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How to Drive Less

I was talking with someone yesterday who asked me, “How can people drive less?”  This is an excellent question. In suburbs like Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, we habitually get in a car to go places and can’t imagine how else to get around.

How to Drive Less In Town or Nearby

  1. Combine trips when you are running errands.  Stop on the way home from someplace to run that quick errand (e.g. pick up that prescription refill on the way home from work).

  2. If you need to drive kids to events or school, carpool with other families.

  3. When heading to the grocery store for just one or two things, try going on your bike or on foot.  If you don’t have a basket, be sure to grab a backpack to carry your purchases.

  4. Bike or walk to school with your kids instead of driving.  It can be a fun way to start your day.

  5. If you go to a fitness center or yoga studio, try walking or biking there instead of driving.  Your body will be warmed up when you arrive and you’ll probably enjoy the trip.

Public Transit – Really?

Public transit can be a challenge in getting around the suburbs.  Busses and trains are less convenient than driving and they may not run frequently in the “burbs.”  But sometimes the hurdle is just that we haven’t done it and aren’t familiar with how to use it.  We have questions like “When does the bus or train come?  How long will it take to get to my destination? How do I get a ticket?” It can be daunting.

So, during our 2-week Drive Less Challenge, take the opportunity to try out public transit.  Make it a fun excursion.  Try taking the light rail to the Tech Museum in San Jose.  Make a Saturday visit to downtown San Francisco by driving to the Millbrae BART station (parking is only $2) and then picking up BART to downtown. Or try taking Caltrain to San Francisco and grabbing a bus to the Metreon or MOMA.  (Caltrain youth fares for kids older than 4 and younger than 18 are only $3.25 each way from Mountain View to downtown San Francisco.  If you’re 65 or older, you pay the same price as youth.  Kids 4 and under ride free when accompanied by an adult.)

Kids love discovering a new way to get around.  When my son was in junior high school, he and a friend decided they wanted to take the bus from Los Altos to Palo Alto one Saturday evening.  So, they mapped out the trip and figured out the schedules using the VTA website.  They felt so independent and had a great adventure.  They found out that their bus fare was a real bargain – especially when they saw the bill for their dinner at California Pizza Kitchen!

What are Your Ideas for Driving Less?  Share them in the Comments section.

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