Perhaps if I didn't live in this sprawling expanse that is Southern California, with city stretching on for miles and miles with a complete lack of bicycle infrastructure, I might be able to give up my car completely. I envy people that live in places like Portland who have never owned, nor felt the need to own a car. There is enough public transportation and bike infrastructure to get around - not to mention the city is designed so that you don't need to go very far to get essentials.
There are small areas here that are bike friendly-ish. Long Beach is bike friendly. Parts of Venice and Santa Monica are fairly bike friendly. The sharrows on Hermosa Avenue probably qualify Hermosa as bike friendly. But for the most part, you're on your own here. And sometimes I need to go fifteen miles just to get to a hardware store. It's expected. Car culture is eminent here - cycling is an "activity," not a mode of transportation. People live in their cars and see nothing wrong with driving fifty miles each day for their commutes, then complaining about the traffic.
If I sound cynical and bitter, it's because I am.
But the point is, I can't give up my car completely. I'm sure there are people here that have, but I don't feel safe doing so. It's not a matter of distance, it's a matter of insane raging motorists with a lack of education who feel it's okay to lash out at a cyclist from behind the wheels of their machines. It's a matter of the gangs that hang out on the bike trails at night, attacking cyclists to steal their bikes. It's a matter of a city where building more freeways and parking garages will always be more important than adding a bike lane to the street where all those cyclists keep getting hit.
Nonetheless, I still try to be a "low-car" person. I'm in a very walkable area, I bike to work as often as I can, and my weekend activities rarely include driving anywhere. So I decided to do a bit of an experiment to see how many miles I am putting on my car vs. my bike.
So far this year, I've put 295 miles on my bikes, collectively. So far I've put 244 on my car. Admittedly, I am scratching my head trying to figure out where those 244 came from - a few trips (maybe once a week) to work, a few to a friend's place who lives far away, etc. I guess it really adds up.
If I can keep this up, maybe I can get more miles on the bikes than I get on my car this year.
Yep. Gonna do it.
2012 Distance Count: 295 Miles | 474.8 Kilometers