Do you really need to own your own car?
THE insurance renewal is due on my car on December 1. It’s 18 years old with 99,000 miles on the clock. It has never let me down. It was two years old when I bought it.
The question is whether or not to insure the car and keep driving. I’m on the brink of trying to live life without the use of my own personal car. As with so many aspects of my life I am the supreme procrastinator.
Financially it’s a waste of money for me to own a car. In the last 12 months I drove the car 800 kilometres, which means it’s a nonsense to have it parked outside my door. Insurance is approximately €350, the same again for tax. Before I ever turn the ignition key I am down €700.
The decision what to do has set me thinking about our attachment to cars and the worldwide motor industry. At present I live within six kilometres of Dublin city centre, have an adequate to good bus service. I’m three minutes to the nearest bus stop with a bus service that operates every 10 minutes during peak times and the Luas stop is a 15-minute walk away. I walk to work, which takes 10 minutes and going most other places I cycle. Ok, I’ll be honest and say, I also have a motorbike.
As I write these words, talking to myself, it’s as clear as day that I do not need a car. What about the rainy day, what about an emergency? Has the worldwide motor industry seduced us all to believe that we must have at least one car outside our door?
With the abysmal public transport system in rural Ireland and poor planning laws that have houses scattered to the four winds a car is an essential for most people. Every day we are learning of the adverse effects that petrol an diesel fumes have on the environment and on our health. And what about the aggression that cars bring out in drivers? Cars can be lethal machines. Think about it, the purpose of a car is simply to get us from A to B. There is something wildly disproportionate about the attention we give to a car and the actual purpose it serves.
We have given a status to the car that it does not deserve. Sleek expensive brands make most of us turn our heads in admiration. Why? Is the money they cost in anyway commensurate to the purpose they serve? Or is it that they are just fashion accessories?
When Pope Francis was in Dublin it made headlines that he was driven about in an ordinary small family car. It made the news because he was not travelling in a sleek black Mercedes, BMW or Audi.
It’s always interesting watching on television ‘important people’ arriving and departing from meetings, whether in Brussels, Strasbourg, Berlin or Dublin, they are in top of the range cars. I can’t help thinking that we have been fooled by the motor industry. The average annual cost of running a car in Ireland is €10,670.
Some years ago a family in New York, on an experimental basis, forewent their car for a year. They saved approximately €4,000.
I can always call a taxi or hire a car. I’d still have change out of my €700 and I’d be helping make Ireland a cleaner and healthier place.
The more I think about it the more I am inclined to say ‘bye bye car’.