The Claw, or how I learned to love my bicycle
Choosing to do without a car in today's world is not an easy decision to make, or to stick with.
That's one reason I thought to write this blog entry: I bet other Audubon readers have taken a similar leap, and I'm hoping that readers of this post will share their own ideas about how to go car-free (or at least as car-free as possible).
In the interest of full disclosure, I have to confess to one advantage that other readers do not have: I live in Norway, where there are active government programs to get people to use alternative transport, like bicycles.
Let's start with the Claw, for example:
It took our car away to be rendered into teeny pieces, but in Norway, when you turn your car in for recycling, you get money back, a "recycling deposit."
Think of it like the money you get back on a bottle, if you live in a place that has a bottle bill. It's not a ton of cash, but it is some. Don't worry, tho, there aren't people prowling the streets looking for beater cars to turn in so they can get the deposit money back.
Ditching your automobile makes sense both for your own health, and the health of the planet. For us, the biggest issue was our carbon footprint. Transport in Norway represents fully 28 percent of the country's global carbon footprint, according to at least one carbon footprint calculator. That's even higher than in the US, where transport is 21 percent of the footprint. So getting rid of our car was one way for us to do our little part to help with a global problem.
It definitely hasn't been as easy as I thought, even though Norway does do its part to make bicycling safe. For one thing, we have these:
Pretty much all new road construction in Trondheim, where we live, must include overpasses or underpasses for bicyclists and pedestrians.
And then there's these:
Yep, an actual bike road network! Admittedly it's not nearly as good as it could and should be, but it is far easier cycling these paths than it was to ride my bike from my US home in Richmond, Vermont to Burlington where I worked. There it was US Route 2, with very little shoulder. Definitely a terrifying ride.
But... biking in Norway also means we have this to contend with:
That's the snow outside our house earlier this year, in early March. It's a good 12 feet high, piled up by the plow. Then it got warm and melted some, but then in April, we got another two feet of snow!
I'll write more about my trials and tribulations trying to go car-free (especially in the snow) in subsequent posts, but for now I hope to hear more about how Audubon readers have cut their own transport footprint -- whether by getting rid of their car or in some other way. You can also check out this link to a carbon footprint calculator from the CoolClimate Network based at UC Berkeley. Try it out, and do send your stories along.