Could you live without your car? That’s the question ZipCar, the world’s largest car sharing company, asked when they convinced 250 self-proclaimed “car addicts” to let go of their car for an entire month.
An Ivey Business Review article explains that the participants in the ZipCar Study, “had to walk or use public transportation and could only use their ZipCar membership if absolutely necessary.”
So what happens when people who think they can’t live without their car have to find alternative modes of transportation for an entire month? Some results were to be expected:
- Participants collectively lost 413 pounds
- Distances travelled by bike increased by 132%
- Distances walked increased by 93%
The most surprising result was that 100 of the 250 (or 40%) who had gone car-less actually enjoyed it and did not want their car back. Nearly half were willing to give up their car for good.
Of course many of us can’t let go of our car completely. The people in this study were city-dwellers. Public transport and distances are easier to manage in the city than in the county or the suburbs.
But the ZipCar study highlights two important things to remember:
- It’s healthier to let go of your car … a lot healthier. If it’s healthier for you, imagine the benefits to your children.
- Though you may be among those who can’t imagine living without it, you might not need your car as often as you think you do.
So, if you want to take the challenge, here are eight ways to leave your keys on the hook … without letting go of your car completely:
- Drive your kids part way to school and walk the rest of the distance.
- When you do have to drive to kids’ programs like soccer or piano lessons, park the car and go for a walk while your kids are being active.
- Shop local, use a wagon, stroller, or a grocery carrier on wheels to haul home tonight’s dinner fixings.
- Try a car-free weekend, using active or public transportation to explore your city or town.
- Take a family walk to a local coffee shop on a weekend morning. Again, if none are close by, drive part of the way and park 10 minutes away from your destination.
- Meet the kids at school for lunch and walk with them to a nearby restaurant.
- Commit to a weekly after-dinner family “walk on wheels”. Take bikes, scooters, skateboards, and ripsticks out for a trip around the neighbourhood.
- For young children, public transportation can sometimes be an exciting event all on its own. Entertain little ones with a ride on the bus or a front-seat trip on the subway. Be sure to walk to the bus stop or subway station, too.
Let us know how you fight your car addiction and get active in the process.
Author’s note: This post was inspired by listening to an episode of CBC Radio’s “Under the Influence” with Terry O’Reilly.