Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Shopping saturdays and the lack of car

It's September!!! Remember that heat wave I joked about a couple posts ago? We'll it's arrived....


Something I have not talked very much about on here is our lack of vehicle. And when I say vehicle, I mean the gasoline-powered type. Ignoring that, we have many vehicles: bicycles, (both power-assisted and conventional), strollers, wagons... we are just lacking in the car variety.

When we lived in Toronto, this was not out of the ordinary at all. In fact, about half of the people we knew did not own a vehicle; with bikes, taxis, and public transit it was actually faster to get around the city than to try and fight with traffic. It suited our lifestyle just fine. When we moved to Penetang however, things got a little more complicated.

It is by no means easy living in a rural community without a long-distance vehicle. To get around town is fine; we live very close to downtown, so to run to the grocery or hardware store isn't a problem. But if we want to go to the doctors, or any of the larger stores in the adjacent down, we either cab it, or rely on friends and family to cart us over. Even attending family functions requires extra planning, as we have to figure out who has enough room in their vehicle to take 2 adults and 2 children in car seats. Often we have to split up.

All this is compounded in winter. During the summer, I can take the stroller or wagon where I need to, but winters in Penetang are something else when it comes to sheer snow accumulation. It is not hard to find snowbanks taller than I am, and the rest are at least 1 1/2-2 feet. Even though our wagon can convert to sled runners (a genius idea!), making it over the banks without toppling the cargo (groceries, boys, etc.) is tricky.

Our weekly grocery shop

Even with the challenges however, we wouldn't change it, at least for now. I am sure the time will come when we simply can no longer burden our relatives and friends to cart us around, and we'll have to bite the bullet and purchase a car. Chris says he holding out for a hydrogen-powered one (though I fear we'll have to purchase one before the infrastructure is in place to support those!), but we'll most likely have to settle on a regular gas-powered one, or a hybrid, at least.

But I am afraid that once we have a vehicle, we'll start using it more than necessary. Right now we walk/bike everywhere because we have to. Which is fine when you need to go to the library or store just blocks away. I am afraid that though at first we'll agree to only use the car for out of town visits, we'll then decide to use it for our weekly grocery shop. And then one day I'll realise I'm missing an ingredient, and use it to just run to the store. And because we've done that once... before we know it, anytime we go out, we'll be using the vehicle, even when the destination is well within walking distance. Because it's the easy way. Humans by nature will always take the easy way out, why else have we created tools and technology to make our daily lives easier and more efficient? But I am afraid that such a change to our lifestyle would actually be a disservice to us. Right now Chris bikes to work, and I walk where I need to. Ignoring the obvious financial benefits, it is such a benefit to our health, and we can keep peace of mind knowing it's one more thing we are doing to reduce our carbon footprint. But if we purchase a car...

...How could we have a vehicle, and yet maintain the willpower to not use it needlessly?

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