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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 12-16-06, 02:24 PM   #1
Thor29
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Driving to Work, Working to Drive

When I was a teenager in Texas, it was pretty much considered a given that when you turned 16 you started driving. My parents weren't going to give me a car, so that meant I had to buy my own. I can remember complaining that I needed a car to get to my job, but that all of my money was going towards supporting the car (actually, being in Texas it was a pickup truck).

Fast-forward many years. I ended up in San Francisco after having escaped Texas and living in Colorado for a decade. I had stepped off the career track and was underemployed. First I got rid of the car. Then I got rid of the motorcycle. It was great getting around only by bike. (Not to mention inexpensive). But then I got the chance to make some real money although the new job was 25 miles away. At first I tried to take the train. I would ride my bike to the train station, take the train, then ride the rest of the way to work. The total commute time each day was about 3 hours. That was bad enough, but the train wasn't very bike friendly. You could only put your bike on one designated car and it was always full. On the way to work this wasn't a problem because I was starting at the first station, but several times on the way home I wasn't allowed to get on the train and had to wait another 45 minutes for the next train.

So what did I end up doing? I bought a motorcycle. Now my commute time is less than half what it was and because lane splitting is legal here I don't have to worry about getting stuck in traffic. It's nice having a motorcycle again, but I would never own one just for fun. The downside is that buying it has negated the extra income for awhile. For the first 3 or 4 months I am basically working just to pay for the transportation I needed to get to work.

One of the more perverse aspects of American life is this - the one place that it is easy to get around by bicycle, dense urban areas like San Francisco, have fewer job opportunities than the surrounding suburbs. In my case, my training is as an engineer and there are very few engineering jobs in SF but lots of them spread all over the Bay Area. It's the same in Denver, Colorado. And Dallas, Texas. I'm pretty sure that's true all over this country.
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Old 12-16-06, 02:45 PM   #2
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It does suck.
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Old 12-16-06, 05:04 PM   #3
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Could you bring a folding bike on the train without having to put it in the designated bike car ?
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Old 12-16-06, 05:28 PM   #4
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What kind of motorcycle did you buy that it takes you four months to pay it off on an engineers salary?
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Old 12-16-06, 05:53 PM   #5
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I'm supposed to start my new job in January... Work from home tech support. Talk about a dream commute.

Not to mention... once I get started with the company, I could theoretically move anywhere that I can have a good internet connection and stay on with them.
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Old 12-18-06, 06:50 PM   #6
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What's lane splitting?
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Old 12-18-06, 07:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaceman Spiff
What's lane splitting?
Something one does legally with a motorcycle on the 101 to cut ones commute time significantly.
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Old 12-18-06, 07:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaceman Spiff
What's lane splitting?
...just like atom splitting, only bigger


Thor,
Did you explore the posibility of moving closer to work?
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Old 12-18-06, 09:53 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lyeinyoureye
What kind of motorcycle did you buy that it takes you four months to pay it off on an engineers salary?
+1. Kind of surprising.

The folding bike idea is a good one. Riding 25 mi one way is a good one too, but is reserved for fanatics.

Motorcycles are fun though. A guilty pleasure, but at least a pleasure as opposed to the sheer monotony of driving a car.
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Old 12-19-06, 08:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaceman Spiff
What's lane splitting?
Going between the cars like we do on bicycles. Illegal with a motorcycle in some states.
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Old 12-19-06, 09:25 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lyeinyoureye
What kind of motorcycle did you buy that it takes you four months to pay it off on an engineers salary?
I didn't mean that it took my entire salary for 4 months, just all my discretionary income. But for the curious, I bought a used 2001 Yamaha FZ1 - 160mph and 44mpg. It's sweet - I plan to do some touring on it this summer.
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Old 12-19-06, 09:27 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwd
Going between the cars like we do on bicycles. Illegal with a motorcycle in some states.
As far as I know, it's illegal in every state except California. I think I heard that they recently tried to make it legal in Texas but it hasn't happened yet.
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Old 12-19-06, 11:21 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thor29
I didn't mean that it took my entire salary for 4 months, just all my discretionary income. But for the curious, I bought a used 2001 Yamaha FZ1 - 160mph and 44mpg. It's sweet - I plan to do some touring on it this summer.
Shouldn't the title be, "Driving to Work on an Expensive Bike, Working to Drive an Expensive Bike"?
Not to be an as... o.k. to be an *******. Eh, I'm just joshin you. Not exactly frugal, but if you've got the cash, why not?
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Old 12-23-06, 11:29 PM   #14
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I think I would just move closer to work. 3hr to and fro to work that is 15 hrs each week.


I try to keep my work commutes too 5 hrs a week. It also doubles as excersise so, even less time
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Old 12-24-06, 01:42 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by wheel
I think I would just move closer to work. 3hr to and fro to work that is 15 hrs each week.


I try to keep my work commutes too 5 hrs a week. It also doubles as excersise so, even less time
I guess it is all about what you value most. One of the most important things to me is my location. There is a huge difference between living in San Francisco and living further south in one of the suburban towns. When I am not working I can easily get around by bike. The motorcycle never leaves the garage in the evening or weekends. If I lived south of here I wouldn't have much of a reason to leave home since there is nothing to do down there and nowhere to go (except back north to SF). Keep in mind the trains run only once an hour if you wanted to get back to the city. Not very convenient.

I commend you for being a cyclist in Phoenix though. I lived in Tempe for a few months and it didn't seem like a very bike friendly area. Not to mention the heat... Then again, South Mountain park was pretty close by for mountain biking and hiking. So every choice, every location, has its upside and its downside.

Part of the point of this post was that I would have loved to remain internal-combustion-free, even though I love motorcycles, but there aren't too many engineering jobs in the city. In a weird twist, SF is becoming a bedroom community for the super rich.

But yes, if remaining car (motorcycle) free were a top priority for me, the logical solution would have been to move closer to work.
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Old 12-24-06, 03:35 PM   #16
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Yep what you value is key to your happiness.

nothing wrong with motor-lite.

The only choices I have in a job and money is where I live.
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Old 12-25-06, 08:13 PM   #17
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Sadly, many are faced with spending the money on transportation, or spending it on housing to avoid the commute.

So far, the commute is usually cheaper - especially for those that consider car ownership mandatory.
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