Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pledge: One Month Without Driving

My bike was not stolen today while it sat unlocked on the bike rack in back of the hospital where I work. I choose to see this as a good omen concerning bike riding for transportation. (Of course, I am deliberately ignoring alternative explanations: the trustworthiness of passersby, the stodgy appearance of my commuter bike, or the general lack of interest in bike riding.)

I also am reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and have been inspired by her description of her family’s year-long experiment in eating only local organic food, much of it grown themselves. Her motivations are the same ones that are driving much of my food choices these days—concern about the vast quantities of fuel used in transporting food, the effect of factory farms on the environment, the tastelessness of most commercial produce, and the unhealthiness of processed food, just to name a few. But much as I love growing plants, I can’t see myself with the stamina (or sunny acres) necessary to grow my own food. I also am going to have to become much more of a cook before I can give up processed food altogether.

What I can emulate is commitment to living according to my principles, although on a much less ambitious scale. Since my number one concern these days is global warming, and most of my carbon footprint is related to driving, I hereby pledge (drum roll, please) I WILL NOT DRIVE FOR ONE MONTH.

I think that giving up driving is feasible, as I live about 1 mile from a grocery store and shopping center and about 3 miles from downtown Chapel Hill. The hardest part will be riding my bike in the heat and humidity of a Southern June, but that is no excuse for one who spent many summers riding bikes and running in the heat of Washington, DC. One caveat: Cookie and I have a long-planned trip to Tennessee for his high school reunion this weekend, so I will have to make an exception for that trip. But I don’t want to use the road trip as an excuse to put off starting to try to live car-free. I will start my experiment tomorrow, May 30, and end it on July 1, so that I have a total of 30 days without driving. Stay tuned for updates on life without driving.