While waiting for the bus this morning, I was watching all the cars zooming by and I realized almost everyone, no matter if they were in a coupe, sedan, truck or SUV, had just one person in it. I thought wow, first of all, a modern midsize car weighs a minimum of 3,000 pounds. All these people are driving a 3,000 pound machine, to transport their 200 pound selves. So much wasted energy, but it gives you insight as to how powerful gasoline really is, right? Contrast that with a bicycle, which is just a 25 pound vehicle, propelled by the same person, but instead of gasoline and an engine, it’s powered by food and legs.
So I decided to start counting how many cars were actually occupied by just one person, to make sure it wasn’t simply my imagination that most of the cars looked like they had no passengers.
I counted the cars coming toward me for about 10 minutes. The Results?
- 186 cars with just a driver
- 13 cars with one passenger
- 0 cars with two or more passengers
- 1 motorcycle
- 1 bicycle
So it wasn’t my mind playing tricks on me. Playing with these 8am morning rush hour numbers, that means I witnessed 93% of the vehicles had just a driver. About 6% had a passenger. And the remaining 1% were a motorcycle and bicycle.
So why don’t we carpool more often?
1. Now, of course, it’s understandable why so many people drive and don’t carpool. Everyone wants independence to go and do anything they want at any time. It’s that glorious freedom that gets deeply rooted in us when we get a license and our first car.
2. There is no easy way to carpool. I’m sure there are web sites around, but I haven’t used them and neither have you probably. If you have personal experience to share, please comment below!
3. Being antisocial is totally acceptable in the city, and downright encouraged. From a young age, fear is irrationally injected into us about avoiding strangers. As if you aren’t a stranger to others yourself. Oh and, hitch hikers are all murderers for sure.
So what have I done about it?
Well I haven’t been carpooling, that’s for sure. However, years ago I started cycling and it only took a few rides until I realized I could sometimes commute with my bicycle. There’s something really beautiful about experiencing the city at 12mph. Leaving the car at home felt extremely liberating and still does to this day. Which is really strange because you would think the car is the ultimate in liberation, but it’s not. (You have a huge responsibility with a car!)
For the past couple years or so I’ve been mixing bicycling with public transport, which is great if I don’t feel like bicycling a lot. I could be tired from the previous day or it might be raining or who knows what.
Oddly enough, I never tried taking ONLY public transport (with no bicycle) until just a few months ago. What was really strange was that just being on foot with a light backpack and a bus pass felt even more liberating than just going around with a bicycle! I just feel even more care-free when I don’t have to deal with a bicycle at all, let alone a car!
In general, the more I ride my bike or take public transport, the more liberating alternative transportation feels. I could read on the bus. I could write blog posts on the bus. I could text on the bus. I could meditate on the bus. I can’t get a speeding ticket on the bus. I could talk to tourists on the bus. The bus driver is my chauffeur and I feel like a million bucks. I know how to get to work, school and the Santa Monica rings with the bus. I recommend you try it. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s definitely better than driving to work or school.