Survive and Thrive Car-Free in the Windy City
Imagine living in Chicago with more money in your pocket, a
smaller bulge around your middle, and less stress about getting from point
A to B.
Cars congest Chicago. Cars produce pollution. Cars encourage our
dependence on foreign oil. Cars contribute to rising rates of obesity. And
each year in Cook County alone, about 45,000 people suffer an injury in a
car accident. You may already be aware of all of this. But what you may
not know yet is how simple, fun, and affordable it is to get around
Chicago without a car.
What would you do with an extra $7,608 each year?
What would you eat with 500 extra guilt-free calories a day?
Did You Know?
The average cost of owning a car in Chicago is $7,608 annually. When you have a car, you pre-pay for most of your transportation in chunks: $300 for a car payment, $120 for an insurance payment, $40 for a fill-up, etc. But this approach blinds us to the true cost of our choices. Going car-free means paying for your transportation as needed, giving you greater awareness of what it costs you to go somewhere and of the power you have to influence that cost.
45.8% of Chicagoans have jobs that mostly involve sitting or standing and 66.2% of us don't meet the moderate physical activity standard of 30 minutes a day, 5x a week. Going car-free creates opportunities for us to incorporate modest amounts of physical exertion into our daily lives, through activities like walking to and from the grocery store or biking to dinner with friends. Without making any change in diet, you could lose a pound a week just by forgoing the car when going to work and running errands.
A 2005 study published by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute reveals that in the United States, more than 16 people die for every billion passenger miles in cars and light trucks (such as SUVs). On the other hand, less than one fatality occurs for every billion passenger miles in buses, and that figure is even lower for commuter rail.
According to the EPA, the average car burns 581 gallons of gasoline per year, and in doing so, emits nearly 600 pounds of carbon monoxide, nearly 40 pounds of nitrous oxides, nearly 80 pounds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and a whopping 11,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, a contributing greenhouse gas. The average Chicagoan burns through about 880 gallons of gas per year, making our atmospheric contribution about 65% higher. Per passenger mile, public transport vehicles produce 95% less carbon monoxide, 48% fewer nitrous oxides, 92% fewer VOCs, and 45% less carbon monoxide than cars.