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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 09-18-06, 12:12 PM   #1
Redrom
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Sticking Toe in the Car-Free Waters

Having been inspired by the lurking I've been doing in this Car-Free Forum this year, I decided to stick my toe in the water, this past weekend.

Friday I took my son to the hospital by bike, probably only a mile or two away (don't worry - non Emergent - he's fine). The cars were polite, but there were still too many of them. Next time maybe we'll have to remember to go to a different hospital, which is along the greenway trail, and not much further away.

Saturday, I took the other son to the Costco, I went the long way around to utilize the greenway trail, and had to ride for a block on grass, and it probably doubled the length of my trip (~3 mi. ea. way?); but it was worth it to feel safe, and to see the looks on people's faces when I had the Grande size of diapers and crated fruits loaded up and bungeed onto the xtracycle. I forgot to bring in my rear blinkie and so it was stolen - lesson learned, could have been worse.

Sunday, I took both boys out to the Whole Foods for groceries (Maybe 40 lb of groceries this time). We took the long way around again and easily doubled the trip length that it would have taken in the car (~8 mi. ea. way). I just made it up the big hill on the way back in 1st gear, it's been a year since I had a challenge like that.

Am I blogging, or do I have something productive to say... uh, I'm not sure? Personally, I'd like to move in car-free way, but I'm going to have to find a bike commute friendly job, or find a way to make the 21 mile (one way) commute I have safer, before I can give up the cars we have. I guess I wanted to talk about my experiences, incase it would get others to think how they might solve whatever's keeping them from doing more utility cycling, or get suggestions from others who have overcome their own issues. In the past, I just told myself that there was no direct and safe route. Now I'm finding that doubling my distance to double my safety is a valid solution; hey, I can use the exercise.
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Old 09-18-06, 12:26 PM   #2
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Am I blogging, or do I have something productive to say
I think productive. it's good for people to get the perspective of new carfree riders. Keep posting!
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Old 09-18-06, 12:44 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Redrom
Personally, I'd like to move in car-free way, but I'm going to have to find a bike commute friendly job, or find a way to make the 21 mile (one way) commute I have safer, before I can give up the cars we have. I guess I wanted to talk about my experiences, incase it would get others to think how they might solve whatever's keeping them from doing more utility cycling, or get suggestions from others who have overcome their own issues. In the past, I just told myself that there was no direct and safe route. Now I'm finding that doubling my distance to double my safety is a valid solution; hey, I can use the exercise.
You could always take the longer, safer route from work and split your commute.

Let's say you can ride 28 miles and be on nice low traffic roads, but that's too far for you to handle both ways. So you take your bike to work in the car one day and ride it home. Then you ride in the next morning. You can get 1 or 2 full commutes in a week this way. That's how I have to do it on my 30 mile commute.

It's not ideal, but until I get to the ideal situation it'll have to do.
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Old 09-18-06, 12:54 PM   #4
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I think that riding in traffic is a lot like other cycling skills. Bikes can co-exist safely with motor vehicles, as long as the cyclist has some good training and/or experience. Once you learn about riding in traffic and practice it, you can do it with ease.

A good place to start learning about street cycling is in the Advocacy & Safety forum here at Bikeforums. (Just ignore all the bickering and infighting they do, and you'll learn some real skills.)

You know--multi-user trails have their own dangers, and so do siewalks. The overall accident rate on trails may be higher than the rate on streets, although accidents on trails may be less severe, like simple falls when swerving to avoid pedestrians or animals.. But many accidents occur where trails intersect with streets, and of course these can be severe. Sidewalk riding can also be dangerous, as cagers tend not to look for bikes on the sidewalks before they make turns across their path.

I agree with people who say to ride only where you feel comfortable. But I would add: You can learn to feel comfortable riding in many new places--provided that you first learn the appropriate techniques, then gradually implement them. Of course it's up to you. Some people don't mind taking trips that are twice as long, but most probably want to make utility trips shorter by using all of the existing infrastructure.
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Old 09-18-06, 01:39 PM   #5
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Your posts describes what I did except I didn't have a goal of car free. Car free just happened as an outcome of experiments with other modes of transport.

As my kid got older she learned to carry groceries and stuff on her bike too. It was a self learning process because we didn't have a resource like this forum. Trips that seemed dangerous or too long at first are now taken without a second thought. I did the long slow safe thing at first. I still remember the morning I realized my daughter had developed good traffic skills. We were pedalling across town to her soccer game and I thought we'd take the long safe way through the neighborhood. Instead, she got ahead of me on a hill and turned onto a busy arterial claiming her space among the cars. So, like Roody said although you should ride where and how you feel comfortable, you and your families' comfort level will probably change as you explore bike transportation.
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Old 09-18-06, 01:45 PM   #6
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It always takes me a while to find the best route to where I want to go.
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Old 09-18-06, 04:35 PM   #7
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It always takes me a while to find the best route to where I want to go.
Yes, if you ride between point A and B repeatedly it helps to explore alternate routes. At a party recently a car person overheard several car free people discussing routing information. She was amazed at the availability of so many alternatives. We each had different regular trips so we were sharing our tricks for the routes we each were familiar with. It isn't just the physical layout but also the traffic patterns that you learn. By exploring other routes you learn how to get around car accidents and construction/security closures. Even for routes that we all ride different cyclists will have different preferences. A car free coworker lives on my block. When we ride together one has to compromise and take the other's route. Even though she's been riding it longer than I have, I she's come over to my routing for some sections. Both of us also adjust our routes based on the traffic signals. If I can catch a green at the bottom of a certain hill, I'll go for it, if not I'll ride the ridge across to the next road. These little rules make the geography dynamic. We learn the dynamics over time and from other bikers. There is one street that makes sense except that it has been in disrepair. I notice the city working there. If they smooth it out it may become a segment on my preferred route. That segment opens up some other possibilities.....
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Old 09-19-06, 08:08 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Riv-Lantis
You could always take the longer, safer route from work and split your commute.
Actually, the 21 mile route is the out of the way, safest route I am aware of. I spent a lot of time searching for routes and talking to local riders. I gave it several tries last year, and was run off the road and buzzed enough times to reconsider the logic of making the trip from a safety standpoint. However, I have noticed a dramatic increase in bicycle traffic along the route this year (I took to driving the route because it was such a nice ride), and am considering another attempt.

This morning I found the first two chapters of "How to live well without owning a car" in PDF format free online, and thought I'd share. http://www.simpleliving.net/main/res...sp?sku=ehtlcar

BTW, I've been lurking on "Car-Free" forums, but have been BF'ing for a while now...
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Old 09-19-06, 09:02 PM   #9
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I think its almost more admirable that you're trying to do non-commute car-free things first. If your commute's really that far away, starting with grocery shopping is probably better. Also, by car-freeing your groceries and similar trips, you're probably doing a bit of general reduction in your consumption habits.

I'm in favor of the "split" commute option. I take a 5-mile less than perfectly safe route to get to work and bike home via a 6-8 mile scenic route that's much safer.
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Old 09-23-06, 06:55 PM   #10
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Try using Google Earth to scope out a possibly faster/quieter/shorter way to go. Or, just go the old fashined way and get a good scale map of your area and take a look at it. I managed to ride about 30% of the way virtually on my own in Tokyo with a little time with a map.
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Old 09-24-06, 10:12 AM   #11
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Two things:

1. I heartily applaud your desire to go more car-free. Especially with kids, it takes a bit of courage to just go without cars; there are so many logistical and cultural hurdles to overcome.

2. Have you considered either getting a job closer to home or moving closer to your current job? I know this is a bit dramatic, especially if you like your current job and house equally well, but 42 miles a day on a bike, in addition to 8 or more hours of actual work, doesn't seem practical to me. (I know some people do it, but I bet it's not that many.) I've been totally car-free for a while now, and go virtually everywhere by bike, but I've found that work-day trips of more than 10-15 miles one way are just too much. Especially if you're in traffic, 15 miles takes an hour or so by bike, unless you're willing to really punish yourself physically, and who has time to commute for over two hours a day, even if it is on a bike? (Actually, as an aside, a 21 mile commute of ANY kind, never mind the means of transport, seems a bit much, IMO...)
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Old 09-24-06, 11:02 AM   #12
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Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Redrom
Actually, the 21 mile route is the out of the way, safest route I am aware of. I spent a lot of time searching for routes and talking to local riders. I gave it several tries last year, and was run off the road and buzzed enough times to reconsider the logic of making the trip from a safety standpoint. However, I have noticed a dramatic increase in bicycle traffic along the route this year (I took to driving the route because it was such a nice ride), and am considering another attempt.

This morning I found the first two chapters of "How to live well without owning a car" in PDF format free online, and thought I'd share. http://www.simpleliving.net/main/res...sp?sku=ehtlcar

BTW, I've been lurking on "Car-Free" forums, but have been BF'ing for a while now...
Thank You for the Link to the Simple Living Resource page ! I have been looking for "Right Liveliehood" info for some time and this was good timing. As for intermodal transportation-I think sometimes it can be fun and a good way to figure out the route etc. by driving in one day and biking home that evening etc- also a good way to transport clean clothes in crummy weather so you don't have as much to carry. I too am now trying more errands and Coffe Shop trips by bike and really enjoy not having to fill up the tank more than once a month. As far busier roads- When I moved to Knoxville,TN I was terrified of riding on certain roads and still avoid them at peak times but since I have been riding more frequently on Kingston Pike-the regular drivers seem to know me and immediately go around -I also now wear a Bright Orange Safety vest type thing from Nathan Inc. to increase visibilty. The vest also seems to change drivers attitude towards me as well for some reason-perhaps it's a simple as seeing me clearly from a distance so they plan ahead to go around. It seems dorky but if it helps then it's worth it.
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