Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Exhaust Break paired with Music; Perfect!

I drive a car to work... as I have to drive out of the city. Although my car is UBER efficient (Yaris Hatchback, or little black jelly bean as I call her) and I have been carpooling as much as possible, I still wish I was less dependent of my car, like when I lived in Montreal. Unfortunately we have moments where we drive through the city, as public transit in Halifax is terrible. So terrible.
(The Jelly Bean parked on Kalamalka road to our apartment in Vernon)

In any case, being the silly bean that I am, I decided to try this whole "shutting off your car for periods longer than ten seconds" idea at the intersections. As the average car produces between 10,000 and 12,000 pounds of climate-changing carbon dioxide a year; the main cause for all that yummy smog out there. Idling for more than five minutes creates more than a quarter-kilogram of greenhouses gases and if every Canadian cut back for just five minutes we'd save 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide from entering our atmosphere. Also, if you're going to be waiting more than ten seconds, it takes less fuel to turn the car off and on (Ecoholic, 2006).

So- for a few days I counted seconds at each intersection in Halifax to determine how long the red lights lasted. There are a few intersections here that last a LOT longer than 10 seconds... so I took a huge breath and shut off my car at those intersections. It has been a little hairy at times, I've gotten pretty darn good at watching the cross-traffic's lights and being ready when they turn yellow. I've learned that putting on my emergency break while I wait (automatic for me) was not the best idea for a quick start... lol. And although a small step, not being among the cars that sit, spewing forth disgusting fumes for the wonderful pedestrians to inhale as they walk by makes me feel great. :) I even saw another car do the same thing one day and had this urge to wave out my window at them, to shout "Hey! I support that! We ROCK!"... but I held it together. To Andrew's relief haha.

Here are some intersections in Halifax that last a REALLY long time for those of you interested in giving it a try :)

1. The Willow Tree intersection (Robie, Quinnpool, Bell). There are two lanes of traffic that must each have a turn before you- just make sure you watch to know which one will be you :)

2. The Windsor/Cunard/Chebucto intersection (see a terrible intersection trend here?)

3. Bayers Road and Connaught Ave.: On this one, inbound traffic always has an advance green.

4. The terrible intersection before Rainier Drive... that one has a zillion streets converging.

Truly roundabouts are the way to go. But then Haligonians are so afraid of the Rotary now that I'm sure there would be a riot with new ones.

And as a final little musical tidbit (as I am copying Blisschicks music sharing!)... I LOVE Ariane Moffatt. She has such a phenomenal sound and voice. Her newest album is much more techno, but I love it nonetheless. Her website here and myspace (listen to Petit Animal, it's fantastic!) are fun (although in French). One of my favourite songs by her (which I'm trying to learn on the piano) is "Imparfait". It's really hard to find tabs for French songs... but I'll probably just have to plunk it out by ear :)

Or que tout est bête,
Tout est vain et inutile
Lorsqu'épuisé, fatigué
Le corps n'est plus qu'un autre projectile
Propulsé depuis matin
Jusqu'au soir
En bus, en train
Je sais qu'un coeur peut s'arrêter pour moins

Le monde est imparfait

So sad, but so absolutely perfect.


  1. What a great experiment! Keep us posted! I've been struggling with car issues for a while. And it makes things so clear when you visit a city with an awesome transit system, you know? Someday, someday, maybe we'll have something like that in my little town...

  2. On the other hand, it would be hard to be such an imperfect being as I am if the world around me wasn't imperfect - the challenge is in recognizing how lovable both I and the world is. Great energy/planet saving tactic, that, with your careful use of your car!

  3. What a great song!!! I will definitely check it out!

    PS. I will look for you next time I am at an intersection and I do the idle free thing! :)

  4. Roundabouts are so much more efficient than traffic lights, it's a shame they aren't more widespread in ol' Halifax. The ones I used in BC worked pretty well, but were definitely a lot smaller than the rotary.Hopefully this shutting off the car maneuver will not be necessary when I can afford a car. Maybe by then it will be easier to find one that runs on electricity/compressed air/optimism.

  5. Yoga Witch: Yes! I didn't realize how essential they were until I lived in Montreal... being from a tiny village I had never taken public transit before! haha. it was interesting.

    Mary Ellen: thanks :) I probably should have included all the lyrics- haha, the song is about her heartbreak over a parisien man... so life is basically "unfair"- even though it literally translates into "imperfect". :) I do agree with you about your interpretation, if we were all perfect life would be boring indeed!

    Alli: Awesome! I will lean out my window and shout- "We ROCK". lol :)

    Andrew: oh roundabouts- they kind of scare me too silly! but you're right- they work in so many cities in Europe as well...

  6. I am smug in my non-car-ness - we choose to support only one car - B uses it for work and I am a militant cyclist and bus-jockey....but you DO ROCK for turning off at the intersections and you should loudly declare your fabulousness -- and then more people will want to be fabulous just like you and turn their cars off..and so on and so could start a revolution!! :)

    happy to report that some of our more enlightened bus drivers are shutting off the buses when we wait at the terminals to which I LOUDLY comment to the kids what a WONDERFUL idea that is....


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