Today, mobility is one of the biggest challenges of our time. We don’t think about it this way, who would! Every day we just grab our stuff and hurry out in our cars or run to catch the bus or the train on time! Then when comes the time to get back home, we do the same backward… simple!
Now, if we consider the cost of car ownership between maintenance, fuel and insurance… and yes, parking! For a thing that we’re only using between 5 and 10% of the time, on average (unless you’re a professional courier, Uber driver or something like that, of course)… Add up some consideration to global warming and the concept of carbon footprint and the bound that we are entertaining with this transportation tool gets more and more arguable. Did I mention public health and sedentary lifestyle as well?!
On the other hand, the alternative to this has been for a long time to squeeze ourself into buses and trains in which rush hours traffic jam gets replicated at the narrower scale with far less private space and fairly frequent scents, not always enjoyable. And I will only briefly consider the issue of buses being a fairly unreliable transportation as they get caught up into traffic, delaying their route at each cross light…
Oh, speaking of traffic… Do you know that concept of “price of anarchy“? It is how mathematicians define what we humble mortals call congestion: too many drivers all trying to take the most direct or convenient route at the same time. Only drivers who take the route early will benefit, while the rest will get caught in traffic…
There definitely doesn’t seem to be a one-fits-all answer to that problem! And surely it doesn’t have to be. In this article, we will discuss 6 alternatives to car ownership and public transportation.
Let’s get started!
1 – Biking
Probably the most obvious alternative is biking. It gives you exercise, releases stress and you can cover great distances with it. My morning and evening commute are 10 kilometers each and it takes me around 35 minutes to get across the city on bike. Then I don’t have to worry about finding a spot once I arrive!
As a workout, biking is a no-brainer! It burns 400 calories per hour, strengthens your lower body, including your legs, and hips while keeping it gentle on the joints. Overall a top notch cardio workout! Also, it feels great going straight through the city without being caught up in traffic. On a bike, you’ll see the environment from another perspective, too!
Obviously it is not for everyone but if you live in an area with a decent bicycle paths network and your one-way commute is below or around 6.5 miles (10km), and you have a bike that you can ride, you might want to give it a try!
Also for those who are not so fond of working out their cardio EVERY time, JUMP is allowing people in many cities in Europe and the US to rent e-bikes! Wish we had them here in Ottawa, Canada…
2 – Car pooling
Maybe you’re not that into exercising (although you should!), or maybe you don’t want to arrive to work or at your friends’ all sweaty and panting… That’s no problem, we have a solution for you: car pooling.
Why not to enjoy the ride to work with one of your neighbors who find oneself commuting to the same area than you. I hear you say, but you’d still have to own a car in order to alternate the rides… Well it depends! On one hand someone with a car in your neighborhood HAVE TO go to work every morning and come back every evening. On the other hand… you do too! Why not seize the opportunity to make some new friends and buy the coffee along the way!
You probably know Waze for their GPS app. Well guess what! That’s right, they’ve also developed the Waze carpooling app!
3 – Walking
This is one that you could complement with the previous one. When you walk to work and you have the chance to go through some nice downtown area, it gives you some fresh air to start your day! You could also spot some nice coffee bar or some shop you could visit on a day-off…
In the winter (when I can’t bike because of all the snow), I used to take a bus that would drop me off around downtown although I work 20 minutes away from from there. But I wouldn’t mind the walk. I could grab some coffee on some sunny morning and that would be a great start to my day. In the evening, the walk would help transitioning form the office to home… The workout is good, too. Especially in the snow!
4 – Car sharing
When you think of it, owning a car sometimes just doesn’t make any sense. When you look at things like car loans, gas prices, the costs of maintenance and insurance… Again for a thing that we’re only using about 5 to 10% in the time of our life!
“The average monthly car loan payment is $533 for new cars and $397 for used vehicles”Edmunds – Oct. 2018
For example, I’ve lived in a downtown area for a while and then, I had no real need of a car of my own. Worse, it would have been a burden because I would have had to park it (and pay for that), or I would have had to play the game of parking in the street and struggle to find a spot whenever I got home after rush hour, when everyone had already been back… So, I was quite happy to find this car-sharing service that would allow me to use cars stationed throughout the city whenever I needed one. All I had to do is pay a membership and a fee as per usage and I wouldn’t even have to pay for gas! Exit maintenance cost and insurance premiums too… That was quite great!
Today, more and more large and medium sized cities are partnering with a variety of specialized vendors but Zipcar was the real pioneer in the industry. In that regard, they keep a one-step-further advantage as the company is the only one in its sector to be implemented globally and offers the ability to its customer to access its cars anywhere in the world.
5 – Roller-blading and skateboarding
Full disclosure, I’ve never been that good with my feet to hop around on a skateboard or roller-blades. But I know a fair amount of people who do, and although you can’t really deal with miles and miles by scooting along, it’s still a decent transportation for shorter distances and the cumbersomeness is enviably minimal. Also the flexibility is great and you don’t have to worry about skating on as sunny morning to find out that it’s raining in the evening. Tuck the stuff in your backpack and hop on a bus!
Paired with a fairly developed public transportation network, these are great! Living in London UK, a lot of my coworkers would use these out of the tube station to rally the office in a heart beat.
Conclusion: Embrace flexibility and go multimodal!
One thing is now sure, things are changing on our roads and hopefully that’s for the better.
Each of these alternatives has its own benefits and everyone can find the right fit according to their situation, abilities and way of life. The great thing about this is that you can get more freedom while you move. You can go with one transportation at one point and use another one later, according to variables such the weather, your schedule or the unexpected: like a meet-up!
In this day and age when fewer is getting planned and much more is spontaneous, multimodal approach to mobility certainly is a way to go. So don’t worry about the destination (or the vehicle) and enjoy the ride!