I've recently discovered something quite wonderful and amazing about going barefoot. It can save you money and help out the environment. I'm not talking about the benefits of minimized shoe wear and tear by going unshod more often. This blog post is all about driving barefoot.
I'm an active user of the micro-blogging site Twitter. On there I'm known by almost 200 followers as @barefootmichael. Because I'm a fan of going barefoot I'm always interested in what others have to say about the subject, so I use Twitter's search feature to follow the terms "barefoot" and "bare feet." Sometimes it results in very interesting posts, or "tweets."
One tweet caught my eye in May. It was from user @kenman345 and read: "Checked out the fuel consumption on my car and I've been getting better gas mileage driving barefoot...awesome"
Really? Could exposing your bare soles to the brake pedal and accelerator cause your engine to be more fuel efficient?
Then I got to thinking: I have noticed my car being able to drive much farther on a tank of gas lately (Up to 360 miles from around 300 miles per fill-up). I'd never thought very hard about why that was, but then I realized the savings began about the same time I started driving home barefoot from work each day. I did some rough calculations and found that my car now gets about 24 mpg versus the 19 I was getting before. Big difference.
I have no scientific proof that driving barefoot helps you get better gas mileage, but the idea makes sense. Each foot has 26 bones, numerous joints, and dozens of muscles and ligaments. It is attached to a very versatile joint at the ankle. Combine that with the high concentration of nerve endings on the sole of the foot and you get a very sensitive part of the body, capable of subtle, calculated movement.
It would then make sense to presume that driving barefoot gives you a fuel advantage because you have direct contact with that which makes a direct impact on the car's movement. Instead of using your ankle and limited foot movement inside a shoe to feel the pedals and make not-so-subtle changes in acceleration and braking, the bare foot is capable of tiny, precise operations. We tweak one muscle or another to add just a little more or less pressure on the pedals as necessary. In the end, a much more efficient operation of the vehicle is taking place.
For more information on this topic, do a Web search for "driving barefoot gas mileage." You'll find lots of resources for saving fuel and lots of mentions of hypermiling. While it's hard to find true scientific evidence that driving barefoot saves gas mileage, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming.
"But Michael!" you shout. "Driving barefoot is illegal!" Actually, it's not in the U.S. except for motorcyclists in the state of Alabama. So no worries.
Give driving barefoot a chance for a while. The summer is a perfect time to do it since so many people wear flip flops and sandals that are easily removed and stowed on the floorboard near your seat. See what kind of distance you get out of a full tank of gas. Your mileage may vary.
(Photo from Flickr, user angela b.:
NOTE: All this week I am "rewinding" this blog to repost some of my earlier entries that many readers may have missed. Much of this information holds true even today and I hope you enjoyed it. This post was originally published on June 9, 2009. The content above was NOT edited from its original entry, so please ignore any typos or less than perfect grammar as I got my writing feet underneath me. What do you think of this post? Please leave your comments below.