Going car-free for Lent

As February begins you may have started to plan for Valentine’s Day or are perhaps feeling excited by the prospect of spring being just around the corner. This year however mid-February is also the start of Easter celebrations as Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent fall on 14 February. 

Traditionally Lent is a 40-day period of fasting and prayer in the Christian calendar but many people will choose to give something up or pledge to change a longstanding habit whether or not they hold particular religious views. The most popular example probably being not eating chocolate until Easter Sunday.

Lent is a good opportunity to do something that has a positive impact on the world around us and for us as individuals, why not make it a time to reconsider how we make our daily journeys?

This year we’re encouraging you to give up driving for 40 days between Wednesday 14 February and Saturday 31 March. Or if a total car-fast sounds too daunting why not commit to not driving journeys of less than a mile or two?

Hanging up your car keys could not only benefit your health and happiness, but could also help improve air quality – a health crisis that is affecting children, people with a lung conditions and the elderly the hardest.

By making all of your journeys by bike or on foot you will be far more physically active and you could easily meet the recommended 2.5 hours of moderate activity per week. Many people also find that a brisk walk or cycle helps them clear their mind and shake off the stresses of the day.

Reduce car use for 40 days

We understand that for some people it may not be possible to give up the car completely, some journeys are unavoidable and a car can be irreplaceable for certain tasks, so here are some recommended journeys you could switch until Easter Sunday:

The school run and commuting 

If you regularly drive to work or school during the rush hour you will be very aware of how frustrating it can be to be stuck inside your car. If you live within a few miles of your workplace or children’s school why not try walking, scooting or cycling this route for Lent?

‘Popping’ to the shops

It can be tempting to quickly ‘pop’ to the local shops when you desperately need one or two small items. Instead of getting behind the wheel, try walking or cycling with a back pack to carry your groceries.      

Weekend outings

Instead of spending your downtime driving here, there and everywhere why not make the journey itself as fun as your destination? Lots of places can easily be reached by foot and bike.

Stick with it

Using your car less until Easter may be a sacrifice, but there are so many benefits and you will start to feel them very quickly. You’ll save money and fitness levels improve in a matter of weeks when you exercise regularly. We have heard from individuals who  have started to cycle regularly about how surprised they are by the speed at which they adapt.

Making the decision to make the change can be the hardest part as you will need to prepare yourself by finding a new route to work or the shops, or building your confidence on your bike, for example. But once you make the change your body adjusts very quickly and it shouldn’t be difficult for very long.

Our best tip of all? Try not to think of it as giving up your car, but gaining independence from it!

Feeling inspired to give up your car for Lent? Read about Mara's experience of giving up her car