We were right, cars are out

Who’d have thought, when we sold our second car back in 2006 and replaced it with a trike, that a family of mad, grungy and slightly disreputable crofters were well ahead of a social trend?

As it turns out, we were.

Apparently, one in five British households are getting rid of second cars to save money while one in 50 are getting rid of cars altogether.

Green activists and health campaigners have fought hard to reduce car use but without much success.

But put a crimp in people’s pockets and the response is rapid—people suddenly rediscover cheaper methods of getting around that will, co-incidentally, lead to less use of fossil fuel and higher levels of physical activity.

Lack of money trumps convenience in a way that nothing else does.

One in five families has been forced to sell a car in order to save money and help their stretched household budgets go further.

With the cost of filling a family car rising by almost a third in a year, many Britons have opted to ditch a vehicle rather than bear the cost, according to a YouGov survey of 2,000 adults.

Almost 20 per cent of all UK adults now say that public transport is their main way of getting around.

While most of the cars sold are second cars, one in fifty families has resorted to selling their only car. A similar number have moved their child to a school closer to home due to the cost of transport.

Four out of ten parents now say that they can no longer afford as many family days out to place such as theme parks and zoos because of the cost of travel.

via One in five households sell a car to save money – Telegraph.

10 Responses to “We were right, cars are out”

  1. I’m just wondering if having abit milder winters in Great Britain compared to huge swaths of land in Canada, just makes it a tiny bit easier for people to give up their 2nd/only car.

    For certain it’s alot easier to do it in Vancouver, which probably has similar whether to Great Britain.

    It’s a shocking amount of money that one can save / redirect for other stuff. I wrote abit about this recently:
    http://thirdwavecyclingblog.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/30-car-free-years-cycling-pumps-money-into-my-wallet/

    • It’s certainly true that, further south in the UK, winters can be fairly mild and any extreme spells tend not to last long. It’s a different story up here, though. Our Scottish winters, while not as hard as those in the coldest parts of Canada, certainly make it challenging to get around in winter without the comfort of a car but it can be done on most occasions. We rode the bike in temperatures below -10C, through mild blizzards and on heavily iced roads. Deep snow would stop us. Wind speeds in excess of 30mph would stop us, not least because the cabin acted as a sail.

      When the bike couldn’t be used, we walked the 2.5 miles to the village and back. And still do. There were times when I couldn’t use the bike to pick up the boys from school or nursery due to the weather so I’d walk in and get them. With the right clothing it’s quite doable, although I did have to carry the youngest on my back several times when the snow was too deep for his little legs. Interestingly, many people would whizz past in their cars and not dream of stopping to offer a ride. Some did, most didn’t.

      Anyway, we’re only doing what people used to do. Cars haven’t been around that long and people managed to get around in winter, whether here, in Canada or anywhere else. Okay, in some situations the conditions can be so bad as to kill people—it happened to two relatives of mine in Australia. They went out in a blizzard to muster their cattle and bring them in to shelter. They froze to death. But it’s not like that all winter and human beings can get through most conditions without a car. If they want to.

  2. Less cars on the road may come earlier than we think. My nephew who has been on his fathers insurance for the last year, got quotes to get his own car insurance, he has been quoted £5500 to £7000. What chance has he.

    • I remembering hearing a report on Radio 4 towards the end of last year in which someone said insurance premiums for young drivers, I assume under 21/25 years, had risen by 40% in a year. And when I did a quick Google just now the Money Supermarket claims the average premium for a 17-22 year old is £2,300. If our boys were in that age group we wouldn’t be able to help them with that sort of cost.

      For young people living in an area with decent public transport or with affordable accommodation close to work/university, it’s a not a huge problem if they’re able bodied. But if they live somewhere with little or no public transport and can’t find affordable accommodation close to work/university, they’re snookered. Similarly for people with disabilities that affect their mobility.

  3. My word, You mean we’re actually ahead of the curve for once?

    It will be interesting to se how long it will take for this to be felt in places like Stuttgart. I doubt the sort of people who buy Mercs and Porsches are the sort to feel the pinch -yet- but I can’t help feeling that will only make the landing harder.

    Thanks for sharing the link though. It’s encouraging that we aren’t being crazy…

  4. We’ve done without a second car ever since we’ve moved up here (prior to that we lived in London and didn’t have a car at all) – never even considered getting one. I’d be stuck if I couldn’t cycle though, with our nearest bus a mile and a half away, and only 4 of them a day. It saves us a lot of money, as I point out when I’m campaigning for a Brompton …

    • Our nearest bus is 2.5 miles away, but on the plus side so is the railway station. The frequency of both isn’t that good but having access to trains for longer trips makes a big difference.

  5. We gave up having a car at all when we moved into Edinburgh – and we manage fine without it. Where I grew up it was more of a necessity (as in, is there a bus due today?) but here, we’re within five minutes’ walk of a main road with a bus into town every five minutes or so. My eldest girl is adamant she’ll ‘need’ a car after she passes her test, but until she has a well paid job it’s a pipe dream. We certainly can’t afford to buy one for her, and the cost of insurance at 17 is seriously scary.

  6. I’d like to be able to give up my car, but as I work full time and the public transport system is awful, there isn’t a hope. I work 17 miles from home, but the journey would take over 2.5hrs on a bus, and I couldn’t get to work for my start time of 9am. The roads aren’t safe to cycle on – a dyed-in-the-wool cyclist advised me not to even try as it’s too dangerous. Until local councils etc provide decent public transport, many people haven’t got the choice of swapping to buses etc.

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