Two years ago our little Civic sedan roared its engine for the last time. We decided not to replace it once we crunched the numbers. It costs about $10,000 to own and maintain a car per year and we could think of about 10,000 other things to do with that money.
At first the thought of losing the second car was a HUGE stressor, especially for my husband who would be car-less most often. We quickly learned to be more creative and found ourselves carpooling, taking the bus, riding our bikes, and walking.
A big change for the better is that we now go places as a family more often instead of going off in different directions. Now we’re more coordinated and thoughtful about how we spend our time.
And something strange started to happen to my husband: he started tracking his steps, easily surpassing the recommended 10,000 steps a day by just walking to and from the bus stop. He’s even been known to walk all the way home from work to clear his mind after a rough day. Of course the whole family benefits from a de-stressed dad.
I suppose it doesn’t take downsizing to one car to make a bike ride happen, but I noticed this spring my son and I bike to more and more places. Our bike rides have turned into precious time for me to learn about my mysterious four-year-old’s mind. One day while biking home from a swim lesson, he asked:
“Mommy, who made this road?”
I can’t help but think it must have been many planners, engineers, decision-makers, and a lot of public consultation, but I decided to keep it simple and just say “construction workers.”
He looked all around in awe and said, “You mean everyone got together and made this whole world?”
Again, my analytical brain started over-thinking the word “everyone,” but his main point is right. So again, I said “yes.”
Then my four-year-old said, “That must have taken a long, long time.”
I hold dear these little moments with my son that help build our relationship. I didn’t know a bike ride could do that for us.
Having a family and getting around with just a single car isn’t easy in the suburbs, but surprisingly it is easier than we first thought. I’ll admit that during the week it’s hard for my sleep-deprived brain to figure out how we’re all going to get out the door (challenge #1), get to school/work (challenges #2 and #3), and get there on time (challenge #4). My son doesn’t walk or bike to school every day just yet, but it’s an activity we hold dear in our family and it’s the direction we’re heading.
I wonder what stories will be collected during Bike to School Week May 25-29, 2015. Share with us yours.
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For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.
About our guest blogger:
Kendra Willard has been promoting walkable communities as Health Promoter in the Chronic Disease Prevention program at the Halton Region Health Department for eight years. She has two degrees from Brock University: a Bachelor of Arts in Community Health (2004) and a Master of Arts in Applied Health Science (2007). In her free time she enjoys connecting with her son whether they are walking to the park, riding bikes to soccer practice, taking the bus to the library, or staying home to “play cars.”