Want to Save $12,000 a Year?
- Why do car owners get so much more public space than bus riders, cyclists and pedestrians (walkers)?
- How long does your car stay parked every day? (Parked at home, at work, while shopping)
- What does it cost you to park your car?
- Does building more roads and parking make people happier?
I was reading an article by environmental journalist Stephen Leahy which asked these questions, and it got me thinking.
Let’s look at these in more detail.
If we’re all equal, why do car drivers get wide roads and parking spaces while pedestrians sometimes face narrow and sometimes poorly-maintained footpaths or sidewalks? Cyclists face grave dangers on the roads, unless there are dedicated cycle lanes, which are not common.
I hadn’t really given it a great deal of thought before, other than often reflecting on the dangers that cyclists face. We all seem to accept it, because that’s how it is in most countries – but is it right?
What do you think? Let me know in the Comments below.
How long does your car stay parked each day? Many car owners drive to work each day, park at work, drive home again, and park overnight. Of course there are exceptions, but the global average is that car owners leave their cars parked for 22 hours out of every 24-hour day.
Isn’t that just astonishing?
Then that got me wondering about how much it costs to keep our cars parked.
The true costs of owning a car
To find out the full, total costs of owning a car, you need to consider
- Parking (not including the cost of a garage at home)
- Wear and tear
According to the AAA, the cost of owning and operating a car in the USA is between $7,000 – $14,000 per year.
In the UK the RAC says it costs about 6,000 GBP per year (2010 figures).
We spend that much each year, just to keep something parked for 22 hours out of 24?
(Not to mention causing pollution and using fossil fuels).
So, what can be done?
Because of the high cost of owning a vehicle which stays parked for most of the time for most people, you could look at ways of saving that average $12,000 per year and consider
- Lend your car (yes, really!)
- Rent a car
- Buy or use a bicycle or scooter
Now of course these are more effective when you live in a city:
Lend your car: Buzzcar is smartphone based. You either offer your car, or look for a car in your area. Bookings are made online via smartphone, the time and rental price are agreed, as well as safety. Their slogan is “borrow the car next door” and I think it’s a great concept. It’s local, it ‘s easy, and you pay only for what you use. Or if you’re the car owner, you get some value from your car while you’re not using it.
Rent a car: services such as Zipcar let you rent a local car by the hour from easy-to-access neighbourhood lots or stations.
Bicycle – Paris is a city which seems to have truly embraced the concept of cycling. Velib has been wildly successful there – thousands of bicycles are available for one-way rides for a small fee. It’s planned to expand the network into offering a similar system with small electric cars for suburban Paris.
A 100 km total trip in your own car costs between 65 and 80 dollars when all costs are included such as parking, fuel, wear and tear, insurance, and repairs
UK Automobile Association.
Some interesting facts have been noted when people rent cars by the hour.
- People drive 40 to 80 percent less
- They choose other modes of transport like walking, bike or taking transit when it’s more cost effective, efficient and appropriate.
- People are more conscious of ‘right-sizing’: choosing the right mode of transport to match the need.
Car sharing is an efficient way to reduce carbon emissions in the transportation sector, as well as freeing up huge amounts of space currently occupied by parked cars. That would create more space for wider sidewalks, bike lanes and even parks.
These innovative concepts should help to reduce overall car ownership once they become widely adopted. I know we’re all very used to the idea of a car of our own, but with a small mind-set change, we can all save money – and the planet!
Are we Happier?
“Building more roads or parking is not what makes people in cities happy”, says Enrique Peñalosa, a former mayor of Bogota, Columbia and an influential thinker on urban issues. (He started Bogota’s famous car-free Sundays).
However, he acknowledges there is a powerful car-owner lobby who are any city’s wealthiest and most vocal opponents to any restrictions on cars. They are often supported by the construction industry, bankers and oil companies, he notes.
“You can never solve congestion and traffic problems by giving cars more space. Reducing parking reduces congestion and frees up space to create public space”. He suggests using the money from making cars pay more to be in a city, to set up more efficient public transit options.
I found the thoughts on happiness particularly interesting.
What do you think? Is it time for a mind-set change? Or is it just too difficult to live without a car, or to make some changes to how we currently drive? Let me know in the Comments below.
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