Here is something I’ve been struggling with as of late: our damned car.
I bought the car almost a year ago, and since then, there have been many, many times that I have been incredibly grateful for it. See: the time Daphne got suddenly sick and we had to rush her to the hospital, or the time my dad ended up in the hospital and we wanted to be able to visit him without having to reserve a car for certain hours. See also: all the times that we were able to spontaneously go up to Camp for a weekend or even just take Daph for an off-leash romp in the woods in the next town over (off-leash is illegal in my town). Not to mention the fact that owning a car has made possible the majority of the petsitting that I do…
But I have major car-owning guilt. We lived car-free for almost two years; Turtle has been car-free for 15 years. I was always so proud to be the one bicycling everywhere, and was also a fan of the occasional feeling of superiority it gave me (“Yes, you are a good environmentalist, but you drive the 1.5 miles to work, and I bike. VICTORY IS MINE.”). I recognize that a feeling of superiority in this context is sort of ridiculous, but I’m trying to be honest here.
Now, though, it’s January in Boston, and it is cold. It’s cold and my car is warm. My car can hep me run lots of errands at the same time without having to put on eighteen layers. And I think it’s reasonable to drive five miles to do something… but that doesn’t really help my guilt. Because, you guys, it’s also reasonable to bicycle five miles to do something, and afterwards, you feel good, you haven’t spent any money on gas, and, most importantly, you are morally superior to everyone else.
I was sort of joking about that last part.
I just keep considering whether I should be bicycling everywhere, and articles about awesome winter bicyclists do nothing to appease my driver guilt. Even when I’m not afraid of the cold, though, I am nervous about the ice and the narrower roads and the fact that drivers just don’t expect to see bicyclists out in this weather. Where is the line between personal comfort and environmental responsibility? I sometimes wish we had never bought the car so that I wouldn’t have the option of doing anything other than walking, bicycling, or taking public transportation, but we did, and I do. Where do you draw your lines?