My Carfree Story - almost a year later

Submitted by: Roulé le Roux, Monday, April 14, 2014

<p>Roulé le Roux enjoys her car free lifestyle in Cape Town. (Photographer: Eduan Basson)</p>

Roulé le Roux enjoys her car free lifestyle in Cape Town. (Photographer: Eduan Basson)

One year after selling her car and opting to cycle her way around Cape Town, Roulé le Roux reflects on her car free lifestyle and her reasons for establishing the www.carfree.co.za website.

Almost a year ago I sold my little city car. I live and work in the Cape Town, where cars are considered a non-negotiable necessity by almost everyone I know. For us our cars are synonymous with independence, flexibility and security. On the down side they lead to a more sedentary lifestyle, traffic jams, and a lot of cursing. We often drive short distances to work on very congested roads.

So I decided to get a fold up bicycle instead. With the start of the city-wide bus routes last year, public transport in Cape Town is finally becoming a reality. Cycle lanes are in development and Cape Town and Winelands cycle maps are available. The best part about the new bus is that you can take a bicycle on the bus at no extra charge.

These changes specifically enabled me to sell my car. I ride anywhere in a radius of around five km from home on my bicycle and for further distances or on the occasional rainy or lazy day I take the bus.

My favourite thing to do on a Saturday is to ride the 4-5km to the centre of town and to leisurely shop my way up Long street, turning my shopping trip into an easy 10km ride. And every now and then on Sundays a ride to the Promenade with my husband and friends ending with craft beer at the Beerhouse is a real treat.

Why Carfree.co.za?

I set up the Carfree.co.za website to share my findings with other South Africans. I chose to focus on the money saved over six months. On Carfree.co.za I compare the cost of owning my car, with the monthly costs of owning my bicycle. I found that on average I was spending R1672 per month on my car including items such as petrol, insurance and parking.  Now that I am a bicycle rider my daily commute costs approximately R470 a month including bus and taxi fares for rainy days.   

 

The annual costs of running Roulé le Roux’s car before she sold it compared to the annual costs of running her bike (Illustrator: Roulé le Roux)

Cars, as we all know, are expensive to buy and maintain, and in the city they are often used for short trips. I had a small city car, I often drove the less than 5kms to work and had the car parked outside for the whole day, just to drive back again in the evening. At lunch time I’d be reluctant to go into the city, because finding parking in the central city is a nightmare.

I have also found, over short distances bicycles can be a time saver. For instance the 4kms from Woodstock to the city centre takes around 15min by bicycle at an easy pace. Use your car and add time for traffic, red lights and parking and you end up spending the same amount of time.

You cannot buy happiness, but you can buy a bicycle

Cycling at a pedestrian pace in the city is really enjoyable, I always feel happy, lighthearted and curious about people and places around me. People greet me, construction workers whistle, and small children come closer to inspect my bicycle. There are often the same people on my path in the morning on my way to work. This interaction with people in our area make me feel safe. I also shop more in our area, and less at big supermarkets.

I feel I gained more from owning a bicycle than owning a car.

Is it for you?

Yes! Just get on your bike and see how you feel. Try a #carfree day once a month, or three times a week. It forces you to adjust to a different pace, and to have a little fun in the process.

Read more at www.carfree.co.za

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Roulé le Roux