Transportation Choices

Columnist Shannon Buck
Posted on Wednesday 26th August 2009

One of the first green actions that my daughters and I took in greening our lives was to look into alternative ways to get around town. We are not perfect. I’m not pretending that we never get into a car, but we are not in vehicles every day. To limit my vehicle use, I run errands with my mother, best friend. or sisters. Both of my daughters carpool to hang out with their friends.

Our main effort is not to use modes of transportation that guzzle up gas and oil, and release other toxins. We make choices that work for us.

Our main mode of transportation is our feet. We walk nearly everywhere, sometimes as far as nine miles in one day. Some of our walking errands are:

  • Trips to the post office: About 1 mile round trip.
  • Walks to convenience stores: 2.5-5 miles round trip.
  • Trips to the library: About 5.5 miles round trip.
  • Go out to eat: About 5-6 miles round trip.
  • Walks to the bus stop: About 5 miles round trip.
  • Walks to a playground: From 1 to 5.25 miles round trip.
  • To get an ice cream cone: 3 miles round trip.
  • To go to the dentist: 5.25 miles round trip.
  • To visit our sisters' family: About 6 miles round trip.

As you can see, we do a lot of walking. We tend to combine errands, so that we are not making so many trips. We do, however, end up walking multiple times per day. A typical day may be comprised of 2.5 miles to the post office and the store, followed by walking with my daughter to the next town over—for a total of 7.5 miles. Good thing we like to walk!

My daughters have also used bikes to get around. We learned last summer that there are now gas powered bicycles. If you live far from work or school, these would certainly beat cars and trucks in terms of gas consumption.

When I was in high school, my friends' brother used to hold onto the leash of his dog as he skateboarded everywhere. My daughters and I have noticed a decline in children and teenagers skateboarding to get around, though we have noticed an older man skateboarding regularly in our neighborhood. My older daughter used to skateboard a little with her friends, but none of them do so any longer.

Rollerblading as a family is a great way to exercise. I used roller skates as a child and teenager, though I am no longer partial to skating or blading.

Last year, my daughter took two classes at a high school two towns away. She was able to make it work through a combination of the school bus and the city bus. She walked half a mile to get to and from the school bus, and she walked 2.5 miles to and from the city bus stop. This was great exercise for her.

It is possible to get to most places without a vehicle, if you choose to utilize your other options. What you choose will depend upon your time constraints, but there are many different paths. In the process, you will also be able to maintain a healthier weight and teach your children that fitness is important.

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