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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 09-08-05, 10:06 AM   #1
TxBiker
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Doing My Part as Best I Can

Since August 1, I have commuted to work every day (missed only one day out of six weeks so far!). I have even made after work errands bike options. As a result, I plan to sell my car and have only one vehicle in our household. Yes...I was duped into thinking that every home needs two cars, 4 TVs, 2.5 kids, etc. etc...

I park myself often on this forum and try to learn new ways to conserve gas, make life simple, and be more environmentally sound (wow...and I am a raging republican!).

I wanted to let you folks know just how much I appreciate this forum by telling you some of the things I have learned from this forum alone:

1. You CAN shop and do errands by bike
2. Kids LOVE being car free (cause it is more time with mom and dad!)
3. The hustle and bustle of soccer/football/cheerleading/piano practice pales in comparison to the joy one can have by being together as a family.
4. Owning a car IS expensive and harmful to society
5. Bike Trailers make the world go round...
6. Wal-Mart is the spawn of Satan
7. Local retailers and biking help establish stronger communities that last for generations.

Over the past two months, I have spent more time with my family than ever before. I ride with fellow commuters and we spend time biking and hiking...not at a McD's watching our kids play in the indoor play area. I eat healthier, my kids eat healthier, and we can't wait to hop on our bikes when we get home.

So...to sum up...THANKS! Keep these posts rolling. I am reading Walden (which will probably have my Republican card revoked!). Oh well....enjoying life at normal speed one spin at a time!

Chris
Houston
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Old 09-08-05, 10:19 AM   #2
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Keep the positive changes rollin' I know at our house, grocery runs have become popular because they're done on bike. The two youngest boys pretend me and the tailer are cargo transports and they're fighter escorts....must protect supply shipment to alpha base. Because of the bike use, a routine chore has been transformed into a family outing complete with icy cold root beers.

Also, ever since I started riding my bike to get to work and other errands, the boys have really adopted their bikes as transportation too. I know it sounds crazy, but so many of their friends have parents that drive them EVERYWHERE. Ours use their bikes to go to friends, rent games, go to movies, etc.

While I don't think I could talk anyone into selling one of the cars, we do get a low mileage discount from the insurance co. and they'll probably last forever since they spend most of their time in the garage.
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Old 09-08-05, 10:53 AM   #3
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Hey Chris,

Way to go! I'm setting myself up for at least one less car (my wife won't give up hers) since we just bought a home 3.72 miles from my work and about 10 miles from my wife's. I really don't drive mine as it is anyway. It's going to feel gooooood to get rid of a car payment/gas/insurance.

Since commuters tend to be relatively scarce in Houston, I'm curious what your commute's like (start/finish/mileage).

Thanks!
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Old 09-08-05, 11:02 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Orikal
Hey Chris,

Since commuters tend to be relatively scarce in Houston, I'm curious what your commute's like (start/finish/mileage).
I am one of those "burbs" commuters. My work is 7.5 miles from my house. I go through two subdivisions and a few 4-lane roads and I am at work. HOWEVER, I have been enjoying our cooler mornings and have elongated my route to 10 miles both ways to increase my daily mileage from 15 miles to 20 miles per day. I live in NW Houston near Compaq/HP. There is another fellow commuter in Houston that works at HP and lives near me. Ironic to find two commuters going down the same road that met on this forum!

On another note, I saw that we pay over $750.00 per year to insure my car. I can't wait to get rid of my car and invest that money into other areas.

I might use Sydney_B's comments about having my son "escort" the transport ship to the supply depot and back to the "mother ship". These are great!!!

Also, I've noticed that many on this forum do not have kids. For those that do...what other methods have you used to keep kids excited about being car free?

Thanks again Orikal.

Chris
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Old 09-08-05, 11:04 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by sydney_b
Keep the positive changes rollin' I know at our house, grocery runs have become popular because they're done on bike. The two youngest boys pretend me and the tailer are cargo transports and they're fighter escorts....must protect supply shipment to alpha base. Because of the bike use, a routine chore has been transformed into a family outing complete with icy cold root beers.

Also, ever since I started riding my bike to get to work and other errands, the boys have really adopted their bikes as transportation too. I know it sounds crazy, but so many of their friends have parents that drive them EVERYWHERE. Ours use their bikes to go to friends, rent games, go to movies, etc.
I think I will immediately "deploy" the cargo ship idea this weekend when we go grocery shopping. I plan to borrow a fellow commuter's burley trailer to see how it goes before I buy one. What a cool idea! Thanks.

Chris
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Old 09-08-05, 01:35 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sydney_b
Keep the positive changes rollin' I know at our house, grocery runs have become popular because they're done on bike. The two youngest boys pretend me and the tailer are cargo transports and they're fighter escorts....must protect supply shipment to alpha base. Because of the bike use, a routine chore has been transformed into a family outing complete with icy cold root beers.

Also, ever since I started riding my bike to get to work and other errands, the boys have really adopted their bikes as transportation too. I know it sounds crazy, but so many of their friends have parents that drive them EVERYWHERE. Ours use their bikes to go to friends, rent games, go to movies, etc.

While I don't think I could talk anyone into selling one of the cars, we do get a low mileage discount from the insurance co. and they'll probably last forever since they spend most of their time in the garage.

funny i pretend im fighter and the cars are the bad guys, and im 29.
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Old 09-08-05, 01:38 PM   #7
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Also, I've noticed that many on this forum do not have kids. For those that do...what other methods have you used to keep kids excited about being car free?
Lots of Bling for their bikes.
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Old 09-08-05, 01:52 PM   #8
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I'm guessin' you're a fun guy then if you've manged to hold on to your fun. Let me know when your 1 less car stickers are back in stock. You know, you should put your url in small print on the stickers and tees.
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Old 09-08-05, 02:02 PM   #9
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Lots of Bling for their bikes.
My babygirl has more spoke lights than XHibit could dish out on an episode of "pimp my bike"!
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Old 09-08-05, 02:13 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by sydney_b
I'm guessin' you're a fun guy then if you've manged to hold on to your fun. Let me know when your 1 less car stickers are back in stock. You know, you should put your url in small print on the stickers and tees.
im on that new stickers will have it and its small on the back of shirts
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Old 09-08-05, 02:28 PM   #11
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I'm grinning like a lunatic reading this thread; my students probably think I've lost my mind. Next time I talk with someone who thinks that transportation cycling is a grim, grey business of sacrifice and self-denial, I'll show them your posts...

Thanks for the laughs and the great images.

- Paul
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Old 09-08-05, 07:13 PM   #12
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I grew up in the stereotypical family with 5 kids, the big station wagon, etc. If you were a boy dammit you wore a crew-cut until you were 18. You were in the Scouts, there was no way to not be in the Scouts, and you had the goal of making Eagle if you could. You grew up knowing flag etiquette, learned the Pledge at home before kindergarten, lived in the suburbs, Dad wore a suit, etc just to give an idea. And we were effectively car-free.

Here's why. Dad drove the huge hulking station wagon to work, which would have been easy on the bus but they'd have probably fired him if he started doing THAT. School was walkable, or bus-able, shopping walkable, my mom did fool around with working a job a couple of times and both time she just walked there. We kids walked or biked or bus'ed everywhere. The huge hulking station wagon was "in use" sitting in the parking garage at Dad's job, so here was Mom and the 5 of us kids, getting around just fine without a car. We did do the suburban style epic shopping trips, but with the market walking distance away, those were not necessary. We also did things like Paradise Park and Sea Life Park and going to the big shopping center downtown, in the car. But those are all easily bus-able trips. There was not the mom-as-chauffeur thing you see now because Mom didn't even drive. She didn't even have a license.

I guess the only point to this post is even the old classical type suburban family living in an older suburb was far less car-dependent than many people are now.
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Old 09-08-05, 07:51 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilHinault
I grew up in the stereotypical family with 5 kids, the big station wagon, etc. If you were a boy dammit you wore a crew-cut until you were 18. You were in the Scouts, there was no way to not be in the Scouts, and you had the goal of making Eagle if you could. You grew up knowing flag etiquette, learned the Pledge at home before kindergarten, lived in the suburbs, Dad wore a suit, etc just to give an idea. And we were effectively car-free.

Here's why. Dad drove the huge hulking station wagon to work, which would have been easy on the bus but they'd have probably fired him if he started doing THAT. School was walkable, or bus-able, shopping walkable, my mom did fool around with working a job a couple of times and both time she just walked there. We kids walked or biked or bus'ed everywhere. The huge hulking station wagon was "in use" sitting in the parking garage at Dad's job, so here was Mom and the 5 of us kids, getting around just fine without a car. We did do the suburban style epic shopping trips, but with the market walking distance away, those were not necessary. We also did things like Paradise Park and Sea Life Park and going to the big shopping center downtown, in the car. But those are all easily bus-able trips. There was not the mom-as-chauffeur thing you see now because Mom didn't even drive. She didn't even have a license.

I guess the only point to this post is even the old classical type suburban family living in an older suburb was far less car-dependent than many people are now.
I had almost the same experience, mom didn't drive for many years. But, for one year or a little more in the early '60s, mom didn't drive AND dad biked to work. It was on an airforce base and many guys had been stationed in Europe and had those cool bikes so it wasn't so odd that a few of them biked to work. Dad never biked with us, he only used his bike to get down to the flight line. He had picked up an English bike with a neat little tool pouch under the seat. He probably got it at the base thrift shop.

Here is the funny bike story from that year: The base police had this bike saftey program for kids. We watched movies on bike safety then a demo the egg is the kid on the bike, the coconut is the car, see who gets hurt in a collision. Then a skills test with traffic cones. We had to know all the rules of the road and hand signals. So I'm 8 years old and believe everything anyone in uniform says to the letter. After I get that cheap little bike safety sticker on my bike I'm out in traffic using my hand signals just like the base police said. One day I'm coming home from the pool in rush hour traffic and I have to get in the left through lane to get to the housing complex because the right lane was a turn lane to leave the base. Left hand signal, take the lane, just like they taught me in bike safety class. Some grizzled old master sergeant (more stripes than dad had) goes nuts on me. Runs me off the road and gets out of his car screaming at me. I just stood at attention until the guy calmed down. Then I recited the law as I had just learned it, and asked the sergeant what I had done wrong. He turned red again and I worried that he'd really blow up but it must have been red from embarassment, he said nothing and just got back in his car. But, after that first brush with road rage I became more timid in traffic.

The point of this funny story is that the local police used to take a serious interest in making sure kids drove their bikes safely and taught kids the bikes belong on the roads as transportational vehicles story not the bikes are toys stay on the sidewalk story. When many moms didn't drive or at least weren't taxi drivers for the family a bike was a kid's ticket to freedom.
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Old 09-09-05, 08:47 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by lilHinault
If you were a boy dammit you wore a crew-cut until you were 18. You were in the Scouts, there was no way to not be in the Scouts, and you had the goal of making Eagle if you could.
I am cracking up with this. I just signed my boy up for cub scouts at a school in biking distance. I wasn't an eagle scout, but I have been an assistant scoutmaster while in the Air Force. However, all meetings we attend will be on the bicycle.

My ride home on my bike went like this....biked to a diner to meet the family for dinner. Biked over to the YMCA to help coach my son's roller hockey practice (he will bike it next time!). Then biked over to the school to listen to the orientation for scouts. Funny thing was, I forgot my cateye headlamp and it was getting pretty late. They had a raffle to win camping gear and guess what we won.......

....a cyclops light. I put it on my head under my helmet and rode home in the dark with perfect illumination!

My wife still freaks out when I mention "car free"....so I like the term I have heard on this subforum..."car minimalist"
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Old 09-09-05, 02:08 PM   #15
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Yeah, I don't know if we'll ever make it to car-free, but car-minimal, or minimal car, is w/in view. We'll see how winter goes. This is the first year where I've made a serious committment and it's rubbing off on the rest of the family. I expect my DH will join in eventually, and the middle boy announced that he was a 'bike nerd' last night ... as he clipped his tail light on the back of his shirt to go through the grocery store.

What was expecially fun, was that the young man bagging our groceries thoughtfully asked if we would like our groceries double-bagged as he found them easier to carry on a bike that way. We declined as we had the trailer and panniers, but thanked him for his consideration and noted that no others had been so thoughtful. He said that he often rode his bike to work and used the double-bag trick to take advantage of surprise sale items.

It was fun and i was glad my sons got to have the exchange with a young pro-bike "cool guy." You young folks out there have remarkable sway over the mindset of elementary and middle-schoolers. Evangelize!

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Old 09-09-05, 02:50 PM   #16
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Congrats TX biker, it seems like it seems like it was just two weeks ago that you first posted about day one of commuting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TxBiker
...HOWEVER, I have been enjoying our cooler mornings...
You are not alone on enjoying this cooler weather.


Quote:
Originally Posted by lilHinault
I grew up in the stereotypical family with 5 kids, the big station wagon, etc. If you were a boy dammit you wore a crew-cut until you were 18. You were in the Scouts, there was no way to not be in the Scouts, and you had the goal of making Eagle if you could. You grew up knowing flag etiquette...
Dude that was me. Thought I was starting to read my life story. From flag etiquette it went to learning to work on lawnmowers, and learning first aid. Third generation Eagle right here.
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