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Better Than Boycotting BP: Getting Out of the Car

4633101640_38a593030a.jpgA sensible response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. (Photo: brand0con via Flickr)

Yesterday, we asked
if you thought the BP oil spill was changing anyone’s driving habits.
The consensus — sadly — was a resounding no. While there’s plenty of
anger at BP CEO Tony Hayward, few people seem willing to examine the
role consumer demand plays in risky deep-water drilling. And even if
they are willing to consider it, many people have no alternative to

Still, there’s no question that a lot of people could reduce the
amount of driving they do, and the amount of gas they burn, if they
really wanted to. Today on the Streetsblog Network, member blog RIDE Solutions of Roanoke, Virginia, puts forth the case for cutting time behind the wheel as a response to the catastrophe in the Gulf:

Moving your money from one oil company to another doesn’t really do
much to affect the voracious appetite we have for oil that drives
companies like BP to make risky and reckless decisions about where to
drill.  Blame BP all you want — and you should — for lax safety
systems, but they wouldn’t be there in the first place if it weren’t
for our demand for gas, and our demand that it stay cheap.

So, if you want to act in a way that really has an impact, there are two main things I would recommend:

Drive less:  This is the obvious one, the harder
one, and the one that has the most impact.  The more you can stay off
the road, or replace oil-powered trips with human-powered ones, the
more real impact you have on reducing our dependence on oil.  Not only
that, but driving less has additional positive benefits that a boycott,
even a successful one, wouldn’t; you’re polluting less, helping keep
the air in the Roanoke and the New River Valleys clean. You’re
contributing to the conservation of our amazing green space — less
driving means fewer roads, less sprawl, fewer parking lots, and more
parks, trees, greenways and other greenspace.  You’re reducing your
carbon footprint, and you’re probably going to get physically healthier
at the same time .…

Go Local: Perhaps not so obvious as driving less,
but still important. The energy required to get goods from one side of
the country to another is incredible and a significant component of
the country’s transportation fuel consumption. Shopping locally is not
only good for fresher food and more local employment opportunities, it
means that the stuff you’re buying didn’t travel nearly as far to get
here. Bicycling to the local farmer’s market and filling your basket
with fruits and veggies is a double-punch to BP’s gut; neither you nor
the food you’re buying took much oil to get to the market.

Even if you don’t drive yourself, you have friends and family who
do. Take this opportunity to talk to them about driving less. These
conversations can be uncomfortable — I know, because I’ve had them. But
they’re important.

More from around the network: Gary Rides Bikes doesn’t want to put up with impatient drivers any longer. EcoVelo has some helpful hints on how to trigger traffic lights with your bike. And Utility Cycling is looking for your stories of getting around on two wheels.

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