Tuesday, January 4, 2011

No Impact Week Experiment (Day 3) - Transportation

The focus of Day 3 of the No Impact Week Experiment is to examine the transportation that one uses. When I use to live in Minneapolis and San Francisco, I would use public transportation since it was convenient, cost-effective, and helped the environment.

I particularly liked San Francisco's system which is referred to as Muni. Founded in 1912, Muni is one of America’s oldest public transit agencies and today carries over 200 million customers per year. Muni provides transit service within the city and county of San Francisco 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Muni operates approximately 80 routes throughout San Francisco with stops within 2 blocks of 90% of all residences in the city. Operating historic streetcars, modern light rail vehicles, diesel buses, alternative fuel vehicles, electric trolley coaches, and the world famous cable cars, Muni’s fleet is among the most diverse in the world.

Currently, the closest public transportation is about 13 miles away from home.  There's a bus service that began a couple of years ago that connects residents to the downtown areas.  It departs in the morning and arrives back in the afternoon (after work).  I haven't used the bus service yet since I don't work in the city. 

When I did work in the city many years ago, I used a vanpool which was great.  I woke up early and drove about 14 miles to the nearest city where the pickup point was located.  A driver picked up the riders and we drove together downtown.  In the afternoon, the van picked me up right outside my office and drove me back.  There were many days that I was so thankful that I wasn't the one driving in the snow or ice. 

Now, I'm at home the majority of the time homeschooling my daughters.  My business, Harvest Moon by Hand, is located at home so I don't have to commute.  This saves money and environmental resources. 

Sophia Riding Her Bike
Sophia riding her old bike in the front yard.  She now has a small women's bike (which should last through high school).  I have a women's bike with an attached tandem bike for Olivia.

In May 2010, my daughters and I got bicycles with the hope that we could do some of our errands and spend some of our recreational time biking.  We ended up going on many bike rides, but all were recreational. 

We had hoped to bike to the Post Office, chiropractor, and local supermarket for a treat (about 2 1/2 miles away from home), but haven't figured out a relatively safe route for us to go.  The main road to get there does not have a bike path (it is a County Road with vehicles moving at least 55 mph). It is a bit unnerving to have cars and trucks speed by...especially with two children under the age of 10 years old. 

Bicycle Wheel Decoration
Crocheted bike wheel cover.  This was in a museum in Pella, Iowa.

So, at this point, I use a car.  However, there are many days each week where we don't need to leave the house.  Some ways that we try to conserve environmental resources given that our home is far from public transporation are:

Combining Errands

When I take the girls to a homeschool co-op on Mondays, I try to do all the errands for the week.  This saves a lot of time, gasoline, and wear-and-tear on the car.  I try to shop only twice a month at the grocery store, so that I'm not spending all my time at the grocery store each Monday.  Rather, I can accomplish a variety of errands and use my time wisely.

"An extra 100 pounds in the trunk
cuts a typical vehicle‘s fuel economy by up to 2%.
You can save up to 12 gallons of gasoline per year – almost $30 –
by removing an extra 100 pounds of unneeded items from the trunk."

Removing Unncessary Items from the Car

The above fact how excess weight in the trunk affects a car's fuel consumption prompted me to clean out the car.  The car didn't have 100 pounds of items in it, however it was good to take out the items that were not being used. 

With winter, some items need to go back into the car - like wool blankets, ice melt, and window scrapers.  It's good to have these items on hand and to be prepared...especially with the cold weather. 

I'm looking forward to less than 90 days from now when warmer weather appears and there will be no need for window scrapers and wool blankets! 

Open Blossom with 5 Buds
One of the signs of spring...blossoms on the apple tree in the backyard.

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