Stephen joined Not Far? Leave the Car when the programme launched back in March. He tells us his inspiring story of how the BetterPoints app helped him to switch to cycling for transport and get rid of his car completely.
I had thought about using my bike to commute to work and had done it a few times over the winter. I then came across the campaign on social media and thought I should make a more concerted attempt at doing it because of the health benefits. I signed up to Not Far? Leave the Car and using the BetterPoints app helped to motivate me to start using my bike more. Being able to see what I have achieved on a daily basis was rewarding.
I thought I would do a test run of not using my car at all and use my bike mainly and public transport when required to see how it went. After four weeks of this I had went from using my car daily to once per week. It was then I decided to ditch the car altogether. The end result is now that I have sold my car and now only use my bike and public transport.
I have two sons who have really had to get involved as I used to drive them around. My oldest son Jack, who is 9, now cycles with me when we need to go places. My youngest son Jude, 2, isn’t quite big enough to keep up yet but he gets put into a kids' seat on the back of the bike and loves it. It is now his preferred mode of transport. When we need to use public transport for longer journeys, Jack and Jude both travel for free on buses so we save on costs.
I am a student nurse so I need to travel to my placement which is currently in Inverclyde. This involves me cycling to the train station, getting the train and then cycling to the hospital. I use the bus on occasion but the majority of the time I cycle: doing the nursery/school run, days out using the cycle path and visiting family and friends.
Everywhere is relatively easy to get to and with a sturdy back pack I can carry a decent amount of shopping. Anything larger we can use the bus or delivery services to get it to the door. We do enjoy heading into town or the local parks so always stop for a coffee or ice cream as well. I haven’t actually exchanged my points yet but when I do I will be rewarding myself with a nice coffee voucher and the Renfrewshire Gift Card, which I was pleasantly surprised with due to the number of businesses that accept it.
I was a bit apprehensive at first, wondering about how to get big shops done and how safe the roads would be on a bike. These concerns have totally gone now and I have found the cycle network around Renfrewshire very useful and easy to navigate. When using the roads I have found drivers to be respectful of space and speed and that helps to build confidence and continue.
I think I have now made the leap and changed my behaviours for good. The fact that I no longer have the car has opened my eyes to how easy it is to still get through my week without it but to also have the added benefit of saving money, getting healthy, being a role model to my sons and helping the environment. I don’t see me reverting back anytime soon.
If Stephen's story has inspired you to try using your car less, you can join Not Far? Leave the Car by downloading the free BetterPoints app via the buttons below. You will automatically join the challenge if your home postcode is in Renfrewshire but you can also join if you live outside the area but travel into Renfrewshire for work or study - get in touch for a referral code.
Once you are registered, tell us how taking part has helped you to leave the car by taking our survey. Look out for monthly reminders - if your response ends up being used in a case study like this, you will receive 25,000 BetterPoints (that's £25) to spend or donate as you please.