As high petrol and diesel prices seemingly become the new normal, cutting down on driving won’t only benefit the environment, it will also help with the bank balance.
I’ve written elsewhere on this site about offsetting your carbon emissions. The focus here is more humdrum, day-to-day stuff. You don’t need to be a current or aspiring climate activist in order to cut down on your car usage. (And yes, I’m all too aware there can be elitism behind ‘green living’). In many cases it’s common sense to use the car less, whether that’s to save money or to save time and find more efficient ways of getting from A to B.
Nor do the benefits stop there. By using your car less you’ll also be helping the air stay clean. Okay, granted, snazzy new electric and hybrid cars pollute the air less, but they’re not an option for everyone and still generate particle pollution from the tyres.
So is it time to ditch the car entirely and embrace a lower-impact, lower-cost lifestyle?
Not so fast! Don’t sell your car immediately. Drastic actions are best avoided, as it will inevitably take some adjustment to reduce your vehicle usage and it may not be practical right now to live without a car.
On a similar note, don’t go out and buy a snazzy new electric or hybrid car immediately. Sure it might be less polluting than your current model, but it’s a big financial outlay so you’re unlikely to see any cost savings for quite some time. Plus all the raw materials required to make the new ride means you won’t see an environmental pay-off for years either.
Do walk. I can’t emphasise this enough. That convenient trip to the local shop? Or the school run? If it’s in walking distance do that instead. Once you’ve loaded up the car, parked, got stuck in an unexpected traffic jam and so on, driving might not be any faster anyway. Walking is the simplest, healthiest, cheapest and often quickest way of covering short distances. So assuming you’re physically able to do so, do so!
Do look at alternatives for those with reduced mobility. We’ve got a whole separate guide to accessibility and mobility in the Grand Duchy, so if walking (or cycling) isn’t a good option for you, check out how you can get around without a car.
Don’t feel you have to replace your daily commute with a bike ride. I get it: cycling is not for everyone. Whether you’re afraid of riding on a busy road, or just don’t fancy getting cold, sore and soggy on the saddle, don’t let a dislike of cycling put you off the idea of cutting down on car usage.
If you’re wavering and like the idea of cycling, but are not sure how it will work out in practice, borrow a bike from a friend and try out the route, or dabble in cycle hire with the Vel’oh bike network.
Do make use of Luxembourg’s public transport network. It’s free, after all! I realise that outside of the capital the provision is far from ideal. But if you do have access to good routes then make use of them.
Do consider carpooling. Its popularity took a bit of a hit due to the pandemic, but it’s something your company may facilitate. If not, try asking colleagues or friends if they’d like to share rides (and fuel costs) with you. CoPilote.lu is a service which can help you match up with others interested in carpooling.
Do also look at car sharing. Cars are parked around 95% of the time, making them an incredibly inefficient use of resources. Car sharing services like Flex and Carloh aim to fix that problem by letting you rent vehicles in a wider range of locations and for flexible periods of time, with pricing by the hour and number of kilometres travelled.
Even if these options aren’t practical, do consider ways to make your vehicle more fuel efficient. Going easy on the brakes and accelerators reduces fuel usage, and many modern cars have an ‘Eco’ drive option which marginally improves fuel efficiency. Keeping your car well maintained and stocked up with the recommended motor oil also helps to reduce emissions and cut down on fuel costs.
Any steps you take, however minor, to cut down on car usage will bring at least some of the benefits listed above. So don’t fret if you can’t bear the thought of ditching your vehicle. Every little step really does help.