CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Think about this for a minute. Could you park your car for an entire year? How would you get to work or run errands?
"I really haven't used my car since the middle of December. I took a personal commitment around the first of the year to only use a bicycle or public transit for the entire year," said Jon Harding outside his Southeast Charlotte home. From his driveway to his office in uptown, it's a 7.4 mile ride. On rainy days, Harding cycles a mile and catches the bus.
"I've proven that it is possible to live without a car even in a neighborhood that is not necessarily considered walk able," he said.
In just three months time, Harding figures he's saved more than $470 in gas and wear and tear on his car. And then there's the health benefit. "I think I average 50 to 65 calories per mile. This is the first year I haven't gained any weight over the winter, which is great."
Harding is on the board of the Charlotte Area Bicycle Alliance, which focuses on cycling awareness, education and safety. He's keeping up with his car-free commute on a personal blog. With a toddler at home, his wife still uses her car. He calls his family car-lite.
"We have to get groceries. We have to do things like that. But for me, it's personal transportation getting myself from my house to wherever I need to go," Harding said.
And he says the more bikes there are on the road, the better off he and other cyclists are. "The safer it is for everbody," he said.
Harding is hopeful the recent addition of Charlotte bicycle maps on Google will encourage more people to give two wheels a try. In the application, you put in your start and end points and Google will give you a route. The maps factor in bike lanes and trails, many of which can save you time on your ride.
"I find the secondary streets the safest. We do have some bicycle lanes in Charlotte. It's getting better. But there's a long way to go," he added.
"You see the world around you and get some exercise. You also know you're saving some money," Harding concluded.