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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 08-31-06, 12:16 PM   #1
oilfreeandhappy
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Does Car-Free require GOOD local Mass Transit

I emphasize the word "Good" here. We have a bus system in my town,
but in this small town, I have no problem riding the bicycle to all
the destinations of the bus.

But if I have to get to one of the neighboring towns, 20-30 miles
away, I have to carpool. There just isn't enough time to arrive at
some of the events after work by bicycle, and there is NO transit.

I was hoping to get rid of my wife's car, but my father-in-law is
moving in with us. He's in his upper 70s, and will probably need to
be shuffled around some. We'll see.

My place of employment is 8 miles through some rural roads, where
there is no bus service. I bicycle it year-round, but if the roads
are real treacherous due to snow and ice, I have no choice but to
have my wife drop me off.

A totally car-free family continues to elude me. Unless the Transit
improves in the area, I think that one stinkin' car will continue to
be in our garage.
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Old 08-31-06, 02:44 PM   #2
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I don't think so, but it may require a two person all season velomobile with insulated electric assist. I think the average auto speed in the states is like 30mph, which is doable, np, no sweat in a velo w/ electric.
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Old 08-31-06, 10:04 PM   #3
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Yes..
I am in the same boat sort of..there is a rural public tranist. but you must reserve about two days in advance. door to door servie though.

I work currently 8 miles away each way, part of it by trail..

the nearest regular bus service is about 13 miles one way.

winters here can be cold..10 degrees as highs sometimes.
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Old 08-31-06, 10:24 PM   #4
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Does Ft Collins have Flexcar or some other car-sharing service?
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Old 08-31-06, 10:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oilfreeandhappy
I emphasize the word "Good" here. We have a bus system in my town,
but in this small town, I have no problem riding the bicycle to all
the destinations of the bus.

But if I have to get to one of the neighboring towns, 20-30 miles
away, I have to carpool. There just isn't enough time to arrive at
some of the events after work by bicycle, and there is NO transit.

I was hoping to get rid of my wife's car, but my father-in-law is
moving in with us. He's in his upper 70s, and will probably need to
be shuffled around some. We'll see.

My place of employment is 8 miles through some rural roads, where
there is no bus service. I bicycle it year-round, but if the roads
are real treacherous due to snow and ice, I have no choice but to
have my wife drop me off.

A totally car-free family continues to elude me. Unless the Transit
improves in the area, I think that one stinkin' car will continue to
be in our garage.
At present, cars and fuel are cheap and roads are in good condition. So owning a car is your obvious solution.

Your handle, oilfreeandhappy, suggests that you may be concerned about the long term sustainability of mobility by private motor vehicle. If private cars are really not sustainable, the long term outlook for exurban and rural living is bleak.
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Old 09-01-06, 12:49 AM   #6
oilfreeandhappy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bragi
Does Ft Collins have Flexcar or some other car-sharing service?
No Flexcar. But somehow, I'm hoping that our 1 current car (1998) will be our last.
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Old 09-01-06, 09:20 AM   #7
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During a period of unemployment about 10 years ago I made my last paycheque last about four months. One of my strategies was to just walk. I didn't take the subway or bus, and ranged around my house in a 5-6 km radius or so. It was no particular hardship. I didn't even have a bike. If you live in the right city transportation is no more than a good pair of shoes.

Of course, having a good public transit system is very helpful, and when I did get a job, I took the streetcar. I could have cycled there, but I wasn't riding at the time.
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Old 09-02-06, 08:41 AM   #8
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You make a good case that it can't work for you. Its based on distance you have to travel, and the mobility of familly members.

taxis solve the mobility issues. Tandems could also partially help. Rural intercity bus trips tend not to be defined as local mass transit. As long as the schedules are reliable, it may not be essential to have frequent service. Folding bike would supplement distance bus rides well.

Urban living where everything of interest is 2-10k away can make the transit system fairly irrelevant.
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Old 09-02-06, 01:51 PM   #9
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"Good" Mass transit largely depends on land use. Your best bet is to seriously consider moving to an area where everything is on a walkable scale. It doesnt necesarilly mean New York, Chicago or other bigger cities(in fact, some of them are downright ped or bike hostile, i.e. New York is notorious for bike hostility[but really good mass transit] and LA is ped hostile[mass transit here is nothing compared to other worldclass cities but they are trying]). You can move to a small town and still be walkable. Bigger ones, especially the older neighborhoods that used to be considered its suburbs in the inner core, just outside of downtown are also very pleasant(away from the bustle of downtown, and not quite suburban[in the modern sense with its big box retailers, no mixed used] and too far away). (another bonus is the current trend of "Smart Growth" urban planning in big cities around the country)

Look primarilly for:

1) Mixed use developments
2) Transit Oriented
3) Minimal big Box retailers(although they can be sucessfully integrated into the urban fabric, minus the mega parking lots, and thier storefronts are right on the street).
4) Businesses that has thier entrances right no the street, parking lots are not the main focus
5) Primarilly grid street pattern(although some newer "Smart growth", transit oriented developments are not strictly grid). This helps you as a bicyclist in the form of more route choices.

Anyway, those are just some things you should look out for. I know its a drastic change but seems like you are the guy who might be serious enough to consider it. You might not be able to eliminate the car 100%, but living in an area like I mention will definitely facilitate less car trips compared to your typical newer suburbs 15-20 miles from the heart of the city. In the suburbs, and most rural areas, not so much.

ETA: i was just reading the EPA website about Smart Growth and it seems like Colorado is ahead of the curve and has plenty of areas that are trying tio implement this urban planning trend: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/awards.htm
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Old 09-03-06, 04:37 PM   #10
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I wouldn't say it requires good mass transit, but it does make things much easier. Here in Seattle, we have one of the best public transit systems west of Chicago, but being car-free still isn't that easy. You have to arrange your life so that it can be done, otherwise it's a hassle. If you live and work in the city, it can usually be done fairly easily because everything is reasonably close and the bus works fairly well to most areas. However, much of the job growth on the east side of Lake Washington (Bellevue, Redmond, etc.), and bus service in those areas isn't nearly as efficient.

I've never been carless in a smaller area, but I think it would be a double edged sword: On the one hand, everything is reasonably close, so that makes it easier to bike (if you live and work in the same area). On the other, you're basically stuck in a small town without a car (unless you get a ride).
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Old 09-05-06, 11:45 AM   #11
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For your father-in-law: Most rural areas in my state have door-to-door shuttle van service for the elderly and disabled. Even if you retain a car, he might appreciate the freedom and independence of this service. Check with the local senior center or council on aging for information on services and opportunities for your father-in-law.
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Old 09-06-06, 07:58 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rajman
During a period of unemployment about 10 years ago I made my last paycheque last about four months. One of my strategies was to just walk. I didn't take the subway or bus, and ranged around my house in a 5-6 km radius or so. It was no particular hardship.
This happened to me at about 8 years ago. I depended entirely on bus since I was clueless about using bicycles for transportation. I had the luxury of unemployment checks coming each week but if it weren't for that, I would have been homeless. Giving the car away allowed me to survive until I could get find employment.
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Old 09-10-06, 07:01 PM   #13
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In our small city we have a public bus system (no shelters, you can freeze or soak while you wait) but for reasons unknown to me it's not much used. I think it's seen as something for the poor, everyone else drives. Some local Anglo middle-class types have called for its abolition, as they want to get rid of the social service agencies (two new porno stores did pass, however).. There is also Dial-a-Ride, reserve two days in advance & stops running at 1:30 PM. Cutbacks in state spending.

I've never seen anyone riding a bike for utilitarian purposes except a couple older folks & a middle aged gentleman possibly of East Euro origin. I know one person who bikes to work, no doubt there are a few others but i've never seen them.
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Old 09-10-06, 07:55 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyclepath
.... I've never seen anyone riding a bike for utilitarian purposes except a couple older folks & a middle aged gentleman possibly of East Euro origin. I know one person who bikes to work, no doubt there are a few others but i've never seen them.
Alas it can be a lonely life. At least we have bikeforums.
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Old 09-11-06, 10:56 AM   #15
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In our small city we have a public bus system (no shelters, you can freeze or soak while you wait)
I've seen these shelterless bus stops and they are horrible. It's incredible how towns in the burbs do NOT subsidize public transit. I was at a mall this weekend located on top of a mountain and there was this lone girl waiting for the bus. I asked her if she was waiting a long time for the bus and she agreed. I told her to get a bicycle that would free her from that bus schedule. She told me it was a lot of work since that mall in particular was located on the top of a mountain. While she was correct, I would have walked up that hill with a bicycle than spend an hour waiting for that bus. Going downhill from that mountain was incredible!
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