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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 12-22-05, 11:43 PM   #1
the homealien
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accepting risks of car-free life

I just had a frustrating experience that I want to share. I live about 30 miles outside of Chicago and I had planned on visiting a friend in the city tonight. I'm 20 years old, attending university and home for the holidays. I have never owned a car and probably never will, so I try to avoid using my parents' cars as much as I can. My plan was to take the train into the city and bike the rest of the way, but when my parents found that out they were very upset and insisted on driving to bring me home right away. My mother, who rides 8 miles to work most days and is vehemently anti-car and anti-sprawl, told me that what I was trying to do was childish, irresponsible and wrong. I had a long argument with her and my dad, and they insisted that biking at night is a wrong choice and that I am a disrespectful child for choosing that. My stance is that biking at night is my choice and it is very important.

What do you think, about the parent-child dynamic but also more importantly about the risks of living car-free?
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Old 12-23-05, 12:15 AM   #2
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I always hated that about being a college student... parents had no clue what I was doing at school, but suddenly became my parents again when I was home. It is just a fact of life// really has nothing to do with car free living.
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Old 12-23-05, 12:20 AM   #3
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Biking at night is fine, if you're lit up.
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Old 12-23-05, 08:55 AM   #4
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What lights did you have. I have 3 bright red blinkies in the back I consider essential.
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Old 12-23-05, 09:34 AM   #5
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Equip yourself with lights and a visibility-vest if you have to and show your parrents just how visible you are in the dark.
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Old 12-23-05, 09:55 AM   #6
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You're 20 years old. Do what you want! Your parents can say all they want, but you're the one who makes the desicions. It's the same way for me, when I come home for holidays, they seem to beret me on countless pointless topics about what I'm doing with my life. I try to think from their point of view, and normally always decide that my point of view is better - from a bike!

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Old 12-23-05, 10:22 AM   #7
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Your parents are just worried about your safety thats all. Its natural as a parent to be a bit over-protective- why not just put their minds at rest this once and let them drive you. They looked after you for quite a few years - you owe them that. The time will come soon enough when you are on your own.
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Old 12-23-05, 01:07 PM   #8
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Tell them what I find about night riding--- that it is actually MORE safe. There are less cars on the road, which means less of them to hit you, but also it is easier to locate them. I can hear one coming from further away without all the other noise from all the other cars, and their head lights makes telling a moving car from a parked car easier.

and then tell them to shut up or buy a car. How can you live car free and not ride at night? that makes no sense to me.
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Old 12-23-05, 01:08 PM   #9
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Just make sure you DO HAVE LIGHTS!!!
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Old 12-23-05, 03:13 PM   #10
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A really well-lit cyclist is more visible at night than in the day. You can't easily use lights to stand out from whatever random stuff is on the sides of the roads in the day, but you can at night. Use multiple lights if you want to be assured of giving drivers better depth perception.
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Old 12-23-05, 03:40 PM   #11
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My son left a couple of days ago on a bike trip to visit relatives 90 miles away. I inspired him to get into cycling in the first place. He's better at it than I am. We've done overnight bike tours together. He's got good lights and all the safety equipment. And yet, and yet ... I still worry about him. Sorry guys, parents are just that way and nothing's going to change it.

Maybe cycling parents can be even worse because they know how bad it can get out there sometimes.
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Old 12-23-05, 05:25 PM   #12
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Were they more worried about your being seen or being mugged?

I have to commute home from work evry night, and do other night riding too. However, unlike others who posted here, I do not think night riding is "just as safe" as day riding. But it is "safe enough" if you follow the rules:
  1. Light your bike well. At minimum, have a bright headlight pointing to the front and a bright blinky in the rear. (Find lots of information on lighting in the Commuter subforum.)
  2. Be even more alert and ride further toward the center of the street as appropriate. The biggest danger is from cars turning out in front of you or into you.
  3. Plan your route to avoid "bad" neighborhoods. Don't stop in secluded areas. If you ride a lot at night, consider self-defense options.
  4. Make sure your bike is in excellent condition. Carry tools and a spare tube.
  5. Carry enough money or credit card for taxis if you really get stuck. Or carry a cell phone and the number of somebody who will come and get you if you break down.

I'm not saying any of this to scare people off. Just common sense precautions.
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Old 12-23-05, 08:41 PM   #13
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tell your parents to stop being such cops and save it. riding at night is just a fact of life as far as being car free.
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Old 12-24-05, 02:18 AM   #14
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I am also 20, my mom worries about me riding at night but she doesnt try to stop me. You're old enough to judge the situation on your own. Show them how visible you are and point out that you rarely have to negotiate traffic at night. If they still say no, I would just do it anyway.
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Old 12-24-05, 03:20 AM   #15
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Yo, you should be glad you have parents that care enough to be worried about you. If your mom really starts nagging you, just ask her to buy a nice set of Halogen Niterider lights.
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Old 12-24-05, 04:02 AM   #16
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I dunno, your parents might have a point. I've seen someone get mugged on a bike and it's not gentle. Chicago at night...might be prudent to take your mom up on that ride.
Not saying you should live your life in fear but a healthy dose of self-preservation over idealism will give you another day to be idealistic and angry.
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Old 12-24-05, 04:10 AM   #17
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Quote:
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I dunno, your parents might have a point. I've seen someone get mugged on a bike and it's not gentle. Chicago at night...might be prudent to take your mom up on that ride.
Not saying you should live your life in fear but a healthy dose of self-preservation over idealism will give you another day to be idealistic and angry.
Sounds like some wise advice, IMO. Besides, isn't Chicago bone chiling cold this time of year?
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Old 12-24-05, 07:11 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RacerX
I dunno, your parents might have a point. I've seen someone get mugged on a bike and it's not gentle. Chicago at night...might be prudent to take your mom up on that ride.
Not saying you should live your life in fear but a healthy dose of self-preservation over idealism will give you another day to be idealistic and angry.
As someone who lives in Chicago and who cycles day/night year-round, I know that there are many neighborhoods that are quite pleasant/safe to cycle in at night. On the other hand, the expressways at night can be pretty scary. I've had pleasant, safe nights cycling through Chicago winters whereas one of the scariest nights of my life was a summer night in a car on the Dan Ryan Expressway.
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Old 12-24-05, 08:00 AM   #19
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Agree with Vicious Cycle. I don't think your parents problem is riding at night, or lights. I think it's *riding at night in Chicago* There's a lot of areas there where I didn't care to go at night, even in an 18 wheeler.

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Old 12-24-05, 11:01 AM   #20
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Well Richmond is supposed to be the 6th most dangerous city in the US but I have always felt much more safe on a bike. The people I know who have been mugged/robbed were either walking alone or in their own houses when it happened.
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Old 12-24-05, 05:33 PM   #21
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This afternoon I rode my stepson to a new job in East Lansing. i meant to leave him a blinky for his ride home but I forgot. He's 30 years old. I'm a little worried about him. You never stop being a parent.
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Old 12-24-05, 06:58 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RacerX
I've seen someone get mugged on a bike and it's not gentle.
How does that work? I've always felt much safer on bike than on foot, at least from street thugs. I'd like to know how to avoid being victimized. What, exactly, did you witness?
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Old 12-24-05, 09:38 PM   #23
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I'm curious to know as well, but would guess the biker was either clotheslined off the bike as he rode by, or was stopped at a light when somone pulled him off the bike or threatened with a weapon.
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Old 12-25-05, 12:55 AM   #24
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A friend got shoved off her bike riding right behind me, and not even for money, just for kicks. Now that takes balls. Too bad by the time I swung back around they were running off into the crowd.
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Old 12-25-05, 06:12 AM   #25
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Something that may work better than you'd expect... Just do it a few times, unannouced. Don't give them the advanced warning to overreact. Granted I'm within days of being 40, so my folks might have finally come to grips with the idea that I'm nuts; but for the longest time, I'd suggested to them that they were well within comfortable cycling distance, and my mom would come back, "don't you dare ride that..." Then I just did it a couple times, and now all I get is, "be careful."

The thing that cracks me up about it the most, is that they are afraid of the absolute wrong things. The scariest to them is this high speed state highway that is part of the route I take, it has huge lanes, great visibility, and monstrous shoulders. On the other hand, It never occurs to them that tree packed residentials with four way uncontrolled intersections and blind driveways might be hazardous to a cyclist..
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