and organisation could not overcome. My husband is very pragmatic and suggested we trial the one car family rather than just selling it (which was my initial suggestion). Read on to find out how the trial went.

What has been easy/hard?

Our second car was SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) on 1 Feb 2015 and within a week I had to cycle to work as my husband needed the car.  Not a problem!  I opted for my road bike since it would have less resistance and be quicker to cycle the 7 miles to work.  Back in the day I could complete the journey in 28min but it took me 45mins which is hard to stomach:  but you have to start somewhere and I was relishing the challenge.  I arrived at work unable to stand as I suffer for MS and have issues with temperature control – when I overheat I find it difficult to stand, walk and talk.  Note to self – wear fewer clothes next time.

The second week I had to cycle for one of the working days and wore fewer clothes.  It was raining and fared much better despite having an infected ankle which occurred on the first cycle (see photo).  I managed to get a water blister as a result of my cycle shoes rubbing .  The blister burst  and then got infected due to my immune system being very weak.  The wound took three months to heal and required me to car share with my sister in law on the days my husband needed the car.  No big deal as it allowed me to catch up with her and what her kids were up to. I view this as a positive.IMG_2214

While the second car was off the road it was vandalised (broken windscreen).  This made me more determined to sell the second car as it was now costing money for us to keep it off the road.  At this juncture my husband was still not in agreement to selling it. Perseverance!

Shortly after the windscreen incident, our main car had to go to the garage for a week.  My husband reminds me “now we are a no car family!”  How can that be an issue? We live in town!  As a result we took the train for a weekend trip and the kids loved it.  We were able to chat on the journey and did not have to stop for toilet stops.  Very positive result.

Has the experience been similar to what was expected for me, kids and Gordon?

Our weekends tend to be jam packed with activities for the kids.  We have found ourselves walking and cycling more as a family and also using the bus and train.  The kids love the bus especially sitting on the top deck.  As the bus and train continue to be a novelty the kids are pro the one car approach.  Let’s hope that lasts.

I think it has been easier than expected. When the car is not there the temptation to use it is removed. Communication and planning has improved between us and that has strong feel to it. There have times when it has been frustrating but they have been few and less as the time has gone on. It has, perhaps, stopped us doing something we would have normally done or altered our plans. Sometimes we might not achieve as much in terms of box ticking during the course of our busy weekends. During the week the impact has been limited. Only on one occasion did I have to hire a car and it is easy to do this at low cost and short notice these days.

What have been the unexpected benefits?

I communicate better with my husband as we now need to plan ahead and we compromise and we are both getting fitter although I find I eat more when I cycle.  I also know more about what is happening in my sister in laws life – not sure she likes that!

Our kids have a greater understanding of the environment and are happy to walk further

I have cycled to work pretty much every day and although at first this was hard work in bad weatherI now don’t htnk anything of it.

Tips to others giving up?

  • Be organised!
  • Get your bike serviced – many offices organise a free service session with bike shops
  • Check out the bus and train routes from /to work – for example, if I cycle in I do not have the energy to cycle home and so take the train part of the way back
  • Get a family railcard – it pays for itself quickly
  • Communicate with your partner – it is really good for the relationship as you are forced to talk to each other, plan ahead and compromise
  • Speak to other people with the same family make up – we have three young kids and our children get invited to lots of parties and so we are rigorous in determining if we can get them to the party easily or not before we accept the invite but our mantra in the house is “where there is a will there is a way”

Who looks after your mobility now you have started using other modes?

After a four month study we have agreed to sell the second car and put the money we get from the sale towards solar panels.  Our main car is ageing fast and so we plan to replace it with a hybrid (Gordon has done a spreadsheet assessing the costs of solar panels and switch to new hybrid against reduction in car running costs! Ed.)

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