Footloose and Car-free
By Beth Potier, Media Relations
April 30, 2008
Media Relations' Beth Potier, her husband assistant professor Brent Bell and
their son Holden Bell have pledged to go car-free for the month of May.
Tonight, I will park my car in the garage.
Hardly a radical act, but this time, it’s there to stay – at least
for a month. To honor National Bike Month, reduce our carbon footprint, get
in shape and spark a challenge among ourselves and for others, my family of
three has committed to going car-free for the month of May.
This is not quite the act of sacrifice it might seem. My husband – assistant
professor of outdoor education Brent Bell – and I live here in Durham,
and our son goes to preschool at Growing Places at the Woodside apartments.
We already function with just one family car, we’re fairly serious recreational
cyclists for whom a 50-mile ride poses only a moderate threat, and Wildcat
Transit can take us to Portsmouth, Dover, or Newmarket.
On the other hand, like many families, the weekly grocery run fills the back
of the station wagon. Saturday errands might involve 50-pound bags of dog food
or trips to the dump. Socializing takes us down the street and around New Hampshire.
What impact will not using our car have on our lives? Will these car-dependent
activities cease? Will we be forced to buy groceries at the convenience store
and become anti-social hermits who don’t leave home? Will our friends
disown us? Will the dog starve? Or will we perhaps bike ourselves into such
outstanding shape that we drop 15 pounds and buy sleek new cycling outfits
with all the money we’ve saved on gas?
During the coming month, I’ll be chronicling our car-free life in the
Portsmouth Herald (www.seacoastonline.com) and on UNH’s Discover(ing)
Sustainability blog (http://discoversustainability.org), trying to provide
some tips for reducing a car-dependent lifestyle.
This year, New Hampshire Bike/Walk to Work Day is May 16 – a great day
to try leaving the car at home. For more information about Bike/Walk to Work
Day on the Seacoast, go to www.seacoastbikes.org. Want to help UNH win the
Bike/Walk to Work Day Commuter Challenge? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d be willing to coordinate these efforts.