Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Challenge of Finding a New Vehicle

For most of my time at DR, I've been involved with our vehicle co-op, a three-car carsharing organization members of DR are required to use for auto transportation. It's interesting that so much of my time here has been spent on the DRVC since so much of my life has been devoted to the movement against cars. I have long believed and there is a lot of evidence to support the idea that the automobile is responsible for much of the ecological destruction being done to the planet. In everything from the extraction of resources to produce vehicles, fuel, and roads, to the destruction of the natural world to make way for roads, to the wars we fight over oil (which are by far the most effective way of destroying a planet), to their importance as a huge chunk of our unsustainable economy, to the way they dominate our lives and shape our landscape, our use of cars is a major contribution to our own destruction. But our lives and livelihood have become so dependent on the car that it is almost impossible to live in our society without using one. This being the case at least at this point, we at DR are trying to come up with the most sustainable option for meeting our vehicle needs and for demonstrating an alternative to the rest of the world.

The first thing we do to reduce the impact of cars is reduce our vehicle use. Over 50 people get by using only 3 cars. To reduce our use, we do what aside from not using one is the most significant thing one can do to reduce the impact of a car-- rideshare. Each week at our weekly meeting we plan out the week's vehicle use and coordinate rides. There are regularly scheduled weekly trips to the three most popular destinations of DR members and this allows us to plan our activities to fit into those regular trip time slots. Unfortunately, some people don't plan well or decide they need something at the last minute and take a trip without sharing the ride at all. There are also those who just prefer not to have to coordinate a bunch of errands with many other riders and avoid ridesharing. Both of these things greatly increase the impact of the car. Just having one rider who would otherwise have taken a separate trip effectively doubles the mileage of a vehicle.