Skip to Content
Streetsblog San Francisco home
Streetsblog San Francisco home
Log In

Better Than Boycotting BP: Getting Out of the Car

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 reallydo much to affect the voracious appetite we have for oil that drivescompanies like BP to make risky and reckless decisions about where todrill.  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 ourdemand for gas, and our demand that it stay cheap.

So, if you want to act in a way that really has an impact, thereare two main things I would recommend:

Drive less:  This is the obvious one, the harder one, andthe 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 realimpact you have on reducing our dependence on oil.  Not only that, butdriving less has additional positive benefits that a boycott, even asuccessful 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 fewerroads, less sprawl, fewer parking lots, and more parks, trees, greenways and other greenspace.  You’re reducing your carbon footprint, andyou’re probably going to get physically healthier at the same time .…

Go Local: Perhaps not so obvious as driving less, butstill important. The energy required to get goods from one side of thecountry to another is incredible and a significant component of

the country’s transportation fuel consumption. Shopping locally is notonly good for fresher food and more local employment opportunities, itmeans that the stuff you’re buying didn’t travel nearly as far to gethere. Bicycling to the local farmer’s market and filling your basketwith fruits and veggies is a double-punch to BP’s gut; neither you northe 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

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter