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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 12-30-05, 08:21 AM   #1
BenyBen
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I've been with my girlfriend for almost 8 years now, and around mid-march, we will be parents.

I look forward to the whole experience, but its made me think a lot about being carfree. Please don't come here to try and convince me that I need a car. I get enough of that from my family. I can't wait to prove them wrong about my need of a car with a baby!

I know there are a couple of people here who've have children, but I'm particularly interested by the stories of those (if any here) who had to deal with a newborn when already carfree. From the trip to the hospital for delivering, to the trip back, to the daily living and needs of a baby.

To prepare: The hospital is about 10 minutes away by car (I plan to take a cab there, and back). We have a car seat for the baby, for the trip back... I know there's lots I'm not thinking about here...

What about after... I mean I'm ready to walk a whole lot, I got a Snuggli to bring the baby around, and will most likely get a stroller that converts in a bike trailer. I already walk distances that make people look at me in weird ways when they found out I walked from there to there.

There's a whole lot I thought about, and no doubt I'm forgetting to write down a lot of it, but mostly I'm fishing for stories, tips and tricks, pointers etc...

Last edited by BenyBen; 01-20-06 at 12:36 PM.
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Old 12-30-05, 08:55 AM   #2
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A home birth would solve the hospital trip issue. Seriously, we home-birthed our child and I can't say I needed a car for that. Although our midwife lived out of town, so we had to make several car trips to her house for appointments. OK, so forget the midwife idea.

The biggest concern I had with my newborn was not wanting to shake her around too much. Even pushing the stroller down the sidewalk seemed to be an earthquake as the baby laid there bouncing around. With bike trailers, I believe there is a minumun age that is suggested...something like one years old. I waiting until my child was one before I tried out the trailer. Unfortunately, she screams every time I put her in the trailer and she is almost three now. Anything over ten minutes seems to be too much for her. Fortunately she loves rides in the baby jogger, so we make frequent walks downtown, to the store or to the 200 acre wooded park near our house.

Even though my car usage has increased with having a child, I still try to find things to use the bike for, such as bike commuting and using the baby trailer to haul groceries and other supplies. My wife still prefers to drive, so not much I can do about that. But, when its just me, the bike is certainly my first choice.
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Old 12-30-05, 09:59 AM   #3
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I think we're gonna stick with the hospital, it really isn't very far. And cabs are usually here quite fast.

As far as shaking the baby around, that's what we're gonna use the snuggli for. I'm aware that there is a minimum age for the bike trailler, so in the meantime we can use it as a stroller. I'll keep the tires low pressure to avoid too much bouncing around. Bike trailler will be for later.
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Old 12-30-05, 10:59 AM   #4
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Not sure about the Snuggli for bike transportation. Good for bus rides, however.

So far, the best trick I have seen is to use a child trailer (2-seater, perhaps?) and install the car seat in it. That way, the child is well supported, adequately padded and well tied. At a later date, you'll use the child trailer by itself; right now, the child trailer will also be useful as a general carrier for groceries and the like.

In terms of carfree riding, I haven't used much the trailer before they were 1.5 or 2 years old because most of the trips were either too close to home (by bus or generally on foot) or too far (by car). I already need the car for the job and the wife (whose version of cycling would involve a wheelchair or handcycle), but it's the least interesting mode of transportation in town.

The worst period in terms of "car free" was/is at 5-7 years old, when the children don't fit in the trailer, yet are not really cycling on their own power. While a ride in the trailer is warm, a ride on the trailercycle is not, and that's a problem at -15 or -20 C.
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Old 12-30-05, 11:28 AM   #5
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Yah, the snuggli isn't for biking. All that I need is pretty much whithin transit or walking distance. For starters, I don't think I'll cycle with the baby during winter. Perhaps later.

Thanks for the ideas Michel.

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Old 12-30-05, 11:41 AM   #6
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If the car seat in the trailer doesn't work, you will be doing a lot of walking until the baby can hold his/her head up and sit on his/her own. In addition to the Snugglie, there are slings like the Maya Wrap, my favorate.

When my son was born, I just couldn't see the sense in spending the $$ on a Baby Bjorn, so I got something like a Snugglie instead. Then, after he had outgrown the concept, I tried on a friend's Bjorn. I was amazed at how much simpler and more comfortable it is. If this is going to be your primary mode for 6 months, it is worth checking out.
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Old 12-30-05, 12:39 PM   #7
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Babies love being walked around in those snugglie things. Sometimes that will put them to sleep when nothing else will. You need to carry some kind of diaper kit with you though.
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Old 12-30-05, 03:46 PM   #8
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We reserved a car share for the week the baby was due. I was also ferrying my in-laws around with it. It worked out OK, but I was glad to be rid of it.

For the first few months, we strapped a car seat into a bike trailer, ran the trailer tires at low pressure, and were very, very cautious and slow, so much so that it wasn't a always a whole lot more practical than walking or taking a stroller.

A bjorn carrier or similar is indispensable.

Maclaren strollers are light, collapsible, tough enough: good value.

As soon as he could hold his head up with a helmet (whole 'nother story), we got a front-mount bike seat for our "family car": http://todd.cleverchimp.com/bike/cp/scale.html . The xtracycle is big enough for a stroller, too, and can also tow a trailer. When he outgrew the front seat, we got the rear version (xtracycle sells the rear).

We are very pleased with the Wike convertible stroller/trailer: http://www.wicycle.com/bst.htm . We compared with Burley.

With 2 Brompton folding bikes and the Wike trailer/stroller, we're ready for car-free door-to-door family travel by rail or air without exotic packing requirements.

As soon as kid outgrows infant car seat, this is all you need for the occasional car trip: http://tinyurl.com/9sbpq . Tiny, packs easy, cheap.

When kid outgrows Bjorn carrier, hip-style carrier is the thing: http://www.playtexbaby.com/hiphammock/ . We're still using it at age 3 occasionally, for when you need to move faster than kid can walk and you can't bike, and stroller's too bulky or otherwise bothersome (e.g, crowded transit).

Home-launder cloth diapers (we used http://www.fuzzibunz.com/) with cotton sheet inserts to cut a massive amount of bulk out of your haul/discard stream. Savings vs. landfillables is enough to pay for superpremium front-loading washer that handles diapers in one go without soaking etc. Ditto home-prepared baby foods: bike-friendly because they minimize bulk to be hauled.

These are pretty gear-intensive tips. We're shameless car-free gearhounds. You're saving so much against a car anyway, so why not? Most of the problems you will encounter are logistical anyway, so the right gear is indeed effective. The upsides should speak for themselves: you'll spend a lot more time in close bodily interaction with your child than the usual behind-the-back car-seat potato children.

Some more difficult problems can arise later when supporting your child's social life and development calls for thoughtless portage far-and-wide. Aren't necessarily many like-minded households with kids in human-scale proximity.
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Old 12-30-05, 09:37 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by tfahrner
With 2 Brompton folding bikes and the Wike trailer/stroller, we're ready for car-free door-to-door family travel by rail or air without exotic packing requirements.
How did you attach the Wike hitch to the Brompton? (I ask because my Brompton's rear axle does not seem long enough.)
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Old 12-31-05, 12:51 PM   #10
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How did you attach the Wike hitch to the Brompton? (I ask because my Brompton's rear axle does not seem long enough.)
Not complicated. We have the Sturmey 3-speed rear hub, bolt on axle. The hitch gets pressed between bolt and dropout with ample thread engagement. It is true that the small wheel causes the trailer to lean forward more than designed, but this hasn't presented a problem. The elastomer hitch "wrist" permits the quick half-fold with the trailer still attached.
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Old 12-31-05, 02:16 PM   #11
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Thanks for the info, Todd. But you mean you can have that elastomer folder over itself at a 180 degrees? (I may try it someday with my B., but am a little leery with the weight of two boys.)
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Old 12-31-05, 03:37 PM   #12
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Thanks for the info, Todd. But you mean you can have that elastomer folder over itself at a 180 degrees? (I may try it someday with my B., but am a little leery with the weight of two boys.)
yes, 180. i agree that it might be sketchy, but it seems no worse for wear, and there's the failsafe strap too.
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Old 12-31-05, 06:27 PM   #13
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My sister has no car and a baby, but she doesn't bike. I have to say, that while I'm not planning on having kids, if I ever would, I would not transport them on a bike -- ever.
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Old 01-01-06, 01:16 AM   #14
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Thanks tfahrner, gear-tips are more than welcomed.
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Old 01-02-06, 07:15 PM   #15
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My sister has no car and a baby, but she doesn't bike. I have to say, that while I'm not planning on having kids, if I ever would, I would not transport them on a bike -- ever.
Make sure never to transport kids in a car, either. They're about twice as likely to get injured or killed than if you transport them on a bike. In fact, death by automobile is the number one preventable killer of 2-to-14-year-olds.

In fact, there's much to recommend never leaving the house!!
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Old 01-03-06, 01:47 PM   #16
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OK, here are a couple tips.
First, after doing home birth I would recommend looking into it. A normal pregnancy isn't a medical condition that needs treatment. Since you might not have experience with the course of events you might want to take a few classes so you don't do something dumb. It wasn't that bad, the midwife monitored vital signs for us and we did the rest.

Tip 1: In cold weather my girlfriend dresses the kid for outdoor play, then wraps the kid in a thick wool blanket on top of that. She figures the kid doesn't really move in the bike carrier seat so needs the extra insulation beyond what the kid needs while running around the playground.

Tip2: In cold rain/snow mix she takes the clear plastic cube thing that covers strollers and puts it over the bike child carrier to keep the winter mix off the kid.

Tip3: That clear plastic stroller cover by "Graco" fits snugly over the Burley single child trailer. She uses the bike child seat more often but sometimes wants to keep stuff in the trailer dry and the stroller cover works.
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Old 01-03-06, 03:34 PM   #17
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Look into the older style baby stroller. Back when the stroller had suspension and was made out of metal. Those strollers were not made to fold up in a car, but to be walked with longer distances. The new strollers are just made for shopping malls.
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Old 01-03-06, 04:23 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by weed eater
Make sure never to transport kids in a car, either. They're about twice as likely to get injured or killed than if you transport them on a bike. In fact, death by automobile is the number one preventable killer of 2-to-14-year-olds.

In fact, there's much to recommend never leaving the house!!
Lies, damn lies, and statistics. My common sense pretty much dictates me to not haul a child on a bike, inches away from moving cars. Besides, I wasn't advocating getting a car if you have a child. I guess what I'm advocating is staying on the sidewalk.
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Old 01-03-06, 05:51 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iBarna
Lies, damn lies, and statistics. My common sense pretty much dictates me to not haul a child on a bike, inches away from moving cars. Besides, I wasn't advocating getting a car if you have a child. I guess what I'm advocating is staying on the sidewalk.
that's really dangerous, ibarna. "common sense" also dictates taking multi-ton vehicles to get 10 miles to work every day, when there's nothing sensical at all about it. sidewalks are the most dangerous place to bike: http://www.washingtonvotes.org/Comme...ctionID=177489
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Old 01-03-06, 06:48 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by iBarna
Lies, damn lies, and statistics. My common sense pretty much dictates me to not haul a child on a bike, inches away from moving cars. Besides, I wasn't advocating getting a car if you have a child. I guess what I'm advocating is staying on the sidewalk.
Actually, I was telling the truth. About the safety of cars, anyway. I was kidding about never leaving the house .
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Old 01-04-06, 12:59 AM   #21
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I wasn't advocating biking on the sidewalk. I meant a stroller. *In any case*, I admit I don't know much about this, since I don't have kids, and don't want any (no human ones, that is). But I know I cringe every time I see a little kid behind an adult on a bike in heavy traffic. Maybe it just looks dangerous (to me).

I'm definitely no fan of building bigger and bigger cars to soothe the souls of soccer moms determined to protect their families. But perhaps I have the same feelings as them
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Old 01-13-06, 04:32 AM   #22
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ok so i almost backslid and started looking into getting a car for the girlfriend, since we're expecting sometime in july. but after a very long talk tonight we have decided to try and remain carfree for now.
she's just been having a tough go with a morning sickness that just would never end and we got soft, but we're back to our old selves, and thinking maybe a move closer to the light rail or on a different bus line could just be the ticket.
the only real problem is that after birth she wants to stay home and get back into working with kids more one on one in their homes and some of the areas are hard to get to by bike alone, or some of the kids have special needs and requirements, but with a move using a car share program may take care of that, so at least the talk of having to buy a car has taken a back seat...

plus i saw a couple of women that were in the later stages that were riding, and not that just because they can, cause i know it can be done, i'm starting to get that over protective bs wherein i have to let it go somewhat and let life live, its not like she just started riding yesterday.

weedeater-thanks
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Old 01-15-06, 06:08 PM   #23
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I guess I was a bad parent. We put our son in a trailer at 8 weeks. Like Michel, we just put the whole car seat in the trailer. But I did get some wide nylon webbing and buckles, and fabricate a seatbelt to hold the seat securely. He loved it, and giggled like crazy when he was older and I took him off road. It can be done.
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Old 01-15-06, 06:30 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by weed eater
Make sure never to transport kids in a car, either. They're about twice as likely to get injured or killed than if you transport them on a bike. In fact, death by automobile is the number one preventable killer of 2-to-14-year-olds.

In fact, there's much to recommend never leaving the house!!

Sure, but there are about a million times more kids in cars on the road than kids on bikes, so obviously the chance of death is higher. Statistics are like prisoners of war, if you torture them long enough, you can make them say anything you want.
I would not put my daughter in a trailer and take her on the road, thats just me. I wish you luck if you do.
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Old 01-15-06, 08:43 PM   #25
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At some point, a baby will get very sick, at night, on a weekend, in the middle of winter. It seems to be a law of nature. You should have a plan in place for that situation. It won't happen often, but I'd put money on it happening at least once.

As an idea (never bring up a problem without offering a solution) you could write up a list of all the late-night bus schedules, the phone numbers of all taxi companies, and maybe phone numbers of a couple friends with cars who would be OK with a late-night call for a ride to the hospital.
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