I’ve been meaning to get this post done for a while now so here goes….
This blog was originally setup to document my journey to completing the Magnificat last year and so riding my first century. This came and went relatively easily compared to what I along with my family are about to tackle.
The question is this: Is it feasible for a family with 6 children to get by without a car?
It may sound a little silly at first but hear me out 🙂 Our current family vehicle, a 8 seater Toyota Emina Lucida is really not practical to run anymore. The MOT is running out shortly and he have been told it will need some work completing to pass this. This involves spending money we’d rather use elsewhere. The rising cost of petrol means we are now having to put in £15 a week as a minimum to just complete the few short errands we use it for. Once you also account for VED (£220) and insurance (est. £700) you can see why it may be finacially viable to get rid of it!
Myself and my wife have given this some thought and we reckon it’s workable. A few lifestyle changes will be necessary, which may be difficult to adjust to at first but we CAN do it.
We are rather fortunate with our location, which has helped massively. We live 5-10 minutes walk from our children’s school and have 2 major supermarkets (one being a 24 hour Tesco) within 10-15 minute walk. We can get our main monthly shop online and thus get it delivered courtesy of Asda (something we have done a few times before, it’s just so much simpler!!) and it we do need to get a big shop locally we recently purchased one of these:
It’s a garden trolley from a local store (Clas Ohlson), rated for a load of 250Kg it’s more then sturdy enough to have the 2 eldest in along with the various other items 6 kids need. It also means we have somewhere to put the younger members of the family when we head out for a longer excursion as they can’t walk the whole way. We are considering purchasing folding micro-scooters for the elder ones to make the long journeys a bit more enjoyable for them and to cut down on arguments about who gets to rid in the trolley 🙂
The rugged design also means it doesn’t mind being taken to the park and dragged across the grass – the chunky tyres handle it very well and so far pretty much everyone we’ve seen has commented “Very cool” and I don’t yet know how we haven’t caused a car crash as drivers tend to stare rather then watch the road……the other intended use for it was larger shopping runs between the main monthly delivery, something we did use it for a few weeks back after a visit to a local park. It’s rather handy as the shop didn’t mind us taking it in (after all we are freeing up a “proper” trolley for another customer by using this :-)) and it made everything a lot easier. We have also tried to account for times when the security guards won’t let us in and have invested in some security chains for it. This is mainly for when we are out with it solo as if we are out in a group one adult can wait outside it with.
Another positive of using the trolley and walking around is that it forces you to take everything in. In some ways this is similar to when I’m on my bike, the slower nature of the travel compared to a car means I can enjoy the scenery (not such a boon in town, but it does have it’s moments…). It also means spending more quality time with the children and hopefully as they get used to the walking they won’t moan as much 🙂
So far the excursions have been relatively small. A walk to the local park and a visit to my parents who live about 2 1/2 miles away. A journey that would normally take 10-15 minutes in the car that now takes about an hour. Not that it’s a bad thing it just means adjusting timings a bit. Besides I’m sure we aren’t quite walking the most “efficient” route and we have plenty of options for re-routing with some that include play parks for the kids to “have a break” in 😉
For anything longer then a walk we are going to be relying on public transport and bikes. Again we are rather lucky in that we have 2 mainline rail stations within an easy walk of the house and I’m already quite happy to ride around all day. The 2 eldest are more then capable of putting in reasonable mileage (both have done the 9-10 mile Skyride with me) so asides from the obvious cost saving we also have a nice health benefit – I for one can’t wait until I start reaping the benefits of pulling the trolley around. It’s good workout for the legs doing the hills and the arms get a nice stretch as well. Just as well we are saving about £60 a month on fuel for the car as I can see the food bill going up to compensate!
Bearing all this in mind I shall now try to report back on how successful we are with our little experiment. I do remember this did come up in a “discussion” a while back on a bike forum I often use. Another member said I didn’t need a car and instead wanted one. A friend then commented something along the lines of “Don’t be ridiculous, of course he needs one look how many children he has!”. Guess we’ll find out who was right soon………