The One-Car Winter Challenge
Getting along with one car was easy for the first few months. The weather was lovely all fall; even into November, there were almost no days requiring more than a heavy sweater or light windbreaker. Saturday, for instance, I biked to the gym in shorts and a sweatshirt.
Then… winter came, and it came hard and fast. Can we still make it work with one car? Our financial position improved markedly when we sold our CRV, and I hate the idea of giving up our gains. We don’t have enough cash to buy something we would really want to drive, meaning we might have a car payment. Then there’s the insurance, the taxes, the gas (having a second car would make it too temping to drive in marginally bikeable weather), and the maintenance–according to Edmunds.com, for instance, a 2009 Honda Fit (the kind of thing we might buy) would cost us close to $30K over five years.* It would certainly delay our short-term goal of owning a home in a year or two.
The first big test came Tuesday, when it was fourteen degrees outside. Mr. FP had to work, I was home with the kids. There were basically three options:
- Badger Mr. FP into taking the bus to work so I could have the car.
- Stay at home all day with the kids.
- Bundle up, get on my damn bike, and take us all to the YMCA for pilates and a change of scenery.
Option #1 might not have been effective and would certainly have bred resentment. Option #2 might have resulted in damage to the furniture and/or my sanity. So I chose option #3.
You will probably not be surprised to hear that my bike was the only one on the rack at the Y! The ride was actually
not as bad as I expected, but I do want to get some better gear. Some parts of me were overheated, some were too cold, and my gloves were too stiff. The kids, fortunately, looked comfy as could be in the trailer, which has a windscreen, except that their puffy coats made it hard to fit them in.
Wednesday and Thursday, I needed the car because there was snow on the ground (Big Brother’s preschool was closed Tuesday, but he has to be dropped off normally, making staying home not an option). Cold is one thing; snow is quite another. I bundled the kids into the car and drove Mr. FP to work, once by design and once because he missed the bus. (He took the bus home.)
So far, so good. Now, let’s be honest: I am not our primary breadwinner, and I do not have full say whether or not we get another car. But I can control my own attitude and use it to further our goal of staying a one-car family. So here are my mini-goals:
- Do not ask for the car on any day when I could safely bike.
- Do not complain about winter biking.
- Do not complain about driving Mr. FP to work in a pinch, and don’t make him late getting the kids ready.
I’ve already invested a little money in good multi-purpose gear, most notably some really nice Merrell boots on which I dropped $90. But as Grandma FP remarked, I can buy a lot of boots for the price of a car payment.
Who else is biking this winter?
*Realistically, we would pay less than this, because we don’t drive as much as the average person, but the number is still instructive.