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by bike or by foot

For the last few months I have been thinking quite a lot about getting rid of my car and, well, not getting another one. I never intended to buy a car, and except for a brief period when I owned a four hundred year old Mark 1 Ford Fiesta, I hadn't done so in the several years I had been living in Bristol. I am still unsure how it happened, all I know is, one bright Sunday morning, I made the decision to go out to buy milk and the Sunday papers and came back with a car (I think I forgot the milk).

Roll forward some 7 years and 100,000 miles, and I have been thinking. Yes, I have had a lot of good experiences and the car has allowed me a lot of freedom to explore, and yes, it is useful for visiting the family. But then I look at the stark figures. How much has this car cost me over the last 7 years?

Let's break it down as roughly as I can into the following formula:

Price of the car + Repairs + Tax + MoT + Servicing + Sundries + Petrol

Car: £10,000

Repairs: £3,500

Tax: £840

MoT: £175

Servicing: £700

Sundries: £1,500

Petrol: £13,800 (£7,200 + £6,600)

Total: £30,515

Which works out at £4,359 per annum or £363.25 per month and I know is conservative in estimation.

None of the above takes into account depreciation, so you can add another £9,000 to the total for that.

So... I am going to go car-less. It will be shank's pony or the bike for me, for the most part.

If I need a car I can hire, plus for short journeys we have the excellent City Car Club. There are trains, coachs and buses. Taking what I consider my current cost of running the car (for this year only), even if I catch the train to work and hire cars, etc on occasion when really needed, I still work out at roughly £1000 a year better off. Financially it starts to make sense. Add in the fact (one of the more striking points Cat (see below) brought up) that I will have to think more about journeys, about what I am purchasing and the real need for any of it, and the savings can become much greater.

There are other benefits; my carbon emissions will drop substantially, I will get out and about on the bike and on foot and I will no longer have the stress of sitting in traffic jams and snarl-ups. Yes, life will be a little less easy, but that will be part of the adventure, and the health benefits will be immense.

So, I am going to sell the roof box, the roof bars, the bike rack, the various bits and pieces... and I am going to sell the car. I am going to let go of the freedom of the car, and reacquire the freedom of being on foot and on wheels, and will hopefully be happier, healthier and slightly wealthier because of it.

My thanks to @CatChappell, a going-car-less advocate who also happens to work for the excellent @Sustrans (you can find their main website here) for masses of advice and encouragement. Thanks also to those of you (you know who you are) who have listened to my musings on this with an air of open caution and encouragement. All I can say is that I am going to have a go, we shall see how it goes from here on in...


the moocher