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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 09-04-06, 10:36 PM   #1
jayhuse
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Shocking car lite Convesation with Biker.

I was biking home alone from work when all of a sudden a fellow biker came up next to me pedaling away. I asked him if he was commuting home from work and he said yes. He worked at the same place as I do but, since the place has close to 5000 employees I really did not know him.

We talked a little along our trip and the conversation got into biking for transportation. I mentiond how I use to run for exercise and then mentioned how biking is saving my knees some and I am saving money, the environment, and such.

He talked on how he been biking and such as well. I started to talk about cars a little in saying how much more people could bike vs use a car. To him he only really biked to work for the exercise. After me mentioning all the waste that cars produce, and the time that it take me to get to work by bike, he abrutully and deffensivly said, " I LIKE CARS ! ", "" there is a lot of stuff that I could not do without it ""

To say the least I was a little taken back. As we were pedaling along I said yes they are really nice and I agree, but Most People do not think it is impossible that bikes can in some instances provide or replace transportation that is just as effective as a car. He kind of mumbled a bit but did not say much.

I then said Heck I use to be a BIKE hater and non beliver a few years ago. I then told him many of my friends are asking questions on how I am doing and how it can be done.

He then softly agreed with me and stated " oh yes once you get over the mind set of what bikes can do it is pretty good for transportation.""

Anyway after a short conversation we parted ways, but was left with a dissapointing feel.

I did not try to push my ideas on the fellow biker it is just that he was already defensive about cars/ bikes even thou he had been biking for about 27 years.

It made me realize that folks who commute to work have many different reasons to bike to work.

Unfortunetly, I do not see a common voice in inspiring the AMERICAN public to do more biking in an effort to save money, resources, environment, and reducing our weight.
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Old 09-05-06, 12:25 AM   #2
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I can understand your disappointment, I hope I can give you some perspective on this. Sadly not enough people are philanthropists. However, so long as people are doing good, do their motivations really matter? This fellow is biking to work, whether he does it for exercise or for the good of the world, it still has the same effect. Large systemic change will only come from desperation and struggle, until then I will take what I can get.

I have had seven roommates this year, all aware and understanding of how I can live without a car, none of them have changed their behaviors even confronted with my ease of living, positive attitude, and beautiful bulging quadracepts. Being agry with them would only make my life harder, it wouldn't stop them from driving 8 blocks to school or 12 to the store.
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Old 09-05-06, 05:19 AM   #3
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Some people are never going to "get it". I was sitting in a local restaurant having lunch, I watched a person come out of a store in an adjacent strip mall (appeared to be an employee) get in her car. Drove to the other end of the strip mall, get out of the car and go into a sub shop. Came out of the sub shop carrying a bag and 2 drinks, got back into the car and drove back to the end of the strip mall where she had started, parked and reentered the store she came out of and I bet if you asked she would be whining about the high cost of gas

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Old 09-05-06, 06:26 AM   #4
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He may actually need a car for some activities. Maybe he goes camping and likes to haul two kayaks with him. Maybe he has a business on the side hauling dirt. Maybe he fixes up classic cars. It's best to get the whole story before accusing him of such ignorance.
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Old 09-05-06, 07:46 AM   #5
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Lead by example. The smart ones will catch on.
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Old 09-05-06, 07:55 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by becnal
Lead by example. The smart ones will catch on.
+1 to that.
I stopped wasting mental energy on what other people do a long time ago. The best way to change hearts and minds is to lead by example.
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Old 09-05-06, 08:03 AM   #7
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From the top ten conversation killers, skipping right to #1:

1. I'm carfree and you can be carfree too.
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Old 09-05-06, 08:41 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Platy
From the top ten conversation killers, skipping right to #1:

1. I'm carfree and you can be carfree too.
I'd say it is a tie with "I'm a vegan (or born-again) and you should be too."
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Old 09-05-06, 09:15 AM   #9
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Though I'm car-free I truly don't believe that all people should be car-free or even strive to be car-free. Car-lite is much more reasonable for people to understand & attempt. Let's face it, America by & large is not geared toward a car-free lifestyle. Those of us who are car-free do make sacrifices & not always on some altruistic level to justify our decision. One does have to be a pretty strong willed & determined person to be car-free in America & I'm not saying that those who are not car-free are weak or meager in any way.

If you're interested in "converting the masses", best of luck to you but I wouldn't fret whenever someone does not see things your way, or as some on this forum would try to have us believe, *cough* *cough* "our way" *cough* *cough*.

Enjoy your bike ride & smile, it's much less stressful.
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Old 09-05-06, 09:30 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
I'd say it is a tie with "I'm a vegan (or born-again) and you should be too."
"I don't have a TV and I'm intellectually superior to you." (paraphrasing) is good also.
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Old 09-05-06, 10:39 AM   #11
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Perhaps your conversation wasn't fruitless at all.

In my opinion, it is enough for me to show people that I can live car-free. If you go out to convert people, you'll likely end up disappointed. If you aim to show people that living car-free is cheaper, easier, more enjoyable... perhaps that's plenty. Perhaps its enough just to show people that it is possible.
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Old 09-05-06, 11:05 AM   #12
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I agree that you can't push people too much. The best approach for me is to be very positive and truthful about my own experiences being carfree and riding.

That said, it is frustrating when people tell you that it is impossible to do something (be carfree) that you actually do with great ease and enjoyment. Sometimes the most I can say is, "But...but...What about ME?"
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Old 09-05-06, 12:12 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff-o
He may actually need a car for some activities. Maybe he goes camping and likes to haul two kayaks with him. Maybe he has a business on the side hauling dirt. Maybe he fixes up classic cars. It's best to get the whole story before accusing him of such ignorance.
Amen. Add to that skiing/snowboarding, surfing, and any of a hundred other healthy outdoor activities that are, in all likelihood, too far away to transport the required equipment by bike in a reasonable amount of time. I spent 4 days in Boston, and 3 in Vermont each week from Thanksgiving through Easter, working 70+ hours a week, and having to transport a lot of things to/from VT each time or risk smelling something awful by Christmas. I love it but there's absolutely no possible way I could make it work without a car.
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Old 09-05-06, 01:31 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by recursive
"I don't have a TV and I'm intellectually superior to you." (paraphrasing) is good also.
Yep, that is a winner, too. As well as "I/WE don't have to overcome linadequate physical equipment by driving a big car/SUV."
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Old 09-06-06, 12:56 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wahoonc
Some people are never going to "get it". I was sitting in a local restaurant having lunch, I watched a person come out of a store in an adjacent strip mall (appeared to be an employee) get in her car. Drove to the other end of the strip mall, get out of the car and go into a sub shop. Came out of the sub shop carrying a bag and 2 drinks, got back into the car and drove back to the end of the strip mall where she had started, parked and reentered the store she came out of and I bet if you asked she would be whining about the high cost of gas

Aaron

You think that's bad? Here in CA I've seen people literally walk to their cars, get in, drive ~10 spaces down, park, and walk to another store. They actually looked a bit puzzled, like they kinda understood what they did was pointless, but they shook it off in a second. They knew that it would've been shorter for them to walk directly to the other store, but took the car... Now that's good training for ya!
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Old 09-06-06, 02:40 PM   #16
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It seems that a Buddhist approach is better in "converting" one to car free. I live my life this way if you choose to hear about it just ask. Which is not as fast (or as measurable) as the Christian conversion method of killing you if you don't want to be car free..
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Old 09-06-06, 06:40 PM   #17
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Best approach for initial contact (First impressions, first dates, job interviews, etc.) is to just show that you are normal.

You can evangelize about your politics/diet/chain lube preference/religion ideas later, after you establish basic credibility.
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Old 09-06-06, 07:24 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wahoonc
Some people are never going to "get it". I was sitting in a local restaurant having lunch, I watched a person come out of a store in an adjacent strip mall (appeared to be an employee) get in her car. Drove to the other end of the strip mall, get out of the car and go into a sub shop. Came out of the sub shop carrying a bag and 2 drinks, got back into the car and drove back to the end of the strip mall where she had started, parked and reentered the store she came out of and I bet if you asked she would be whining about the high cost of gas

Aaron
I had a boss at one of my jobs that would get into his SUV and drive to the mail box. It was literaly about 50 yards. I use to know the guy about 5 years previously and he was in great shape, but at this part of his life he was a lard ass. A good 100 lbs overweight. You'd think he'd walk to the mailbox and maybe burn off some fat.
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Old 09-07-06, 11:41 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaxBender
Best approach for initial contact (First impressions, first dates, job interviews, etc.) is to just show that you are normal.
....
That's a pretty tall order for some of us!
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Old 09-07-06, 12:41 PM   #20
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What about the ones that will drive around a parking lot for ten minutes looking for the closest parking space to the store, or sit and wait for someone to move, when they could have already parked and walked in eight minutes ago.
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Old 09-07-06, 03:08 PM   #21
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What about the ones that will drive around a parking lot for ten minutes looking for the closest parking space to the store, or sit and wait for someone to move, when they could have already parked and walked in eight minutes ago.
What about them?
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Old 09-08-06, 03:48 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by recursive
"I don't have a TV and I'm intellectually superior to you." (paraphrasing) is good also.
And the similar questions...
Katie Who? Paris Who? American Idol, what's that?
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Old 09-08-06, 03:58 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayhuse
After me mentioning all the waste that cars produce, and the time that it take me to get to work by bike, he abruptly and defensively said, " I LIKE CARS ! ", " there is a lot of stuff that I could not do without it "
He wouldn't have been so defensive if he didn't have doubts himself. I can understand your acquaintences ambivalence. My grandfather was an oil company exec. My parents were into sports car rallies (I got my first 1st place navigator's trophy in it at age 9). Growing up, I wanted to be an automobile designer.

But things happened to change my direction.... We couldn't afford Art Center. The gas crisis made me think tha car design had hit a major downturn. I moved out on my own without having actually bought a car(In L.A. no less).

I still love cars. I own one, but its key hasn't been turned in over a year. It's still got the same gas I put in it on the day I bought it and I do all my transportation by bike or public transport. So I understand his mixed feelings. But at least the fellow was there, bicycling to and from work. That's a lot better than most people.

Last edited by Artkansas; 09-08-06 at 10:30 PM.
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Old 09-08-06, 04:41 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayhuse
It made me realize that folks who commute to work have many different reasons to bike to work.

Unfortunetly, I do not see a common voice in inspiring the AMERICAN public to do more biking in an effort to save money, resources, environment, and reducing our weight.
You should be glad that "mainstream" people are coming to realize that cars are no longer the optimal vehicles for many urban trips. That's potentially far more important than whether someone is carfree as a matter of ideology.

Besides, would someone who really liked their car necessarily want to subject it to the wear and tear of short-trip commuting?

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Old 09-09-06, 08:41 AM   #25
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Societal Movement to being car-free or car-lite

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobbieIG
I can understand your disappointment, I hope I can give you some perspective on this. Sadly not enough people are philanthropists. However, so long as people are doing good, do their motivations really matter? This fellow is biking to work, whether he does it for exercise or for the good of the world, it still has the same effect. Large systemic change will only come from desperation and struggle, until then I will take what I can get.

I have had seven roommates this year, all aware and understanding of how I can live without a car, none of them have changed their behaviors even confronted with my ease of living, positive attitude, and beautiful bulging quadracepts. Being agry with them would only make my life harder, it wouldn't stop them from driving 8 blocks to school or 12 to the store.

I have to agree with the statement regarding large systemic change coming from desperation and struggle - the oil shocks of the 70's caused our society to drive much more efficient cars for about a decade. The Terrorist attacks of 9/11 caused all kinds of changes in the last five years.

Because of how close supply is running to demand right now for oil, similar if not worse shocks are quite possibly right around the corner. This doesn't even factor in peak oil or global climate change! So it will be "interesting" to see what sort of changes happen in society - hopefully we will be able to make internal changes in how we do things rather than using our military in an attempt to avoid making such changes.

[shameless plug] So, to make people aware of some of the human powered alternatives, I have organized the New England HPV Rally Oct 7 and 8 - see www.velomobiles.net.

It is kind of interesting, though, yesterday when I was cycling over to my (recumbent bike) shop, I was riding one of the trikes. Just as I was getting ready to turn into the shop parking lot, a guy roared around me in a Suburban, yelled something and flipped me the bird (really this doesn't happen often)! As I was thinking about what I would say to him if we were having a conversation afterwards, I realized that although I might be thinking about the big picture, he was likely just thinking about the A@$&*le who was taking up the lane (I was making a left and so took the lane) so he couldn't get by. Having a conversation with him at that point would have been extremely difficult, and I can imagine all sorts of counterproductive outcomes :-).


Anyway, I hope everyone will keep plugging away, wrt striving for a car-free or car-lite life - setting an example is important, and the more of us who ride, the better it will be for all of us!

Best,
-Ethan

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