How often do you drive a car?

Every day
30% (1054 votes)
5 to 6 days each week
20% (697 votes)
3 to 4 days each week
12% (427 votes)
1 to 2 days each week
16% (541 votes)
9% (313 votes)
13% (451 votes)
Total votes: 3483

Euan, I need one more choice: every few month. Maybe for some people every few weeks would be nice too.

Thank you,

Never has a certain finality to it. I haven't owned a car since 2005 and I haven't driven one since 2006. However, I do take 3-4 short haul and 0-1 medium haul round trip flights a year and run an air conditioner in the summer (apartment on the top floor of a older building with tar roofing).

Nice voting - however there is one category missing: What about people driving a car only on special occasions e.g. some holiday they cannot go by bike nor with public transportation. I would suggest a category "occasionally".
In Europe there is a concept called "car sharing", which gives you easy access to a car and which is billed by the hour (and by distance driven). A lot of people use this kind of service from time to time. They save the expense and hassel of owning a car while they can access a car if they need one. Additionally they can choose the kind of car that is best suited for the occasion (e.g. compact car, space waggon or convertible). Compared to convetional car rentals access to the cars is easier (just open your car with a key card), you do not have to pay for the whole day if you just need the car for a couple of hours and gas is included.

I added an "occasionally" category.

You comments about "car sharing" are interesting. The way I see things is that all electric cars main strengths will be short-range commutes around town. It would then make a lot of sense to have easy access to a larger hybrid for less frequent longer journeys.

This would be my hope as well. I am slowly preparing to have a 2passenger Ebike (bike and trailer) , or to convert a car or light pickup to electric, for more/most of our around town needs, which is about 95% of our car use.

We have one car for two adults and one child, and I expect my 5-6 drivedays a week will be sharply down as my daughter starts first grade at a walkable local school next year.. my wife's job is already walkable, basically year-round.. but the 1/2 hour walk is sometimes impossible with the other aspects of a 3-income life while raising a child up in the Snow-belt.

I have enough family in town that I look forward to strategically deploying our 'family fleet' so that a lot of swapping and sharing for special errands/trips is possible.

I also expect that having a reliable E-truck can become an income source, helping neighbors with dump-runs, moving furniture, local delivery routes, etc..

Some trends of those who are in car clubs or have given up car ownership;

There is a similar concept here in the US. In our city it goes by the name of Hourcar (a play on words).

Some are even plug in hybrids charged by solar: Solar Hourcar

I have thought about it, as I normally work from home and only need to be in the office a few days a week. With my current car paid off it would not make sense. But I could see doing something like Hourcar instead of purchasing a new ICE car (which you might not ever drive its whole life before rationing takes it out).

We had two competing services in the US, Zipcar and Flexcar, and they merged into Zipcar. Unfortunately, after the merger they cut way back on locations in Southern California, just the state university campuses now.

It would be nice for me. I can probably make 90% of my trips on a motorcycle or bicycle. That 10% would be shopping trips, rainy days, and events requiring formal wear.

I`m wondering if taxi use counts as car use.

The energy used in manufacturing assembling and maintaining the car is spread over many users, and I'm certain that the taxi picks up a fare returning to its base. But two to four times a week I find myself making a 5-20 km trip in a car, to meet my needs, not to meet the driver's needs. He wouldn't do the kms if I wasn't paying him to.

I do it when the public transport has gaps, or is too slow, or too unsafe.

One interesting thing to note is that one taxi line I use encourages clients to car pool at rush hour. Both passengers pay full fare, so the driver collects double, but you don't have to wait so long in line.

Taxis are a high priced form of public mass transit in my book. The mass is in the number of people that utilize one vehicle per day. The public is that they are available to the public instead of relying on private individuals owning the rolling stock.

Taxis are most efficient when riders going in the same direction can share cabs and the taxis can quickly find other passengers waiting for them when they discharge their occupants.

Taxis are a crucial link for many mass transit modes to go the "last mile" from the train/bus station to the final destination.

I don't have a car, and use the bus/train to go most places. However, when it's late at night, to get to isolated places or when I have to move lots of things, I use taxis. I would say a few times a month.

In cities where there are enough cheap taxis, many people can completely do without cars.
When you add up all the costs of having a car (parking, insurance, fuel, taxes ...), it's much cheaper to use taxis + mass transit.

Since the taxi price is a per car basis, there's always an incentive to find other passengers going the same way in order to share costs, which improves efficiency. I've seen a few websites to help people find other passengers.
In some places (Malaysia is an example), there are even shared taxis, where the price is more like a bus fare (fixed price per passenger per destination), and taxis will wait at stands until there are enough passengers.

Here in Venezuela the only incentive for passengers to share is that there's such a huge demand sometimes that you end up waiting a long time for a taxi. But people are used to sharing, its not such a shock to them as it is to the typical north american that I know.

There is also a system of "por puestos" (by the seat) which are basicly cars that serve as busses. They are cheaper than a taxi and more expensive than a bus. Often you can strike a deal with the driver to take you all the way to your destination after he drops off the other passengers at the usual spot. The poor use them to get to the neigborhoods that arn't serviced by busses, the middle class use them in inter-city travel when the bus lines don't suit them.

Because gas is dirt cheap, and cars are difficult to get, the taxi and por puesto drivers are usually middle class people. (There are month long waiting lists for cars and car parts and a new SUV costs more than my studio apartment does). They seem to suffer from a lot of stress, and have high maintenance costs, but make a decent living.

The shared taxis in Thailand were great - you flag one down as it's on its way to one destination and tell them where you are going. If it's not too far off route they'll take you there, trying to find the most efficient route to get everyone to their destinations.

When I was at the UW-Madison, Badger Cab (which I think still exists) would charge a very low taxi price, but would pool riders (pick up numerous riders and drop them off in sequence).

In Wisconsin there is a seasonal dimension to this; on a morning when the windchill is -40F, I may even drive to work to avoid the 25 minute walk. In the summer, I bike daily and limit car use to out-of-town trips.

I've cycled year-round for the last three-and-a-half years in central Alberta and agree that there really is a seasonal dimension to commuting by bike. However, even with the windchill at -40 (C or F, doesn't much matter), it's doable. Just a matter of attire. (For me, ski-goggles, an extra insulative clothing layer, and my thickest mittens became necessary at a calm -20C, but my attire didn't really change when it was colder than that.)

My experience is that snow is more troublesome. With a run-of-the-mill mountain bike outfitted with studded tires a 6" snow-fall made for a long and tiring commute, dangerous too, if the snow covered icy ruts. When the mountain bike was stolen I figured a cyclocross bike with thinner tires might cut through the snow better. It did, but had less sideways traction which put me on the ground a couple of times. I'm putting together a fat-tired bike (Surly Pugsley) with the hope that it will serve well as the snow-bike.

I would love to do winter biking, as much as the dress wouldn't be radically different from XC Skiing.. our town/city just has a driving culture/aptitude that feels barely safe enough even in the Summertime. There are a considerable number of Bike Commuters around Portland all year long.. but at this point, I'm still not ready to trust the attentiveness or the sobriety of our motorists.

We've got cycle advocates on the council now.. just hope the realities in the sausage factory allow for these changes.

When biking in the winter (Wisconsin) I often think what it could be like if some top-notch automotive engineers spent some serious time on making bicycling technology RELIABLE and CONVENIENT.

We still have open drivetrains on bikes, exposed to road salt and sand, the lubricants get stiff and freewheels stop working when it gets seriously cold, oh, I'm supposed to tear it apart and relubricate...GIVE ME A BREAK!!! America sent men to the moon forty years ago, and this is the best we can do?

Since I wear hard contacts, I need eye protection. Where is my wiper? Where is my defogger? Where is my heads-up display of traffic approaching from the rear? How about a surveilance camera on my helmet so I have a record and can therefore report the license numbers of motorists who treat me like a grease spot on THEIR highway?

Oh, and maybe it would be good to have some lights at night. Let's see, when is the last time you had to strap a battery to your car and fish cables thru your clothes in order to use headlights?

And why should I count on a little thing like my speedometer/odometer working when it's cold? It doesn't matter - it's just a bicycle, not something that counts like a motor vehicle.

Bicycles are stuck in the same rut as motorcycles. They're primarily recreational equipment marketed to enthusiasts (Hey, I'll admit to being one too. It's the only reason I bother to analyze this stuff). Enthusiasts care about performance, light weight, and design aesthetics. The result is impractical storage, high-maintenance and premium priced- do we really need 27 gear ratios? Spare parts for repair and maintenance are priced accordingly. You can get mass-market models at department stores for less, $100-200. Quality is lower. They're generally good enough for light usage, but they're essentially disposable because of the spare parts availability and cost.

There are some innovative designs focused towards practicality and low maintenance, but they're even more expensive than the enthusiast models. Trek Soho looks pretty interesting: belt drive, 8 speed hub gearbox, under $1000.

It would also be very important to know:
1. What type of car and gas/mileage data.
2. Average mileage use.
3. Passengers sharing.

These simple polls are rather limited in that you get 1 question and only the option to tick one box. Its serving its purpose in providing some rough stats on car ownership and dependency among TOD readers.

Understood. But it would be nice and maybe it would make people think if say an EV option were available. Like wisco, my riding varies a bit by time of year. But most of my car travel (not much more than 1-2 times a week, often less) is by electric car with the electricity coming technically from wind through the windsource option from our utility.

And of course times per week...aren't really as relevant as the distances traveled...

Ultimately, you need a transport footprint survey that would involve more that one answer. Perhaps for another post?

It is a good way to get the conversation started, though. Thanks.

I'm car free at the moment. I went backpacking on the Northern California Coast, and got to the trail head by public transport.

It seems like your responses will vary by the location of the person doing the post.

In a very car-dependent area, people are likely to use their cars more.

And, as noted elsewhere, the quality of the public transportation. I am fortunate. I live in a town where the bus system is free and coveres most of the major places within and between the two towns that it serves.

I also am able to take a regional bus system back and forth from where I live and my office. If I drive the short distance to the park and ride (rather than walk to catch the local bus and then onto the regional bus), I can go from door-to-door in 1 hour in the mornings. The normal drive time is 43-47 minutes direct in the car.

When we move to our new (green) building in about 18 months, I will rarely need to drive my car at all.

I live in Santa Monica California - can't get much more car-dependent and poorly serviced by public transport than that

and I haven't used my car regularly in 4 years

I'm on my second job that is within easy walking distance (got lucky the 2nd time after moving close to previous job) - office is moving a bit further away, but my 1953 Schwinn Traveler with 3sp hub will get me there 98% in a bike lane in 10 minutes. Santa Monica is lucky to have a pretty remarkably temperate clime, so weather doesn't really factor in more than a few days a year.

I do have a car - I use it occasionally to get to Trader Joe's since there isn't one within convenient walking/biking distance - but if things got worse, I could take a bus with my bike and get there pretty quickly.

The Oil Drum is to blame, started reading this site some years ago and made the carless changes. Love it, I see people I know as I walk (and they drive by usually) - I know local shop and restaurant owners - and have a no stress caused by traffic. All the walking helps keep my desk-bound self lean too.

This question is also related to the quality of the public transportation system. I speak for myself because I live 15/20 km from my workplace and I use a car to commute because this way I spent 20 min instead of ~1h15/30 (just one way); in a year it's a gain of 25 days... :S. I think it's a big difference. And forget about using a bike...The geography of the landscape is just too irregular. And another question is the fiability of the same public transports: they aren't that reliable (there are only a few and not that on time).

This is a delicate issue...but I am aware that I'm one of those people who the electric car would fit like a I will just keep waiting for it to arrive here.


You are not alone, even in some of the most public transport/bike friendly cities, half the miles traveled are by private vehicles. Public transport is great when I can use it but that's not always practical when traveling across instead of into the city. Also waiting for my next car to be electric or PHEV.

  1. Live nearer your work (I realise you might not have a choice, but most folk I know who drive use this excuse and could easily have lived nearer if they'd cared enough).
  2. Cycle part of the route and public transport for the rest.
  3. How irregular? Admittedly 20k is quite a distance for a commute, but I've been happily cycling 10k with a 300m climb on the way home. The first couple of weeks were pain... but after a month it felt like nothing.
  4. 3 hours spent reading/learning a language/surfing the internet/etc. sounds far better to me than 40 minutes wasted in traffic - but maybe that's just me :)

Maybe you're an exception and none of the above apply - but I know plenty of folk who give similar reasons as you do - and could do without a car if they really put their mind to it.

I've even seen some of them get free from their car addiction - the first few days were hard, but they felt much better in the long run.

At the present moment my workplace is the same place where I graduated (a 5 year degree). During those 5 years i only used public transports so I really can compare boths ways of commuting. And using my car is far better for me, it's really more confortable and pratical (i have stop been depending on the public tranportation timetables).

I used to take the time that i had in the buses and the subway reading and indeed educating myself. But I would get home a lot more tired that way. It was also , in part, a way of preserving my own health (physical and especially mental- there is nothing best than to be home resting...).

The distance that I refered is mesured in a highway. At the time that I get to work, I very seldom get stuck in traffic. To use my bicycle I would have to cross the intire inner city (as there arent roads where u could cycle apart from that). And that is a greater distance. I could just cycle to the subway but there arent infrastrucutes to travel with my bike, or to park it there.

It might seem that I am, just like you said, trying to give u (and myself) an excuse to use the car. But as I mentioned it earlier I had the chance of experiencing both ways and I just made a decision based in what was more confortable (and perhaps even easier) for me.

That is why I'm anticipating teh arrival of teh electric car so much. Because I just dont want to lose that convenience...I often wonder if I am just being too selfish...


PS by the way are you portuguese?

No, I'm English - it was a silly nickname from a friend (we both speak Spanish) :)


Carpool to work 3 times a week, telecommute twice a week, and drive to kids' sporting events on Saturday. When the weather is nice, we usually bike to the Farmer's Market (with a bike trailer).

My vote of occasionally was a great understatement. I drive every year or two to help somebody out. I have not owned a car for over 13 years. I live in the Washington DC area, and I stopped driving because I could not stand the traffic. I started riding a bike in 1993 at the age of 67, and quickly fell in love with it. My pickup truck sat until I sold it in '95. I have not been able to ride much for the last two years, so I use public transportation, which is pretty good here. I also used to walk a lot. I am still determined to get back on the bike.

I recently moved and am living in a building which has a grocery store, restaurants, liquor store, etc. It's in an urban area of the city and the neighborhood is pretty much self sustaining (from a consumer perspective).

The change to my driving habits has been huge. I drive an entire 20kms per day..just to go to work and I'm hoping to find a job in the city centre so I can take the rapid rail to work. I live in an extremely cold climate (Edmonton, AB, Canada) so biking to work (try -35C) isn't really feasible.

And..I love it. I arrive home from work, I walk down to the grocery store in the building, buy what I need to eat. Fast food has become a thing of the past & even on weekends I prefer to leave the car parked and walk places when I need to get out of the house. Not driving makes a persons life much more relaxed along with the lower costs. A tank of gas, about 25USD, lasts me 6 weeks.

How often a person drives is an irrelevant metric with regards to fuel use. A person who drives one mile everyday would put on only 7 miles per week compared to someone who drives 10 miles only once a week. But if the 1 mi/day driver A gets only 20 mpg while the 10 mi/week driver B gets 40 mpg over the course of a year driver B would burn 5.25 fewer gallons of fuel. This is one of more meaningless surveys ever posted second only to those predicting prices.

Useless to you, perhaps. Fuel Use isn't the only factor in the game, even if it's the final one.

It can be useful to see how much people are still beholden to the whole auto infrastructure.. whether they have significant parts of their lifestyles in which they can already avoid auto use.

Like EROEI, it's just a single metric.. it doesn't answer all issues or provide qualitative nuances.

I have to agree there. It's a metric of dependence, not fuel consumption. Even a parked car contributes to dependence because of sprawl in the suburbs and expensive parking garage construction in denser areas.

For the last three years I have pretty much been able to walk to work 4 days a week(5 mins each way) -I gotta tell you, if you get the chance to live near work take it.

Even the longer commute I have to get to where I work and back (120 miles twice per week) seems OK and I do remember how a one hour commute each way used to get me down.


I currently live in suburban Australia. I ride 8.5km each way to work with 8km of that on a bike-only path (I chose my location based on the bike ride). I ride every day of the year which varies from 46C a few weeks ago to 0-5 degrees C and dark and raining in winter. I have a good light, and showers at work so it doesn't matter how sweaty or muddy or wet I get.

I can leave my bike locked up at work in the CBD, fold it up easily to fit in the back of a car (hatch or wagon) and can use it to ride home so long as I am not too drunk (no cars on bike path).

My wife and I have a car, and we recently sold our 2 door 1.3L for a station wagon as we had a baby which needs a car-seat. Having a car also makes it easier to get groceries, visit people and go camping.

I think it really helps to know someone with a car (I try and do this for friends who don't have cars, to help them live car-free).

I've lived without a car, but only in areas with good public transport, a few hundred metres from a grocery store and before I had a kid.

Maybe a better metric would be what is your yearly carbon footprint. Exactly what portion of it is produced by driving an ICE powered automobile may be important but not the only issue.

U.S. homes account for 8 percent of the world's emissions, with the average household contributing 55,000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually, according to author David Gershon. His "Low Carbon Diet... Together, washers and dryers generate five pounds of carbon dioxide per cycle. "

I drive a small compact car less than 5000 miles a year and my electric bill in South Florida (with air conditioning) is less than $40.00 dollars a month.

Washer N55


A washing machine was made from : Tape, a plastic pipe and a water dispenser. Special soap to be used at low water temperatures was added to the water to clean the clothes properly. Go for a walk and wash your clothes! Or drag it behind a bike:

I voted 6 days a week. Unfortunately I'm a bit of a ludite to this, still fairly new to TOD and all that is possible that you people have shown me.

My wife and I live in west London. Our offices are quite close together, so we drive my wife's car (VW polo) to her office and I walk from there. However she leaves before me, so drives home alone (usually). I catch the tube. Car journey for me is about 35-50 mins depending on trafic (was light last summer with expensive petrol). Averages about 35 mins on the tube (this includes a 15 min walk from the station to home).

However we are only about 4.5 miles home to offices, we could easily cycle in 20-25 mins, both our offices have secure cycle parking and showers. We don't as my wife is not a confident cyclist, and worries about the traffic (which is a fair comment, the main road is quite narrow, very busy, and has only limit cycle lanes).

We tend to drive to the supermarket as well, even though there are two fairly large and a number of smaller grocery stores within 15 minutes walk of home, the nearest only about 30 seconds away! However that is changing.

We also have a big Volvo estate, which is not used very much. In fact I have bought a PV solar charger to prevent the battery going flat. We us it when big loads are to be carried (friends and family included) and for long journeys as it is more comfortable (I'm 6'4 so I have to squeeze into the Polo). My wife's parents have a cottage in a small Wiltshire village, and her sister's family have recently moved there, it is about 2hours drive. Unfortunately where they live you basically have to drive everywhere. The only shop in the village has only a few basics, and the bus service only runs about twice a day. My brother-in-law drives the 3.5miles (dark narrow hilly roads at 6.30am) to the nearest station to catch the train to London.

However, in terms of my future plans, sorting out transport is high, but not top. Top goes to sorting out an efficient home that is not dependent upon one energy source (prime favourites are passive solar and biomass).

I voted "Occasionally." I set a New Year's resolution to drive less than 5,000 miles, which comes to about 100 miles/week. I live 14 or 15 miles from work, depending on how I get there. If the current trend of my car use hold's I am going to smash that goal into pieces. Haven't driven in 3 weeks and one of my tires is going flat. I live in a Minneapolis susburb and use a combo of public transit, walking and cycling. On occasion I drive to the train station and walk, leaving my bike at home.

My car gets between 29-35 MPG depending on season. What is funny is that I will soon have ACL surgery, so won't be able to drive or bike and have to rely on the bus! Once I get through PT I plan to bike 90% of the time which will be about 270 miles/week plus maybe 30 on the train.

Re to above: Hourcar. I know some people who use and they love it and works really well for them. However they live and work in a far more dense urban area whereas I live in a somewhat distant bedroom/strip mall community (gross).

I bicycled in maybe 8 times last Summer. Takes me about 40-50 minutes, depending on wind and direction (return trip is easier).

It's a good 2 miles more than the distance by car, because I can't bike on the highways, so...

I have the same issues as wisco - here in Minnesota riding a bike in the winter is a bit scary (especially considering all the ditched cars and lightpoles that have been destroyed. I have to cross and go with traffic going in excess of 50 mph on a rather busy road.

I also stop at all the stoplights. I want to give bikers a good name. Nonetheless, I've still been yelled at for not waiting for the crosswalk (yet the light was green).

Tons o' fun. I'll wait for the spring. The 10 minute drive is just too difficult to not do by car. I need to sell my car, it's the only way for me to ride my bike (or my motorcycle). I voted "every day", although 6.5 is probably more like it.

I also stop at all the stoplights. I want to give bikers a good name. Nonetheless, I've still been yelled at for not waiting for the crosswalk (yet the light was green).

Thanks! I do the same, or try to as often as possible. When I rode a motorcycle I had problems (and still do on a bicycle) getting lights to trip through the cycle so I could go through the intersection. I want to say MN has a law that allows (motor)cyclists to go through a red, if clear, when it has gone through a cycle where it didn't trip for the perpendicular direction... if that makes any sense. Sometimes I just wait a minute or two and then go through it.

Indeed MN appears to love the "No turn on red" and left-hand turn arrows.

I've literally waited 5 minutes at some left turn arrows (a number of years ago though - in a car). I think they did pass a law dealing with motorcycles and red lights:


Sec. 42. Minnesota Statutes 2000, section 169.06, is amended by adding a subdivision to read: Subd. 9. [AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE RELATING TO UNCHANGING TRAFFIC CONTROL SIGNAL.]

(a) A person operating a motorcycle who violates subdivision 4 by entering or crossing an intersection controlled by a traffic-control signal against a red light has an affirmative defense to that charge if the person establishes all of the following conditions:

(1) the motorcycle has been brought to a complete stop;

(2) the traffic-control signal continues to show a red light for an unreasonable time;

(3) the traffic-control signal is apparently malfunctioning or, if programmed or engineered to change to a green light only after detecting the approach of a motor vehicle, the signal has apparently failed to detect the arrival of the motorcycle; and

(4) no motor vehicle or person is approaching on the street or highway to be crossed or entered or is so far away from the intersection that it does not constitute an immediate hazard.

(b) The affirmative defense in this subdivision applies only to a violation for entering or crossing an intersection controlled by a traffic-control signal against a red light and does not provide a defense to any other civil or criminal action.

Agreed. I always try to stop at the lights, but there are a couple of lights on my route to work which don't trip for bikes - so I tend to ignore them if it's safe to do so.

I've heard that some councils here in the UK will adjust the sensors if you report that they don't work...

Thanks to the insights offered on TOD, TAE, and a few other such sites, my partner and I decided to pull the plug on California last year, apparently barely in time.
We've been living in SW Portland, OR for exactly one year now, and it's been absolutely beautiful so far. Blissful, even.
I "work" from home. The odometer in my 1996 VW reads 174k miles - but less than 4k of that has accrued in my year here in Oregon. She has to commute - six whole miles! - but not every weekday, and it's a pastoral, bikeable route. I think her car usage may be as high as 7k miles this past year. IMO 11k miles per year for two professionals ain't bad, and it's only going to continue to decline in the future. Decline is a word we seem to hear a lot here on TOD, no?

I drive to work 4 days a week, and to my other halfs once a fortnight (she comes to me the other week). I'm close enought o work that the engine barely warms up before I get there, so I'm looking at getting a hub motor for my pushbike, so that I can ride to work, but not arrive sweaty. A simple 24V system will be more than enough range, but 200W is a legal maximum the motor can be rated at (equals to about 20-25kmh on the flat). I can live with this. I'd take Public Transport, but I have to go halfway to work before I get to the nearest busstop anyway, and it's not running when i come home, so that's out for me.
Medium term, I'm moving closer to town. Long term, I hope to use the bike (with a trailer) for day-to-day stuff and supplement it with a short-to-medium-range (~50km) EV, built from a 'donated' shell for one of the cars I currently own (only one is registered). The rest of the cars will be restored and put on stands in my garage. :)