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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 09-19-05, 09:32 PM   #1
Mtn Mike
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What city are you from? For those of you who are completely car free, or at least don't own a car, I want to know what city you are from.

Please elaborate on what makes your location good or bad for living without a car.

.....So fess up, where do you call home?

(edited for clarity...)

Last edited by Mtn Mike; 12-28-05 at 11:11 PM. Reason: edited for clarity...
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Old 09-19-05, 10:52 PM   #2
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I live in South San Francisco. I ride each day about 12 miles into San Francisco, then haul my nursing gear (40 lbs) around the city doing home visits and back home again in the evening. I usually ride between 25 and 40 miles a day. Lots of hills and I'm over 60 so I have the assistance of a electric motor and a battery to help me on the hills. I'm using a kit called Stokemonkey developed by www.cleverchimp.com. This uses an Xtracycle whose large bags have also hauled home 4 bags of groceries with a case of beer lashed on top. This rig has hauled 320 lbs up a 30 degree incline. Slowly but surely.
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Old 09-19-05, 11:27 PM   #3
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I live in San Diego. Moved here about a year and a half ago and I still don't own a car. It's tought though. It's definitely a handicap for me in term of find jobs(I freelance as a graphic designer) because everything is spread out here in San Diego and the bus system here isn't the best. There's the commmuter train called the Coaster which I used almost every other day which is great, but the times are really limited to commuter hours and the weekend hours are almost nonexistant.
I'm actually thinking of moving somewhere more bicycle friendly and less car dominated. Portland, Oregon looks good, but it seems like it rains too much there. I haven't really found my niche here in S.D. yet.
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Old 09-20-05, 01:32 AM   #4
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Surrey's kind of a suburb of Vancouver. From my house it's only a twenty minute walk or less than ten minute ride to the Skytrain, which is an elevated and fully automated light transit system, simillar to a subway or monorail. Bikes are allowed onboard most of the day. We've also got a very good bus system and almost all routes have bikeracks on the busses.

I've got a choice of four big grocery stores (Buy-Rite, Safeway, Save-on and a smaller independant) and several corner stores within a fifteen minute ride. There's also a big mall, a smaller strip mall and quite a bit of on-street shopping. Work is within both riding and walking distance. Why would I need a car?!

During a bad winter, we might get a foot of snow and it might hang around for a couple of weeks. It rains, though, a lot. It also gets up into the 30's (90's for you all down below ) in the summer.
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Old 09-20-05, 05:39 AM   #5
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Norfolk, VA. It's a great town for carfree if you don't leave it. There's not a single hill anywhere, but its all waterlocked and to leave the area you need to hop on a bus to go across the tunnels, or take the ferry for the long way around (or go through Chesapeak for the real long way around - work for me is a 22 mile round trip by putting my bike on the bus across the water, or probaly close to a 300-350 mile round trip if I bypassed all ferries and busses and stuck to the bridges that it's legal to bicycle across ). Going to Virginia Beach however which is really just a part of the large city area here is a little less friendly. One big suburban hell, but it's still doable. Takes around 35 miles a day to do the basics including work commute, but it's great!
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Old 09-20-05, 06:24 AM   #6
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Montreal (Lachine), Quebec, Canada.

Not all areas on the montreal island are best, but mine's not bad. There's a couple of bike paths around which are practical. I have plenty of buses, that if you time it right can be practical too. Getting to work by bus is a pain (1h by bus, 30 minutes by bike), but it's doable. Get acquainted with your city's transport system website, and put it on bookmark.

I chose this place because I was close to a major hospital, health clinics, grocery stores and a big shopping mall. It happens to have quite a few bike shops around the bike paths as well, which is a great help.


If you plan on making the bike your major transportation mode, I heavily recommend getting a proper set of tools and learning the nuts and bolts of the bike (if you don't do it allready). I was relying on the bike shop to do all my work for 2 years and it ended up costing a lot in time and money. Maintaining your bike properly will prolonge components life, make you a happier cyclist (a tuned up bike is fun-er to ride) and make you more self reliant when something breaks along the way.
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Old 09-20-05, 06:44 AM   #7
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I am from Logatec (Slovenia)
And I don't own, drive or am being driven with car(except sometimes with parents)
I go to school 35km away from my home and I ugo with Bike(1h) or Walk-->Bus-->Walk (1h.30min)
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Old 09-20-05, 06:58 AM   #8
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Seattle, WA. I live downtown so life couldn't be any easier. It would actually be a huge pain in the neck to have a car. It is also very easy to get out of town with the bike here.
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Old 09-20-05, 08:50 AM   #9
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madison, wi.

the cycling here is great, but public transit absolutely sucks (lame city bus system, no light rail, no amtrak connection). and the sprawl outside the downtown is just getting worse all of the time.
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Old 09-20-05, 09:01 AM   #10
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i live in Denver - we have good bus system, good express/regional routes too, and a new light rail line from downtown to SE end of city opens next year. The light rail to SW end of city is heavily used already.

also in the next 10 years voters (me) approved an ambitious plan to extend rail to all ends of the city, and connecting Denver/Boulder, and airport. I think it will be the largest and best rail transit system for a city that's not a big coast city (or Chicago)

http://www.rtd-denver.com/fastracks/
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Old 09-20-05, 09:14 AM   #11
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I live in a small town (pop c. 10,000) about 25 miles from my office in a larger city (pop. c.700,000). You would think this situation would not be conducive to carfree living. However, my morning commute is only about two miles to an express bus that takes me directly to my office building. When at home, there is a supermarket, drug store, banks, restaurants, etc 1-3 miles from where I live. Another town less than seven miles away has movie theaters, more restaurants, terrific shopping, etc. There is pretty good public transit if I absolutely have to get to the city or other places such as the airport. I'm in the south, but the winters can get cold. However, they are not that disagreeable and I am able to ride right through them.
Good luck if you decide to go carless. The key is recognizing carfree does have limitations (but so does car ownership, which requires resources, commitments, etc that living carfree releases you from). Going carfree means adapting to a different lifestyle, not living a car lifestyle without the car. For me, it became very rewarding once I adapted and now the thought of a car dependent lifestyle horrifies me.
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Old 09-20-05, 09:37 AM   #12
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Dayton, OH here. All busses have bike racks. We're only one of five or six cities in the US that have "trackless trolleys" (electric busses). I think we have an excellent bus system in the county, outside the county there is very few choices (air force base, university and that's about it). West of Dayton in the county is mainly sparsely inhabitated farmland so not much, if any bus service.

I live about two miles from downtown so we don't need a car. Wife was raised in NYC so she never really learned to drive.

Speaking of busses, they are getting more crowded all the time, even outside of rush hour (probably due to the gasoline prices). On more than one occasion my wife had to stand up the whole time on the bus until she got to the suburbs. That was unheard of just a month ago!
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Old 09-20-05, 10:24 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by svwagner
madison, wi.

the cycling here is great, but public transit absolutely sucks (lame city bus system, no light rail, no amtrak connection). and the sprawl outside the downtown is just getting worse all of the time.
muskegon mi almost an exact match. we get alot of lake effect snow in the winter but its cool some days you gotta walk or push your bike to the main roads that are plowed
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Old 09-20-05, 11:12 AM   #14
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I'm in Sammamish, WA

It's a pain actually, being such a remote suburb. I'll probably move into Redmond or Bellevue sometime.
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Old 09-20-05, 01:47 PM   #15
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I'm in Berkeley with a 12 mile roundtrip commute on my bike. This is a very bike friendly area as well as having decent public transit. I live within walking distance of everything I need to go to and a bus/BART ride to anything farther. I even have the availability to take my bike on BART an buses.
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Old 09-20-05, 02:31 PM   #16
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I'm in Washington, DC. My commute is 19 miles roundtrip. It's easy to be car free here. Housing is available close to grocery stores, shopping and fairly good public transit in many areas. Plus I have easy access to taxis and car-sharing when necessary.

It would have been more of a challenge if I had attempted to go car free in Memphis the city near where I grew up and nearly impossible in the little town where I actually grew up. Some people do it in Memphis, but I never met anyone there that chose to be car free. There are probably a few downtown. Apparently my dad commuted to work on a bicycle in Memphis at least for a short time in the 70's. I'll have to ask him how that was.
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Old 09-20-05, 02:50 PM   #17
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New Orleans, Louisiana
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Old 09-20-05, 03:49 PM   #18
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PIttsburgh, PA. I don't think Pittsburgh is very bike friendly, but I do get by.
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Old 09-20-05, 04:10 PM   #19
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I live in Ellensburg, WA. The OP probably knows where that is, but many of you probably don't. Look right in the middle of Washington state -- the university I attend sits at the geographic center of the state.

We don't have busses here. We have a paratransit service which offers transportation to the public in return for a small donation. It must be scheduled 24 hours in advance M-F, runs a limited route Saturday, and no service Sunday. The university currently has a drunk bus, but it only runs from the downtown bar district to one's home. Not something you'd want to ride otherwise.

It takes about 30 minutes to walk and 15-20 to bike from one end of the town proper to the other end. Since the city proper is smaller and somewhat compact, it's pretty easy to get by without a car. We also have quite a few cyclists, so people expect to see us more (although not many ride VC or semi-VC). We tend to get more of the "Get off the road!" comments because there's more time to yell with fewer people around (if that makes any sense), but I've never had anything intentionally thrown at me or had someone intentionally swerve to knock me off my bike.

As for practicality, I've found it may be easier in my city to live car-free than in a large city. When I lived in my apartment, I was a 10 minute or less walk to Albertsons for food and Fred Meyer for everything else. I'd ask them to double-bag it; they did so automatically after a week.

As for climate, everyplace is different, but we do have four seasons. It's blistering hot in the summer and icy in the winter. You just have to be ready for it, same as if you drove. Studded bike tires in the winter and good water bottles in the summer are essential. Sometimes Ellensburg's citizens call it "The Windy City 2" because spring and fall are always windy. We don't consider it a big deal to have 30-40mph winds. I'm just aware of what direction it's blowing so I get a nice tailwind one way of my trip.
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Old 09-20-05, 04:23 PM   #20
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If you watch, the War of the Worlds staring Tom Curise, you'll see where I live because the Monsters from Mars destroyed the bridge in my town! Yup.. They filmed the movie in Bayonne, New Jersey or about 1 mile from where I live. I love that bridge and crossed it the other day to enter Staten Island. The motorist pays $6.00 dollars! YUK! Unfortunately, New Jersey is an expensive place to live and the property taxes are high.

What I like about living in the New York Metro is the massive amount of public transportation available. The streets are all 25-35 mph so I don't have to ride on 55 mph roads like those living in the burbs. Within a four block distance, there are 5 bus lines and the lightrail at my disposal. We have a center of town shopping district including three supermarkets with one located just across the street. What really cemented the deal was the lightrail which takes me to work every morning or I can head out toe shopping mall for only $53.00 dollars per month (unlimited ride). That rail line more than anything made me car and bike free! I no longer ride my bicycle to the train station in the morning because light rail is stress less and pleasant to ride.

As for weekend cycling, there's everything here. The trains can take you out to the burbs in an hour. It's flat where I live but you can find hills 20 miles away. There's a huge cycling community in New York City and I belong to a couple of clubs.

What's key is to study transit systems in large cities when looking for places to work and live along that train line. This is actually easier than you think because I've seen so many homes for sale within a mile of a train line. About 100 years ago, it was rare to find a home next to a train line but today it's just the opposite. Any home within 1 mile of a train line can make you car free.
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Old 09-20-05, 04:48 PM   #21
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I'm in the inner city of Lansing, MI and loving it. The metro population is about 250,000. It's a nice size for a bike, as you can ride almost anywhere in 30 - 45 minutes. We have 4 nice seasons, less snow in winter than cabana gets in muskegon, but colder temps. There's a big university, the state capitol, and lots of G.M. plants. Very few bike commuters, so I feel lonely sometimes, like a pioneer. The streets are narrow but very ridable. The pavement could use some work in some areas. The city bus system is comprehensive, but the evening and weekend routes are sparse. All the busses have racks, which are often full. There's a nice new bus terminal which also serves more than a dozen Greyhounds every day. There is one Amtrak -- Chicago to Port Huron, I believe.
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Old 09-20-05, 06:13 PM   #22
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I am from Vilnius, Lithuania. The public transportation is pretty good developed here, but I seldom use it as I can get myself everywhere on a bicycle. I commute to work year round, 10 to 40 km one way (depending on weather I frequently choose a scienic route).
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Old 09-20-05, 10:12 PM   #23
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Oakland, Ca

car free is pretty easy living in the bay area and after spending 10 yrs in louisiana it can never rain too hard for me to ride in out here, and its california so for the couple of real cold days we have every year, its really not that bad.
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Old 09-21-05, 12:05 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fallstorm
I live in Ellensburg, WA. The OP probably knows where that is, but many of you probably don't. Look right in the middle of Washington state -- the university I attend sits at the geographic center of the state.

We don't have busses here. We have a paratransit service which offers transportation to the public in return for a small donation. It must be scheduled 24 hours in advance M-F, runs a limited route Saturday, and no service Sunday. The university currently has a drunk bus, but it only runs from the downtown bar district to one's home. Not something you'd want to ride otherwise.

It takes about 30 minutes to walk and 15-20 to bike from one end of the town proper to the other end. Since the city proper is smaller and somewhat compact, it's pretty easy to get by without a car. We also have quite a few cyclists, so people expect to see us more (although not many ride VC or semi-VC). We tend to get more of the "Get off the road!" comments because there's more time to yell with fewer people around (if that makes any sense), but I've never had anything intentionally thrown at me or had someone intentionally swerve to knock me off my bike.

As for practicality, I've found it may be easier in my city to live car-free than in a large city. When I lived in my apartment, I was a 10 minute or less walk to Albertsons for food and Fred Meyer for everything else. I'd ask them to double-bag it; they did so automatically after a week.

As for climate, everyplace is different, but we do have four seasons. It's blistering hot in the summer and icy in the winter. You just have to be ready for it, same as if you drove. Studded bike tires in the winter and good water bottles in the summer are essential. Sometimes Ellensburg's citizens call it "The Windy City 2" because spring and fall are always windy. We don't consider it a big deal to have 30-40mph winds. I'm just aware of what direction it's blowing so I get a nice tailwind one way of my trip.
Yep, you're probably my nearest neighbor! Only a 150 mile bike commute to your local!
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Old 09-21-05, 07:00 AM   #25
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columbus ohio

no problems here, city is easy to get around, cost of living is dirt cheap, weather is typical midwest type stuff
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