I decided to not drive for two months, starting in November until the end of the year. This challenge arose for several reasons, not the least being my fervent environmentalist side. Another reason for this challenge was the fact that since returning from Taiwan I've largely reverted from my non-automobile reliance. With the winter coming up, it was a good time to reinforce the value that driving was a privilege, not a right. This perspective often gets lost in our auto-centric society. But make no mistake, driving is a privilege.
There were, of course, a few exceptions to my challenge: emergencies, helping friends and to go to the mountains. A car is, ultimately, the only option in many sticky situations, and it would be negligent of me to simply ignore the existence of my car. These exceptions proved useful in my first few weeks, as I rescued a friend from a bar with literally nothing left in the bank, and too proud to ask people he just met for a ride home. The weekend after I also drove to the mountains with friends and had a nice relaxing day among wise sages of metamorphic origins.
It wouldn't be a challenge if it was easy. Cycling to work is starting to get very cold. And dark. I slipped and fell on the first morning of snow of the year. It was embarrassing only because I always laugh at all the car accidents that occur on first snowfalls. Until I upgrade my gloves, my fingers will be too numb to use a keyboard by the time I reach the office every morning. My commute has also evolved into a sensitive daily routine not for the absent-minded. Every week at least once I misplace my wallet, gloves, or some fairly necessary accessory, following rushed mornings of making breakfast, preparing lunch, packing work clothes and dressing for the riding climate. I even realized I lost my cellphone, fittingly, after commuting home from work recently. As I write, my friend just handed me his spare unlocked cellphone as a temporary replacement (hopefully not so temporary).
I also had a dilemma on the morning of my friend's wedding. The wedding venue was a fair distance away and sketchy from a non-automobile-reliance perspective; bus access was poor and cycling routes were unfamiliar and excessively circuitous. Plus I left my good shoes at work and had to stop by there first. All signs pointed to driving - this would allow me to reach my interim and final destination in time without the need for pedalling it out, sweating, and changing clothes after, and with minutes to spare to lounge around the house beforehand. But I would be selling out for convenience and ultimately failing my challenge. That morning I was in denial. The decision was grating on me...
In the end, I managed not to defect to the dark side. My bike ride to the wedding ended up being very refreshing and I arrived without a trace of body odour. It reminded me that life is a journey, not a destination.
Only 8 weeks to go!