The restrictions imposed due to the current Covid-19 pandemic have meant my need for a car (mostly to transport children to different activities) has all but disappeared.
So rather than continue to pay for tax and insurance I’ve decided to take it off the road and see how we get on with just one family car.
Giving up my car – albeit with the option to return it to the road at any time with fairly minimal effort – has given rise to mixed emotions.
On the one hand I love that as a family we have halved our car ownership.
This feels good on the financial front (I’ll save about £120 a month on tax, insurance and fuel) as well as the obvious ecological pluses.
As an offshoot consequence, I now rely entirely on my ebike for commuting.
I have been using it virtually every day anyway over the last 21 months, except the odd very wet day.
I’ve now invested in a big fat front mudguard and some decent waterproof trousers, so I’m ready for all weathers, rather than taking the car in downpours.
This again provokes positive feelings in me.
I have more exercise and fresh air (even fresher with so few cars on the road currently!), very low running costs (I charge it for a couple of hours once a week), and the greater feeling of freedom cycling gives compared with sitting in a car – especially in traffic.
With three kids I’m increasingly aware of the influence we have on them, and how it’s shaping them, and their outlooks on life.
I personally feel having just one family car and relying on a bike for my commuting provides a more positive role model (again on multiple fronts – fitness, financial and ecological) than each parent having a car and jumping in it for every trip – however local.
I also enjoy the sense of freedom from not running a car.
Knowing that – currently at least – I don’t have to budget around £120 a month for fuel, road tax, and insurance, and another £80+ for maintenance and servicing, is very liberating. We can put the money towards family days together and so on.
And this is probably the crux of this whole post.
The automobile, in many ways the ultimate symbol of freedom and independence, in facts can bring at least as many feelings of restriction and burden for its owner.
Unless one has virtually unlimited funds, the costs in owning running a car are usually a significant chunk of one’s overall expenditure.
Which means more money needs to be earned to pay for it.
Then there’s that psychological reliance.
This is best illustrated perhaps by how we feel when we get in our car expecting it to work perfectly and find a flat tyre or a dead battery or some other fault that means we’re going nowhere.
Even if your car is largely very reliable, these occasions still hammer home how reliant we are on them, and what a huge inconvenience it seems when they’re suddenly taken away.
With cameras there’s a comparable dichotomy.
Having more than one (and the means to buy them) gives a sense of freedom of choice.
You’re not “stuck” with just one camera that you have to make work for all occasions.
But there comes a tipping point where too many cameras can feel just as inhibiting, if not more so.
The choice of cameras and lenses laid out before you – rather than being a great symbol of freedom – becomes an ungainly and ugly albatross of indecision.
On balance, so far, not running a car – and the gains I’ve outlined above – feels better than running one.
We’ll see how this evolves in the coming weeks and months.
How about you? What do you feel about having cars and cameras and your (in)dependence on (/from) them?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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