Breaking Free from Cars in Cold Weather for a Healthier Planet

Ainsley Lawrence

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It’s no secret that each of us can do a lot in our day-to-day lives to better support the environment. Certainly, a commitment to small and consistent efforts tends to have a powerful cumulative effect. It’s also worth remembering that there are seasonal adjustments you can make that are healthier for our planet. 

During the winter, one of the positive steps you might consider is to forgo using your car. This might seem a little counterintuitive, as the cold and wet months seem to be the right time to drive places. Yet, this can be both a practical and positively impactful time of year to make what can be a powerful, environmentally responsible decision.

Let’s explore the benefits of breaking free from cars in the winter and how you can navigate this process effectively.

Establish the Motivation

Breaking free of your car during the colder months can be quite a wrench. It is, after all, a convenient way to get around during a season you might not want to spend a lot of time outside. Therefore, it’s worth establishing a solid set of motivations for you to keep up your efforts.

These could include:

  • The environmental effect: We all know by now that driving gas-powered vehicles isn’t particularly good for the environment. But why can avoiding your car in the winter particularly help the planet? Well, your vehicle uses a lot of fuel during the winter. You’re likely to run the heating and it may take longer for your car to warm up in the mornings. Not to mention that you might be taking more journeys rather than walking due to poorer weather. Each of these results in greater emissions and resource use.
  • The safety issues: Winter weather presents some significant driving challenges, particularly with respect to safety. Snow, ice, and rain can affect tire traction on the roads, which influences your braking ability. Snowstorms may also reduce road visibility. These issues can raise your risk of accidents each day. Therefore, finding alternatives to taking your car out may be a powerful influence on your ongoing well-being. 

You may have a range of additional individual motivations, for instance, reducing your financial burden or showing your children alternatives to car travel. Having a good understanding of these and even taking note of them to remind yourself at trying times can be helpful.

Identify the Appropriate Methods

Once you’ve established that breaking free from cars is a solid option, the next challenge is to find alternatives. This is largely about identifying what is available in your area and what is practical for your needs.

Some of the options you could consider include:

  • Public transport: While buses are still road vehicles, public transport can still be a more viable option than cars in the winter. Even if your city doesn’t use electric buses, many people using one bus tends to be more environmentally friendly than all of them individually driving cars. It’s important to ensure, though, that the bus service in your area gets you relatively close to your required destinations.
  • Bicycle: Perhaps the most green form of practical transportation is taking a bike or even an e-bike. You’ll also find that it can positively contribute to your health by getting regular exercise. That said, you’ll need to be mindful of how practical it is to cycle during poor weather conditions and the safest routes to avoid road accidents.
  • Carpooling: In some instances, you might not be able to avoid driving entirely. There may not be sufficient public transport access or cycling may not suit your needs. Nevertheless, you can be more environmentally conscious by arranging a group to carpool with. This reduces the number of cars on the road, minimizing emissions and fuel usage.

Remember, too, that you don’t have to stick to a single alternative throughout the season. You could cycle on the clearer days and take the bus when the weather takes a turn for the worse. This not only ensures you’re taking greener transport, but it can also give you a little variety of experience.

Prepare for Change

To have the most positive impact from car-less winter, you should avoid taking an improvised approach. Some solid preparation can help you to stay safe, have efficient journeys, and navigate the challenges of leaving your vehicle. The time you spend planning upfront certainly benefits you further down the line.

Some of the steps you should take include:

  • Properly store your car: Even though you won’t be using your car in the winter, you still need it to be in good working order after the season. Take steps to protect your vehicle while it’s in winter storage. Fill your tank with gas to prevent moisture build-up. Remove your battery and place it in storage to prevent it draining due to the cold. Remember to properly inflate your tires to prevent damage due to the changes in pressure caused by temperature drops. 
  • Arrange your safety gear: When you’re taking alternative forms of transport, it’s important to ensure you have relevant safety gear. If you’re cycling, this should include front and rear lights alongside reflective clothing. When taking public transportation or carpooling, keep a small first aid kit, a bottle of water, and a snack in case of minor emergencies.

Many of your preparations will be individual to your intended method of transportation and to your specific needs. Brainstorm the tools that can best meet the circumstances and also discuss your plans with others. They might highlight some issues you’ve overlooked and even point to some effective solutions.


Breaking free of your car during the winter is healthier for the planet and can have various benefits for you and your family. However, it’s important to take a well-planned approach to optimize your safety, comfort, and environmental impact. Remember, though, that this doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing act. Even simply cutting down on your vehicle use can make a difference. Carefully examine your needs and find ways to make choices that are good for everyone involved.

Ainsley Lawrence

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