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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 08-05-05, 04:22 PM   #1
AlanK
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I've been car free for nearly 5 years, so I just thought I'd create a thread to help make going car-free easier. To me it seems going are free is largely an issue of organizing/simplifying your life to maximize efficiency. Here are my observations:

- Live a reasonable distance from where you work, attend school, etc. In a largely suburbanized culture this can be difficult. If you live within about 5-10 miles of work (depending on geography), this will make things much easier. I live about 2 miles from work

- Live relatively close to sources for essentials (groceries, shopping, etc.). Same idea as the previous suggestions. If you live within biking, or better yet walking distance of essential, this makes going car free much easier. Obviously, this is easier in some areas than others. Compact urban areas have more people and amenties in a smaller area than do suburban or rural areas.

- Efficient public transit. There are going to be times when biking isn't an option; if you need to travel a long distance quickly, or during inclement weather, it becomes necessary, or at least convenient to have a secondary option. Also, if this enables riders to combine bicycling with public transit. If your area doesn't have adequet public transit, work to get it.

- Compact, pedestrian/bike friendly communities and urban design. In most European cities (and a few US cities), communities are compact, with limited space for autos. If all the essentials are within a reasonable distance from residential areas, driving becomes impractical, and fewer people will need to drive; this is why driving in Europe is much less frequent, and bicycling much more common.

I welcome other suggestions/comments

Last edited by AlanK; 08-06-05 at 03:05 PM.
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Old 08-06-05, 01:24 AM   #2
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I have slowly come to the same conclusion, my main considerations for relocation are your points.
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Old 08-06-05, 08:02 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanK
- Efficient public transit. There are going to be times when biking isn't an option; if you need to travel a long distance quickly, or during inclement weather, it becomes necessary, or at least convenient to have a secondary option. Also, if this enables riders to combine bicycling with public transit. If your area doesn't have adequet public transit, work to get it.
This is key.

I moved to the last stop on the light rail line and use it to get to work every day since the office is on the first stop. I can't praise this system of transportation high enough.

I still want to add another to this list and that's watch less television. You're never going to convince your family that a car free lifestyle is the way to go when they watch 15-20 hours of automobile commercials each week. It's this programming that convinces people they need motorized transport more than anything else.
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Old 08-06-05, 01:43 PM   #4
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- Know basic maintainance for your bike. Keep basic supplies handy for when you have a problem (I keep a tire and two tubes as I have the most problem with flats. If you know more than I do, maybe some spokes, a chain, cables, etc.) Also, get a basic toolkit with the sockets/wrenches/hex wrenches you need.

- If you live in a city without public transportation like I do, get creative. Don't be afraid to ask friends for the occasional ride. If your city has a paratransit or door-to-door pickup, consider using it. These systems are set up primarily for the elderly, but in cities without public transit they're usually happy to give you rides too. The only disadvantage is that you often have to schedule rides ahead of time. Where I live, it's 24 hours ahead of time between 8am-3pm.
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Old 08-06-05, 03:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
I still want to add another to this list and that's watch less television. You're never going to convince your family that a car free lifestyle is the way to go when they watch 15-20 hours of automobile commercials each week. It's this programming that convinces people they need motorized transport more than anything else.
Good point. I watch about 1-2 hours a day , more than I should (but still less than some). It really is amazing how many auto and auto-related ads there are. Not just for cars, but most ads are designed to convince people to think they need to buy things they really don't need.
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Old 08-08-05, 01:29 AM   #6
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Live in a climate that is conducive to cycling.
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Old 08-08-05, 10:03 AM   #7
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Live in a climate that is conducive to cycling.
Yes, the planet Earth is very conducive to cycling!
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Old 08-08-05, 01:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Live in a climate that is conducive to cycling.
Provided you have the right bike(s), bicycling is feasible just about anywhere in north america. I have a cyclocross bike and during the winter I put wide tires on it (700x38), and I can ride even in snow - just ride cautiously (esp at first until you get a feel for how the bike handles), and you can usually get around better than cars in snow
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Old 08-08-05, 06:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanK
Provided you have the right bike(s), bicycling is feasible just about anywhere in north america. I have a cyclocross bike and during the winter I put wide tires on it (700x38), and I can ride even in snow - just ride cautiously (esp at first until you get a feel for how the bike handles), and you can usually get around better than cars in snow
depends on the type of snow and how much there is

If it isnt very much, skinny tires that sink thru to the pavement where the traction is works best, if there's alot wide tires that allow you to ride on top of it works well, ive got a set of studded snow tires that work quite well for most heavy snow falls, still, if the cars cant go anywhere cause of a snow emergency situation ive found biking is quite difficult no matter what you ride unless its cold enough for the snow to ice up and harden a bit, 6" of wet fluffy snow is a real bear to ride thru. When the snow is wet and sticking to the bike fenders become a problem too, the snow gets jammed in the fenders and rubs the tires, it isnt much fun when that happens. As far as temperature goes, anything from -10F to about 110F is fine with me, that covers most of north america.
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Old 08-08-05, 06:49 PM   #10
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Yeah, biking in wet snow would be pretty icky. It doesn't snow much here (Seattle). I've only biked in it a couple times - both when there was about 6-8" of solid snow (below freezing). I actually kind of enjoyed it and got around pretty well, but it melted within a day or two
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Old 08-08-05, 07:43 PM   #11
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Yes, the planet Earth is very conducive to cycling!
If you lived in the Adirondacks of upstate NY, you might not think so.
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Old 08-08-05, 10:33 PM   #12
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I've been to the Adirondacks, but not during the winter. I'm sure it's brutal there that time of year!
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Old 08-09-05, 06:56 AM   #13
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I've been to the Adirondacks, but not during the winter. I'm sure it's brutal there that time of year!
It is brutal most winters, that's why I don't like it here. Makes life miserable for those of us who want to use our bikes most of the time.
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Old 08-09-05, 07:40 AM   #14
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get a really, really big messenger bag or a rack with baskets/panniers.
cargo carrying is key.
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Old 08-09-05, 09:19 AM   #15
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may i add having a variety of storage / transport options on your bike that can interchange. i.e. take panniers when needed, or rack trunk, or handlebar box, or trailer

when you're dangling plastic bags about to break from weight over the handbars it sucks, and when you're prepared it's a breeze, and the extra weight is a good workout.
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Old 08-09-05, 10:24 PM   #16
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Live in an area with a lot of cyclists. This makes cycling more socially acceptable in the view of general public and the motorists in such areas are used to sharing the road with cyclists. On the flip side, where there are lots of bikes, there usually is lots of bike theft...
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