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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 04-24-03, 10:24 AM   #1
Stor Mand
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Car free ...

I now many here are car-free. I was wondering how many here are car-free and have children? If so, how do you make it work, assuming you live in a climate where the temperature can swing 50 degrees a day, rain and snow, etc.?
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Old 04-24-03, 10:30 AM   #2
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Kids makes it really hard, I drive my son to school in the morning and pick him up after school. I use my lunch hour to run him down to my ex-wife who does not drive. If it was not for that I would be commuting by bike to work
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Old 04-24-03, 03:35 PM   #3
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So, does this mean that there are no people here that are car-free and have children :confused: ? Honestly, I didn't think it was possible the way things are now but I was curious. My guess is that most anyone that is car-free is single (no-kids in the house) or married (no kids in the house and/or spouse probably has a vehicle).
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Old 04-24-03, 03:38 PM   #4
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I am single, kid-free, and car-free, Stor Mand!

Whopeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



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Old 04-24-03, 06:37 PM   #5
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I don't know any personally, but there have heard of some in various car free threads on different forums.

I think a lot of it depends on the age of the children, the area you live in, and just the willingness to do it. There really aren't many reasons not to, just excuses.
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Old 04-24-03, 06:45 PM   #6
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Originally posted by Dv8shawn
There really aren't many reasons not to, just excuses.
Try getting one to day-care and one to school by 8:00. Then pick them both up, come home, eat a quick supper, and get to a soccer game by 6:15. If that's not a reason I don't know what is. Then there is ice-skating, gymnastics, girl scouts, etc. It's not an excuse, it's an impossibility.
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Old 04-24-03, 07:16 PM   #7
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Originally posted by Dirtgrinder
Try getting one to day-care and one to school by 8:00. Then pick them both up, come home, eat a quick supper, and get to a soccer game by 6:15. If that's not a reason I don't know what is. Then there is ice-skating, gymnastics, girl scouts, etc. It's not an excuse, it's an impossibility.
There is an argument that goes that we should shed all those activities that fill our lives.

Some say that we should reduce our committments so that simpler living, such as car free living, is attainable. While I agree that we should simplify our lives to a large degree, I also believe that we live in the real world.

I'd love to go completely car free but it really isn't practical in so many cases. We are a one car family when most around us have at least two cars.

I think we need to use cars to enhance our lives - rather than letting cars rule our lives.

Dirtgrinder is absolutley right - in our current culture - we must, unfortunatley, rely on cars.
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Old 04-24-03, 09:59 PM   #8
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Originally posted by MediaCreations
Dirtgrinder is absolutley right - in our current culture - we must, unfortunatley, rely on cars.
... And you didn't read my sig?

In all seriousness, the main reason that I'm carfree is simply because I've never had any real reason to get one. I don't have kids (although if I did I'd be encouraging them to walk to school so they can at least get some physical activity), I don't have snow (although we had a dust storm which I believe was far worse, snow doesn't burn your lungs!).

However, I've never really tried to force anybody else to be carfree. If they want to pay the $ to acquire and maintain one, and all the time it takes out of their lives, so be it. It's their problem, not mine. I don't tolerate people telling me I should live a certain way, nor do I do it to anyone else.
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Old 04-24-03, 10:08 PM   #9
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I probably should have qualified that last statement.

"Dirtgrinder is absolutley right - in our current culture - if we have kids and don't have a school within walking distance - and we need to get them to lots of different after school activites - and like me have to turn up to events on the other side of town lugging huge amounts of stuff while dressed in a shirt and tie - we must, unfortunatley, rely on cars sometimes - but only when we absolutely have to.
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Old 04-25-03, 02:21 AM   #10
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well, i personally am car-free... but i also have no kids (yet).

BUT, here in Munich i have at least 2 good friends who have kids and are car-free. jees, i know one affluent parent who doesn't have a driver's license and doesn't want one! now granted in munich that is MUCH easier as distances are shorter, the subway is great, there are bike paths everywhere, auto drivers are trained to watch for cyclists, and it is safe for kids to bike and the train is cheaper than the car for trips out of town... ah, Munich is so cool!

now in the US... it is harder. and especially since a car is almost madatory for family trips... i think a limited-use one-car family is probably pretty close to "car-free" ---- i.e. both parents use the bike for primary transportation and the car is there if there is an emergency or for an out-of-town trip...
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Old 04-25-03, 02:32 AM   #11
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I'd love to go completely car free but it really isn't practical in so many cases. We are a one car family when most around us have at least two cars.

I think we need to use cars to enhance our lives - rather than letting cars rule our lives..
i think i agree with that. i'm not anti-car as in i never want to own one. i was "car-limited" or whatever my last 4 years in the US meaning i biked to work and for 95% of my in-city stuff (ALL shopping unless it was too big to fit in the trailer) --- but i had a vehicle for out-of-town trips since the US train system is for the most part pretty lacking...

i had/have a number of friends in Portland with kids who are 1-car famlies where at least one partner bikes to work (in one couple the guy bikes to work, the wife walks to work) and the car is for taking the kid to the doctor at 3am when it's raining or for a family vacation. but their car was broken for 3 weeks one time and it didn't disrupt their lives...

but i think if i were in the US and had a family i would probably have one car (station wagon like a Subaru or a hatchback like a Golf) that we would have for emergency use and for out-of-town, but i have to NEVER again HAVE to drive, but having the choice to driver is ok.

but like the families, where when one of their 2 or 3 cars breaks down the family can't function any more (dad can't get to work and Johnny can't get to soccer practice)---- that's a problem i never want to have!!

also, i HOPE to make choices so that my kids won't be forced to be dependent on me and others to drive them around, but that they will have opportunities to walk or bike themselves - of course, this depends on where you live, so "traditional subdivisions" are pretty much out...
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Old 06-20-05, 11:13 AM   #12
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Car-free always, 2 cats, 1 dog, 1 toddler son, and wouldn't have it any other way. My wife has never even had a driver's license. We've lived in 4 major US cities. We're 39, and the cumulative savings have helped us pay off the house. We don't take transit more than a couple times a year, either. Have had up to 12 bikes in service at a time; these days the Xtracycle and the Brompton folder see the most use.

Putting an electric assist motor on the Xtracycle has made car-free camping in steep country and other "car-like" trips with my son easy: http://todd.cleverchimp.com/bike/cp/
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Old 06-20-05, 11:26 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by tfahrner
Car-free always, 2 cats, 1 dog, 1 toddler son, and wouldn't have it any other way. My wife has never even had a driver's license. We've lived in 4 major US cities. We're 39, and the cumulative savings have helped us pay off the house. We don't take transit more than a couple times a year, either. Have had up to 12 bikes in service at a time; these days the Xtracycle and the Brompton folder see the most use.

Putting an electric assist motor on the Xtracycle has made car-free camping in steep country and other "car-like" trips with my son easy: http://todd.cleverchimp.com/bike/cp/

Wow. That's really awesome. Thanks for posting those pictures.
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Old 06-20-05, 12:58 PM   #14
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I was raised car-free. It can be done, but it requires public transportation and a city.

It probably can't be done in the outermost suburbs.
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Old 06-20-05, 03:38 PM   #15
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That is totally awesome! I love that bike. I wouldn't mind having a setup like that.

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Old 06-20-05, 03:45 PM   #16
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xtracycles rule!
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Old 06-20-05, 05:15 PM   #17
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i've met so many families recently that live a simple lifestyle and are car free. its totally possible. has anyone asked themselves what economically disadvantaged families do without cars? they get along fine raising kids. though not intentionally car free they prove that if there is a will there is a way.
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Old 06-20-05, 05:20 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirtgrinder
Try getting one to day-care and one to school by 8:00. Then pick them both up, come home, eat a quick supper, and get to a soccer game by 6:15. If that's not a reason I don't know what is. Then there is ice-skating, gymnastics, girl scouts, etc. It's not an excuse, it's an impossibility.
who says that your kids have to be involved in such things so far away. its entirely possible to live in a neighborhood that has all these things within walking distance.
i also wanted to say that one of the reasons i wanted this car free forum is to get away from the arguments that came up whenever car free living was discussed. i'm not a moderator but i'd appreciate it if nay sayers would stay off this board. this is supposed to be a place to discuss living car free and the attendant lifestyle, not a place where we have to defend ourselves all over again and drivers defend the reasons that they drive. living car free is possible. a car is a luxury, not a necessity.
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Old 06-20-05, 05:45 PM   #19
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In my awesome home town of Wellington, New Zealand, I grew up pretty much car free. Wellington's a really compact place. I don't know how suburbs are structured in america, but in Wellington the larger "suburbs" (some of these being less than 5km from the central business district) will have a small shopping district, supermarket, places to get food, electrical stores, grocers, in a few cases even a local library. Of course, town (local speak for the commercial district of a town or city) has more shops. I was living about 5km from town, but I could walk to the local hockey turf in 5 minutes one direction, and walk down to a shopping district in 5 minutes in the other direction. Never knew how good I had it...
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Old 06-21-05, 01:49 AM   #20
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My Mom was car-free, in the 70s! And she had 3 of us to watch out for, 4 before my brother got smart and took off. (Too little food around the place, easier to make it on his own once he hit about age 15-16.) We generally didn't have a car that ran, in fact I grew up with a real hatred of cars because we were usually even more in the poorhouse than usual because of some damn car that needed this, and needed that, and never ****ing ran.

It's amazing I've had cars as an adult, maybe at a deep level it's to prove I can. But I digress.

We wanted to go to this or that class? Bus. Friend's house? Walk. We walked and bused to stores, friends, school, activities, etc all on our own, it was figured that once a kid was 10 or so, they should not depend on Mommy to get places anyway. Sure, parental support was expected, and was there, if needed but it was just believed that a kid didn't need to be driven around to places they could get to independently, any more than they needed to be carted around in a baby carriage all the time after they could walk.

Much of this is the US "culture of fear" where everyone is afraid Jeffery Dahmer is going to take their kid. The auto/oil companies love it.
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Old 06-21-05, 07:08 AM   #21
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We were car free as well. My mom, and 3 kids. We bussed, walked and biked everywhere. I participated in boy scouts (later on cadets), baseball, summer camps, etc etc... We simply chose things that were not all the way accross town.

We carried our groceries back on foot, or through public transit (of course we all helped for that).

I loved my childhood.
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Old 06-21-05, 08:13 AM   #22
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While there are some that live car-free due to economics, for many it is a choice. When making a choice, one has to look at the benefits and consequences of each option. Living car-free has its rewards, but it also has its costs. One can not pursue car-free living if maintaining a car-needed lifestyle. It is not simply a matter of tossing away the car keys and merely substituting the bike for the car. Living car-free requires lifestyle adjustments. The key is how much of a lifestyle adjustment is one willing to make. If one chooses to be involved in numerous activities that require covering long distances and tight schedules, then car-free is probably not for them. If one chooses to concentrate more on neighborhood or home oriented activities, then maybe car-free would work. If one wants to live in the big yard, suburban home zoned long distances away from work or shopping destinations, living car-free would be much more difficult. If one chooses to live in a denser neighborhood closer to town, shopping, or public transit, again car-free may be a viable option. For some, perhaps most, the adjustments of living car-free are not worth the benefits. For others, living car-free is a sense of new-found freedom. Like some others on here, I do not have much tolerance for excuses disguised as reasons why one can not live car free, such as taking kids to after school activities, etc. They are lifestyle choices that largely inhibit living car-free. But they are lifestyle choices just as valid as those that choose other lifestyles more conducive to living without automobile ownership. It is a matter of choice, and one choice is no more legitimate than the other.
Sometimes I think there is a misperception between being car-free and car dependent. To me, living car free does not mean being independent of cars, only of car ownership. The vast majority of my monthly routine is easily accomplished without a car, so the expense of purchase and maintenance of a car is not worth it. However, I have access to a car on the odd occasion when I need one. I figure I have the best of both worlds, and I wouldn't change a thing.
I am personally not so concerned with people living car-free as with living less car dependent. I know many, many people who routinely ride bikes 50-100 miles for training purposes. However, they hop into the SUV to drive two miles to pick up a video or buy some stamps, tasks easily accomplished by bike and probably just as quick in the urban environment where they live.
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Old 06-21-05, 09:08 AM   #23
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We are so quick to "blame" individuals for continuing to use cars, when often the real blame should go to the city planners and local administrators. Unfortunately, successful carfree living sometimes requires that you get off your duff and lobby for change in programs and the infrastructure. Sometimes small, inexpensive changes can make a big difference. For example, if you can't give up the cage because you always have to schlepp your offspring, here are some local changes that might help:

For kids in school, you should insist that your school system provide amenities that make it feasible for your children to walk or ride bikes to school. This would include adult crossing guards, student safety patrols, parent patrols, teachers outside the school watching kids, Neighborhood Watch, child-centered traffic control around schools, safety classes, etc. Young children can walk with older siblings or neighbors. Also find or help set up neighborhood after-school activity programs which should be centered around neighborhood schools, parks and churches.

With local programs in place, there is little need to ferry the kids. If you can get some of these in place, every parent in the neighborhood will thank you.
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Old 06-21-05, 12:51 PM   #24
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I have access to a car when I need one. I belong to a car sharing network, and I know I may need it from time to time. I've used it once, but that was about it.

I do know that even if I use the car, I'll have to have my folding bike too, since I'll have to ride my bike to get to the nearest car and ride my bike to get back home once I've dropped the car off.

I don't think anyone here means car free means being totally free of a car, living in the woods, eating nuts and berries, etc. We're just talking about not being dependent on having a car.

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Old 06-21-05, 01:40 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by koffee brown
I do know that even if I use the car, I'll have to have my folding bike too, since I'll have to ride my bike to get to the nearest car and ride my bike to get back home once I've dropped the car off.
Same here, koffee. In fact, just Saturday I took out a shared car (second time since December, Flexcar) just like that, and I nearly choked on my own smugness at how powerfully clever a combination it is. I came home and googled "folding bike car sharing" and the first hit is on a folding bike giveaway by Flexcar in LA. Now that's smart marketing, I thought.
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