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  1. #1
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I've been car free since February 1999 with no regrets.

    Unfortunately, over the past 6 months I have had to borrow a car in order to get to my job, 20 miles out of town, with no forms of alternate transportation to get there. I have tried to cycle 1 or 2 times a week which had made me feel some better about it all, but I still dislike driving.

    However, in about 10 days my job will end and I will be starting university in my town, about 4 miles from where I live! I'm quite pleased about this because it means that I will not have to use a car anymore!!


    About living car free ...

    Over the past 6.5 years I have redecorated my apartment, including buying and installing some large pieces of furniture. I have bought groceries, taken my cats to the vet, worked, attended classes, gone to church, and have done all the usual things involved in "life" ... all without owning a car! Being car free also freed up my finances so that I have been able to travel extensively, and return to university.

    The car free life is a good life!

  2. #2
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    Yeah- me too. I never actually owned a car, so I've always been car free. Thank goodness.

    I got in a car accident like a week after I got my license. Since that time, I just always felt leery about driving to begin with. But I never thought to get a car.

    Maybe someday, a hybrid wouldn't hurt to have. Cars are good for some stuff. For now, I just belong to my carsharing network: www.flexcar.com. It gets me around for the stickier situations.

    Koffee

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I get around those stickier situations in a variety of ways ...

    -- using delivery vehicles. The price of furniture usually includes a delivery charge anyway, so I might as well take advantage of it, and one of the additional benefits of using a delivery service is that they bring the furniture right to where you want it, rather than having to coerce friends to help you move stuff.

    -- using taxis. When I was in Manitoba, once or twice a year I would take a bus to one of the larger grocery stores, fill my cart with all the big items that will keep for several months (laundry detergent, etc.), and then call a taxi to take me home.

    -- using grocery shopping services. Some communities are fortunate enough to have these services. I would email my shopping list along with my preferred stores, and preferred time to receive the items, to this company, and they would show up at our arranged time and bring all the groceries right up to my apartment. They charged 15% of the cost of the order. So, if the groceries came to $100, they would charge me $115. That wasn't bad! I used them about once a month for a few months when I burned my foot and couldn't get out.

    -- using pet taxi services. Some communities are also fortunate enough to have these services. This lady would transport people and their pets to and from the vet! It was great! She would help me out to the car with them, help me into the vet's office, wait for me, and then get me back home. Unfortunately she had stopped doing that the last year I was in Manitoba so I just used the bus or taxi.

    -- renting a car. Once or twice a year I would rent a car for the weekend. I would do any major shopping. And I would drive me and my bicycle out to the hills so I could train on them ... it was about 150 kms to the nearest hill in Manitoba!!

    There are lots of options out there when you start looking for them. Unfortunately not all communities have all those options, but it's nice when they do.

  4. #4
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    2 years for me next month

    Logistics are a bit tough. I had trouble initially with buying too much at the grocery store to easily carry home. Thank God Timbuk2 bags are tough and can take abusive over stuffing! A trick I sooned learned was to get a grocery cart, fold down the child seat and throw my bag in the main basket. Then I would shop placing items only in the child seat. When full time to head for the checkout.

    Oh -- and no ice cream. It won't last 10 minutes in this heat.

  5. #5
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slow Train
    2 years for me next month

    Logistics are a bit tough. I had trouble initially with buying too much at the grocery store to easily carry home. Thank God Timbuk2 bags are tough and can take abusive over stuffing! A trick I sooned learned was to get a grocery cart, fold down the child seat and throw my bag in the main basket. Then I would shop placing items only in the child seat. When full time to head for the checkout.

    Oh -- and no ice cream. It won't last 10 minutes in this heat.

    I had a bit of difficulty with that too, but I was using those baskets you carry around the store instead of a cart. It's one thing to carry a full basket 100 ft around the store ... it's an entirely different matter hauling it all a mile down the road. It gets heavier each step you go. However, it didn't take me long to figure out at what weight I had to stop ... and actually, that was a good thing. Sometimes I had a toss-up between carrying the kitty litter (or something essential) home, or carrying a tray of cinnamon buns or some other treat. I needed the kitty litter ... the cinnamon buns were optional ... and it was probably better for my bodily weight management to leave the treats behind.

  6. #6
    Just Do It ! VeganRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slow Train
    2 years for me next month

    Logistics are a bit tough. I had trouble initially with buying too much at the grocery store to easily carry home. Thank God Timbuk2 bags are tough and can take abusive over stuffing! A trick I sooned learned was to get a grocery cart, fold down the child seat and throw my bag in the main basket. Then I would shop placing items only in the child seat. When full time to head for the checkout.

    Oh -- and no ice cream. It won't last 10 minutes in this heat.
    I ran into the same problem and found myself with bags hanging from the handle bars, not cool. Bought what they called the Paperboy Rack. It has the two wire boxes, one on each side of the rear wheel, they are welded to a top rack above the wheel. This thing is great, kinda like a pair of steel saddle bags. A couple straps and I can handle 3 bags of food and a gallon of water on top of the rack with room to spare! Maybe you could have room to keep a foam cooler on this kind of rack? for the frozen stuff....

  7. #7
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    I had a bit of difficulty with that too, but I was using those baskets you carry around the store instead of a cart. It's one thing to carry a full basket 100 ft around the store ... it's an entirely different matter hauling it all a mile down the road. It gets heavier each step you go. However, it didn't take me long to figure out at what weight I had to stop ... and actually, that was a good thing. Sometimes I had a toss-up between carrying the kitty litter (or something essential) home, or carrying a tray of cinnamon buns or some other treat. I needed the kitty litter ... the cinnamon buns were optional ... and it was probably better for my bodily weight management to leave the treats behind.
    Yes!

    I'm quite a minimalist, so I mainly carry everything in my backpack. Since I can only buy enough food for 1 or 2 days at a time, I don't have a lot of food in the house to tempt me. Like Slow Train, I use the child seat to help gauge how much I can carry. This is a great way to lose weight, even if you are unlucky enough to use a car. Plus, i feel so European doing my marketing this way.

  8. #8
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VeganRider
    Maybe you could have room to keep a foam cooler on this kind of rack? for the frozen stuff....

    You know those soft-sided coolers which fold down into practically nothing ... like this ...
    http://www.canadiantire.ca/assortmen...=1124077354700

    Someone suggested that I carry one of those to the store and use it to bring back cold/frozen goods.

    I also found that if I were going to bring home cold stuff, I would pick a cooler day, and then pack all the cold stuff together in one bag ... that helped.

    The amusing thing was dealing with the checkout girls. I went to a place that still bagged the groceries for me. At first I got girls who had no clue about packing with balance (equal weight in the bags) and food preservation (not melting) in mind. They wanted to be helpful, but I kept having to repack everything. Fortunately the place I went was fairly small with basically the same staff, and after a while they began recognizing me and either letting me do my own bagging or bagging it how I liked it.

  9. #9
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    That is great Machka! I lived car free for 7 years and really enjoyed that sort of life, but now, 4 children later I am stuck riding my bike only recreationally. Canada should have more people like you!
    Last edited by julielenore; 08-15-05 at 08:40 AM. Reason: baaaaad spelling

  10. #10
    Senior Member saturnsc2's Avatar
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    how does a person live "car free" in this day & age? i'm curious to know. i read a lot of these similer "car free" threads & a lot of these people say they don't own a car, but they borrow a car & use public transportation. how is that "car free"? my hats off to people who really survive without a car, but i could never do that. i love riding bicycles. i ride to work every day (weather permitting), but i view my bicycle as just an alternative form of transportation, not my main transportation. i can't see me going to shop for groceries on a bike, riding in sub-zero weather with ice on the roads, in heavy rain, going on vacation on a bike. i find myself using my bike more & more each day especially with the rising gas costs, but i'll still always need my car. i think if more people got off their lazy asses, & ride, the gas prices probably would come down. it annoys me to kingdom come to see people who word a mile from their home & use a car, or people who can't even walk to the corner drugstore, they must drive. lazy! hats off to the "car free" way of thinking, but i think people should edit their posts & say they just rely on cars less & use their bikes more instead of saying they are "car free" because that's not exactly the case........
    Last edited by saturnsc2; 08-24-05 at 09:10 AM.
    "DO IT IN A SATURN!"

  11. #11
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    Car free means no car. I own no car. I am not dependent on getting from point A to point B by car. I don't use a car to go short distances. If it rains or snows, I still take my bike. If I need to get somewhere, I don't automatically think it has to be by car.

    If I need to go longer distances, I can take public transportation. Going a longer distance by car is not the first thing I automatically think when I'm planning my trips. Gas prices don't affect me since I belong to a car-sharing network that will pay for gas and insurance. I barely use a car in car sharing... just once to get some practice in and to get a ton of groceries, but if I do find the need for a car, it's nice to know there's something out there.

    I'm not 100% car free since I belong to a car sharing network, but out of all the trips I've made to do errands, go to job interviews, etc., I've only used a car once from car sharing, and I picked up my nephews twice from school. So three times verses the hundreds of times I've chosen my bike is pretty good. I'd call that car free.

    Koffee

  12. #12
    Senior Member saturnsc2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    Car free means no car. I own no car. I am not dependent on getting from point A to point B by car. I don't use a car to go short distances. If it rains or snows, I still take my bike. If I need to get somewhere, I don't automatically think it has to be by car.

    If I need to go longer distances, I can take public transportation. Going a longer distance by car is not the first thing I automatically think when I'm planning my trips. Gas prices don't affect me since I belong to a car-sharing network that will pay for gas and insurance. I barely use a car in car sharing... just once to get some practice in and to get a ton of groceries, but if I do find the need for a car, it's nice to know there's something out there.

    I'm not 100% car free since I belong to a car sharing network, but out of all the trips I've made to do errands, go to job interviews, etc., I've only used a car once from car sharing, and I picked up my nephews twice from school. So three times verses the hundreds of times I've chosen my bike is pretty good. I'd call that car free.

    Koffee
    well, that's more like it. if simply not owning a car makes you car free, then your car free, but what good does that do you when you still have to pay for public transportation, or borrow a friends car? you rely less on cars, but still need them sometimes. i'm the same way. i have a 2001 saturnsc2 which i bought new. it only has 18.000 miles on it, so that goes to show you i don't drive much, but i always need it for long commutes, or for shopping, winter driving. nobody is going to convince me they never use a car, nobody! maybe much less, nut not never! i wish more people would take this approach. more people would be in shape, & the air we breathe would be cleaner.
    "DO IT IN A SATURN!"

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody
    Plus, i feel so European doing my marketing this way.
    Me, too! I've been grocery shopping exclusively by bicycle since July 1, and I find myself going to the store almost every day, instead of every 3-4 days as I did previously. Part of this is due to my bicycle's carrying capacity (although I can carry quite a bit in my Nashbar grocery bag panniers) and part of it stems from my desire to make excuses for more bike rides. I do think I'm eating fresher food, since I usually consume what I purchase within 24 hours. I used to over-buy and wind up throwing out food that became stale, etc. I'm glad to say I'm doing much less of that these days.

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    I've always done my grocery shopping day to day and in fact even in my teens grocery shopping was day to day (generally dinner was bought with the $2 or $3 I'd gone out and earned, and I think our energy usable was an avg. 500W for 5 people, poverty had forced us to be awfully "green".)

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by saturnsc2
    well, that's more like it. if simply not owning a car makes you car free, then your car free, but what good does that do you when you still have to pay for public transportation, or borrow a friends car? you rely less on cars, but still need them sometimes. i'm the same way. i have a 2001 saturnsc2 which i bought new. it only has 18.000 miles on it, so that goes to show you i don't drive much, but i always need it for long commutes, or for shopping, winter driving. nobody is going to convince me they never use a car, nobody! maybe much less, nut not never! i wish more people would take this approach. more people would be in shape, & the air we breathe would be cleaner.
    There's no big deal about public transportation. Overall, if more people took public transportation and relied less on cars, we wouldn't be as affected by oil prices, and we'd have a cleaner environment.

    It's silly to say that the average person will not need a car at some point or another. But if you do need to get someplace that normally you can't reach by bike, I'd prefer someone be dependent on public transportation then clog up the freeways and highways with cars.

    Koffee

  16. #16
    Senior Member saturnsc2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    There's no big deal about public transportation. Overall, if more people took public transportation and relied less on cars, we wouldn't be as affected by oil prices, and we'd have a cleaner environment.

    It's silly to say that the average person will not need a car at some point or another. But if you do need to get someplace that normally you can't reach by bike, I'd prefer someone be dependent on public transportation then clog up the freeways and highways with cars.

    Koffee
    the last time i caught a bus was in high school (early 80's). i have no idea how much it costs nowadays. my car = freedom to me. i don't know what i would do without it really. i travel to work on bike, travel on my lunch hour by bike, & travel home by bike (all weather permitting). then later in the evening, i ride some more. there just some times a bike won't due, for example, today at lunch, i had to make 3 stops, home, to the bank, & the drug store. by car it takes up the whole lunch hour easily, but on bike it would take forever unless your an exceptional speedy rider, so the bottom line is the automoblie will never be extinct as far as i'm concerned. i'm interested in a fuel cell bike/motorcycle. this would allow us to travel & not pollute. their supposed to come out with a fuel cell bike in 2006. stay tuned....
    "DO IT IN A SATURN!"

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by saturnsc2
    the last time i caught a bus was in high school (early 80's). i have no idea how much it costs nowadays. my car = freedom to me. i don't know what i would do without it really. i travel to work on bike, travel on my lunch hour by bike, & travel home by bike (all weather permitting). then later in the evening, i ride some more. there just some times a bike won't due, for example, today at lunch, i had to make 3 stops, home, to the bank, & the drug store. by car it takes up the whole lunch hour easily, but on bike it would take forever unless your an exceptional speedy rider, so the bottom line is the automoblie will never be extinct as far as i'm concerned. i'm interested in a fuel cell bike/motorcycle. this would allow us to travel & not pollute. their supposed to come out with a fuel cell bike in 2006. stay tuned....
    That's an excuse for driving.

    Get the public transportation schedule- bus and train. Between the bus, train, and your bike, you have plenty of freedom. As a matter of fact, I feel freedom from riding my bike, not from driving. I do understand your situation about running errands, but you have to be able to think outside the box- like most carfree folks here. Break up your errands if you can't do them all by bike. Run to the drug store after work, figure out how to avoid having to run home for the little things, or schedule around that, and the bank can be done anytime- you have ATMs that are 24 hours, and you just need to learn how to use that service the banks offer.

    There are always ways around what people perceive to be problems- really, they aren't. I run errands too- I just know how to budget my time and figure out how to run my errands so I can maximize my time and avoid the dependency on an automobile.

    Koffee

  18. #18
    Senior Member saturnsc2's Avatar
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    the whole purpose on riding the bike to work is to get excercise & save gas, & wear & tear on my car. i'm achieving that very well, so i have no complaints. i got the perfect blend of car & bike use. i have to use the car sometimes just to keep the battery charged & the seals from leaking. the car sits most of the week. sometimes, i'll just take it for a ride just to keep it running, then later that evening, out comes the bike again. it would be nice to just ditch the car period. when i think how much loot i would save, it makes me sick! but i like cars too. it's been a hobby for me always, to wash & polish it all day! i have my rituals! i always had a car. as a matter of fact, one time i had 4 cars! old ones, but those days are gone as the gas prices today suck. i'm interested in some other form of alternative power such as fuel cell technology. it would be nice to have another form of transportation in between the bike & car.
    "DO IT IN A SATURN!"

  19. #19
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    So being car free is not as much a thought for you- you just like your car and the convenience it gives you. I don't think car free is so hard for you as much as you just prefer not being car free. That's ok. It's your choice. But it doesn't mean it can't be done. I bet if you tried being car free for a month, you'd be able to adapt to it, and before long, the car would just be an non-necessity.

    Koffee

  20. #20
    Senior Member saturnsc2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    So being car free is not as much a thought for you- you just like your car and the convenience it gives you. I don't think car free is so hard for you as much as you just prefer not being car free. That's ok. It's your choice. But it doesn't mean it can't be done. I bet if you tried being car free for a month, you'd be able to adapt to it, and before long, the car would just be an non-necessity.

    Koffee
    it's the convenience thing i guess. i can't imagine me always having to be at a bus stop every day at a certan time. i like having the freedom to go wherever & whenever i please. + the other thing is riding with a bunch of strangers is not appealing to me either. i hear of a lot of crime on buses, or bus related, ranging from theft to murder. it's scary. if the gas prices continue to rise, i bet more & more people will ditch their cars in favor of bikes, motorcycles. electric bikes. i wouldn't be surprised to start seeing cars on the roadside everywhere with empty gas tanks. it could wind up being a very ugly situation. sure i could adapt to riding on a bus, just like anything else when the situation demands it. it's amazing what you can get used to!, but for now anyway, i'll stick to my routine....
    "DO IT IN A SATURN!"

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by saturnsc2
    .. i hear of a lot of crime on buses, or bus related, ranging from theft to murder. it's scary.
    More scary than what's happening on the roads every single day? I'm pretty sure someone could come up with a statistic on where you are more likely to get hurt, as a passenger on a bus, or as a driver of a car. In all my life of using public transportation (before ending up in the suburban hellhole I live in now) I have never experienced or witnessed any kind of violence, theft, murder etc. I have, however, seen lots of car accidents, including two accidents involving myself (one of the reasons I hardly ever drive anymore).

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by saturnsc2
    i hear of a lot of crime on buses, or bus related, ranging from theft to murder. it's scary.
    Are you serious?

    Ok, let's go ahead and say that there have been a few public transportation incidents in the Cleveland area, I guarantee that they are overwhelmingly dwarfed by "acts of violence" commited by people in private automobiles in the same given locality....

    ...I can't stand buses by the way, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that they are rolling crackhouses.

    Edit: I see samundsen touched on this right before I did -- ah, well.

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