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The Second Best Thing of 2011

Without a doubt, the best thing to happen to me in 2011 was the birth of our second son, Noah. I’m not a good enough writer to describe how great that experience was so I won’t try. What I do want to write about is the second best thing that happened to me in 2011.

After mumbling to myself too many times how ridiculous it is that I just drove my car the 1.9km trip from my home to my office I decided to commit to riding my bike for 30 days straight. That turning point came in August of ’11. After 30 days of commuting by bike to work and around town I realized just exactly what I had been missing. I won’t wax poetic here, but I have to say that the world is a different place when viewed from behind the handle bars instead of the steering wheel. I was hooked.

I did my best to stay on the bike as much as possible after the 30 days of commitment were completed. I was still commuting by bike 4 out of 5 days to the office and choosing to pedal around town as much as I could. The problem was that I still had the option of jumping in my car if I felt lazy, if the weather wasn’t ideal or if I needed to take a box of samples to the office.

The second best thing of the year happened in late October when my 13 year old Subaru required more repairs than it was worth and we said our goodbyes. Instead of replacing the car I decided to stick to the bike. We’re fortunate enough to live in a small town where biking commuting is pretty easy and I’ve made the transition to being a bike commuter every day of the week. We still have another car in the family so I haven’t fully committed to a car-free life, but we have jumped the mental hurdle of becoming a one car family.

There are some obvious bonuses of pedaling rather than driving; exercise, lower expenses, cycle-therapy to and from work, and a smaller carbon footprint. But it’s the added bonuses, the lessons that I’ve learned from becoming a one car family, that have made this the second best thing to happen to me in 2011. Here are the main things that I’ve learned from ditching the car and picking up the bike:

1) Life is just as good (or better) with less stuff
2) The status quo isn’t always better (also, “the status quo doesn’t like to lose it’s status“)
3) Don’t trade a good experience for convenience

Please don’t take this writing as eco-snobbery or a holier-than-though message. I was challenged by the #carfreeme movement on Twitter that the good folks at Pemba Serves have been advocating and I want other people (you) to experience the added bonuses that come from getting out from behind the steering wheel. Take the opportunity in 2012 to challenge yourself to choose the car less and the bike more. For some great inspiration follow the #carfreeme hash tag on Twitter and add your miles as you go. I’d love to hear back from you on what added bonuses you discover while getting out from behind the steering wheel.

All the best in 2012 and stay pedal driven!

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