I was inspired to blog about my new car by a post on the BBC Ethical Man blog that @monkchips just tweeted. The slight irony is that the post is about how the author had his lovely Saab taken away to see if he could make it in the world without a car. And I’m about to tell you about my lovely new Citroen C1, which I bought so that I don’t have to catch the bus any more.
Typing that hurts slightly because I used to be so smug that we were a one-car household.
We (Tony and I) live in a village, and I work in another village. Public transport from villages in Hampshire to the cities isn’t that great; public transport between villages is worse. For a while, one of us would take the other to work but after trying both permutations of that arrangement, the fact that the two workplaces were pretty much opposite directions made the effort fairly pointless (in some ways was probably even a bit less green than if we’d each driven in separate cars because whoever was driving would end up in the morning rushhour traffic after dropping the other at work). For a while it worked with Tony catching the bus and me driving the car to my work – though this probably wasn’t ideal in terms of greenness because I was the only one in the car.
So, next, I was fortunate in that a couple of friends (who are also colleagues) car-shared their way past the end of my road every day and offered to include me in the arrangement too. That worked for a few months until a house-move by the driver meant that he would now be driving in the opposite direction from work to pick me up. So I finally tried the bus that ran through our village.
That was January 2007. Nearly two um three years later, I’ve finally given in and got a car. I did mandate to myself that it had to be rated at at least 60 miles to the gallon, and be as close to 100g/km carbon emissions as possible. Aside from a momentary wavering when I met Martin’s rather lovely Lotus Elise, I am proud to say that I stuck to that requirement (partly by telling everyone I knew so that I couldn’t slide out of it!) with my new 3.5yr-old C1 (60miles to the gallon; 109g/km). And it’s great – despite being a 1.0 engine, it’s only teeny so it’s very nippy.
So why did I give up the smugness of ‘being green’? Mostly (without boring you with joys of working across timezones) because I just couldn’t attend cross-timezone meetings and still get home by bus some days any more.
So how green am I now? Well, I really don’t know. I suspect that, in hindsight, the most ‘green’ arrangement I’ve tried was when I car-shared. When I was catching the bus, I wasn’t actually catching it every day because I did also get ad hoc lifts from friends too but bus was definitely my default transport for those two years. I’m actually not convinced that I was especially green for about 50% of the buses I caught – in terms of numbers of people on the bus, as the Ethical Man suggests. I have no evidence for this but I think the lift-sharing was probably greener.
So, I should/will probably start giving lifts to people who live on the way to work as long as my travelling times fit with theirs. Maybe I could/should continue getting lifts some days (and leave my own car at home) as I did before. I’ll have to see how it goes…
On a final, positive note, travelling with other people (whether by car or bus) is actually quite good fun and useful. On the bus, there’s a small community of regulars who usually say hello and notice when you’ve not been there for a while. Which is really nice, and I’ll miss that. Sharing lifts (or catching the bus with someone from work) is also really good because it gives me chance to catch up with the other person and find out what’s going on on their projects. It’s also been really valuable for doing reading or thinking. And it makes you get up on time and leave work on time. 🙂