Cutting Your Car Use

Cutting Your Car Use by Randall Ghent with Anna Semlyen
2006 – 5″ x 7″ – 116 pgs – US $9.95
New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, BC, Canada
(There was a website that went with the book which seems to be gone now –, for the original British version by Semlyen alone, is still around.)

I picked up this book in San Francisco last year. I guess I probably first realized I might ultimately want to stop owning a car when I was in college (pre-2000). I didn’t have a car there, so I walked a lot and used the campus shuttle sometimes – and it was around this time that I learned you don’t really need a car if you live in a city. Sometime in the year before my trip to San Francisco, I’d been introsuced to the concept of Peak Oil and it’s uncomfortable nearness. Mostly that just paralyzed my brain with horror; I think of this book as marking my first step toward actually doing something to live more sustainably. It’s not a mind-blowing book, and it didn’t tell me much I didn’t already know (nor did I expect it to), but it’s a nice little book, full of tips, facts, lists, testimonials, and cartoon illustrations (by Axel Scheffler). I suppose one way to go about changing your habits is to foucs on one area at a time; if you choose to focus on transportation, than this can be a handy little book (it introduced me to the concept of folding bikes, which is a whole other story). You might also have a look at the website

Another book I’ve only flipped through in the bookstore but looks pretty good is How To Live Well Without A Car by Chris Balish. It’s another small book with cartoon illustrations, but seems to have more prose than lists, which I like. Another book I haven’t read but would like to is Divorce Your Car! by Katie Alvord. in addition to practical advice on living car-free, she offers a history of how we became so car-dependent. A book that I have read which covers that history in depth in Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States by Kenneth T. Jackson.

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Comments (2)
  1. Go, man, go!
    I wholeheartedly agree that we’re too car dependent, and advise everyone to re-think how much we (especially city-dwellers) really NEED these bulky, unsafe, and high-polluting devices.
    While I admit that it was the very, very stupid decision to drive whilst intoxicated that cost me my last car (but not my license, mind you, because I am the luckiest bastard that ever lived), I highly recommend going without one. Sometimes it sucks, primarliy during the very cold months, and when I want to go see people, I’m still quite happy to have significantly reduced my carbon footprint (full disclosure: I leave a light on at night when I leave the house — as a burglar deterrent, and I burn oil for heat, but I feel kinda trapped there).
    And I think it’s really funny how people who live in a city as small as Keene act as if I’ve acheived some sort of superhuman feat by walking everywhere!

  2. Original content before I merged Downpower into the main blog:

    It’s Wednesday, time for another post at:


    (blame Thanksgiving for last week’s lack?)

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