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Monday, 1 August 2016

Car Free Days

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Monday morning rush hour at
Stealthville. 
Sometimes I get home from work, and I find our car parked in front of our garage. This gives me great joy - not because I am home while my wife is still slaving away, or because our car has not been stolen - but because it means I can tick off another day which has been Car Free for us (and usually care free too!).

So how is it possible that both my wife and I were able to get to and from work without either of us using a car?

I admit that I cheated a little and rode my scooter1 to work and back (occasionally I ride my bicycle), whilst my wife made use of a pretty decent form of public transport - the Gautrain.

Quick side tangent - is it just me or does the Gautrain have the worst marketing department/ad agency in the country? I mean check out these cringe worthy billboards.... Actually don't.....No actually do - I had to see them and so it'only fair you do too!

*Cringe!*
I mean this is a highly efficient and, in my opinion, world class operation - advertise it accordingly! Although lately the billboards do seem to have improved a little...

Anyways, back to the post....

So how did my wife get to and from the Gautrain station at each end? Well, she walked. You see we live around 500 metres from the station, and my wife works around 100m from the other station.

In fact one of my favourite activities is my afternoon walk to the station to fetch my wife2, and then our walk back home where we get to discuss our days without any distractions of cellphones and TV's. We arrive home feeling unwinded, relaxed and ever so slightly exercised (okay 500m is not a lot, but more exercise than what some people do! :)). And as an added bonus I get to carry a handbag, which really brings out my eyes...

Car commuting is such a crime of the human spirit, especially when there is traffic (here's looking at you Mr. N13) - sitting in your metal cocoon, wasting time which could be spent with families or doing something productive, all the while becoming ever more frustrated. Then getting home late and doing a few essential activities before the night gets away from you, so you can go to bed and do it all over again tomorrow.

So when I get home and realise that it has been another day that we have not used a car at all, I am very chuffed with myself, and pat myself on the back (before quickly realising that I need that hand to open the garage to get my scooter in.)

Some of you will say wow that's awesome and all, but you guys are really lucky, there is no ways we can do this. Now this may or may not be true, but consider:
  1. We chose to move to Centurion so that I could be within scooter distance of my work
  2. We chose to move close to the Gautrain Station so my wife could make use of it
  3. My wife chose to take a job which is within walking distance from the Gautrain station
So you call it luck, we call it conscious choices and decisions based on saving time and money. (And as an added benefit, less stress and more zzzz's - see my article on the best investment I ever made)

So here is my challenge to you - take a long hard look at your average weekday. Could you throw in a Car Free Day? Or two? Maybe you should re-consider where you work or where you live....or both? Do you have other options? (I understand that not all provinces have a Gautrain, but for example I hear the Cape Town bus service is pretty decent? Any of you guys use it?). And of course this may not be that simple for those of you with children already settled in schools etc. But these types of decisions can have a massive bearing on your finances - so for those still in the "planning phase" consider location very carefully before "executing plan" :)

I don't think commute time and distance plays a big enough role in people's decisions where to live and work. The implications can be massive - both financially and time wise. I regret that it took me so long to realise this - I guess like most South Africans I just accepted a lengthy commute as par for the course. But it is something that I highly recommend investigating and making any changes necessary to get it to a minimum!



Till next time, Stay Stealthy!

 - ~ - ~

1 That's me riding past you at the robot to get to the front of the queue. Scooters are great - my commute time is pretty much standard regardless of how bad the traffic is.

2 Although now that my wife is rather pop-worthy with Stealthy Junior, the walking thing does not happen that often, and we have been using the car more regularly.

3 The N1 section between Buccleuch and Pretoria is apparently the busiest stretch of road in Africa (see this article from Wikipedia)