Ever since my car was damaged (but sadly, not totaled) in the flood this summer, I've been thinking about getting rid of it. I've decided to write regularly about the process for instructive purposes. It's not a simple question to answer, but rising gas prices are definitely pushing this.
For the average household, 4.6 percent of expenses, or $2,229, will go toward gas in 2006, up from $1,951 last year, said John Felmy, chief economist at the American Petroleum Institute.
Experts once believed $3 per gallon was the breaking point. Over the years, however, U.S. consumers have become accustomed to wild price fluctuations and learned to absorb the higher cost. Moreover, experts say gasoline spending amounts to only a small part of the average family budget.
A fall survey by AAA of Northern California reported many commuters felt trapped by the high pump prices. Thirty-four percent said they would continue driving even if prices climbed to $4.99 a gallon.
"For many people, there are not a lot of realistic alternatives to driving your car," said Sean Comey, a spokesman for the California State Automobile Association in San Francisco.
This doesn't necessarily apply to me - I don't pay anything near that for gasoline in a year and, living in DC, I have plenty of alternatives to driving. I've been working on a to-do list for making my decision.
"I was actually angry with myself for never sitting down before this to figure out how much money I was spending on my car," [author Chris Balish] said.
In the three years he's been without a car, Balish said he's saved $36,926.
I'm not sure I'd save that kind of money, but clearly
2) I need to sit down and do the math. How much does it cost to own/operate my car? How much will it cost me to replace it with metro, taxis, my bike, flex car and the occasional rental car? How much time will I spend without it? What about safety? Social costs?
3) I need to give it a practice run. In this article from Houston that's one of the pieces of advice (along with not procreating) they give. Next week, after I get back from watching Texas beat the living bejeezus out of Ohio State, I'm going to go carless for two weeks and see how it goes. It won't be perfect since if I really went carless I would buy a folding bike, but it will give me an idea of what it will be like. Will I be miserable (since I'll have to get up earlier)? Will I miss NPR so much that I cry? Will I lose so much weight that young girls are constantly pawing at me? Will my wallet become so fat that I can't fold it half any more? I'll see.
The Houston article mentions the social downside of going carless.
In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 23-year-old Andy Becker is happy going most places on his bicycle, but getting a date has proved hard.
"It just seems (women) aren't as excited about the fact that I don't own a car, and don't want to own a car, as I am," Becker wrote on Bikeforums.net, asking other bikers for advice.
Yeah, that was the only part of the movie I didn't like. If you want the guy to look like a loser, put him in a Trans Am. (though he eventually uses his bike to get the girl back, so there). Then there's "You, Me and Dupree"
"Yeah, he doesn't have a job, he lost his car, and he gets around on a 10-speed bike from 1979."
What's wrong with that? If I see Texas alum Owen Wilson at the football game, I'll give him a stern talking-to. I mean, even supermodels ride bikes (though maybe they shouldn't).
*The Post will have Balish online for a discussion of the book at http:/