Insights Blog

Pedal power: why one Exasolian and his family ditched their car

Sebastian Nehls – IAmChange

This blog is part of our ‘I am Change’ series, in which we feature members of the Exasol team making conscious decisions to change their behaviors and live more sustainably.

In early 2018 Exasol Engineering Manager Sebastian Nehls and his wife decided enough was enough. It was time to say goodbye to their car and rely on the power of the pedal – and a touch of public transport.

“As a family of four, we realized that we could reach pretty much everything we need locally by bike,” says Sebastian, who lives in Nuremberg, the second-largest city in the German state of Bavaria. “Whether that’s kindergarten, school, work or shopping, it’s all a manageable bike ride away.” 

The Nehls had spent 2017 paying close attention to how much they used their car and discovered that the pros of relying on bicycles to get to work, school and the shops far outweighed the cons.  

“In the city going by bike is just faster. There’s no traffic jam for bikes, so it is easier to calculate how much time you need to get from A to B. Plus, it’s more fun!” says Sebastian. “I was also tired of car maintenance. It’s been surprising just how seldomly we really need a car – around once every six weeks – and when we do, we fall back on the car sharing system here in Nuremberg, which is constantly improving.” 

In 2020, with their kids getting bigger, the bike fleet was extended to include a battery-assisted cargo bike (above). Now, with extra capacity and power, the kindergarten run is taken care of with the cargo bike. Sebastian can then commute to work on his own bike, getting some exercise on the way to the Exasol office. They pop to the shops a couple of times a week and, depending on the number of groceries, will either take the cargo e-bike or just rely on good ol’ pedal power.

“It’s refreshing,” says Sebastian. “For every trip we can now objectively choose which mode of transport to use. And this means we use the train more, because it’s often cheaper and faster than using a car. We didn’t use the train at all when we had the car!”

The Nehls have now taken their rejection of the car a step further and decided to avoid planes too, choosing to discover the beautiful European destinations that can be reached by the continent’s extensive train network. 

So, will Sebastian ever return to car ownership? “No,” he says. “I’m counting on autonomous, shared cars when I’m too old to use my bike.”