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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 08-11-11, 10:36 AM   #1
dygituljunky
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Suddenly Clyde, Athena, and Kiddo are Car-Free. Can It Last?

Suddenly, we're a one car family. Yesterday this happened to my wife:

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/phot...eat=directlink

The wife is a little bruised but otherwise OK. The damage to the car is worse than it looks; the front axle is probably broken and the A-, B-, and probably C-pillars are bent.

Yesterday, I got around totally on foot. A total of something like 5 miles walking to get the baby from day care, walk to the impound yard to get the stroller and carseat, back home, and towards the bus stop to meet the wife on her way home from the ER. We really need to get a helmet for the 4-month old princess of the household.

Now we're working on decisions, questions, and logistics:
  • Get a new-to-us car and the payments to go with?
  • Try to actually live car-free?
  • Get a Zipcar membership and live car-lite?
  • If car-free/car-lite, what kind of bike for the wife (probably something with an EcoSpeed motor).
  • How soon can I get the delta trikes and trailers that I've been dreaming of to make our car-free-ness a complete reality? (We'll make trike trains such as Delta-Delta-KidTrailer-CargoTrailer)
  • Will our Moms let us stay car free?
  • Can I convince the wife that we can do it?
  • Now that driving to get groceries isn't an option, what's the easiest/cheapest way to get the grocery shopping done within a reasonable amount of time?
  • How do we go visit the in-laws in an area-of-mediocre-public-transit?

Any way we go, there are big changes coming for us, either financial or logistical. That's the way the cookie crumbles, sometimes.
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Old 08-11-11, 10:54 AM   #2
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Can it last? Only you can make that call.

I'd start with a Zip Car membership if they are reasonably priced. That way you have a plan B in case you have a mechanical or just can't bring yourself to ride to work in inclement weather. It's not so much a question of if you can do it, but how is the rest of your family going to react? As of now, 4 months is too young to be transported by a bike trailer. Your child needs to be able to sit upright on their own and support their head with a helmet strapped to it. Next question is if you have the will to transport your child like that full time. Local conditions will vary and you could very well be in an excellent place to be car free like that...for me, I don't think I would want to do that full time with a child in tote.

I have no idea what your moms are like, but if mommy is still making decisions for you...you have bigger problems.

For grocery shopping, hop on craigslist and search for a used kid trailer. You should be able to find these for next to nothing. Go to the grocery store, fill it up, go home. You won't have to worry about balancing the load as much as you would with a set of panniers. You should be able to get a few days worth of groceries at a time, you will have to go more often than you are probably used to. Other than that, there isn't much to it.

Have the inlaws come to you if they are able to do so. If not, this is the perfect reason not to go visit

Happy Riding!
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Old 08-11-11, 11:23 AM   #3
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I would definitely try posting this on the car-free subforum.
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Old 08-11-11, 11:28 AM   #4
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not clear did you go from one car to one mangled car or 2 cars to 1 car and one mangled car. Agree Car free and Utility subforum can give you a lot of info

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Old 08-11-11, 12:35 PM   #5
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Wow, I'm glad she's OK!

If you're prepared to shop often, panniers and a basket can haul an awful lot of groceries. I bring home milk, wine, cereal, bananas -- all that stuff. But I don't carry a whole week worth of groceries at a time. How far is the grocery store? I'm admittedly spoiled because we have two mediocre stores within easy walking distance, and Whole Foods is a 2.5-mile roundtrip if I go the easiest biking way (it would be less than two if I rode the direct, STREET OF VEHICULAR DEATH route, but I'm not up for that!).
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Old 08-11-11, 09:45 PM   #6
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I don't recommend the Car Free Forum. All they do is talk about how evil cars are. There's little practical advice coming from the soapboxes.

As far as getting around car-free, the first thing you need to do is look at a map. Where are you in relation to your jobs? Can you walk there? Ride there? Get there by public transit? Carpool? When you have that settled, move onto the next things you need to do regularly.

The difference between owning a car and not is that you can't pick up the keys and head out any time you like. It takes some planning. I spent five years car free (and bike free, since I didn't know how to ride) in the early 1990s, so take it from me maps and transit schedules are your friend.
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Old 08-11-11, 10:01 PM   #7
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Thanks, everybody.

Thalia: The Aldi (where we get the really cheap groceries) is 7 miles away from home (about two miles past my mom's), the nearest Kroger, Publix, and Ingles are clustered together about 2.5 miles away from home. The easiest places to shop on foot (which we may have to do until we have the equipment for bicycle grocery runs) are two bus short bus routes away.

I directly pass one grocery store on my daily commute and I've made that stop before. I think one of the first changes we'll have to make to make this work is that I'll have to go grocery shopping on my way home each day after work. That won't be a big deal as long as we stay on top of our grocery list on rememberthemilk.com...

squirtdad: The mangled car is our only car.

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I have no idea what your moms are like, but if mommy is still making decisions for you...you have bigger problems.
Heh, well said. They don't make decisions for us but they ARE grandmothers and offer lots and lots of unsolicited advice which we'll, of course, take under advisement.

My wife already had the solution to visiting her folks: we ride up to a public transit station on their side of town and they pick us up if they want to see us.

I forgot to say that we have already been doing most of our commuting via bike or public transit for me and mostly public transit for the wife. She works all the way at the opposite edge of the neighboring county (about 30 miles by car). I work much closer (6ish miles by crow, 7ish by car, 9.5ish by bike). We stopped using the car for the daily commute because it was saving us $200/month in gas alone (not to mention oil, maintenance, registration, insurance, etc). Now it's just making the transition to knocking out home-store chores and social visits by non-private-car means.

I think I have a handle on the theory of the logistics on living car free. I guess we just need a little car-free time to put it in practice, a little time to prove to ourselves that, even in Metro Atlanta, car-free/car-lite is possible and livable and that a car is actually a luxury item that we can live without.

Neil_B: I'd heard that about the Car-Free sub-forum and that Car-Free was originally intended as a way to isolate the debate about car usage from the advice about how to actually do it (I hear that "the soapboxes" used to overwhelm the Utility sub-forum).

The reason I posted in Clyde/Athena rather than Commuting or Utility: I consider Clyde/Athena to be my real home among the various sections on BikeForums. I posted here as more of an update to my fellow Clyde/Athena participants. I'll, of course, post more specific queries on the Commuting and/or Utility sub-forums.
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Old 08-11-11, 10:31 PM   #8
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BTW, I think this book is an excellent reference.

http://www.amazon.com/How-Live-Well-...3122636&sr=8-1

One point the author brings out, and you hinted at when your inlaws said they'd pick you up, is that living car-free is an opportunity to know people better. Your neighbors, for instance. Or coworkers.
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Old 08-11-11, 10:37 PM   #9
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BTW, I think this book is an excellent reference.

http://www.amazon.com/How-Live-Well-...3122636&sr=8-1

One point the author brings out, and you hinted at when your inlaws said they'd pick you up, is that living car-free is an opportunity to know people better. Your neighbors, for instance. Or coworkers.
Oh! That book has been on my wishlist for a few years. Thanks for reminding me about it. Now seems like an opportune time to purchase it.
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Old 08-12-11, 06:46 AM   #10
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It sounds to me like this has been your plan to some extent for some time and that you have done some preparation for it, in that case I think it could be doable. It's just a matter of figuring out what you have to do to make it work.
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Old 08-12-11, 07:12 AM   #11
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You'd be surprised how much groceries you can tie onto a rack with bags and a backpack. I used to take a medium sized duffel bag and tie it on the rack with nylon cord (bungees can get you swaying), then a smaller one on top of that. Fabric shopping bags hanging down off the rack on either side - you don't really need panniers, just the rack. I'd just tie two of the handle straps together and drap them over the rack with a bungee cord on top. It's slow going but it beats walking.

I know you can do it, and after it becomes normal probably not all that much of a hardship - that 30 mile public transport commute your wife is doing now is the biggest one. Hopefully you can impose on the moms every once in awhile when you really do need to take a car somewhere.
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Old 08-12-11, 11:35 AM   #12
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As a note I think you will find utility very helpful and it is, like this forum, a very mellow forum.
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Old 08-12-11, 01:02 PM   #13
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[*]Get a Zipcar membership and live car-lite?
This is the middle of the road option. It's also a good test. Here's the important question: what will/would you use the Zipcar for?
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Old 08-13-11, 02:35 AM   #14
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After this, I'll move any questions over to the Utility forum, as suggested. I don't think I really have any questions; any I had have been answered. I think the DW is starting to see the necessity of avoiding another car payment, though she still leans towards considering a car to be a necessity for Metro Atlanta residents. At this point, she and I have to hash out the budget for the few bike accessories that will make the whole transition go smoother and, hopefully, we won't be saddled with another Cager's Debt.

Thanks for the feedback, everybody.

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It sounds to me like this has been your plan to some extent for some time and that you have done some preparation for it, in that case I think it could be doable. It's just a matter of figuring out what you have to do to make it work.
I have been leaning away from car usage for a few years, starting with refusing to pay for a parking pass at work (bike commuting was a direct answer to that) and moving in to buying gasoline only reluctantly (for budgetary and ideological reasons). By the time I had my first date with my now-wife, my car was parked in the carport with an expired registration (she drove me home from the first date, I rented a car to get to her side of town for the second one).

Y'all are all right, it's more about adapting on our non-work days and it really shouldn't be that hard. It is about making it work, not just for me but for the wife and baby. The only thing we lost, in my mind, was a luxury item that made getting around more convenient. I don't see a car as necessary in Metro Atlanta, though my wife disagrees with me, so far.

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You'd be surprised how much groceries you can tie onto a rack with bags and a backpack. I used to take a medium sized duffel bag and tie it on the rack with nylon cord (bungees can get you swaying), then a smaller one on top of that. Fabric shopping bags hanging down off the rack on either side - you don't really need panniers, just the rack. I'd just tie two of the handle straps together and drap them over the rack with a bungee cord on top. It's slow going but it beats walking.

I know you can do it, and after it becomes normal probably not all that much of a hardship - that 30 mile public transport commute your wife is doing now is the biggest one. Hopefully you can impose on the moms every once in awhile when you really do need to take a car somewhere.
I've been shopping by bike only a couple of times, one of which was for a 40 lb bag of dog food. The extra equipment that I want to add is a front platform rack, for now. We have a super-cheapy trailer I just need to perform a little maintenance on to put into regular service. That fabric shopping bag tip is actually how I take lunch to work...

I readily admit that grocery runs by bike are easy enough and give the same level of satisfaction for doing so under my own steam that commuting under my own steam gives. I also readily admit that I was totally lazy and used the car to get back home quicker. On the other hand, since you can more easily stuff the car silly with groceries, you'll tend to spend more time in the store and buy more than you need. Now that I think about it, maybe this will actually save us even more money than just on car costs.

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As a note I think you will find utility very helpful and it is, like this forum, a very mellow forum.
Thanks. I already lurk in the Utility forum. Now it's time to just make myself at home.

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This is the middle of the road option. It's also a good test. Here's the important question: what will/would you use the Zipcar for?
I'm not sure. I'm not even sure it's necessary. But it is an option on the table if we find that it will provide significant convenience. We would already have to make 2/3 of the commute to my work to get to the nearest Zipcars that I know of so it's not an incredibly attractive option for weekly or monthly usage. But it's cheap enough that if we had to get somewhere far in a hurry it might be nice to already have the membership.
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