Oh The Irony...

As I've stated many times in previous posts I am not even close to being car-free (OK, maybe I am close, but I still own a truck) but I would call myself--what Katie Alvord refers to in her excellent book, Divorce Your Car--as "Car-Lite." I own a motorized vehicle but I don't use it that often...this time of year I often only start it to "drive" it from one side of the street to the other when the parking dates change. And sometimes I wonder why I do (but then a -5F day in Jauary reminds me). At any rate, whether I drive it or not this thing costs money, a lot of money.

I beleive car ownership is like a lesser version of a house (indeed, many car payments today are as much as a monthly mortgage payment)...if you buy it new it costs a lot on a monthly basis, and if you buy an older model (or a fixer-upper house) you're constantly putting money into it. And as I refuse (yes refuse) to have a monthly car payment. I tend to purchase older cars/trucks (and use them until they are virtually un-drivable). The drawback is inspection time...today was no different: to have my truck pass inspection it cost me $434.

Click here and here to see a couple examples of the true cost of owning a car.

Now here's the irony.

I drove my truck to the shop before work, which is only about a mile away. To facilitate my transport to-and-from work I carried "the mule" in the back. This is a bike (an old Trek) that cost me $40 at a flea market, plus about another $100 in upgrades. I was feeling stressed about my workday ahead and about taking my truck in for inspection. But when I hopped on the bike I felt good...and that truly embodies the real reason that I ride.

Sure I ride bikes because it gives me that warm fuzzy feeling that I'm "doing my part," and I'm able to feel all rightous at the yuppie coffee shop or food co-op. But the real reason that I often choose to ride bikes (or walk) instead of driving my vehicle is because I enjoy it...it truly makes me feel free. Everything else is simply a byproduct.

Lastly, here's a quick dream I had last night (honestly):

First I have to preface it by saying that prior to the eleven-year-old truck I currently own (for the past year) I owned another of the same model that was nearly seventeen-years-old. My auto mechanics, to say the least, know me by name.

Anyhow, as I slept last night I had a dream where the head mechanic said to me (lectured me?), "you know, Joe, the last truck you had you only drove it about 3500 miles a year (I drove more than that), but this newer model you drive about 10,000 miles a year (more accurate)...don't you think you should slow down a little?"


I truly believe that dreams are a powerful window into the subconscious (totally uninhibited thought) and I often try to analyze them. In this case I believe I am chagrined over spending money on a vehicle that I don't use that frequently, and also thinking I should phase it out even more.

I'm not sure if irony is exactly to correct word to use (I never really know if I'm using this word correctly, but I know there's another metaphor in there somewhere that I'm not ready to address...

Urban Simplicity.


blighty rider said…
10,000 miles a year in your truck is quite a long way from being car free and a long way from car lite. What are you doing to get such high mileage in your urban lifestyle?
What mileage is your cut off point mileage from car ownership to occasional car hire when needed? The point where you deem it cheaper to hire once in a while rather than own a motor vehicle.
Great blog and please don't think I'm having a go at you. It's great that you use your bike(s) as you do and it is a fantastic achievement in car centric USA.
Joe said…
Hi Blighty,

...didn't do the math, I guess. Average about 300-400 miles per month (maybe even less as I've never actually kept track)...which would be 3600-4800 per year.

Thanks for reading.