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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 07-08-05, 12:14 PM   #1
KevinmH9
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Living Car Free?

While looking around the forums I stumbled upon this Living Car Free Forum. I was very inspired when I saw it and it just really made me think. I am only a college student and my need for a car at the moment is very limited, and my parents are always willing to pick me up whenever I do need to come home. After peeking around these threads it has led me to ask so many questions, if given the chance this would be a lifestyle I would love to follow.

Have those of you who have found yourself going car free found yourself living a happier life? Or one that is more stressful because of limited transportation.

I find that some people have jobs that are some distance away, anywhere from maybe a few miles to maybe 100 miles. I know my father works in Boston, and from where we live is a good 100 miles away. How do you, who work quite some distance from home, cope with biking to work everyday? In correlation to that question, I know going to work clean is always a must, but after biking "X" miles you are of course going to be sweaty and dirty. How do you overcome that? Some businesses do have showers, but none that I have seen. How do you overcome this?

I could ask so much more about groceries/insurance/money etc., but I'll spare all of you with my nagging questions. I guess I am just amazed at this new lifestyle.

I know with gas prices soaring, with no sight of them going down. This could turn out to become much more popular. Reasons having that paying for gas every week now that I am working again is becoming a hassle.
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Old 07-08-05, 12:33 PM   #2
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for work -- have a good public transportation backup ready (if available in your area). know what busses or trains run what routes, and use them if the weather gets nasty

to keep clean: depending on your route you don't get THAT sweaty if commuting at normal pace. i have 10 mile mostly uphill ride TO work, but at 7-8 am it's only 60-70 degrees in summer. i may be a little sweaty - but as stated in other posts exercise sweat is different the nervous sweat. it dries up and i'm fine for the day

option 2: find a gym close to work. use it on the way in, do some exercises for your upper bod (arms/back/shoulders), and use their showers. you'll be clean and really fresh, and get buff

also -- if you have a busy week, i.e. christmas shopping, errands to run - nothing wrong with renting a car for the week. my local enterprise, (non airport), is only 30 bucks a day. even if i rented a car 4 times a month for my large transportation needs or long distances, still cheaper than owning.
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Old 07-08-05, 12:36 PM   #3
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here's a post i made on another thread about a guy who request tips after going car-free
------------------------------------------------------------
as said already storage is key -- i use rack trunk, handlebar box, and grocery panniers -- all interchangable, i can grab what i need before leaving, click it on and go. and i use a shoulder strap for my boxes, so i can take them in stores like a bulky messenger bag

also for big things just use a cab once a week or two weeks, but go to stores when not busy - like 8pm on weekday night. that way you can run into home depot or wherever, grab your bulky item and pay, and won't cost much to have cab wait

even better - SHOP ONLINE! i have a car and still prefer using overstock.com, ebay, or yahoo shopping has links to tons of online stores, (just use credit card for protection, not debit card). i'm happy to wait a few days for something to arrive to my door. the hours saved are well worth it.

and, use the phone before going on errands. if i'm looking for a pair of headphones, or a light fixture for my house, i'm on the store's site browsing, then i call the store to see if they have it. them i ask them to put it up front with your name. my time inside the store consists of "hi i'm james, i appreciate the help, here's my money"

even WITH a car i do this, as i hate wasting my saturday or weeknight at best buy or circuit city driving from one enormous parking lot to the next, when all information i need can be done from my desk at home or work.

(of course some people like browsing and and excitement of retail, i'm the opposite)

anyone else like me? i think these are good ideas to help with days where you have to do multiple errands.
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Old 07-08-05, 12:43 PM   #4
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I don't feel too much stress. On bad weather days, there's a slight amount of stress, but I never feel like there's no solution. If it's simply terrible, there's public transportation, but it would have to be pretty bad.

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Old 07-08-05, 12:46 PM   #5
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At 27, I never owned a car... So I can't say I'm happier. I know that I often find it stressful when I'm a passenger in a car, stucked in traffic and all. I find myself looking around and saying "I could be riding next to this car, not stucked in here" Being stressed by limited transportation isn't something I'm experiencing. Being car free, I make choices as to where I want to live, so that public transit is available, areas are bike-able..

As far as arriving to work sweaty and dirty, I disagree.
I take a shower at home before leaving, so I DO arrive to work sweaty, but not dirty. You can bring a change of clothes (including underwear), dry yourself up and change into new clothes. If you're concerned about odors, you can use those.
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Old 07-08-05, 12:51 PM   #6
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here's a post i made on another thread about a guy who request tips after going car-free
------------------------------------------------------------
as said already storage is key -- i use rack trunk, handlebar box, and grocery panniers -- all interchangable, i can grab what i need before leaving, click it on and go. and i use a shoulder strap for my boxes, so i can take them in stores like a bulky messenger bag

also for big things just use a cab once a week or two weeks, but go to stores when not busy - like 8pm on weekday night. that way you can run into home depot or wherever, grab your bulky item and pay, and won't cost much to have cab wait

even better - SHOP ONLINE! i have a car and still prefer using overstock.com, ebay, or yahoo shopping has links to tons of online stores, (just use credit card for protection, not debit card). i'm happy to wait a few days for something to arrive to my door. the hours saved are well worth it.

and, use the phone before going on errands. if i'm looking for a pair of headphones, or a light fixture for my house, i'm on the store's site browsing, then i call the store to see if they have it. them i ask them to put it up front with your name. my time inside the store consists of "hi i'm james, i appreciate the help, here's my money"

even WITH a car i do this, as i hate wasting my saturday or weeknight at best buy or circuit city driving from one enormous parking lot to the next, when all information i need can be done from my desk at home or work.

(of course some people like browsing and and excitement of retail, i'm the opposite)

anyone else like me? i think these are good ideas to help with days where you have to do multiple errands.
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Old 07-08-05, 01:25 PM   #7
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I like the way you think, Kevin. When you finish college, you will be faced with decisions about where to live and work. This will be a fantastic opportunity to make choices that support a carfree lifestyle. Good luck and keep posting!
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Old 07-08-05, 01:26 PM   #8
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I guess i could say I live happier. But only because I save a lot of money on gas, parking, insurance, etc. I am also lucky since my girlfriend has a car since she needs one for her work. So it is a good help at times. Plus I had mentioned in another post about living in Chicago and the ease of using public transit with bikes.

For tips on commuting see: http://chibikefed.org/trickstips

I find many people use their car to go short distances (less than 10 miles). So using a bike is a better alternative for thsoe trips. If you have to commute 100 miles and no train is accessable than I guess you have no choice but to drive. I think the main point is driving less still saves you money and helps the environment.

Plus I find in Chicago traffic I can often get places faster on a bike than in a car. . .
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Old 07-08-05, 01:58 PM   #9
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I sort of stumbled into my car free lifestyle. I was between cars and decided to use my bike while I researched which car to buy next. The longer I went without a car, the more I realized I didn't need it.
But you have to make lifestyle choices to support going car free. Choose to live within bike access to your job or public transportation. I live about twenty-five miles from my work, but there is an express bus to the office less than two miles from my home (and the bus has bike racks!). This is a short bike commute so I don't worry too much about odors and cleanup, and I usually keep office attire in the office. My wife works within walking distance of our home. Markets, etc are less than three miles away and I have a sizeable bike trailer for bringing home the goods.
Without question, I am much happier than I was when I owned an automobile. I continue to make minor adjustments in my routine, etc, but the idea of owning another car never occurs to me any more. In many ways, I feel more liberated than I did during car ownership.
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Old 07-08-05, 02:04 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by PurpleK
I sort of stumbled into my car free lifestyle. I was between cars and decided to use my bike while I researched which car to buy next. The longer I went without a car, the more I realized I didn't need it.
I had a similar experience with TV. . .
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Old 07-08-05, 02:12 PM   #11
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I had a similar experience with TV. . .
hahaha! Good for you!
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Old 07-08-05, 07:56 PM   #12
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It costs an average of $8,410 after taxes to own and operate a car in the U.S. in 2005.

(AAA driving costs page, 15K annual miles)

Figure payroll and income taxes at 35%, so you need to earn an extra $13K annually to pay for the car. This is small potatoes for a professional earner in his or her prime earning years, but it's big bucks for many young and underemployed folks.

Most of the cost of a car is fixed expenses. So it's a small win to bike everywhere if you still have a car in the driveway.

It's a big win if you can get rid of the car.

The supreme win is if you want to bike anyway for exercise, health, adventure or personal enjoyment.
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Old 07-08-05, 08:08 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by cookiepuss
I had a similar experience with TV. . .
Isn't it great? Been TV free since September 2004 and car free for 6 weeks, life can't posbly get any better! (but I am very willing to let it try )
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Old 07-08-05, 10:46 PM   #14
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I'm pleased to report that I'm only using my car only once or twice per week. Not car free but I'm not running around all over town like I used to. Last Thursday (payday) I put $3 in gas in the tank which should last easily to next week. Tomorrow my wife and I are riding our bikes to the grocery store and to fill out some job applications (she's between jobs).
I've learned that I don't need a car near as much as I thought I did. Cars are convenient at times but they're really an addiction and a bad habit, a little like cigaretts!
Driving is not much fun anymore, anyway. Too many crazy drivers and just plain too many cars on the road. Have you all noticed that in some places it's rush hour all the time?
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Old 07-08-05, 11:49 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinmH9
Have those of you who have found yourself going car free found yourself living a happier life? Or one that is more stressful because of limited transportation.
For me, even when riding in traffic that is crazy, I'm always more stressed if I'm behind the wheel in the same situation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinmH9
I find that some people have jobs that are some distance away, anywhere from maybe a few miles to maybe 100 miles. I know my father works in Boston, and from where we live is a good 100 miles away. How do you, who work quite some distance from home, cope with biking to work everyday? In correlation to that question, I know going to work clean is always a must, but after biking "X" miles you are of course going to be sweaty and dirty. How do you overcome that? Some businesses do have showers, but none that I have seen. How do you overcome this?
Well obviously commuting 100 miles one way is not feasible on a bike. If someone is in that position, and there is no mass transit option, they will have to make a choice. Either change homes, change jobs, or don't go car free. By giving up the car they can afford to make a considerably smaller income and still live just as well, if they're willing to consider that option.

Several have already made pretty good suggestions as far as the sweat issue goes. Ride at a casual pace, bring a change of clothes, bring a weeks worth once a week, take a sponge (or washcloth) bath when you get there and arrive 10 or 15 minutes earlier so that you've got time to cool down before putting on the work attire.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinmH9
I could ask so much more about groceries/insurance/money etc., but I'll spare all of you with my nagging questions. I guess I am just amazed at this new lifestyle.

I know with gas prices soaring, with no sight of them going down. This could turn out to become much more popular. Reasons having that paying for gas every week now that I am working again is becoming a hassle.
Get a trailer for your groceries, or get panniers and shop more frequently. Insurance? I've got very good homeowners insurance, so the bike is well covered no matter where I'm at. As far as liability goes, that's an issue I've been meaning to take up with my agent for some clarification.

I've seen more bike commuters in the last couple of weeks than I had in the previous 4 years. In fact I'd never seen anyone but me in this town. Can't help but think gas prices have to be at least a little bit of the reason.
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Old 07-08-05, 11:53 PM   #16
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Last time I was hardcore car-free was in the 80s. I noticed that I had money in the bank at the end of the year, folks at work seemed to like me better, and I got into HELLA good shape. It's a win all around.

If you get a trailer, check out the burley nomad, I just got one and it goes on its maiden swapmeet trip tomorrow.
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Old 07-09-05, 12:09 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by natelutkjohn
Isn't it great? Been TV free since September 2004 and car free for 6 weeks, life can't possibly get any better! (but I am very willing to let it try )
Guess there's quite a few of us who are TV free around here. Since 1999. Sometimes when I go to visit a friend and they've got one on, I think "yep, that's about what I remember." "Still doesn't feel like I'm missing anything."
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Old 07-09-05, 12:36 AM   #18
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Count me in with the non-TV crowd. TV would cut into my Internet time...!
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Old 07-09-05, 01:19 AM   #19
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add me to the TV free list, I have computers and broadband,what do I need a TV for LOL?
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Old 07-09-05, 01:32 AM   #20
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Yeah I'm TV-free. I blame it on no room but somehow I always have room for my oscilloscope and other test stuff. I can watch DVDs and .movs on the net with my computer and do once in a while (the local library is a good source of movies, and sooner or later they'll go all-DVD since you don't have to rewind those, can tell right away if they're damaged, and if damaged, can often be "repaired" and made workable by spitting on them and wiping on handy shirt sleeve).
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Old 07-09-05, 08:11 AM   #21
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I disconnect cable tv 4 years ago... Yet they never cut my signal to the tv, even after 3 calls. I gave up! So I have a big tv in our living room (also computer room) that I disconnected the cable from just in case I had temptations. Once in a while I turn it on in the kitchen on this really small tv to watch discovery channel. There's some interesting science shows on there.
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Old 07-09-05, 09:21 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinmH9
While looking around the forums I stumbled upon this Living Car Free Forum. I was very inspired when I saw it and it just really made me think. I am only a college student and my need for a car at the moment is very limited, and my parents are always willing to pick me up whenever I do need to come home. After peeking around these threads it has led me to ask so many questions, if given the chance this would be a lifestyle I would love to follow.

Have those of you who have found yourself going car free found yourself living a happier life? Or one that is more stressful because of limited transportation.

I find that some people have jobs that are some distance away, anywhere from maybe a few miles to maybe 100 miles. I know my father works in Boston, and from where we live is a good 100 miles away. How do you, who work quite some distance from home, cope with biking to work everyday? In correlation to that question, I know going to work clean is always a must, but after biking "X" miles you are of course going to be sweaty and dirty. How do you overcome that? Some businesses do have showers, but none that I have seen. How do you overcome this?

I could ask so much more about groceries/insurance/money etc., but I'll spare all of you with my nagging questions. I guess I am just amazed at this new lifestyle.

I know with gas prices soaring, with no sight of them going down. This could turn out to become much more popular. Reasons having that paying for gas every week now that I am working again is becoming a hassle.

Well, Im a rare case I guess you could say.Most of my adult life all I did was drive for a living, then the courier compnay I was a contractor with stuck me downtown in my car.I did that for a few months and talked them into letting me use a bike, they were hesitant at first, until I started setting delivery records and doubled their business in 18months.At that point it became necessary to hire some more people, they screwed that up, then they tried to get another company's business by hiring 4 of their bikers from them all at once, that didnt work out either.At that point my car had been sitting inactive for 8 months, so I got rid of it.I also went independent and started my own messenger service.So I basically went cold turkey with driving and left myself no options, make it work or starve, well, Im still eating !!!

I have a huge messenger bag so errands are quite easy, so is riding all over, im in pretty good biking shape to say the least, I easily cruise along with 40lbs on my back at 22-25 mph(no im not kidding).As far as big items, my rental agents office is less than a block away, I have things shipped there when needed.I dont have to deal with sweat issues,I wear whatever I want, and live downtown in my delivery area, which I call "my office", all 16 square miles of it.Overall Im happier, I do miss being able to jump in a car and drive 75-100 miles out into the middle of nowhere and go backpacking, now I have to go with someone else.I dont have kids or family nearby so I dont have to deal with that.As far as savings, ya Im saving roughly 900-1000/month vs when I was driving but my actual take home pay is about the same, so Im not helping the petrol or car industries at all.When it comes right down to it, those industries are like drug dealers, shame most people dont understand that.

This kind of life isnt for everybody, especially the riding for a living aspect of it, its tough tough relentless work, but its easier than many probably believe, its the initial shock that is hard to fathom for most,once youve been doing it for awhile it gets much easier.My thinking about lots of things has changed because of it, the whole rec riding aspect is prettymuch gone, I still ride for fun sometimes,but its still different, my bike has become nothing more than a tool, and gets treated like one.I think the one aspect I will never get used to is how many people know and recognize me, they may not know my name, but they say hello anyway cause they see me constantly and what I do is so incredibly rare these days, a city of 1.1 million people and there's only about 25 people in it that do what I do, some are in awe, some are baffled, some I think it pisses them off, its all good.
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Old 07-11-05, 11:15 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinmH9
I find that some people have jobs that are some distance away, anywhere from maybe a few miles to maybe 100 miles. I know my father works in Boston, and from where we live is a good 100 miles away. How do you, who work quite some distance from home, cope with biking to work everyday?
I could ask so much more about groceries/insurance/money etc., but I'll spare all of you with my nagging questions. I guess I am just amazed at this new lifestyle.

I know with gas prices soaring, with no sight of them going down. This could turn out to become much more popular. Reasons having that paying for gas every week now that I am working again is becoming a hassle.
Your father made what I consider the classic mistake millions of families make in this country and that's to move hours from their place of work. Where I work, people get upset that they live 5 miles from the office and consider that a long commute! It's all about choices.

You will grow old real fast and spend a considerable amount of your life on a highway commuting to and from work. That could be your future as I'm sure it is your fathers. I bet your father never factored in the hours he spends traveling to the overall cost of living. The best job is one that you can walk 5 blocks to and from your home.
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Old 07-12-05, 12:09 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by BenyBen
Once in a while I turn it on in the kitchen on this really small tv to watch discovery channel. There's some interesting science shows on there.
I agree about there being *some* good stuff on TV. I like a lot of Discovery and History Channel stuff. I have my girlfriend Tivo it and we watch it when at her house. Plus I watch a lot of movies, I love documentaries. So that is what I use my 56" TV for. . .

I stopped watching TV almost two years ago. It was after watching 15 minutes of FoxNews (yeah, that'll do it) that I just tuned out for good. After in those few minutes they covered:

- a stolen tanker truck that could be made into a "roilling bomb"
- missing enriched plutonium that coud be made into a dirty bomb
- about 15 FBI "warnings"

Not that CNN or MSNBC are any better. . .

I also don't need to watch TV to see "reality".
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Old 07-12-05, 07:53 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cookiepuss
I agree about there being *some* good stuff on TV. I like a lot of Discovery and History Channel stuff. I have my girlfriend Tivo it and we watch it when at her house. Plus I watch a lot of movies, I love documentaries. So that is what I use my 56" TV for. . .

I stopped watching TV almost two years ago. It was after watching 15 minutes of FoxNews (yeah, that'll do it) that I just tuned out for good. After in those few minutes they covered:

- a stolen tanker truck that could be made into a "roilling bomb"
- missing enriched plutonium that coud be made into a dirty bomb
- about 15 FBI "warnings"

Not that CNN or MSNBC are any better. . .

I also don't need to watch TV to see "reality".

Hah! A really good and interesting movie to watch about fox is outfoxed. A channel such as outfoxed should not even be allowed to exist.
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