DAY 2: Our 90-Day Car Detox

Hi. My name is Paul, and I’m an autoholic. Join Stephanie and me on our car cleanse. 

young man sitting on blue 1967 Chevy ImpalaMy first car was a 1967 Chevy Impala Super Sport. Then Ford promised to take me further. In the 1980s, Toyota hooked me. Oh, what a feeling! Stephanie’s gateway car was a little Mazda Wankel, which made her heart go zoom zoom. Soon an SUV convinced her it was built for the road ahead.

By 2014, some 17 vehicles later, we were adults with grown children. We could get by with one car. Stephanie chose the VW Passat TDI. German engineering, clean diesel and 50 miles to the gallon. What wasn’t to like?

Holy fahrvergnügen!

We all know what happened next. The dieselgate scandal. The lawsuits. The buyback.

Our Passat went back to its maker. And Stephanie and I went home on the bus—pumped up but nervous about this crazy idea: For 90 days, we will not own a car.

Goals

  1. Lead our normal lives … but without a car. That means seeing friends, eating out, volunteering, shopping, going to the gym, experiencing medical procedures, vacationing, going to plays, concerts, museums and sporting events, and taking critters to the vet. I work from home but sometimes have meetings outside the office. Stephanie volunteers in the neighborhood and in the Texas Medical Center.
  2. Reduce traffic congestion. About 29% of Harris County residents say traffic congestion is our biggest problem.
  3. Reduce our carbon footprint. About 26% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. Greenhouse gases trap heat and make the planet warmer.
  4. Save money. 
  5. Keep learning. Hey, we need something to distract us from fighting over the good heating pad!

Ground Rules

But who’s counting?

The priority will be on walking, biking and taking the bus. These options don’t put a car or truck on the road. When a car makes sense, we’ll use Uber, Zipcar, taxis, rent a car or hitch a ride. Some friends have offered to lend us their car, but we’ll try to restrict that to emergencies.

Monitoring

The anal, masochistic one of us will record/calculate the following for each excursion:

  • Mode of transport
  • Distance
  • Time required
  • Cost
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions

Each trip will also be rated on a subjective five-point scale, ranging from “piece of cake” to “pain in the ass.” This will factor in physical comfort, mental anguish, extra time required, etc.

Reporting

Each week or so, we’ll report on the trips we’ve taken. I’ll throw in some color commentary on what we’re learning, the status of our marriage, etc.

Next: Why We’re Doing This

Photo credits: Cleanse 2 by Tanwan Singh, licensed under CC 2.0

4 comments

  1. Curious where do you live?
    I like not having a car and public transportation has given me a new perspective on how other people live, plus slows me down a bit…
    Wear a hat..I can’t emphasize that enough! LOL..
    You don’t want skin cancer, esp on your scalp…

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