Most parents dread the day a child turns 16 and gets a driver’s license. We fear for their safety, and shudder at the thought of car insurance premiums that double—or worse—overnight. For many families, a new driver in the house also means there will be an extra car in the driveway.
Not at my house.
My daughter recently started her junior year of high school as a licensed driver. Because her schedule includes a mix of online courses, a night class at a local college, and two classes at her local school, the only realistic option is for her to drive each day.
A few months ago, my wife started trolling craigslist for used vehicles, but buying another reliable car is outside my financial comfort zone at the moment. I’m among those American workers who managed to keep my job, but lost annual pay raises, my company’s 401(k) match, and a significant portion of my old salary. My pay stubs look about like they did when my daughter was 10.
Fortunately, I have a sturdy commuter bike with fenders for wet weather, and I own studded bike tires for icy days, and a fat bike for snowy ones. So, instead of paying interest on a used-car loan, I’m handing over the keys to my 4Runner each morning, and giving up the option of driving to work. And I’m kind of looking forward to doing this for the foreseeable future.
I’ve always told my kids that it’s easy to love bike commuting when you choose to do it. Pedaling into freezing rain is more tolerable if you know you didn’t have to. But there’s also something nice about cutting options and stepping to a higher level of commitment.
Besides, she leaves some cool mix CDs in the car stereo.