I've never owned a motor vehicle in my life (I'm 30 now). I never needed to. I have a driver's license and I know how to drive. Some parts of my job require me to operate a motor vehicle. But I've never had one of my own.
When I turned 16 and got my driver's license, I simply drove my parent's car. When I turned 18 and moved to an urban area, owning a car would have been prohibitively expensive (car payment + insurance + gas + parking) and pointless since there was a decent mass transit/taxi system. So I didn't.
After college, I stuck with the un-car mentality, since I still didn't need one/couldn't afford it. I looked for jobs that were accessible by mass transit. If I needed to go further, I got rides from my friends or rented a car. A few years down the line, I bought myself a bicycle and now use that as my primary means of transportation. I'm also a zipcar member for those rare errands that would require a vehicle. It never occurred to me that I was making my life more difficult by not having a car. I didn't feel that I was missing out on anything, since I have no knowledge of what I'm missing.
I say all of this only to explain my point of view. As I said, I'm not anti-car. Some of my best friends are car drivers/owners. It's just that I've never had to understand it. When I talk about commuting to and from work on my bike everyday, its not from the mindset that I had to 'give up' something. I'm not choosing between driving to work and riding. I just ride. If I need to run errands, I keep in mind that I can only get what I can carry. It never occurs to me that other people think otherwise. In 2005, when everyone was aghast over the price of gasoline, it rarely made a blip on my radar. I never came from a 'car culture'.
Speaking of 'car culture', I don't see it as a strictly vehicular phenomenon. I assume 'car culture' to mean the behavior of motorists that is entitled, self-involved, dangerous, thoughtless, wasteful, etc. I don't believe this is strictly related to motorists, however. I've encountered plenty of pedestrians & cyclists that also fit that behavior. It's a culture that exceeds that of the motor vehicle.
Tonight, I made the decision to obey all the traffic laws while operating my bicycle. That meant stopping at lights & signs, and riding in a predictable, lawful manner. I will admit that I don't always do this. My justifications for ignoring traffic regulations are myriad: I'm running late, I don't want to lose momentum, there's no traffic, it's raining/snowing, I'm safer than everyone else, blah blah blah. But tonight I decided to see what it would be like to hold myself accountable to the same standard of everyone else on the road.
Note: I don't ride and text/talk on my cellphone, I don't bike salmon (ride the wrong way), I don't drink coffee or other hot beverages while riding, I don't listen to my ipod with both ears. There are some behaviors that even I can't justify.
And you know what? It was fine. I probably wasn't more than 30 seconds later that I normally would have been. And it was cold and rainy and I did not melt or break out in spontaneous hypothermia. It was relaxing.
I realized that I wasn't behaving any better than my 'car culture' counterparts and that I was using the same tired excuses as "they" were. I just believed that I was better because I was a cyclist and the rules didn't apply to me, because I'm the exception to the rule.
Anyway, the whole idea behind this introduction is that I'm not some sort of bike-elitist or snob. I don't automatically believe the motor vehicles are evil, polluting, consumerist symbols along with their drivers. I do believe that we all have a lot of work to do in that regard. BUT, if you do see me start to get anti-car, please understand it's not a judgement, so much as a lack of understanding. I love my bike. I've never been a car owner. My world view is colored by those two things.
The whole reason I'm starting this blog isn't to wax poetical over my bike (I do love it. I love it so much that 90% of my career involves biking). I'm not going to preach the dangers of consumerism or global warming, even though they are noble causes and will probably be touched on here.
No, the reason I'm blogging is that I'm broke, and I need to find ways to live more simply/cheaply. Biking, of course, plays a big part of that. So does recycling/re-using. Living more healthily. Etc.
So were does my money go?
Let me break it down:
Rent: Huge, giant, over-proportioned part of my paycheck.
Cigarettes: It seems like every week they are raising the price.
Eating out: A meal here and there really starts to add up.
Cable: Do I really need HBO on demand?
Phone service: I love my iphone....
Impulse purchases: I know when I went in to the bike shop it was just for some lube, but those lights are pretty, and that water bottle, oh and I need new gloves, and I should get some new tubes......
Tomorrow: what I'm going to start cutting out/back.
$1.39 for a cup of coffee.
$1.50 for a bottle of soda.
Miles Biked: 5.3 (cold rainy day).