My Commute: A New Year’s Resolution

Hi, I’m Willow, and I write a blog for Urban Honking called perfect heart. Jessica asked if I would do an entry here about one of my New Years resolutions.

This is actually a resolution I set for 2005, and didn’t even come close to accomplishing, so I put it at the top of my 2006 list and went real public with it, in hopes that I’ll do a better job this year.

My goal is to have one drive-free day a week. I know that seems really little and manageable, but it’s actually a lot tougher than I anticipated. I live in North Portland, and I work as a teacher in Beaverton and go to graduate school at Lewis & Clark in SW. I’m not a strong biker, especially when it’s raining, and I always have lots and lots of stuff to cart between work, home and school. I do carpool every day, but the people I carpool with live in NW, so I have to drive over there every morning no matter which one of us does the main drive.

I could take the Max or the bus, but the stops are a little too far to walk with all of my supplies, and then we’re back to the me-not-being-a-strong-biker issue. So basically weekdays are out, for now. Once grad school is over I’ll look for a new job, and hopefully I can find one that is more convenient for alternative transportation.
I’m willing to change neighborhoods too, next year, if it means I can drive less.

So, yeah. All of that stuff means that if I want to do a drive free day, it has to be on a weekend. I know I can do it if I get more organized. If I plan to do my grocery shopping and banking and other errands on Saturday, for instance, I can keep my motor off on Sunday.

I tried this last year, as I mentioned, and I completely failed. In the winter the weather made me lazy, so I put off my goal until the summer. And I definitely drove a lot less in the summer, but there were very few days when I didn’t drive at all, and those days were incidental, not intentional. Then Fall came, and Winter, and I put my bike in the basement, and now I’m driving more again. But I want to be better!

I’m hoping that going public with this goal will help me be more motivated. Last year I didn’t really tell anyone that I had made this plan, because I didn’t want to seem wimpy. This year all of my friends know that I’ve set this goal, and they are being very supportive and helpful. Jessica and I were talking the other night about asking people to hold you accountable for things, and how awesome that can be. I’ve been driving a lot less since I told my friends about my goal. But today marks the end of the first week of 2006, and I am sad to report that I have driven at least once every day.

Today it was suggested to me that I change the wording of my goal. I could say that I want to drive 20% less in 2006 than I did in 2005. I could keep a log of where I drove and why, and also record the times I chose not to drive, and what I did instead. Even though that’s a lot of work, I think it might be more attainable. There are definitely ways I could trim off a little bit of driving each day, and making charts is fun.

Ultimately, I just want to feel like I’m moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, even if I’m moving awfully slow. For the environment, for foreign relations, and for my pocketbook I want to lessen my reliance on the ol’ Volvo wagon. I like the idea of one drive free day, because then next year my goal could be 2 drive free days, and then 3 and 4 and 5 and 6, and who knows? maybe one of these days I’ll get rid of Volvo the Volcano altogether. That would make me pretty happy.

In the meantime, if you see me at the Fresh Pot on a Sunday morning, ask me how I got there. And feel free to scold me if I tell you I drove. Because really, I know better.

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