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Better Than Boycotting BP: Getting Out of the Car

9:10 AM EDT on June 18, 2010

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

Yesterday, we
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 driving.

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
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
is looking for your stories of getting around on two

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