By Fredrica Syren:
In the past year, we have committed ourselves to not use our car as much, but to use alternative transportation. In our case, it’s been by walking, biking and using public transportation. Now I have to say that, having three kids, it’s super easy just to hop into a car and get around pretty smoothly, especially in the winter months. However, the carbon footprint from a car is huge and, since we’re trying to lessen it, giving up our car and comfort was the right choice.
More and more people all over the world are giving up their cars for a bike or are walking to save money, get more fit and to save the planet. In fact, vehicles are the major air quality compromisers that produce smog, carbon monoxide and other toxins. Biking and walking reduce dramatically greenhouse gasses that cause global warming and and also can save money.
So how do you get a family of five around town without using the car? Four mornings a week we have three kids and one adult who have to go somewhere, so most mornings my husband and I split up, and one of us takes our oldest to school while the other takes the boys for their 2.5 hours at preschool. Usually my husband bikes with our daughter the 1.6 miles to her school and then bikes another 5 miles to work. If it’s raining or too icy, he will bike with her, then leave his bike and take the train from her school to work. I walk the boys in a stroller the 1 mile to preschool, then return (on foot again) to pick them up. Needless to say, we have given up our gym memberships since starting this routine☺ Sometimes we bike using a child seat, sometimes using a child bike trailer.
During the coldest and darkest part of winter, we’ll take the bus or train to get our kids wherever necessary and have found it to be fairly smooth, actually. Luckily, we have great and affordable public transportation here in Sweden.
So how to go grocery shopping? We still try to bike or take the bus. Luckily, we also have a small grocery store within walking distance from our apartment. Since we now to try to grocery shop only from the farmers’ market once weekly, it’s by far a lot easier. We do use backpacks to transport our food, and it can be fun and challenging. Have you ever tried to bike without tipping over while balancing a monster watermelon?
Do I miss the car? Sure, sometimes. But then I remember how I really did not enjoy sitting stuck in traffic or stressing over parking spots. Compared to driving, a nice bike ride or walk is a no brainer. I also notice how much the kids love being on the bike and discovering things they can see while biking or walking. It reduces our stress a lot, and makes the kids and us healthier.