Taxi, Taxi! and calculating my gasoline consumption totals

Cool!! Last night I found out that my #1 preferred taxi driver now lives in my neighborhood! Extra convenience just in time for the super cold weather and holiday parties!

I don’t use taxis that often, maybe a few times a year. I make a rough calculation of the gasoline and include it in my Riot total for the year.

Speaking of the Riot for Austerity gasoline category: This past year once again I have come in around the 50 gallons that constitute 10% of the average USA resident’s annual gasoline consumption. This was even though I bought my motorcycle. (On my motorcycle rides, which serve as both recreation and errands, I use an average of 1 to 2 gallons a month.) My annual train trip to Virginia counts as 15 gallons (public transport gets counted as 100mpg in the Riot).


• motorcycle errands + recreation 24 gal (estimate erring on the high side; it’s probably more like 15 but let’s call it 24)
• Amtrak to Va roundtrip 15 gal
• Sis & bro-in-law picking me up & dropping me off Amtrak train station 1 gal
• Big bus trip to Ft Lauderdale for Bucs game 4 gal
• Misc rides around town – taxis, occasional rides accepted from friends even though I was out of their way etc. probably a total of 40 miles for the year so say 1.5-2 gal, but even if we pad it to be safe and say 200 miles, say an average of 30mpg that’s just 6 gallons which still puts my total within the 50-gal mark for the year

Back to taxis: I love them! What a great concept. And, I tend to choose them over having a friend drive out of their way, because I would always rather support someone’s livelihood than impose on a friend.

General note … (And I want to hear from others of you who also choose not to own a car, or to minimize your use of cars.) I am struggling with some people who chronically insist on making an issue of my transportation. Asking how am I getting there, acting all shocked and worried etc. I don’t want anyone putting attention on my transportation, but some people can be very insistent. Even though most of them mean well, it’s very stressful knowing that my choice is taking up that much of people’s attention. I am always working on practical solutions for how to diffuse or divert their attention.

One tactic I’m trying is to simply change the subject. (When simply stating “I get around by foot, bicycle, and bus” doesn’t seem to satisfy people.)

And, my stock replies to people who are chronically horrified at the sight of me walking or bicycling, and offer rides even though I always say no, are effective in many cases: “No thanks, I need to get my steps in”; “No thanks, I get carsick” (TRUE — though thankfully I have never actually thrown up in anyone’s car, and only once on an aeroplane, in an airsickness bag fortunately); and “Thanks, but I have transportation.” Also, when it’s an option, I try to arrive at a gathering unobtrusively, leave unobtrusively, disappear quickly out of the area, walk the first few blocks extra quickly so people won’t see me walking. Out of sight, out of mind!

Then there’s the perennial “Did you get here by bicycle?” (from people who have only ever seen me arrive by bicycle). Sometimes I simply respond “Yes, did you get here by car?” (to people who I have only ever seen arrive by car).

Of course, some people could be asking these questions or having these reactions because they themselves are feeling guilty about their gasoline consumption, and/or trying to add to their menu of transportation options. If you are one of those people, I’m always here to support you.

Sometimes I respond to the questioners, “Yes, let me know if you want to ride together next time” (or walk together).

And for some closer friends, I’m practicing something along the lines of: “Look, you knew when we met that I get around mainly by foot and bicycle. You don’t have to like my transportation choices, but if you want me to visit you and spend time with you, you need to accept that this comes with the territory. I’m not arguing with you anymore.”

I have already said to friends, when we’ve been at their house drinking and eating and they want to give me a ride home at the end of the night, “No thanks, enjoy the exercise and the moonlight. And, none of us has any business getting behind the wheel of a car right now.”

I may never convince some of you to see the good sense in taking a darn Uber or taxi or walk when we meet up at a bar or party, but I can at least put my foot down and keep you from drink-driving on my behalf when I come to your home.

Sorry if I sound mean or cranky! It’s just discouraging that our society as a whole has become so totally car-dependent that people who choose to live without owning a car elicit some mixture of misplaced pity and outright shock and being treated like a freak and *constantly having people ask* how one got somewhere, how one plans to get somewhere, etc. The way I get there is that I decide I want or need to go, so I get my ass there! Or else I decide I don’t need or want to go, and I stay home!

This auto-condescension is worse in some parts of the country than in others. It happened some in Austin but was not as crazy as it is here.

On that note, a big THANK YOU to my friends, neighbors, and colleagues who do not make a giant, public, stinking federal case of my transportation methods. If I am willing to accept a ride from you and it was out of your way (even just a few blocks out of your way), you know you are one of these lovely human beings. (I don’t accept rides from people otherwise unless there’s some sort of emergency.) Thank you for understanding that human-powered transport is not some freakish novelty. If I have ever ASKED you for a ride (and you are not a taxi service who I am paying money to), then you know you are in my innermost trusted circle, transportationally speaking.

And in closing, I would like to share a quote from Seneca, a Stoic philosopher of ancient Rome, that I feel is relevant here:

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.”

P.S. (It’s amazing sometimes how many additional ideas can occur to me, that after I thought I was done writing!) In addition to not wanting to burden people, and not wanting to attract embarrassing kinds/amounts of attention, there are also safety & security reasons for not wanting one’s transportation particulars widely broadcast. Same as a person driving alone (particularly a woman driving alone) might not want the general public to know where their car is parked and so on.