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  1. #1
    8speed DinoSORAs Ed Holland's Avatar
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    Car free in the UK, not necessarily in the USA

    Hi Carfree folks,

    We have an interesting situation in that my wife and I are lucky enough to be able to live in the UK (Oxford) and USA (Los Angeles). In the UK (where work dictates that I spend the majority of my time) we're 100% car free, and hire a vehicle if we really need it, perhaps twice a year e.g. for chrismas holiday travels etc. Otherwise, it is possible to be carless here in Oxford and not really notice. In fact, traffic and access for most commuting and town centre journeys are so slow by car that a significant number of people cycle, walk, or use public transport.

    In LA, my wife has a car that she needs to get to work - a sensible, economical Honda Civic, not a gas guzzling SUV by any stretch of the imagination.
    I'm almost car free in LA, and prefer to do most errands by bike (besides, its quicker for journeys of 5 miles or less). However, I have a restoration project in the garage - a 1967 MGB (small British convertable sportscar). I look at this as more of a rescue project that will eventually be a "luxury item" for infrequent fun trips, rather than an everyday car, but it does compromise my car free status...

    Anyway, more power to the carfree folks out there!

    Cheers,

    Ed
    Get a bicycle. You will certainly not regret it, if you live.

  2. #2
    supertramp Wierd Beard's Avatar
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    I have a friend in Cambridge where the situation is very similar to how you describe Oxford (I've never been) and it seems like a very bike-friendly city. Glasgow is not quite the same with most people choosing to use their cars regardless of whether it takes longer/costs more (probably the weather - people are soft these days) but it is still very easy to be car free.
    What lies ahead is distant....

  3. #3
    Guest
    Guest
    I guess the solution is for her to live closer to her job in LA. That way, she'll be completely car free. Where does she live in LA where it's a requirement for her to drive to work anway?

    Koffee

  4. #4
    8speed DinoSORAs Ed Holland's Avatar
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    A fair point Koffee, but you're assuming two things

    1) That we'd want to live in/around that section of LA, or even move in the first place.

    2) That my wife is as enthusiastic about cycling and bike commuting as I am.

    No.1 is unlikely, No.2 is impossible.

    Honestly, even given my level of enthusiasm for cycling, I think it would be much more difficult for me to be car free/limited if I worked in LA - I take my metaphorical hat off to those that manage. The advantages of a car are numerous, despite the horrendous traffic and terrible drivers. I still find it amazing that they built motorways (as I think of freeways) just to get around town.... That said, I like to use a bike whenever possible, since it is often quicker and less trouble, particularly when it comes to parking. I do, however, feel less safe than when cycling in the UK, some of which is down to unfamiliarity and some of which is the larger roads & heavy traffic.

    I'm (sorry folks) also hooked on car restoration, after starting the MG project as a first timer. It's rather like the feeling of peering into a new world that one had when learning about bike mechanics for the first time.

    Cheers,

    Ed
    Get a bicycle. You will certainly not regret it, if you live.

  5. #5
    Guest
    Guest
    Then you'll never be carfree unless she takes public transportation. And knowing what we know about public transportation in LA, it's unlikely she'll be tempted to try it out. If she's not a cycling enthusiast, she's the holdback for being carfree in LA- unless you just move closer to her job.

    Koffee

  6. #6
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Hey, don't knock Los Angeles too much. I have managed to be car free in L.A. for most of my adult life and I like it just the same. The only thing I had to change is the style of cycling (folding) since I live in a very high crime part of the city (I don't lock it up outside for any reason-even for a minute!) I do not ride any bike paths (too dangerous for any cyclist-gang members prowl along the isolated paths) or wear any flashy clothing (no bicycle spandex gear, or lots of skin exposed-even though I am proud to say I still have the body for it!) I would appear to be boring and invisable to anyone who looks my way-and stay safe in the process.

  7. #7
    8speed DinoSORAs Ed Holland's Avatar
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    Hats of to you Folder fanatic. I don't mean to knock LA by any means, it is actually a place I have come to like very much. Part of the motivation for my original post was the difference between the UK, (Primarily Oxford) where I have ever owned a car and LA and its environs, with regard to living and cycling. In particular, cycling for "everyday reasons" rather than just training/pleasure riding on quiet roads.

    There are parts of the UK in which it would be more difficult to live car free. We're lucky in living in a fairly small city, and my workplace is only about 8 miles from home as the crow flies - though I often like to make the journey longer. Even so, my wife sees things differently and is steadfastly resistant to everyday bike use when we are here, and I do not push the issue. We are, for the moment, without a car which happens to be a great boost in economic terms, is no great practical disadvantage 99% of the time and gives us a warm fuzzy feeling about being nice to the environment.

    The size of LA is that much greater that a car is a big advantage if you have one, no doubt about it. The place almost seems to be designed around the car - in many places this is a very bad thing - and a large proportion of the population are almost entirely dependant upon their motor vehicles for everything including the most minor errands (we have them in Britain too). That said, I have found that cycling has its place as a serious mode of transport, once you get used to riding on the "wrong side" of the road . My biggest pet-hates are giant SUVs, which are almost always driven incompetantly (no less intimidating when driving the Honda...) and Stop signs (yes I do stop).

    Great discussion folks - its always good to chew the fat,

    Cheers,

    Ed
    Get a bicycle. You will certainly not regret it, if you live.

  8. #8
    gwd
    gwd is offline
    Biker gwd's Avatar
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    UK cyclists.... I visited one winter and saw a reflector type device that stuck horizontally to the right.
    It seemed to have a pointed end. I never got to ask a cyclist about it. So... it looked like its purpose
    was to keep cars away from the cyclist or maybe as a curb feeler device to warn the cylist when cars
    got too close? Does it scratch the car paint giving car drivers an incentive not to get too close?

  9. #9
    supertramp Wierd Beard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwd
    UK cyclists.... I visited one winter and saw a reflector type device that stuck horizontally to the right.
    It seemed to have a pointed end. I never got to ask a cyclist about it. So... it looked like its purpose
    was to keep cars away from the cyclist or maybe as a curb feeler device to warn the cylist when cars
    got too close? Does it scratch the car paint giving car drivers an incentive not to get too close?
    Never heard of/seen anything like that and I don't think I'd want to use one...
    What lies ahead is distant....

  10. #10
    8speed DinoSORAs Ed Holland's Avatar
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    I remember the lollipop things that had a reflector on the end, designed to stick out to the right by about 12". The vain hope in using these things was that the cars would see them and make sure to give the cyclist lots and lots of room... Pretty useless really, since they would bend and flap in the airstream if you travel at more than about 15mph...

    Hey, Wierd Beard, What's it like cycling in Glasgow? I know the city centre a little as I visit on business fairly often. There are some nice steep hills. Great countryside for a roadie too.

    Cheers,

    Ed
    Get a bicycle. You will certainly not regret it, if you live.

  11. #11
    supertramp Wierd Beard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Holland
    Hey, Wierd Beard, What's it like cycling in Glasgow? I know the city centre a little as I visit on business fairly often. There are some nice steep hills. Great countryside for a roadie too.
    Hey, Ed. Cycling in Glasgow takes a bit of getting used to but its generally fine. The roads aren't that wide so you can safely take the lane without cars being able to do much about it. Saying that, I did get hit by a car a few weeks ago but thats another story...

    The countryside is fantastic and readily accessible - I can get into the open with a 15 minute cycle in some directions!
    What lies ahead is distant....

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