Sustainable Transportation at Dancing Rabbit
Dancing Rabbit is designed as a pedestrian scale village where everything is within walking and biking distance. Almost everyone works from home or within the village, which drastically reduces our needs for motorized vehicles. Our covenants don’t allow private vehicle ownership, and instead we have a car co-op where we share a few vehicles among the whole village. We’re seriously committed to ride-sharing – you almost never take a trip to town alone.
DR’s goal is to avoid any fossil fuel use in our vehicles and our efforts have focused mainly on biodiesel and electric vehicles. So far we have struggled to meet that goal year round with cold winters making biodiesel challenging to use. We’ve done some experiments with heated tanks including, at times, running on straight vegetable oil. We are aware of the concerns around biofuels in terms of displacing food crops and, in some cases, the ambiguity of their reduction of CO2 output. We continue to explore biofuels as a way to localize our fuel source, including the possibility of growing our own oil crops.
Speaking of vehicles and making our own fuel, Dancing Rabbit’s vehicle co-op is now the proud owner of a fully electric Nissan LEAF. The LEAF has a range of about 80 miles when its batteries are fully charged (from our own solar power co-op, of course). It has been the go-to car for all of our local trips, but we’re still using our biodiesel cars and truck for longer trips or when hauling a heavy load.
And while solar power and home grown fuel are pretty exciting, the real trick is that we share only four vehicles among 75 people, and we only drive them 160 miles per day — total — for the whole village (the same amount driven by 6 average Americans)!
It is our sense that no alternative fuel can sustainably replace our nations current level of fossil fuel use for vehicles so we must learn to drive less and make more fuel-efficient vehicles. Only then can renewable alternatives hope to meet our needs.