My job with the state utility company requires the use of a company vehicle. I cover a territory that could have me driving more than an hour on a daily basis to get to various substations. I'm also on call for 3 months of the year meaning anytime day or night. I could leave the company vehicle at my office and commute by bike (only ~8 miles) but there are a lot of days that I end up working extremely late.
I do own 2 (gasp) personal vehicles but only drive about 5000 miles a year on both of them. It would be tough to give up both because our family lives 120 miles south of us. And the grandparents don't get to see their grandbaby enough as is.
How do you guys/gals handle the work and long distance family situations?
early 90's marin, 1969 schwinn collegiate, waterford, bridgestone rb1
Well, the family connection/support issues prevent us from car-free status as well. My folks live far enough out of town that a quick run to do chores (several horses) and whatnot is not feasible by bicycle. Nor is hauling large loads of horse doo for composting and 3 grandkids for visiting very easy on two wheels. Thus, I have my subaru outback and a trailer my dad got me made out of an old pickup bed.
I consider myself car-lite instead of car-free. I figure with as few miles as I put on my car, it will last me a lifetime and I'll be one of those grannies with an old car in preemo condition.
So, I guess the long answer is that I'm not much help for addressing your question.
The reality of my and perhaps our situation is that we are situated in a car-centric culture and everything is designed around it.
Moreover, at least in my case, the dedication to bike-centrism is relatively new, thus our family of 5 is not 100% "on board" so to speak, let alone the expectations of extended family. I expect it will take many years to complete the transition. In fact, unless I move closer to or much further from my folks, I may not ever be able to be completely car-free. That's just my cultural and situational reality.
However, I am working very hard to show my sons how they can be perfectly mobile w/o a car so that as they start making their lifetime committments and plans, they can see there is a way to reduce their dependencies on personal motor vehicle ownership.
2006 Motobecane Le Champ SL, 2006 Mercier Kilo TT, 2004 Gary Fisher Tassajara
Why do you need 2 personal vehicles? Can't you sell one, and keep the other for those occasional trips to your parents? O, if you visit your family one or twice a month, sell both, and rent on those occasions when you need to drive. If it's only once or twice a month, it's much cheaper to rent.
a mountain bike with a cargo box on the back and aero bars on the front. an old well-worn dahon folding bike
I don't have enough info to be sure this is a viable suggestion but:
-it seems you should sell one of your family's vehicles. (Maybe one's a pickup truck. If so, consider renting a U-Haul or similar pickup on rare occasions. some car-share cooperatives have pickups too.)
-i'd suggest that you not feel bad about your driving for work purposes. I guess you're on-call because you have to go to work during what are essentially emergencies. If those emergencies require you to get to work faster than you can ride, then don't feel bad about driving.
-if you work late, it's your call whether you can find a safe, practical alternative to driving. A lot of the people on the commuting/carfree bikeforums sections have lights that are ridiculously bright in addition to reflectorized safety vests. Some people are easier to spot at night due to their lights. And due to their use of multiple lights and reflectors, they might be just as easy to pinpoint, as being a specific distance from the approaching motorist.
You sound like more of a candidate for being car-lite than car-free. I'm sorta in the same boat right now- don't feel bad.
Whatever you have to do for work, you have to do. If it really bothers you a lot, you will probably have to look for a different job.
I visit my dad 200 miles away via Greyhound bus. I make this trip once every four weeks, and have done so for more than five years. I realize that this option will not work for everybody. I happen to work in a hospital, shere I can arrange my schedule to have five days off, while using only one vacation day. Could you do somethnig like this? At least check out the websites for Greyhound, Amtrak, etc., to see if their scheduled service would work for you.
Trek 5500, IF Crown Jewel, Surly Steamroller, Peugot PX-10, Univega MTB setup for heavy touring w/moustache bars, Rocklobster cyclocross with natty old school splatter paint job, Huffy Sportsman 3 w/milk crate...
I had a company vehicle for two years while working for a major auto parts distributor here in New England. It was considered to be a pretty big perk for a lot of the employees, many of whom drove an hour or more to work each day. I lived four miles from our warehouse so I rode my bike to work daily and only used the Tacoma for going to out of state company meetings and visiting clients.
You would think that me not using company resources (fuel, insurance, wear and tear) would endear me to the higher ups, and bean counters but this was not the case. It was a bit of a joke to everyone that I would choose to not use the freebie and instead pedal myself to work in all kinds of weather year round. Never mind the fact that I was very healthy - never used the health insurance once - always on time or early when long distance commuters were tied up with traffic or weather. After two years I quit and went to work at a local bike shop where I have no benefits or perks of anykind except knowing that I am fighting the good fight, getting folks out of their cars and onto bikes. That sort of lifestyle change may not be an option for people with homes and children but it worked for me and let me finally realize a (mostly) carfree exsitance.
Can't you sell one, and keep the other for those occasional trips to your parents?
That seems to make the most sense. Now I just need to pull the trigger. This seems to be a bit more of a life changing decision for me. It seems to be a cultural thing in the south that you have to have a pickup truck, eventhough the only justification I have for one is the weekly trash run. I think I'll go for it.
However, mass transit is out of the question. It's nonexistent here in backwoods Georgia. We don't even have a Greyhound station anymore. I think I could survive with one vehicle and I've been contemplating leaving the company vehicle at work and riding the bike during the months that I'm not on call. Thanks for the suggestion.
....guess I'll be in the market for a bike trailer for the trash run!