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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 03-13-06, 06:10 PM   #1
LandLuger
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What would it take to make a real impact in reducing car usage?

There have been a number of recent threads both here and elsewhere that have raised this question in my mind. There are some very bright individuals who frequent this forum, and I would like to read some of your insight. Personally, at least here in the States, I don't think the general public would change their driving habits for any reason--save some horrible catastrophe which knocked us back to an early 1900's tech level--would drive the average Joe to give up their four wheeled vehicle for anything else be it a bike or whatever. Please take this in the good spirit that it is intended. What are some practical strategies that would make a measureable impact? I personally don't own a vehicle and put somewhere between five thousand and ten thousand miles on my bikes, and the singular bummer of riding a bike is putting up with the hordes of motorists burning up the roads and threatening my life and limb almost daily with their careless driving.

I apologize if this has been beat to death, but a casual search of the posts turned up little specific to what I am asking.
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Old 03-13-06, 06:22 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LandLuger
There have been a number of recent threads both here and elsewhere that have raised this question in my mind. There are some very bright individuals who frequent this forum, and I would like to read some of your insight.
Personal Teleportation.
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Old 03-13-06, 06:23 PM   #3
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I don't know if this could be done, but the reason people use cars to much is that people are way to lazy, I see people get in their car to drive 2 blocks. So the first thing is not to get people on the bikes, but get people to be less lazy. When people are not lazy then you can get them on the bikes.

The US is not the fattest nation on earth for no reason.
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Old 03-13-06, 07:29 PM   #4
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Fewer parking spaces and more congestion. People will take what ever transportation is easiest. Personally, I ride in part because I am too lazy to drive.

Paul

Last edited by PaulH; 03-13-06 at 07:34 PM.
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Old 03-13-06, 07:32 PM   #5
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Fewer parking spaces. People will take what ever transportation is easiest. Personally, I ride in part because I am too lazy to drive.

Paul
Personally I'm too BORED to drive. Wish there was a way to share my perspective on transportation to people; it defies words--at least my humble ability.
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Old 03-13-06, 07:32 PM   #6
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Personal Teleportation.
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Old 03-13-06, 07:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mpop
I don't know if this could be done, but the reason people use cars to much is that people are way to lazy, I see people get in their car to drive 2 blocks. So the first thing is not to get people on the bikes, but get people to be less lazy. When people are not lazy then you can get them on the bikes.

The US is not the fattest nation on earth for no reason.

Yeah, nearly impossible to change that laziness factor... however... what if gas cost too much, what if it were just too difficult to drive 2 blocks due to really narrow crowded streets. What if there were large "no car zones" in cities to encourage clean air areas...

All of these might be enough to displace that laziness factor.

Of course if you are driving 2 blocks to pick up 6 sheets of plywood... well that is another issue. Yeah... it could be done on a bike, just like moving a piano... if you have the right bikes.
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Old 03-13-06, 07:41 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by genec
Yeah, nearly impossible to change that laziness factor... however... what if gas cost too much,
Alternatives such as bio fuels and hydrogen would become viable at some point, and Joe Public would be back in his SUV.

Quote:
Originally Posted by genec
what if it were just too difficult to drive 2 blocks due to really narrow crowded streets. What if there were large "no car zones" in cities to encourage clean air areas...
This would probably never happen in a free Republic; the taxpayers would demand more roads, parking spaces, free state provided respirators, etc.

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Originally Posted by genec
All of these might be enough to displace that laziness factor.

Of course if you are driving 2 blocks to pick up 6 sheets of plywood... well that is another issue. Yeah... it could be done on a bike, just like moving a piano... if you have the right bikes.
Not necessarily vehicle free just ideas that would have a strong impact on the mindset of Joe Public.
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Old 03-13-06, 08:27 PM   #9
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The President is doing all he can to get the oil producing countries of the world to stop selling the US oil. Once that happens, gas will go above 5 bucks per gallon. Gas will have to stay at that price for a few years for people to start moving closer to work and school, and to stop driving to the store for one thing.

If you dont want to sit around and wait for that plan to come into effect, then consider this--

Increase the gas tax. This would help us still be able to pay for roads once less fuel is purchased becuase of more people using hybrids. Right now no state fuel tax is higher than 37 cents a gallon.

Give tax breaks and other incentives to corporations that increase commuting, and alternative transportation use. I dont think that the President would like this, because there would be less demand for gas, the price of gas would drop and so more people would drive. I't would be nice to give everyone who bikes to work a day off, every 20 days of bike commuting. Some small company could make tamper proof gps odometers to verify that you where in fact riding the bike to work. If you where busted getting dropped of by the wife, and riding one block on the bike, you would be guilty of a crime against the Treasury and the IRS could come and take your car.

I don't know why so many Americans like spending a 2 - 4 week vacation sitting in their cars, going to and from work. Seems like we should get paid for that. But instead, what if people had to telecommute? I'd rather see Verizon and Comcast get the money, then waste a vacation's worth of time sitting in traffic jams.

What if the FCC started levying steap fines against advertisers for making fun of bikes? Taco Bell and the Yellow pages would be in trouble.

What if city officials closed 10% of your city's road space to cars, put up Jersey beariers, and opened them to cyclists? Imagine riding to work with out looking over your shoulder, worrying about some 17 year old or an octagenerian clipping you as they talk on a cell phone?

What if schools started contests that gave ice cream to the kid who wrote the best essay about why they liked bicycles. What if they replaced the many steering-wheeled based palyground equipent with bike-merry-go-rounds?

What if police where required to block traffic behind a cyclist when they came behind one?

What if the laws were changed so that the driver of any car that came in contact with a cyclist had to prove, why the cyclist was at fault in order to get off?

How about a 100% import tarriff on any luxury or sports car? The proceeds could be used for bike awareness PSAs.

What if we let the Japanese mob in to run Kerin tracks in the US? The winners would be idolized by the kids, who would start cycling to emulate their heros.

What if more bike manufacturers and other interests, (like walmart), started kicking in for advertising and PSAs?

If every bike commuter got 2 more to commute by bike, every year-- In 6 years everyone would be commuting by bike.

Last edited by slagjumper; 03-13-06 at 08:35 PM.
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Old 03-13-06, 09:24 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by slagjumper
What if the FCC started levying steap fines against advertisers for making fun of bikes? Taco Bell and the Yellow pages would be in trouble.
If you think popular culture/fiction is hard on bicyclists in general then consider how hard Hollywood is on recumbent cyclists like myself. What type of characters do you see riding recumbents in the movies and television? It is really too bad because the extreme comfort of the recumbent would bring hordes of newbie riders into the fold if they would be willing to give 'em a try.
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Old 03-13-06, 11:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LandLuger
There are some very bright individuals who frequent this forum, and I would like to read some of your insight.
Well, if it's okay, I'll speak up too. I think the only thing that will happen in the near future (barring some major catastrophe) that will get at least some people to drive less is a significant increase in gasoline prices. I'm not sure that this will create a "real" impact or not - I think prices would have to get pretty high to get even a large minority to drastically reduce or even completely cut out their driving. And as you mentioned, alternative fuels will likely undermine this.



Quote:
Originally Posted by slagjumper
The President is doing all he can to get the oil producing countries of the world to stop selling the US oil. Once that happens, gas will go above 5 bucks per gallon.
Wow, I never thought of it that way. Once we tick off all the oil-producing countries, GW and his Texas buddies will be supplying America with all its oil - at prices even higher than they are now. Hmmm...
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Old 03-14-06, 12:27 AM   #12
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Think about how most Americans live. In a suburban sprawl metro area where jobs and houses are spread out all over the place, cars are almost a neccesity. Especially for family types. I don't like it - but it is a reality.

What will it take for the average suburban American to get out of their car? That's easy - when they can't afford to drive. This will happen (and hybrid cars, hydrogen, biodiesel, wind power, etc will not be able to prevent it) soon enough as oil gets too expensive. Of course, the economy will crash and they won't have jobs to go to nor money to spend so they won't have any reason to leave the house anyway, at least until the house is repossessed and they join the hordes of people roaming the countryside trying to figure out how to survive.

But look on the bright side - obesity will be a thing of the past.
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Old 03-14-06, 01:39 AM   #13
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Thor's got it.

It's all about the sprawl, that damn suburban sprawl. Make that expensive compared to living in the city centre, and you might see a dent in car usage. That, coupled with Smarth Urban Growth(mixed-use zoning, better public transit) and car usage should drop.

The main reason people drivbe in cars is not laziness, though it is a factor. It is the convenience of arriving faster at your destination comfortably, and economically.

So in summary, this is what needs to happen:

1. Higher upkeep for a car(gas, parking, etc.).
2. Quality of a commute(Higher commuting times and unbereable traffic congestion).
3. More people choosing urban living(New York City is a very good example, more people do not own cars than those who do).

This would probably never happen in a free Republic; the taxpayers would demand more roads, parking spaces, free state provided respirators, etc.


But in a dense city, you can only build so much roads....
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Old 03-14-06, 02:09 AM   #14
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we've basically peaked in oil extraction and its entirely likely we will see a decline sometime in the next decade. So I think the car usage is going to make an impact on itself. I also agree that there is no way we are going to be able to replace all the cars with biodiesel. hydrogen is just a sad joke. The thing that you need to do is think about how you can help create a more viable public transport and a local based economy. Think about where you get your food, your electricity and just about every thing else you own.
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Old 03-14-06, 04:55 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LandLuger
There are some very bright individuals who frequent this forum, and I would like to read some of your insight.
Really? Me too. Let me know when one of them responds with credible ideas on this subject, and not more far-out, groovy, spacey, and/or chemically induced wishful thinking/speculation.

A related topic would be explaining the purpose of proselytization for getting others to involuntarily and drastically alter their lifestyle to eliminate their private car usage/ownership, in order to please those who do voluntarily choose to live a car free life-style.

Last edited by I-Like-To-Bike; 03-14-06 at 05:07 AM.
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Old 03-14-06, 06:00 AM   #16
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Sprawl developement has factored cars into the design. You can't replace them with anything else even if you wanted to.
A is too far from B for anyone to consider cycling and the origins of journies (everyones A) are too spread out for effective public transport.
The most effective way of reducing car use is the Katrina option.
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Old 03-14-06, 06:32 AM   #17
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I see alot of talk about high gas prices, I will admit even though I don't buy gas, high gas prices do scare me. Why? you might ask, because I still need to eat, and I doubt that the trucking companies will be nice and eat that cost, more likely they will pass it on, and tack on a little more to make a extra profit (I am not bad mouthing them, this is how things work) well the chain will continue like this warehouses, and the store will also pass on the cost, and if the costing is going up a bit, well an 10% more in their pocket will not hurt them.

I will admit a part of me would like to see the SOB's that try to run me off the road when I am on my bike, having to pay $100 a gal, but still my logic kicks in and I do realize, that if they are paying that $100 a gal, how much more would I have to pay for my food, and other stuff.
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Old 03-14-06, 08:34 AM   #18
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Really? Me too. Let me know when one of them responds with credible ideas on this subject, and not more far-out, groovy, spacey, and/or chemically induced wishful thinking/speculation.
Sure, you too. You've hit it on the head; I looking for innovative strategies, ones that would survive the odyssey through our elected government, to strike at the heart of this "addiction to oil." While its great that this thread is gaining some traction I'm really looking for out of the box thinking on this subject.
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Old 03-14-06, 08:46 AM   #19
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Sprawl developement has factored cars into the design. You can't replace them with anything else even if you wanted to.
A is too far from B for anyone to consider cycling and the origins of journies (everyones A) are too spread out for effective public transport.
The most effective way of reducing car use is the Katrina option.
Its hard for me to sympathize with the single individuals--those w/o children--because I'm sort of a freak. I live in a rural area that is about as far from anywhere as possible; I like it that way, and I don't mind the fifteen mile ride into town either. People think I'm crazy when I ride thirty miles to the nearest city to get something or other. On a recumbent I can make serious time; could do even faster in a velomobile if the investment wasn't so darn high. I worked with a fellow who did the sixty mile round trip commute most days of the week. But we're freaks, right?
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Old 03-14-06, 08:47 AM   #20
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Maybe we can try to get them to think about how much it costs to own a car, a cheap car, with gas, insurance, maintenance, etc. Can run you about $9K a year, I rather spend that $9K on other things.
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Old 03-14-06, 09:20 AM   #21
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Hmmm. . .education. Many have touched on this. Might as well do a little positive brainwashing on our kids. I mean it seems like the schools are full of radical teachers these days; why not.
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Old 03-14-06, 09:24 AM   #22
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Since the end of WWII Big Oil, Big car makers & Big government have
all worked to remove rail,bus, trolly or any means of mass transit nationwide.

Look at the rest of the world. Mass transit and extremely hi cost of
car ownership go hand in hand. The rest of the world is smart enough
to know where to put public transportation dollars and it ain't in super
highways! It's in trains. It's in tiny electric / gas city cars. It's in what
serves the most for the least cost.

Urban sprawl is the result of cars not the other way 'round. I can remember
a time in the 50's & early 60's when you could easily travel by train with good
bus service in cities.

Sadly, as long as the the three "Big's" run the show we will all be stuck driving
everywhere.
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Old 03-14-06, 10:09 AM   #23
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On a recumbent I can make serious time; could do even faster in a velomobile if the investment wasn't so darn high.
Have you tried to do homemade fairings? I hear they help some with aerodynamics.
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Old 03-14-06, 10:19 AM   #24
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I think there are four things, each already mentioned, that will significantly reduce car use:
  1. A hefty increase in the price of gas.
  2. An increase in the prices of automobiles themselves.
  3. Development of livable or sustainable communities.
  4. Practical and efficient alternative transportation.

I think #1 is inevitable, given the dwindling of the resource. Higher taxes should be implemented to speed this along, helping us conserve the petroleum that's left, and to help pay for alternatives.

#2 will probably not occur, as higher productivity of auto workers and better efficiency in auto plants is actually making cars cheaper. A hefty tax on gas guzzlers would help. Say, $2,000 for each mile per gallon under 50 mpg. In other words, a vehicle that gets 20 mpg would be slapped with a $60,000 tax.

#3 is starting to happen, at least on paper, largely because it's what many aging baby boomers want. Sustainable communities will pick up more momentum if auto transportation become much more expensive.

#4 requires political will and so far there isn't much demand for good public transport. Of course most of us on this forum have an alternative that works well for us--the bicycle--but we recognize that bikes are not the answer for everybody.
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Old 03-14-06, 10:48 AM   #25
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going along with Roody's #3 (sustainable city)

A radical paradigm shift in all future municipal development such that there is a reversion to a real city model, i.e. one in which there is no need to live in the burbs and take the suv to costco for a truckload of provisions. Independence from personal motor car transportation, walking and biking has and will always be viable in this type of model. This works in Europe for the most part due to higher density population, adequate public transport, and the lack of wally worlds, albeit the super store is making its way there too. Ultimately the 'hassles' of personal motor car ownership need to exceed the benefits (perceived or real). If you live in NyC, there isn't much impetus for a two adult family to own two cars (arguably even one). Everything thing you need (except a campground LOL) is within a short walk, cab ride, train, subway. This includes health care, schooling, many types of recreation/entertainment, food sources, etc.

Perhaps ways to promote this is gov sponsorship of redev vs suburban dev. (Make the federal contributions for infrastructure exponentially higher for city redev and reduce funds for suburb/rural dev.)

Increase funding for greenspace/undev lands with nodal connectivity between centers to facility locomotion via train/bus.

Increase toll roads and taxes associated with the transport industry to represent the true cost of movement. (Abated rates for trucking, etc. so as to not penalize necessary trade and damage the economy or ability to obtain necessities.)

(Gov plans in place such that real estate values on the periphery aren't negatively impacted (lofty goal here which is probably unrealistic))

A way for people to realize they don't need 'more'. This applies to a highly consumer oriented society where people 'require' more space just to store their 'stuff'.
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