MPC Research Assistant Christina Loranz authored this post.
I hate to admit this, but most days I drive my kids to school. I know, it’s frowned upon, especially in the urban planning world…I myself even frown upon it. But the truth is, school’s a little over a mile away and most days, I’m heading somewhere else immediately after, so in the interest of time, we drive instead of bike. Only once in two years have we walked. That’s hard to admit considering that I’m an advocate of transit, bike lanes, complete streets and pedestrian friendly environments. And for the most part, I live accordingly. My husband and I use only transit to get to work, we live in a pedestrian-friendly town, and enjoy family bike rides to get around on the weekends when possible. Our family of four has one car, which is driven about 8,000 miles/year, much less than the 30,000 miles that two average American adults drive each year.
But, enough patting myself on the back, because in reality, I use my car for short trips almost every day. Everything from the Blue Line and Green Line, a Metra station, libraries, grocery stores, restaurants, shops, parks, our public pool, the post office, and even my dentist and eye doctor are within easy walking distance of my house. My Walk Score is 81. (If you don’t know what that is, check out www.walkscore.com). However, because I have a car, it can be so easy to use it even for the shortest trips, sometimes in the interest of saving time, or because I’m toting the kids, or because the weather’s bad, or for any number of other excuses I tell myself for why I didn’t walk or hop on my bike.
Not on Wednesday though. This Wednesday is the Active Transportation Alliance’s annual Chicagoland Carfree Day. It’s the perfect opportunity to leave the car home all day and use only active modes of transportation like walking, biking or transit. If you haven’t done this in a while, or ever, you might be surprised at how nice it is to ride your bike to the train stop, or how easy it is to try a bus route you’ve never used before, or how pleasant it is to (ahem…) walk your kids to school, hopefully seeing friends and neighbors along the way. And if you are already living a car-free or mostly car-free life, you might be interested in reading about all the destinations you can reach without a car at www.carfreechicago.com.
Take the car-free pledge and have a happy car-free day on Wednesday!