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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 06-28-05, 11:19 AM   #1
chocula
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It's lonely out here

I'm not car free, but I'm aiming for that goal. At present, I'm still commuting to work by car and striving to use a bike for everything else.

I've noticed that riding my bicycle to the grocery store, library, restaurant, or the minor league ballpark is a solitary experience (unless my wife comes along). Mine is usually the only bicycle locked to the shopping cart corral or parking meter out front. I see other bicyclists on my routes, but they are almost exclusively recreational cyclists out for leisurely rides, usually riding on the wrong side of the street! I also see the more competitive types out for group training rides on their speedy road bikes. I'm the only freak with grocery sacks strapped to the back of the bike.

I would like to lobby for the installation of proper bicycle racks at the businesses I patronize, but if I'm the only person who would use them, I'm guessing such an idea won't gain much traction. I suspect that those of you who live in Toronto, Portland and NYC see lots of other folks handling daily tasks on bikes, but in my neighborhood, I sometimes feel like I'm all alone in my desire to take care of life's chores on a bike.

Anyone else feel that way? It sure would be nice to have some company and see other bicycles leaving the neighborhood market loaded with provisions. Occasionally someone will see me packing the bike in front of the store and say, "Now that's the way to go!" or something like that. But so far I haven't seen too many other folks give it a try. Maybe if gas prices keep going up ...
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Old 06-28-05, 11:35 AM   #2
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don't feel alown, there are others out there you just might not see them. When I do my biking for normal life sustaning stuff I see no other bikers. We just had the bike fest in Pittsburgh, and I did not know how many bikers there were in the city, but they were getting alot of people at the events, they had over 250 people at one event. Maybe you should start a local group for biking, here in Pittsburgh we have Bike Pittsburgh (www.bikepgh.org) and Free Ride. So look for a group in your area, if you can not find one start one.
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Old 06-28-05, 11:45 AM   #3
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Have you talked with the owner/manager of these establishments about bike parking?
Have you contacted any bicycle groups or clubs in Savannah to see if others have similar concerns?
Perhaps the good folks at Georgia Bikes could offer some assistance.
It's an uphill battle but someday bicycle advocates will win!!
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Old 06-28-05, 12:49 PM   #4
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I feel the same way. I am also someone who is not car free yet but would like to be. On most of my rides, the only adults I see are getting into or out of cars. I have never seen anyone else ride to the grocery store I use, and have to lock my bike to the shopping cart rack or a hand rail beside the store. I live in suburban hell. Yesterday on the way back from shopping I saw some cyclists, but they were all in spandex and probably laughed at my grocery bike with a packing crate on the handlebars.
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Old 06-28-05, 03:12 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by thelung
I feel the same way. I am also someone who is not car free yet but would like to be. On most of my rides, the only adults I see are getting into or out of cars. I have never seen anyone else ride to the grocery store I use, and have to lock my bike to the shopping cart rack or a hand rail beside the store. I live in suburban hell. Yesterday on the way back from shopping I saw some cyclists, but they were all in spandex and probably laughed at my grocery bike with a packing crate on the handlebars.
Hey thelung, does VB in your location by chance stand for Viginia Beach? If so, I know what you mean by "suburban hell" I gre up there, but now live a city over, definitly suburban hell, but very car-free-able if you don't mind riding tons of miles a day to get around
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Old 06-28-05, 03:47 PM   #6
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Yup, Virginia Beach. I live with my mom here for the summer, and back to Richmond again in August. My dad lives in Norfolk (by 35th and Colley) and it seems like car free living would be a lot easier there. I know it's possible here, most of my car driving is just to do errands for my mom (bringing the little sister places, buying 30lb bags of pet food) and going places with my girlfriend who doesnt cycle as much as I do (but Im working on her ).
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Old 06-28-05, 03:48 PM   #7
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$5 gas will get more of us out there all right.
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Old 06-29-05, 09:38 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chocula
...I've noticed that riding my bicycle to the grocery store, library, restaurant, or the minor league ballpark is a solitary experience...
I find riding a bike for errands to be less of a solitary experience than driving a vehicle to do the same things. Generally strangers don't talk to each other at all. And here you are riding around on a conversation piece.

I enjoy the art of the brief random conversation. They never lead anywhere but they add a little bit to the community feeling of a neighborhood. The trick is to respond with an introduction and a question, like this:

Them: Nice bike!

Me: Thanks! I'm Platy. [Offer handshake if appropriate.] I run all my errands on my bike. Do you see me out on the road very often? or Do you live around here?

There's no telling what you'll learn from such random conversations. The last one I had, the guy told me the shopping center we were at used to be a drive in movie forty years ago. Stuff like that.
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Old 06-29-05, 10:56 AM   #9
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I always fill out customer comment cards, and ask businesses for a bike rack. If they have one, I thank them for it.

I live in Texas, so I am usually the solitary utility / commuter, but... I'm being a role model. I calculated that about 1,000 cars pass me every morning on the way to work.

1,000 people glimpse an alternative way to do it, 3x a week.

That's important, even if lonely.
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Old 06-29-05, 11:46 PM   #10
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Even in a city like Columbus OH it gets lonely on the road, especially in winter, funny how that works...........even in the city proper they really arent many full time bikers of anykind.25 messengers, maybe 3-4 posengers, a handful of commuters, not many really.There's way more on OSU campus, but they tend to stay around that area too, they dont venture out much.

Your not alone, but there is a flip side to that too, showing up to a full bike rack kinda sucks too somedays.Some businesses get their panties in a bunch if you use alternate locations too, Children's Hospital gave me some grief over my choice a couple days ago,even though it was completely out of the way of anything.I put it behind a trash can next to an entrance well out of the walkway almost in the grass and freelocked it.Security was there when I returned, he pointed me to a bike rack way out in the parking lot that I cant use anyway, tires wont fit in the little slots, they are too big.He didnt have an issue with me using a street sign though out front, thats off their property.

Some businesses do learn though, the local grocery store for months made me check my bag at the service counter, they dont anymore, I never complained, they just one day when I tried to hand it over told me, "Naw thats ok, your good".There's a lesson in this too, I deal with this at work alot, some places will not let you keep a messenger bag while you are in the building doing whatever, do not get mad over it, do not take it personally, just give it up and keep moving, you can trust most folks to leave your bag alone and guard it for you, I generally dont keep much of anything of value in it anyway in that situation to begin with.Trust me, they will learn to recognize you, if you are car free you are unique, you will stand out, no matter how low profile you try to be.I was in a bank monday and had 6 freakin people say hello to me while in line, 4 of which I didnt even know their names, but they see me on the street all the time, you will be noticed.Its not just part of being a messenger either, its part of being on a bike and seen doing so regularly.Its weird somedays, you get used to it,sort of.

I usually bag my groceries right into my messenger bag at the grocery check out too, this causes looks of puzzlement on occasion, but they cope with it, when they start charging for plastic bags like in SF people might get a clue,maybe not.

My experience overall with being car free has been mostly positive, most people think its pretty neat, and if you do it right, and know what your doing and act accordingly, most are genuinely impressed.It shows them that yep it is entirely possible to be car free and independent and be just like anyone else.Lonely, sure, sometimes, riding is often a solitary thing, but you arent really alone, like I said above, more people notice than you'd think, its all good.
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Old 06-30-05, 01:43 AM   #11
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Whether they'll admit it to themselves consciously or not, being car-free in a society that's arranged to make cars nearly compulsory, makes you a hero. People don't like living on mac'n'cheese so they can make car payments, pay for car insurance and gas and mechanics' bills, and there's a great deal of admiration for someone who's found a way to avoid that. And has the kind of fitness Bally's has promised them, but somehow not delivered. There's also a certain amount of resentment, for the same reasons.

Nothing leads like a good example though!!
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Old 06-30-05, 07:21 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Platy
I find riding a bike for errands to be less of a solitary experience than driving a vehicle to do the same things. Generally strangers don't talk to each other at all. And here you are riding around on a conversation piece.

I enjoy the art of the brief random conversation. They never lead anywhere but they add a little bit to the community feeling of a neighborhood.
I agree. I end up feeling much more "connected" commuting by bike. I pass quite a few morning walkers on my way to work--some of them I see regularly--and most of them smile and say "Good morning" or wave, and someone will very often start a conversation while I'm locking or unlocking or loading up my bike outside the grocery or hardware store. I get lots of opportunities to talk up the joy of biking and the carfree life. It's fun.
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Old 06-30-05, 09:01 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chocula
I've noticed that riding my bicycle to the grocery store, library, restaurant, or the minor league ballpark is a solitary experience (unless my wife comes along). Mine is usually the only bicycle locked to the shopping cart corral or parking meter out front.
I thrive on solitary experiences, its one of the reasons I like to bike. The one reason I don't like the bus is the someone always insists on chatting with you.

As for bike racks, complain when there isn't one. Chances are someone else would like one there too, and if a few people complain the store may install one. Are there any city by-laws requiring bike parking, or at least suggesting it?

I may have to call one of our local malls and complain even though they have tons of bike parking... its still not enough! I counted 40 bikes parked under the attached office building, and I had to circle the mall to find a spot at one of the other 3 bike racks. I'm starting to miss the cold weather, it was much easier to park the bike. I had the same problem downtown yesterday - plenty of bike racks, all full.
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Old 06-30-05, 09:31 AM   #14
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I like it lonely. It means I can park my bike right outside the door of my local market. I get miffed when there is another bike there already (although begrudgingly, it's good to see another utility rider out there). Plus I don't have to put up with idiots on bikes putting me in danger because they think legal riding doesn't apply to them. Loneliness is a good thing.

As to bike racks, make sure you check to see if there aren't some already in existence and avoid the embarrassment. I've had aggressive phone calls and various complaints at meetings about the paucity of bike parking rails around my city. If only people would open their eyes*.

* Yes, you might have to hunt around for them, and look in the least obvious (amd sometimes least secure) places. And the racks might be disguised as fancy sidewalk furniture or art. But they could well already be there.
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Old 06-30-05, 03:47 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chocula
I'm not car free, but I'm aiming for that goal. At present, I'm still commuting to work by car and striving to use a bike for everything else.

I've noticed that riding my bicycle to the grocery store, library, restaurant, or the minor league ballpark is a solitary experience (unless my wife comes along). Mine is usually the only bicycle locked to the shopping cart corral or parking meter out front. I see other bicyclists on my routes, but they are almost exclusively recreational cyclists out for leisurely rides, usually riding on the wrong side of the street! I also see the more competitive types out for group training rides on their speedy road bikes. I'm the only freak with grocery sacks strapped to the back of the bike.

I would like to lobby for the installation of proper bicycle racks at the businesses I patronize, but if I'm the only person who would use them, I'm guessing such an idea won't gain much traction. I suspect that those of you who live in Toronto, Portland and NYC see lots of other folks handling daily tasks on bikes, but in my neighborhood, I sometimes feel like I'm all alone in my desire to take care of life's chores on a bike.

Anyone else feel that way? It sure would be nice to have some company and see other bicycles leaving the neighborhood market loaded with provisions. Occasionally someone will see me packing the bike in front of the store and say, "Now that's the way to go!" or something like that. But so far I haven't seen too many other folks give it a try. Maybe if gas prices keep going up ...

Hey Savannah, here's some guys in you town who did an interesting project, The Green Hummer.

http://greenhummerproject.org/

Check em out, don't be lonely.
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Old 07-14-05, 12:14 PM   #16
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When I'm at a store and a cashier says "Did you find every thing you need?", I always reply "No", and then give a spiel about how there's no bike rack. Not sure if it does any good or not but it makes me feel better.
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Old 07-14-05, 12:54 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by CamelCityBiker
When I'm at a store and a cashier says "Did you find every thing you need?", I always reply "No", and then give a spiel about how there's no bike rack.
Ooh! Good one. I'll have to remember that for next time. Thanks.
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Old 07-14-05, 01:52 PM   #18
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I'm always polite about it since I know that cashiers rarely make the decision about whether or not to have bike racks. However, I do think that businesses need to be reminded that some of their profits come from us cyclists.

You also might want to consider lobbying your local government. Cities like Austin reimburse businesses for the cost of installing bike racks. Suggest a similar program where you live
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Old 07-14-05, 02:13 PM   #19
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I'm always polite about it since I know that cashiers rarely make the decision about whether or not to have bike racks.
Good point. Luckily, at my two main grocery joints, there are usually some managerial types lurking around within earshot of the checkout lanes. I'm also planning to run a Quicken report to see just how much money I've transported to these stores on my bike. That might strengthen my bargaining position.
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Old 07-14-05, 04:17 PM   #20
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That Green Hummer site is COOL!! What a crackup!! I like the reaction of the cops, "what the hell is this thing?" then wished them a safe ride.
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Old 07-15-05, 07:26 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Platy
I find riding a bike for errands to be less of a solitary experience than driving a vehicle to do the same things. Generally strangers don't talk to each other at all. And here you are riding around on a conversation piece.
I agree. When you are driving a car, making eye contact with another driver is usually avoided. On my bike I consistently inteeract with drivers.
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Old 07-15-05, 11:22 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by lilHinault
Whether they'll admit it to themselves consciously or not, being car-free in a society that's arranged to make cars nearly compulsory, makes you a hero. People don't like living on mac'n'cheese so they can make car payments, pay for car insurance and gas and mechanics' bills, and there's a great deal of admiration for someone who's found a way to avoid that. And has the kind of fitness Bally's has promised them, but somehow not delivered. There's also a certain amount of resentment, for the same reasons.

Nothing leads like a good example though!!

I would not call use car free people heros, if you make the right choices where to live and work, and shop you can do it easily. In fact to give an example I made my choice where to live after I got my job. I chose the locations because I hate driving in traffic, so I got an apt close to work (10 minutes from work, and this was 2 years before I got my bike) Also another consideration I took into account was where my church was located (at the first move it was 5 minutes from church, now my church is less then 1 minute a way, the church is right next to the APT complex I live in, and work is still 10 minutes down the road) So if you chose to live in the city and willing to live the urban life, it is easy to be car free, I became car free because I made the following choice, I rather have the bigger APT at the end of last year (I pay about $300 in living cost now) instead of replacing my at the time dead car. Back in April I junked the car and have not regretted getting rid of the car because I made the right choices on how to live my life first, that car free was just easer for me then to have a car (insurance, parking, gas once in a blue moon, having to change the oil very 3 months even if I only drove only 30 miles in that time) But those are my 2c if you want to call us heros, be my guest, I like that title ;-)
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Old 07-16-05, 01:32 AM   #23
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I do call us car-free people heroes. We're willing to put our "money where our mouth is" and that's so rare in the US, I feel it qualifies us with plenty of margin allowed in the calculation.

And most real heroes don't feel like heroes, that goes with the territory.
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Old 08-04-05, 10:30 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chocula
I'm not car free, but I'm aiming for that goal. At present, I'm still commuting to work by car and striving to use a bike for everything else.

I've noticed that riding my bicycle to the grocery store, library, restaurant, or the minor league ballpark is a solitary experience (unless my wife comes along). Mine is usually the only bicycle locked to the shopping cart corral or parking meter out front. I see other bicyclists on my routes, but they are almost exclusively recreational cyclists out for leisurely rides, usually riding on the wrong side of the street! I also see the more competitive types out for group training rides on their speedy road bikes. I'm the only freak with grocery sacks strapped to the back of the bike.
Is your goal recgonition for being unique or getting someplace without a car? Are you concerned with your status compared to other bicyclists? Stop judging other riders, and people, and their motivations, it's negative and pointless, or conversely learn about them, by talking to them.
Concerning the lack of bike racks and shopping in general - assume nothing and get a strategy. Either walk in with your bike and park it directly in front of the register and announce "I'm shopping" or lock up to a dozen shopping carts. If it was easy....
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Old 08-05-05, 03:52 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by lilHinault
$5 gas will get more of us out there all right.
Exactly, and if the U.S. economy were truly 'market' based, this is about how much gas would be. All the government oil subsidies keep gas costs artificially low. As others have mentioned, even with gas costs compartively low in this country, cars are still expensive, but not so expensive that most people can afford them.

In the end, most consumers will do what is practical. Since we live in a society that encourages people to drive and makes it affordable for most, most people will drive. In most European countries (among others) oil isn't subsidized and this is reflected in the cost to consumers. Consequently, most people can't afford to drive as their primary means of transit, and bicycling is much more widespread.

Reading some of the posts, I realized how much I take for granted that I live in a bike-friendly city (Seattle). Even so, Seattle isn't nearly as bike friendly as most western European cities (esp. in Holland).
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