Sunday, April 28, 2013

Frugal Transportation -- Leave the Car at Home

It was a few minutes past Noon when we returned home from church.  Scheduled to be in Middleton for my Book Club with a Twist at 1pm, I thought to myself, oh I should have planned better and been able to bike there!  Moments after sharing this thought with my husband he pulled up a Google map showing a route, saying it would take 20 minutes by bike.  Even if I went slower, I'd have plenty of time.  His facial expression told me he thought he was wasting his breath, assuming I'd opt for the car instead.  Wrong!  If not today, then when would I get into biking.  Temperatures were in the upper 60s, the skies were clear, perfect for transport via bike.  I arrived in plenty of time, enjoyed the discussion, and set out to return home.  Descending a hill I heard his voice in my head, pedal hard, crouch down to lower wind resistance, and get as much momentum as you can before the next ascent.  I might have pedaled a bit too hard, because off came the bike chain. Thankfully I was only about 1.5 miles from home, and the day was perfect for walking my bike home.

Once home we discussed options for how we'd accomplish picking up produce and meat for the week ahead.  I could drive with our daughter to Trader Joes, my husband could bike and pick up the items....we went with option three.  Our son wanted us all together, and so I put on running shoes and we jogged down to Sentry, a neighborhood store.  While they picked up a repaired door/lock at the Hardware store (cost $5 to fix, versus $20+ to purchase a new system) I bought food to round out our meals for the week.  We returned home walking and stopped at the park.

My motivation today to take the frugal transport route was not primarily based in a desire to save some money on gas or minimize wear and tear on the car.  Nor was it based in an effort to walk lightly on the Earth.  Both happened, yes, but my primary motivation was to take car of my health.  The year 2013 marks the year I will turn 40.  Not until the Fall Equinox, but approaching fast.  Why the concern over 40?  Forty was the decade in which my mother suffered a heart attack. It was the Fall of 1991, I had just turned 18 and was a freshmen at UW-Madison.  She survived the episode (at age 47) but has had a life of constant imaging, tests, and the implantation of a pacemaker.  But for technology she would not be here.  And at every doctor appoint I've attended with her the message has been clear, her problems are the direct result of life style. 

As 47 comes into my foreseeable future I know that a similar path for me is simply not acceptable.  When I am 47 my children will only be 12 and 10.  Far too young to have a mother with serious medical issues.  Yes, I know somethings I cannot control.  But many illness I can, or so I hope.  My motivation is further fueled when I read the blog of a former law professor.  Her posts on The Other Side of the Ocean have nothing to do with the study or practice of law, but rather offer a glimpse into a very active and healthy life.  She has just turned 60, and I hope that my modeling my behavior after hers, I too will reach 60 able to bike for miles, cross country ski, and climb mountains in Europe.

So, leaving the car at home and using bike and feet are frugal choices.  They are good for my wallet.  Good for the Earth.  And if my instinct and research are correct, good for my health.  That's the upside of a frugal life!
 Bike chain, which fell off. Thankfully my husband was able to get it back in place in a few minutes once I got home.  Let the biking begin!

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