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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 01-28-06, 07:50 PM   #1
jcwitte
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Will I be treated any differently?

A friend of mine is throwing a promotion party for someone we both know. There will mostly people there that i have never met, people who work with the guy who was promoted. It should be interesting to see if I notice any "different" treatment or attitudes after I pull up on my bike. Especially since this is a suburban type town and it's about 45 F and raining. So far a friend of mine has offered to come and pick me up (since it has been raining all day).

It probably won't be noticed that I came on a bike, but if it is, I bet someone asks me if I got a DUI or something. Well, time to get ready.
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Old 01-28-06, 08:37 PM   #2
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Considering your location, just say...

"I'm as Normal as anyone else."

...and leave it at that.
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Old 01-29-06, 01:48 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by jcwitte
A friend of mine is throwing a promotion party for someone we both know. There will mostly people there that i have never met, people who work with the guy who was promoted. It should be interesting to see if I notice any "different" treatment or attitudes after I pull up on my bike. Especially since this is a suburban type town and it's about 45 F and raining. So far a friend of mine has offered to come and pick me up (since it has been raining all day).

It probably won't be noticed that I came on a bike, but if it is, I bet someone asks me if I got a DUI or something. Well, time to get ready.
On the rare occasion that I get guff from people I tell them that I would be terribly fat if I didn't cycle. I don't say this in a snarky or nasty way, just that it is a major health benifit to cycle.

It's usually terribly overweight people who ask these stupid questions, and it stops them in their tracks.
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Old 01-30-06, 02:08 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by jcwitte
I bet someone asks me if I got a DUI or something. Well, time to get ready.
i tell this to people completely deadpan...i've gotten some fantastic looks from some people and others give me looks like 'been there'...it's a great social guage...trailerpark or tract home
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Old 01-30-06, 11:46 AM   #5
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On the rare occasion that I get guff from people I tell them that I would be terribly fat if I didn't cycle. I don't say this in a snarky or nasty way, just that it is a major health benifit to cycle.
That's a good line.

Here's my version of excuse: I think I can honestly say, I personally would lose weight (and have less appetite) if I didn't ride, and I'm close to being underweight as it is.
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Old 01-30-06, 02:05 PM   #6
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Turns out I didn't get many odd looks for arriving via bike. There were a couple of greenies there. One of them was thoroughly impressed when she learned that not only was I one of the only people there who recycle, but that I actually use my bike (car-free - duh) to drop my recycling off.

I think most people who have a car can "understand" someone's desire to be car free, especially when their car is in the shop etc. But, there is a difference between understanding why someone would desire to be car-free and actually embracing that desire for yourself.

I think it is just in someone's personality. If someone is a real extroverted high-energy person who feeds off of the company of others, then there is probably no way that person would ever desire to be car-free. Soemone who is more introverted or someone who enjoys solitude rather than fears it is more likely to be able to pull off the car-free or simplified lifestyle.

I think this idea could go along with that poll that was posted a while back "I am car-free and.... single, employed, married, married w/kids etc.". I think the two topics are separate... marital status and car-free living. The correlation is not between living car-free and marital status or lack of kids, rather, there are two separate correlations.... marital status/lack of kids and one's personality and then desire to live car-free and one's personality.

In other words, I believe that the limiting factor for one's ability to live car-free is not the number of kids one has, but the internal desire to do so that is able to take hold due to the underlying personality. Sure there are introverted people who are married, but I would bet that these are the married couples who are doing the car-free thing.

It's long and full of holes probably, but maybe a good discussion starter.
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Old 01-30-06, 03:38 PM   #7
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I think it is just in someone's personality. If someone is a real extroverted high-energy person who feeds off of the company of others, then there is probably no way that person would ever desire to be car-free. Soemone who is more introverted or someone who enjoys solitude rather than fears it is more likely to be able to pull off the car-free or simplified lifestyle.
I disagree. I think cars are much more isolating than bikes. I see no reason why there would be a correlation.
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Old 01-30-06, 03:59 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by jcwitte
...I think it is just in someone's personality. If someone is a real extroverted high-energy person who feeds off of the company of others, then there is probably no way that person would ever desire to be car-free. Soemone who is more introverted or someone who enjoys solitude rather than fears it is more likely to be able to pull off the car-free or simplified lifestyle...
I think you're onto something. I'm an INTP myself. Any carfree ESTJ's here?
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Old 01-30-06, 04:24 PM   #9
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I disagree. I think cars are much more isolating than bikes. I see no reason why there would be a correlation.
No way. In this car culture, you are much more isolated if you ride a bike. And that really is my point. You equate isolation with something bad (are you an extrovert?). I see isolation as something that can be a great thing. My ability to gain strength from the "isolation" that a bike provides is why I do not feel burdened by my lack of a car. It is why I gave my car to my sister and it is why I refuse to buy another one even though I have plenty of finances to do so. I also believe it to be one of the main reasons I do not feel a deep desire for a spouse and children. I am an INFJ and I actually get my "battery" recharged from time spent alone and I believe that that is the single most important quality that enables me to live car-free.
When you use a bike for all your commuting, you are going to be alone for many long rides. In a car, you can have passengers. When driving alone you will usually arrive quicker so as to minimize your time spent by yourself or many will actually just talk on the cell phone, something you cannot do as easily when on a bike. A more extroverted person would much rather have someone to talk to sitting next to them in the passenger seat for their commute. At that party the other night, one of the girls I was talking to about my planned tour could not believe that I would want to do something like that "by myself". She said she would go nuts without someone to talk to.
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Old 01-30-06, 05:05 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by jcwitte
No way. In this car culture, you are much more isolated if you ride a bike. And that really is my point. You equate isolation with something bad (are you an extrovert?). I see isolation as something that can be a great thing. My ability to gain strength from the "isolation" that a bike provides is why I do not feel burdened by my lack of a car. It is why I gave my car to my sister and it is why I refuse to buy another one even though I have plenty of finances to do so. I also believe it to be one of the main reasons I do not feel a deep desire for a spouse and children. I am an INFJ and I actually get my "battery" recharged from time spent alone and I believe that that is the single most important quality that enables me to live car-free.
When you use a bike for all your commuting, you are going to be alone for many long rides. In a car, you can have passengers. When driving alone you will usually arrive quicker so as to minimize your time spent by yourself or many will actually just talk on the cell phone, something you cannot do as easily when on a bike. A more extroverted person would much rather have someone to talk to sitting next to them in the passenger seat for their commute. At that party the other night, one of the girls I was talking to about my planned tour could not believe that I would want to do something like that "by myself". She said she would go nuts without someone to talk to.
You can also ride bikes with others. I prefer to. I am also car free. It is true that a car can contain multiple passengers who are not isolated from each other, but I think they are more isolated from the outside environment. On a group ride, you can ride with dozens of others which isn't possible in a car. Maybe a bus. Being car free might be isolating in terms of avoiding groupthink-type herd mentality fostered by the auto culture. Personally, I don't find being car free to necessarily be personally isolating though, althoug if you want it to be, I suppose it can be. I don't really consider myself introverted, but I have done plenty of long solo rides. I just would have rather done them with others. Most cars on the road don't have any passengers either.
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Old 01-30-06, 09:33 PM   #11
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Most cars on the road don't have any passengers either.
Nor do they always get to their destination any quicker. This morning's gridlock on Bundall Road was a prime example of that. It was six hours ago, but for all I know, they might still be sitting there in their single occupant vehicles.
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Old 01-30-06, 09:44 PM   #12
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Yes, you can go on group rides, but on your commute, you are generally alone. Even if your commute is only 5 miles, as mine is, that's 40-60 minutes alone every day. Not that a car is necessarily better in many peoples' cases. But as someone pointed out, people can and do talk on cell phones in cars. And probably a greater percentage also listen to music or radio than do cyclists.
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Old 01-30-06, 10:06 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by jcwitte
It's long and full of holes probably, but maybe a good discussion starter.
Okay, I'll bite. And I'll start by predicting that you don't have kids.

Not that it's impossible to be car-free with kids. But as a father of two boys, 5 and 7, I'm pretty certain that it's harder, all other factors being equal. In my situation - small urban center in a largely rural state, minimal public transportation either within the urban area or to other small towns - both my wife and I would need to be able to bike with both our kids, and whatever stuff they needed, because they are too young to safely cycle alone, and even too young to ride their own bikes with us very far because of their lesser strength and stamina. Also, in our area, there would be plenty of places outside our immediate vicinity that would just be impossible to go to. Could it be done? Maybe. But it requires a level of committment much greater than if we didn't have kids, such as maybe an XtraCycle for both of us. This is especially true with babies - do you know all the stuff a parent of an infant has to schlepp around? And when they get to be in school, you have to be available to come and get them if they get sick, in which case they probably don't want to wait an hour for you to cycle from wherever you are, then ride another half hour home with you, in the rain (for example). What if they're running a fever? What if they throw up?

Now for someone in a major metropolitan area, with train and bus lines all over the place, completely different story.

Overall, I think your argument is just too simplistic. You say "it is just in someone's personality", or "the limiting factor is ..." (emphasis mine). I think personality may have a lot to do with it, certainly desire does, but there are a lot of factors in play, and the relative effect of each will differ between people. I don't think I can agree that there is no correlation. All other things being equal, I have to think that those who have kids need a stronger desire to be car-free to actually achieve it than those who don't.
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Old 01-30-06, 10:36 PM   #14
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I do not have kids. I do have 10 nephews and nieces though and I am every bit aware of how difficult it would be to be a car-free father. In fact, I would say that if I did have any kids, I am fairly sure that I would own a car. My idea about this personaitly thing though is not to degrade people who have kids or anything. I am simply saying that if I were an extrovert, I believe that the car-free lifestyle would not be as appealing to me. I think my introversion is one of the traits that has allowed me to be car-free AND it also happens to be one of the traits, I believe, that has allowed me to not mind being spouse and kid free as well.
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Old 02-01-06, 11:48 AM   #15
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I think you (jcwitte) have a good point, but it can be more accurately stated (to borrow from JohnBrooking): All other things being equal, an introverted person is more likely to be (or desire to be) car-free.

A bicycle is more likely to start a conversation with a stranger, but the greater ability to cover distances quickly, and to carry other people with you while doing so, makes a car a better facilitator of a highly social life. That needs some qualification, too. Both the conversation-starter and social-facilitator effects are more true in sprawling US cities, designed for cars, in which cycling for transportation is unusual.

I would imagine in a dense urban area with lots of cyclists, someone on a bike isn't enough of a novelty to start a conversation, and I'd also imagine that having an active social life would be just as easy (possibly easier) with a bicycle.

Maybe it just depends what's "normal" (no pun intended) where you live? I would imagine introverts would be more likely to choose the "road less taken." Mainly because I am one and I often choose that road.
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Old 02-01-06, 11:57 AM   #16
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..........

It probably won't be noticed that I came on a bike, but if it is, I bet someone asks me if I got a DUI or something. Well, time to get ready.
I always tell people I wanted a Harley but my wife would only let me have a bicycle.

There was a little plaque I saw in a sheriff's office once that said " the surest way to get back on your feet is to get caught driving drunk"
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