Monday, 11 March 2013
We've had trouble with our car in the last six months, and recently we were without a car, for nearly two weeks while it languished in the garage, having it's automatic gearbox investigated. We had already spent over £2000 having a new one installed, but still the car was juddering. It was an interesting experiment, because as a person who is relatively lazy about walking short distances, we were literally forced to walk. We also used trains and buses and tubes. Once I had got into the idea of walking everywhere, it suddenly seemed scandalous, to drive the 0.6 miles to school, which we sometimes do if it's raining or we are running late. I am not into bicycling in London. I tried using a bike one summer, but don't feel that bikes and London traffic is a good combination. In fact as a motorist I hate bicyclists and a bicyclist I hate motorists.
There were good points and not so good about not having a car in London: I immediately noticed how expensive it is getting around day-to-day on public transport. Tubes and buses ate up my travel card, and instead of putting £30 on it, every two weeks, £30 would last me four days. And travelling on trains is time consuming and expensive too. Instead of taking an hour to get to my father's house near Newbury, the journey took two and a half hours and both ways the connection between two trains was either delayed or cancelled and involved rushing up platforms and over bridges and down again, lugging heavy cases.
But walking to the cinema with the kids through the park, instead of driving or taking the bus was great, and when we left them in the kids am movie (don't worry my son had his mobile) we walked all the way down the river to Chiswick House, stopped for a coffee the cafe, and then walked back to the cinema. It was a perfect morning. We walked as much as we could, which I enjoyed and was convinced that any superfluous wobbly parts were ebbing away with all the new exercise, but when I stepped on the scales, nothing had changed.
We considered making do without a car forever, which I would definitely go through with if we didn't have children. I looked into the idea of car clubs, but there are no cars situated near enough to me, to make sense. Maybe if the Boris Bike enterprise extended to cars more people would take up the option, to ditch the car, and join a car scheme. I never did get to the point of adding up the cost involved in keeping a car - petrol, car insurance, servicing, parking permit, etc.) as opposed to renting one when it is needed, but someone else told my husband that it worked out cheaper for his family to ditch the car and rent on an ad hoc basis. London is over car populated, that is for sure, so let's make car club options easier to use.
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