Wind, Rain, Ice, Snow: Car-Free in February

For a bike with such little wheels, the Brompton can manage a lot of stuff!


February has proved to be a tricky month in my car-free challenge, for a variety of reasons. First up, the weather has been pretty horrendous a lot of the time – a couple of weeks back, ice and snow were playing havoc with my cycling plans, especially in getting to more rural areas for work. I still cycled – I just had to plan my routes with a little more care, had to think more about what I was wearing and carrying with me, and had to accept the fact that I was probably going to get a bit wet. All good fun though.

I’ve been doing a lot of running over the past few months – ultimately aiming for the Dublin marathon in October, but hoping to take part in the Larne half-marathon in March. This is where I really started to run into problems. My increase in cycling coincided with the increase in my running training plan – and I ended up pushing myself a bit too hard. Partly because I ended up injuring myself, and couldn’t run for nearly 4 weeks because of shin pain. But also because there just weren’t enough hours in the day for me to cycle, run, do my job effectively, and – importantly – have some rest and recovery time. Halfway through February, I re-assessed things. As a result, this past month I have cycled a bit less, and relied a bit more on public transport.


The Glens of Antrim – as seen through the dirty window of an Ulsterbus. Pure County Antrim muck!

I’ve had a couple of occasions this past month in which I’ve had to borrow a car, either because I needed to get somewhere far when public transport wasn’t an option, or because I had to transport something very large and heavy. I’m a bit disappointed at just how much this affected my CO2 savings – just a couple of car trips, and I’ve undone a lot of the savings I made in the previous month.

My main aim for March is to strike a better balance between cycling & running. I didn’t cycle as many miles as I would have liked to this past month, so I hope to increase that. However, in the almost 150 miles that I did cycle, I burned off nearly 7000 calories – so I consider that an additional saving: I don’t have to pay gym fees.

Stats so far: January – February 2016: 

Distance Travelled:


I’ve divided my car usage up into ‘Car Solo’ and ‘Car Share’, as this has an impact on my CO2 savings. Over 2000 miles by train, and over 300 miles on a bicycle – I’m quite pleased with that.

Financial Expenditure: 


Costs of travelling my car have been worked out at the rate of 42p per mile. I arrived at this figure using This Is Money – this allowed me to incorporate all of the costs associated with running my car (based on last year’s costs) – includes insurance, maintenance, parking, depreciation, tax, etc – not just basic fuel costs.

To date in 2016, the personal saving to me in not having a car is £399.52. And I am noticing the difference in my bank account at the end of the month – I’m already starting to see the financial benefits & savings.

My work travel savings have been based on the mileage rate offered by my employer. If I had used a car for all of my work journeys, it would have cost my employer an additional £322.76. Looking at my personal and work savings together, that’s over £700 saved in two months, simply by using a bicycle and a train instead of taking the car.

CO2 Emissions & Savings: 


This is the area I was a little disappointed with this month – because a couple of trips in a car, and suddenly I was racking up the CO2 emissions. But it’s good to see just how quickly those emissions do mount up, and it’s something to keep in mind when I’m making a choice over borrowing a car in coming months.

That said, I’ve still saved 548kg of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere. According to YouSustain, this is enough to provide the energy needs of an average house for over 15 days. In the grand scheme of things, it’s small – but I think it’s still worthwhile.

It wasn’t all wet & windy in February. There were also beautiful winter days like this.



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