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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 02-01-06, 11:45 PM   #1
donrhummy
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Just wondering on intentions behind car-free...

Just a hypothetical...imagine that there's a car which can run on fuel which:
1. Has no detrimental emmissions
2. Is VERY efficient, can run for long periods of time
3. Creating the fuel for the car adds no detrimental emmissions
4. Creating the car creates no more detrimental emmissions than creating a bike

Would you still be an advocate of car-free? Why?
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Old 02-02-06, 12:20 AM   #2
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Hypothetically, yes, I would still be car-free. Environmentalism, as in, zero emissions, is only a small reason for not owning a car.

It would still contribute to urban congestion, promote the general hostility to the fellow man that many seem to posses while driving, , be a waist of money, wouldn't provide exercise, and still wouldn't promote "sustainable" communities. Sorry, I don't buy your argument.
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Old 02-02-06, 12:23 AM   #3
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It mike make me more likely to use one, but I'd still use the bike for 99% of my needs. There's just something about it...
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Old 02-02-06, 12:26 AM   #4
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However, if you could create such a vehicle, I believe it would solve several problems for the our society. The shipping industry, public transportation, emergency vehicles, airplanes, and other systems of infrastructure could certainly use your hypothetical engine...right??
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Old 02-02-06, 12:55 AM   #5
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If such a car existed, I would still be turned off by running costs (insurance, energy, registration, etc), but I would consider getting it. But even if I did, I would still commute mostly on bike...it's just too much fun!
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Old 02-02-06, 12:57 AM   #6
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ummm they already invented a vehicle like that though...they call it a bike...i think, dont hold me to that, but im pretty sure they are gonna be on the market in 2007. so a solution is near..lol

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Old 02-02-06, 02:53 AM   #7
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What would it cost to run? Would I still be able to get to work in 15 minutes while everyone else takes 30-45 minutes? How efficient is it in terms of lane-splitting the gridlock?
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Old 02-02-06, 06:45 AM   #8
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I might be more likely to use a car now and then but i wouldnt be more likely to own a car. Environmental reasons are just one part of my decision. I just plain like riding a bike. A car would still cost a chunk of change, and I don't need one. Then there are all of the community issues, congestion, road rage, etc.
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Old 02-02-06, 07:33 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donrhummy
Just a hypothetical...imagine that there's a car which can run on fuel which:
1. Has no detrimental emmissions
2. Is VERY efficient, can run for long periods of time
3. Creating the fuel for the car adds no detrimental emmissions
4. Creating the car creates no more detrimental emmissions than creating a bike

Would you still be an advocate of car-free? Why?
I'm not car free .... not even close ..... BUT

Seems to me that the fact that not having a car will save you 5 to 10 grand a year, PLUS the health benefits and lower costs associated with that should be enough incentive to give a car free life style some serious consideration.

The environmental considerations are really just icing on the cake..... at a personal level

I sometimes look back (quite a few years now) and curse myself for ever buying that first car. 'Course back then, nobody really thought about it all that much, it's just what you did ...... But then again, cars were $2500 bucks and gas was 2 bits a gallon and nobody had even considered running out of it yet.
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Old 02-02-06, 11:00 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donrhummy
Just a hypothetical...imagine that there's a car which can run on fuel which:
1. Has no detrimental emmissions
2. Is VERY efficient, can run for long periods of time
3. Creating the fuel for the car adds no detrimental emmissions
4. Creating the car creates no more detrimental emmissions than creating a bike

Would you still be an advocate of car-free? Why?
Yes.

First your example vehicle still uses fuel - energy - and that has to come from somewhere. Even if that fuel results in 'zero emissions' in either use or production, it would still have some environmental impact (e.g. growing crops for a bio-fuel, nuclear power plants for electricity) and that energy is not efficiently used in a private vehicle.

Secondly, what about the resources needed for this vehicle? Are we talking about mere pounds of metal and plastic, as in a bike, or tonnes or material, as in a car? Will this hypothetical vehicle of yours be as resource-efficient as a bike, in terms of how much "stuff" is reserved for the exclusive use of a person's private vehicle?

Thirdly, what is the footprint of this vehicle? Does it need 10' lanes to travel in, or can it comfortably travel in 3'? Does it need huge parking lots, or can a simple rack by the door hold a dozen of them? Will this vehicle of yours substantially reduce the amount of greenspace we pave over, and the cost of road maintenance, as compared to cars?

Finally, or perhaps in summary, will this vehicle of yours be as resource efficient in ALL WAYS as walking, cycling, and public transit?

Reducing emissions is an important priority, since that is the most direct harm cars cause humans. Even if you solved the emissions issue, however, the other detrimental aspects of a car still make them an irresponsible and non-sustainable mode of transportation in urban centres.
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Old 02-02-06, 08:10 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donrhummy
Just a hypothetical...imagine that there's a car which can run on fuel which:
1. Has no detrimental emmissions
2. Is VERY efficient, can run for long periods of time
3. Creating the fuel for the car adds no detrimental emmissions
4. Creating the car creates no more detrimental emmissions than creating a bike

Would you still be an advocate of car-free? Why?
I don't like that we build machines with engines to do the most basic things like getting to work, while we sit idly, and whine that we can't lose the fat. It's backwards. I get a kick out of using human powered transportation most of the time. I mean geezus, do we really need machines to transport us a few miles?

Also, if the potential of causing accidents and harming others would still be great, I wouldn't be very sympathetic to using it either.
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Old 02-02-06, 08:44 PM   #12
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I think I'd still be an angrier person while driving such a car. I like being less angry and less tense; I think I'll stick with the bike.
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Old 02-02-06, 09:10 PM   #13
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Ummm...isn't that called a bike?

1. Has no detrimental emmissions
2. Is VERY efficient, can run for long periods of time
3. Creating the fuel for the car adds no detrimental emmissions
4. Creating the car creates no more detrimental emmissions than creating a bike
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Old 02-02-06, 09:21 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donrhummy
Just a hypothetical...imagine that there's a car which can run on fuel which:
1. Has no detrimental emmissions
2. Is VERY efficient, can run for long periods of time
3. Creating the fuel for the car adds no detrimental emmissions
4. Creating the car creates no more detrimental emmissions than creating a bike

Would you still be an advocate of car-free? Why?
yes, because automobiles and the mentality behind them has created an unsustainable mess which will likely take longer to fix than it took to create

emissions alone are only a very very small part of the problem

our cities are dysfunctional due to the automobile
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Old 02-02-06, 10:29 PM   #15
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Thanks for all the response guys! Very interesting.

While I like, and agree with a lot of what you guys say, I would add one thing about car-free, it's not for everyone (physically). For example, a parapalegic cannot ride a bike, but can drive a car. Shipping things, including organic vegetables, into cold environments (such as Boston during winter) would not happen if everyone were car-free. And a lot of old people, even if they'd ridden a bike to work every day, would still eventually reach a place where a bike is no longer an option. (Not to mention the kids who live in a poor neighborhood, but to get a good schooling go to a school that's an hour's drive away. If you made them bike to school, they'd have no time to do homework, let alone anything else) Just some thoughts...
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Old 02-03-06, 08:48 AM   #16
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Quote:
Would you still be an advocate of car-free? Why?
Economic reasons. We put so many resources into making cars, keeping them working, giving them space to be in when we're not using them and when we are, etc.

Of course, maybe I'm really a car-lite advocate. I don't know.
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Old 02-03-06, 10:37 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donrhummy
Thanks for all the response guys! Very interesting.
You're welcome. Further responses...


Quote:
For example, a parapalegic cannot ride a bike, but can drive a car.
Public transit systems are, or should soon be, fully accessible. There are also special cabs and transit services for those with mobility impairments. You have a valid point, though, but that does not address the majority of people who claim to 'need' a car.


Quote:
Shipping things, including organic vegetables, into cold environments (such as Boston during winter) would not happen if everyone were car-free.
I disagree, shipping would still happen if every person was car-free. You are talking about commercial vehicles, not personal use 'cars'. If anything shipping would become cheaper, as there would be less traffic to deal with and higher volumes (since most larger things people pick up by car now would be delivered).


Quote:
And a lot of old people, even if they'd ridden a bike to work every day, would still eventually reach a place where a bike is no longer an option.
Public transit. Are your buses not wheelchair accessible? About 40% of ours are, with a commitment to only purchase accessible buses from now on. Most seniors I chat with seem much more responsible about transportation and locations that the average person anyway - they often pick a place to live so that everything they need daily is within a block. I guess you do get wiser with age!


Quote:
Not to mention the kids who live in a poor neighborhood, but to get a good schooling go to a school that's an hour's drive away. If you made them bike to school, they'd have no time to do homework, let alone anything else)
If you made them bike to school, we'd have fewer fat kids. Is having to drive kids to work common in the USA? What happened to the responsibility of school boards to bus kids to school? Public transit is again the option for older kids. (And why do parents move a 1/2 drive away from the nearest school?!?)

All of the points you gave - good ones too - should NOT be a problem for most people in urban centres, and if they are it is because of a failure of local governments to provide basic urban services.

EDIT: I just checked, and its 50% of our buses which are wheelchair accessible, with 50 bus routes reliably using accessible buses on most runs.

Last edited by patc; 02-03-06 at 10:52 AM.
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Old 02-03-06, 11:08 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by patc
EDIT: I just checked, and its 50% of our buses which are wheelchair accessible, with 50 bus routes reliably using accessible buses on most runs.
There's not a lot for Texans to brag about here in the carfree forum, but in Austin 100% of the metro buses are handicapped accessible. Is there some reason not to have that everywhere?
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Old 02-03-06, 11:19 AM   #19
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I used to be car free. It was all about the money.
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Old 02-03-06, 11:39 AM   #20
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Donrhummy
Interesting topic but "a parapalegic cannot ride a bike"Huh?.. PatC.."You have a valid point" What? There are paraplegic hand cyclist that commute to work everyday!
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Old 02-03-06, 11:46 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Platy
There's not a lot for Texans to brag about here in the carfree forum, but in Austin 100% of the metro buses are handicapped accessible. Is there some reason not to have that everywhere?
Reason? No. Excuses? Yes.

Ottawa is playing catch-up here. Long ago, it was decided that all OC Transpo (our transit company) facilities would be fully accessible, so every bus station has ramps, elevators, etc. Unfortunately budget cuts and other issues never carried that forward to the actual buses. By the late 1990's our fleet was so old we sometimes had to borrow buses from other cities, and if a bus broke down during peak hour there was usually no replacement available. After city council finally woke up to the problem, they decided to replace the whole fleet (to be fair, the forced amalgamation of 5 large cities and a dozen small townships messed up priorities for a while!).

The short-term plan was to buy both "normal" and accessible buses, but to plan a shorter service life for the non-accessible one. The long-term goal is to have all vehicles fully accessible. I'm not sure what the time-line is for that.

Excuses aside, I agree with you that all public transit should be fully accessible, and any retro-fitting should be done ASAP.
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Old 02-03-06, 12:34 PM   #22
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Your argument is a straw man. We might as well also consider a flying carpet as opposed to a bike.
Such a car cannot be built. You must consider heat to be an emission. Any engine is going to be less efficient than a bicycle.

But why not a perfect car? A perfect car would still be bigger than a bicyle, causing more congestion on the roads and demanding more resources to make the roads.

I also pedal because it combines the need for exercise, transportation, and allows me to experience nature first hand while I pedal. The older I get the more important exercise becomes and the less I care about the environmental benefits of cycling.
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Old 02-03-06, 03:15 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donrhummy
Just a hypothetical...imagine that there's a car which can run on fuel which:
1. Has no detrimental emmissions
2. Is VERY efficient, can run for long periods of time
3. Creating the fuel for the car adds no detrimental emmissions
4. Creating the car creates no more detrimental emmissions than creating a bike

Would you still be an advocate of car-free? Why?
Yes. And I would probably still ride bikes even if they were as polluting as cars.

I blogged some reasons a while back: http://todd.cleverchimp.com/blog/?p=15. That entry has this bit from Ivan Illich in it, which speaks directly to your hypothesis:

"Cars create distance. Speedy vehicles of all kinds render space scarce. They drive wedges of highways into populated areas, and then extort tolls on the bridge over the remoteness between people that was manufactured for their sake. This monopoly over land turns space into car fodder. It destroys the environment for feet and bicycles. Even if planes and buses could run as nonpolluting, nondepleting public services, their inhuman velocities would degrade manís innate mobility and force him to spend more time for the sake of travel."

Last edited by tfahrner; 02-03-06 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 02-03-06, 04:09 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donrhummy
While I like, and agree with a lot of what you guys say, I would add one thing about car-free, it's not for everyone (physically). For example, a parapalegic cannot ride a bike, but can drive a car. Shipping things, including organic vegetables, into cold environments (such as Boston during winter) would not happen if everyone were car-free. And a lot of old people, even if they'd ridden a bike to work every day, would still eventually reach a place where a bike is no longer an option. (Not to mention the kids who live in a poor neighborhood, but to get a good schooling go to a school that's an hour's drive away. If you made them bike to school, they'd have no time to do homework, let alone anything else) Just some thoughts...
Your examples seem to imply that car-free bicyclistas advocate the sudden and total elimination of cars, with all infrastructure and other societal arrangements remaining essentially the same. That would indeed be catastrophic, just as cutting out certain tumors would kill the patient. I do not believe that the patient is inoperable, but that the operation will take several decades of painful transition to human-scale work/life patterns after a century of automotive madness.

I don't believe that advocacy will drive the transition (hydrocarbon extraction and processing costs will), but advocacy can point the way toward better arrangements and celebrate their progress. I believe that I am raising my children to do better in an increasingly oil-scarce world by exemplifying a low-energy lifestyle that's fun, healthy, and rich.
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Old 02-03-06, 07:20 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Artkansas
But why not a perfect car?
Now we're talking. Something to consider in the design of cars -- most people live in large cities -- and the most common trips people take are single occupant drives from the suburbs to their office in the city to go to work. Am I the only one who thinks that there is a potential niche market for a different design of a car here? Where are the single-seater cars? It seems to me that your urban office worker doesn't need a tonne of steel to transport themselves and their sorry arse into the office each day. The fuel savings over the course of a year by using a smaller car would be immense. Why does nobody ever think of it?

Continuing on that line -- one thing I note on my ride to work everyday, passing all those gridlocked cars, is that all of them are sitting their with their engines running. Am I the only one who considers this a huge waste? Why don't car engines stop when the car itself stops? It seems to me that if you're going to sit in gridlock for an hour, having the engine running the whole time just wastes more fuel, which in turn costs the driver money and pollutes the air for the rest of us. Considering all the newspaper space devoted to supposedly "innovative" car designs, one wonders why simple things like this are so often overlooked.
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