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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 01-26-06, 04:00 PM   #1
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Does carfree living pose a threat to the American way of life?

Does anyone else sense that there are many who feel threatened in some way by people talking about carfree living? Is carfree living a dangerously subversive concept, or is it just another consumer lifestyle choice?
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Old 01-26-06, 04:16 PM   #2
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I suppose if everyone stopped using their car, we would have massive unemployment as 20% of the population is employed in either manufacturing, sales, marketing, and maintanence of automobiles.
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Old 01-26-06, 04:40 PM   #3
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Many would get new jobs in the booming bicycle industry.
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Old 01-26-06, 05:31 PM   #4
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If living car free became much more widespread....

The people who feel sorry for those without cars, because they believe that the only reasons for not having a car is because you're not allowed to drive or too poor to afford a car, would get confused.

New neighborhoods might be built differently and old neighborhoods would be re-worked. There could be a decline in the mega-merchandizers because some goods could be obtained more conveniently and economically from local (and locally owned) vendors. Who wants to shlep 40 pounds of detergent five or six miles home from Ultra Mart? It's only cheaper to shop at those places if you're already spending hundreds every month for the privilege of having a car or two or three.

Many of our legislative biases would have to reconsidered and reversed. For the last fifty years in the USA, we have done everything but actually require that every citizen own and operate his or her own automobile. Car-free living on a large scale would be a threat to all kinds of established interests, not just Detroit but the whole infrastructure that keeps the car culture alive.

Perhaps there would be a renaissance in public transportation. It's too bad the Interstate highways were not graded as carefully as the railroads (takes more energy to consturct but saves lots in the long run) but part of the right of way could be used for public tranport--coach/bus and rail--and another for those who walk or run or bicycle or skate or scooter or use wheelchairs or horses or mules--with continued allowance for freight trucks and private cars/trucks.

I guess it depends on what one means by "The American Way of Life."

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Old 01-26-06, 05:39 PM   #5
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I doubt the mass would ever be great enough to actually threaten the "American way of life." It's worth noting that bicycling is not the only precursor to car-free existence. The are many tens of thousands living in inner cities without cars for one reason or another. Car-free folks by the thousands live in assisted living facilities or life care centers or who are too aged or infirm who do not use cars. And, of course there is a substantial cohort at any given time who are too young to use a car on their own. In may of these cases, a bicycle is not a viable option either.
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Old 01-26-06, 05:40 PM   #6
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You car-free'rs are all Terrorists for attempting to over throw this oil culture!!

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Old 01-26-06, 06:08 PM   #7
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You car-free'rs are all Terrorists for attempting to over throw this oil culture!!
Hmm... I like the sounds of that...
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Old 01-26-06, 06:10 PM   #8
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yes, thank god
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Old 01-26-06, 06:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Platy
Does anyone else sense that there are many who feel threatened in some way by people talking about carfree living? Is carfree living a dangerously subversive concept, or is it just another consumer lifestyle choice?
I don't know about the "American way of life", but to answer you other question: yes I do think many people feel threatened when we talk about car-free living.

I think many people in western countries have some idea that cars damage the environment, hurt other people, etc. They see green spaces get paved over, grid-lock, road rage, and at least have some thought that "cars are bad". I also think that most people have pretty low self-esteem, so they reconcile their own actions with the "cars are bad" message with rose-coloured vision... "yes, cars are sorta bad, but I have to use a car... but at least I don't let it idle in the driveway for 20min like my neighbour, and I need a car." Then of us happily car-free people comes along and the rose fog dissipates, and Bob feels very threatened that someone else can be car-free, because then maybe ( ) he could me car-free too if he wanted to!.

Talk to anyone who has lost a lot of weight. (I lost almost 60lbs when I was 19, and when I turned 30 I lost about 30lbs I had gained and got in shape again.) A lot of people congratulate you, but a lost of people are also very nasty to you. Why? Because you have just shown than it can be done - and done by a normal person, not some super-human. And if you can do it, so could they, so much for excuses.

Do I think everyone feels this way, or acts this way? Of course not. It is part of the reaction in some people? Heck yes. We live in an "I can't do it" society... those of us who do, indeed, do "it" are an annoying distraction.
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Old 01-26-06, 06:57 PM   #10
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Listen, i'm the biggest car guy there is, and I only believe in American products. GM and to a lesser extent ford is where I'm at.

I think CF is a choice that represents the american way of life.

Roaring down the highway in your v8-powered rwd cruiser is great.

But the freedom and ability to function exactly as you want (car free), and to actually have that as a viable option, is the epitome of the american way of life.

And i'm not even american. (wish I were....)

Cars aren't for everybody. i will always have one because I love driving. But goddammit, I love biking too, so why not? Especially for those wasteful closeby locations
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Old 01-26-06, 08:35 PM   #11
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If you believe that fossil fuels are finite (that we eventually will "run out of gas), and that the "American way of life" is driving a private motorized transportation appliance whenever you want as much as you want, then it is drivers who are a threat to it, because they are using up all the fuel. The few people on bikes are trying, vainly, to preserve the "way" for a little longer.
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Old 01-26-06, 09:18 PM   #12
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Does carfree living pose a threat to the American way of life?

*whisper* psst......yes, that's why I'm carfree! But don't tell the FBI.
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Old 01-26-06, 09:24 PM   #13
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It does pose a threat to the "American way of life," but not all of it, just the bad parts.
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Old 01-26-06, 09:46 PM   #14
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Similar to what Pat said; I think any challenge to the status quo makes many people uncomfortable. Suggesting giving up automobiles, mega stores, TV, fast food, whatever it is that people do just because everyone else does and it's easy - that's going to cause some cognitive dissonance in anyone who knows that what they're doing really isn't good for them/the environment/the economy/etc. I often think my boss is a good example of (what perhaps many non-Americans see as) the typical fat, lazy, stupid American. She thinks she's smarter than she is, she doesn't see anything wrong with anything she does, so there's no reason for her to change anything. (Her kids are perfect, anyone she doesn't like is an idiot, etc etc - she's just obnoxiously egotistical.) It's an affront to a person's self-esteem to be told that someone else is in some way better than them; it's a reflex defensive action to label that person as "different", "weird", "dangerous" - to try to bring them back down to or below one's own perceived level.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
...20% of the population is employed in either manufacturing, sales, marketing, and maintanence of automobiles.
Steve, can you point us to some data to support this?
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Old 01-26-06, 10:40 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
I suppose if everyone stopped using their car, we would have massive unemployment as 20% of the population is employed in either manufacturing, sales, marketing, and maintanence of automobiles.
In which case, they would just find jobs somewhere else. I remember my old home town of Werris Creek going through this about 15-20 years ago. It was a railway town, but the then NSW government decided to demand that the railways become "financially sustainable" while throwing a sh!tload of money at their competitors. The result was obvious, and basically a disaster for the people in that town at the time. Eventually most of them moved on and found other employment in other towns or cities.

I am not American, but my understanding is that America generally talks about having a free market economy where people are free to make their own consumer choices. This being the case, I don't see how choosing to be car free is a threat to that lifestyle at all. If it is, then clearly, there is something we're not being told here.

What I want to know is this: Is a lifestyle that compels someone to acquire and maintain a car against their will really worth preserving?
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Old 01-27-06, 12:56 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by attercoppe
Suggesting giving up mega stores, TV, fast food, whatever it is that people do just because everyone else does and it's easy - that's going to cause some cognitive dissonance in anyone who knows that what they're doing really isn't good for them/the environment/the economy/etc.

I often think my boss is a good example of (what perhaps many non-Americans see as) the typical fat, lazy, stupid American. She thinks she's smarter than she is, she doesn't see anything wrong with anything she does, so there's no reason for her to change anything. (Her kids are perfect, anyone she doesn't like is an idiot, etc etc - she's just obnoxiously egotistical.) It's an affront to a person's self-esteem to be told that someone else is in some way better than them; it's a reflex defensive action to label that person as "different", "weird", "dangerous" - to try to bring them back down to or below one's own perceived level.
This is because people are too stupid to think for themselves. TV and its bull**** advertisements and subliminal messages and constant repetitious conditioning is especially heinous. I live TV-free. If I want to see a show, i download it or check it out on DVD. No commercials robbing me of my time and raping by good cheer, no problems. Fast food is the same trash. I love McDonald's, it tastes great, but I haven't touched it for a year. And I feel really uncomfortable buying anything else either. Gimme a homecooked meal or at the very least a good canned soup to eat and I'm a happy gentleman.

As for your boss.... i'm afraid you're right. I guess my love of america has me seeing differently than most people. I see America as it was in the 50s, 60s, 70s, early 80s. I see it as a country that brought us vehicles, music, film, and science. I see it as the country that sent a man to the moon. I don't buy in to this pseudoliberal hogwash that in this country consists of idiotic small-minded canucks with an inferiority complex villifying America and everything it stands for, conveniently forgetting all the good things to come out of it.

I like to believe that I think on a different level than most people. I won't get into it now, because it leads to some fairly ugly sides of my personality.... but are they really ugly or just so radically different that they must be heinous? I can see life for what it is and I don't believe in fairy tales. (The ME stands for mechanical engineering, so I deal in facts. I don's subscribe to traditional concepts of human interaction.... This disturbs people.)

Anyway, people like your boss will never amount to anything. They will see their tits droop to the ground, their bodies decay with age and realize one day that for all the **** they've been flinging, they've accomplished nothing... on neither a personal nor professional level.... and deny their worthlessness with even more fervor.

Another thing about idiots, the dumber they are, the louder they are. This seems like what you're describing. If anything, just ignore her ranting. If she starts to go on a tirade just leave the room. She'll get the hint on a deep level that you're not impressed with her histrionics and attempt to contain herself in your presence.

What america needs to do is get back to a philisophy they lost. Return to the era where quality (of objects, works, or even just people) mattered above all else. Only then will they put this BS to rest.

As for the original topic.... Cars are only a necessity if they are. It is up to a person to decide. Me? I can't bike to work as it's a 40 mile drive. I can't sacrifice the 2 or three hours each way twice a day. Plus it's -30 in the winter here...

And I don't want to ride with the riff-raff or depend on public transport, which are, respectively, often odorous and out of commission. So a car for me is a necessity. I also like driving. So a weekend car for me is also a necessity. It's just something I like to do.

However, the stereotypical awful fat slob of a woman that climbs into her escalade all alone to go to the nearby wendy's and back doesn't need a car. She needs a lobotomy.

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Old 01-27-06, 07:48 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
I suppose if everyone stopped using their car, we would have massive unemployment as 20% of the population is employed in either manufacturing, sales, marketing, and maintanence of automobiles.

100 years ago, approximately the same % of the population was involved with railroads & interurban railways...... we didn't have massive unemployment between 1915 & 1950
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Old 01-27-06, 07:55 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krispistoferson
It does pose a threat to the "American way of life," but not all of it, just the bad parts.

Yes, indeed.
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Old 01-27-06, 11:50 AM   #19
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There are people everywhere that will feel threatened by any kind of free living. To me being cage free, er, I mean, car free is just that, freedom. Reminds me of a scene from Easy Rider.

George Hanson (Jack Nicholson):
"They're not scared of you, they're scared of what you represent to them......"

Billy (Dennis Hopper):
"All we represent to them is someone who needs a haircut"

George Hanson (Jack Nicholson):
"What you represent to them, is freedom"

Billy (Dennis Hopper):
"What the hell is wrong with freedom? That's what its all about."

George Hanson (Jack Nicholson):
That is what its all about, but talkin about it and being it are two different things. Its real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace. Of course don't ever tell anyone that they're not free, because then they're gonna get real busy killing and maiming to prove to you that they are. They're gonna talk to you and talk to you about individual freedom, but they see a free individual and they're gonna get scared."

Billy (Dennis Hopper):
"Well it don't make them running scared"

George Hanson (Jack Nicholson):
"No, it makes them dangerous."
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Old 01-27-06, 12:03 PM   #20
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If "American Way of Life" refers to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, then no, carfree does not pose a threat. In fact, it can provide a much more satisfying version.

If "American Way of Life" refers to the advertising world's vision, in which we are all supposed to consume as much as possible like locusts, then yes, carfree poses a huge threat, as it doesn't involve buying nearly as much crap nearly as often. In my opinion: Good. This crappy vision needs to be wiped off the face of the Earth ASAP. It is THE problem, from which almost all of our other problems stem.

As for people finding carfree threatening: you bet they do. I've never suggested to anyone that they should give up their car, or even that they should bike more and drive less. But when people see me doing it, they get very defensive. "I'd love to do that, but..." Hey, it's a personal choice. I made mine, you make yours. Sometimes nothing pisses people off like a good example.
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Old 01-27-06, 04:04 PM   #21
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Cars represent some choice, huh?

http://money.cnn.com/2006/01/27/news...ex.htm?cnn=yes


Ford bans competitors' vehicles from lot
Firm's Dearborn Truck Plant will require employees to drive a Ford or park across the street.
By David Ellis, CNNMoney.com staff writer
January 27, 2006: 2:31 PM EST



NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Employees at Ford's Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, Mich., will have to drive Ford Motor Co. vehicles to work or park across the street, the plant manager announced earlier this week.

The new parking policy, which is scheduled to take effect Feb. 1, was instituted by plant manager Rob Webber just as Ford reported losses of $1.6 billion from its North American auto operations in 2005 and Monday announced plans to close 14 plants and cut 30,000 jobs as it tries to reverse losses and respond to declining U.S. market share.




Ford Motor is closing plants across North America and cutting thousands of jobs. CNN's Ali Velshi reports



The Dearborn Truck Plant, which represents one portion of the Rouge facility, has 2,600 union employees and makes the F-150 pickup truck, the best selling vehicle in the United States.

A Ford spokesman told CNNMoney the company supported the move, although it had not been extended to the other North American manufacturing facilities.

Officials with UAW Local 600, who backed the announcement, are scheduled to conduct talks with management next week to finalize the details and discuss expanding the ban across the entire Rouge facility, union president Jerry Sullivan told CNNMoney.

"There has to be something put in place to grab people's attention and to make a statement that this is a serious thing," said Sullivan, whose union represents approximately 8,000 workers at the larger Rouge complex. "It's up to us to stand up and do what is right and to drive a vehicle from the company you work for."

The Dearborn Truck Plant parking policy will allow vehicles made by non-U.S. Ford brands such as Mazda, Volvo and Land Rover, Sullivan said.

The Detroit News, which first reported the story Friday, said the new parking policy in Dearborn was embraced by factory employees at a meeting to discuss the auto manufacturer's latest restructuring plan.

But one plant employee, who did not want to be quoted, told the paper he wasn't happy he would no longer be able to drive his Chrysler to the factory.

"They can't tell you how to spend your money," said one veteran tradesman. "It's still a free country." He said he got a better deal on his Chrysler than he could on a Ford.

"I got to go where I can get the most bang for my buck," he said.

Another Dearborn Truck employee told the newspaper he approved the move, though.

"You buy what you build," said Rufus McWilliams. "That only makes sense."

The Detroit Truck Plant opened in 2004 as part of the $2 billion renovation of the company's 1,100-acre Rouge facility, the paper reported.
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Old 01-27-06, 05:05 PM   #22
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I thought the American Way Of Life is that you do whatever the hell you want as long as you don't interfere with others. In that sense biking is more American because cars interfere with others more than bikes. It also makes you more self sustained, and rely less on your government to do things for you which is also supposedly very American.

But yeah, most people fear change.
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Old 01-27-06, 05:15 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patc
Talk to anyone who has lost a lot of weight. (I lost almost 60lbs when I was 19, and when I turned 30 I lost about 30lbs I had gained and got in shape again.) A lot of people congratulate you, but a lost of people are also very nasty to you. Why? Because you have just shown than it can be done - and done by a normal person, not some super-human. And if you can do it, so could they, so much for excuses.
I thought it was just me. I noticed this too. When I went from biking 20 miles per day down to just a few and then working at an office where people love to bring in food, I ballooned up. So, I stopped eating like a pig, began more recreational biking and lost the weight. Man. The overweight people who are always talking about dieting became really nasty. They wouldn't mind a person who they had always seen as skinny, but they saw me lose it. Just last month the two fattest employees sprawled on the couch in the front office and began lecturing me on effective weight loss strategies. What was that all about?

On the other hand, an old friend saw my weight loss and now he's gotten his weight down too. I'd like to think that positive examples can percolate through the population.

I hear people complaining about Oil companies or Bush or pollution or whatever. Some people get hostile when I point out that every time they pump gas into the car they're contributing to what ever it is they are complaining about. When I suggest that if they care about the issue, they can do something on a personal level, they go nuts with the irrational excuses. This behavior makes me think that they don't object to the fun, freedom and extra money of car free. Maybe it is the thought of backing up their words with action that scares them.
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Old 01-27-06, 10:01 PM   #24
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The overweight people who are always talking about dieting became really nasty. They wouldn't mind a person who they had always seen as skinny, but they saw me lose it.
In somewhat the same vein, I hope y'all don't mind another story about my boss. Today she's sitting in the back (I work at a restaurant) writing out our paychecks. I came back to grab some food for the front kitchen; the radio's on back there and the DJ is doing a testimonial-style commercial for a local bar & grill. The DJ mentions it's non-smoking, "so you don't go back to work smelling like a big old cigarette." Well, my boss, a smoker, takes offense to that. She says, "You shouldn't be running down smokers on the radio." I just kind of looked at her and said, "Why not?" She replies, "Well, we could probably find something bad to say about non-smokers!"

I bet you could.
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Old 01-28-06, 11:52 AM   #25
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Right after WWII we had milions of soldiers returning that would need or
buy all kind of goods. Our manufacturing base was by then mostly geared
towards war. The change had to be made to something else that people could
buy and be convinced that the needed. Two cars in every garage was the
easy answer. Lots of jobs for returning soldiers to build roads and homes
as well as buy lots and lots of cars.

Car manufactures were now in the drivers seat as to what the would
sell as well as how long it would last to ensure that car sells would
remain robust. Since doing this would hurt rail and city transport the
Gov't hid the damage until it was to late to stop.

Along came import cars which were tolerated as toys for the rich. Then
the Arab oil embargo caught big business and big gov't totally unprepared.
No longer were they making the rules. The market place was. Imports now
had a market that Detroit had totally ignored.......a quality vehicle that was
both cheap to run as was better quality that the junk iron Detroit was spewing
out.

The rest of the story we all know............
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