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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 01-23-07, 04:22 AM   #1
KiLlMuNcH
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Family affect on living car free

I drive for a living, but ride my bike to work, and around town. but with me second child on the way (my first about to turn 2), im wondering how i can keep on living my simple lifestyle. im going to need to take my daughter to school, which is about 8 miles, and im going to need to pick up more slack around here while my wife recuops. so basically im asking how do you people with kids keep it simple??
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Old 01-23-07, 04:55 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by KiLlMuNcH
I drive for a living, but ride my bike to work, and around town. but with me second child on the way (my first about to turn 2), im wondering how i can keep on living my simple lifestyle. im going to need to take my daughter to school, which is about 8 miles, and im going to need to pick up more slack around here while my wife recuops. so basically im asking how do you people with kids keep it simple??
By naively speculating about how easy it would be if they had kids and no cars simultaneously during the children's first 18 years? And perhaps also assuming that living in a crowded urban environment like NYC is a desirable place to raise children.

With maybe one exception, (a work at home couple who had several successful real estate deals to finance their gentrified lifestyle), I don't think you will find too much experience based answers to your specific question on this forum.
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Old 01-23-07, 05:18 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
By naively speculating about how easy it would be if they had kids and no cars simultaneously during the children's first 18 years? And perhaps also assuming that living in a crowded urban environment like NYC is a desirable place to raise children.

With maybe one exception, (a work at home couple who had several successful real estate deals to finance their gentrified lifestyle), I don't think you will find too much experience based answers to your specific question on this forum.
well i assume that there are people on this forum who are living car free with a family. started driving at 16 stopped at 18 because everything was in walking distance, and in the last few months have picked up biking , now 21 and a second child on the way i bascially just would like some motivation from people who have stayed car free with a family. my girlfriend does drive but i havent been in a car beside work for almost a year, and would like to stay that way. i'd just like to hear from people who have kept there lifestyle even with the addition of children. thank you.
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Old 01-23-07, 06:56 AM   #4
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Look, you do need a car sometimes in North America or even anywhere in the world. The trick is not to become "dependent" on it. If you need to get away for a vacation or stock-up on something, rent a car for a day. Treat it as you would a moving van..you wouldn't drive around in that every day so why would you need 1.5 tonnes of steel and class to pick-up milk or go to a movie. If you look around most cars have one person sitting in them, you don't have to follow that trend. I have 2 kids and been without a car for 5 years, I'll rent one when I need it. I do have a camper in my garage for camping in the summer..

Gotta go..

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Old 01-23-07, 08:32 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by KiLlMuNcH
well i assume that there are people on this forum who are living car free with a family.
Maybe there are people on this forum who are part of a simple-living, zero car family, with children; but they aren't the ones posting all the advice about how to do it.
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Old 01-23-07, 12:33 PM   #6
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Not having raised a child while living car-free I HAVE been cycle commuting for over 20 years, consistantly. My son is a senior at university and I purchased a couple of old Schwinns for him and his girlfriend. Rebuilt them w/new cables, hb tape, etc. and put lights, fenders, rack, bags, pump, patch kits, cages+bottles and have encouraged them to 'think' in cycling terms for short trips around campus and town.

That being said the worst thing I've seen while cycle commuting was a father w/2 children in one of those attached 2 wheel trailers behind his bike on a VERY crowded, busy and dangerous street. He was waiting at a traffic light behind a city bus. As the bus took off it left a huge plume of exhaust(as urban, diesel powered buses will do) and the guy rode right through it w/ his 2 children. To me this is a form of 'child endangerment' which is a crime in most states. I remember thinking, "you self-absorbed, obstinate pr**k! Endanger yourself if you want, but don't stubbornly put your children in harms way because you want to prove something." I think there's a certain point at which reality HAS to supercede ideals and putting 60-80 pound children 4 inches above asphalt w/10,000 pound combos of metal, plastic, rubber and toxic exhaust tearing around willy-nilly is one of those cases. Do your best to be prudent and cautious, but push come to shove, leave the kids home, find a sitter and use the trailer for groceries. Just my opinion.

This isn't to suggest you would do anything like the above, but more of a cautionary note . I think a good childseat that sits low in relation to the the bicycle seat is much safer than one of those trailers. A good, solid steel-frame mtb w/wide ties and good brakes in an upright cycling position would be good, also. But, again when in doubt use the sidewalk.
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Old 01-23-07, 12:47 PM   #7
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Babies are too small to ride in a child seat or a kids trailer. When young kids are sick it's better for the kid to be in a car going to the doctors. If you do have to get something in a hurry for a very sick kid a car is nice. It will happen. If your kid is very sick and you can't get a cab quickly it may be bad for the kids health.
As the kids get into grade school there will be times when they need transportation to school, events, activities etc. It's one of those things that once you do it you have a better understanding of it, like clipless pedals maybe?

If you have an elderly sick family member that needs to go 60 miles to a special doctor, a car is better.

You can get by most of the time with a cab or renting a car, but with small children a car is better. You can still be car light and save the car for when you really need it. You can also buy a small used car that gets good gas mileage.
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Old 01-23-07, 12:53 PM   #8
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We live 4 blocks from school for 1 kid, ~1.5 miles from daycare for the other, and 7 miles from where I work. Topography was a slight burden pulling the trailer up from the daycare when both kids were going there. I'm just about confident I could pull our 2 yr old in the trailer up a pretty sizeable hill to a different daycare we're considering that is 4 miles from home (but just about directly on my route to work). That daycare is right by our family doc and the hospital in case anything like that comes up during the day (that wouldn't be the reason to switch though). I would still have to keep my hill-climbing ability moving along w/ her growth rate though to keep that up for any period of time.

We do still have a car. I can't really picture toting 2 kids in a trailer if one is a newborn. They need to be able to be strapped into a sitting position and still be able to maintain head control the length of any ride, and defend their own space, if they need to, from the other. I guess that's why there are buses and cabs.

There is also a great LBS near the daycare both kids went to (and one still does). Picture dealing w/ a flat on bike or trailer w/ 2 cranky kids at the end of the day, can appreciate having a shop handy to drop into and say 'fix this'. It's easier to keep the kids from ransacking the store while they fix the flat than to fix the flat yourself with one hand/eye and keep both kids out of the street with the other.
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Old 01-23-07, 01:50 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by nashcommguy
Not having raised a child while living car-free I HAVE been cycle commuting for over 20 years, consistantly.
Yes, and I have cycle commuted consistently for over 30 years and raised three children to adulthood. There is a quite a difference between arranging transportation for just one person (especially to/from one place), and taking care of the transportation needs of a family with dependent children or adults. And the transportation requirements for those with preschool children may be quite different than those of older children or disabled/elderly family members.

I believe many of our simple life AND car free proselytizers do not have a clue about raising a family. Nor recognize that responsibly raising a family cannot depend on assuming that their sincerity can transform their wishful thinking into reality.
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Old 01-23-07, 02:03 PM   #10
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Maybe there are people on this forum who are part of a simple-living, zero car family, with children; but they aren't the ones posting all the advice about how to do it.
This forum also has one busy fellow who visits neither to give nor receive advice about how to do it, but instead to take swipes at those who do, either for their allegedly non-bike-related countercultural agendas, or their car-free-with-kids "gentrified lifestyle," that could only have resulted from a succession of vaguely contemptible deals having nothing to do with bikes.

Fact is the down-payment on our first house was roughly equal to the money we didn't spend on a car for the first decade of our bike-enabled working life, using AAA's reckoning of $8K/pa average car costs. Is it wrong that we were able to rent out the parking spaces on the place for $350/mo? That the place appreciated quickly because it was in a fashionably dense urban area with a burgeoning bike transport culture? Is it cheating that we were able to buy our second house bigger and cheaper in this family-friendly neighborhood because it doesn't have any off-street parking? Our financial stability is as much a product of our car-free living as the other way around.

"How to keep it simple?" doesn't have a simple answer. It's hard; it's a life's work, and every life is different. My neighbor is a single mom of 2 (one 2, the other 7) who bikes everywhere and has never had a driver's license. She doesn't hang out on boards; she's way too busy surviving. Of course it helps that she chose to live in Portland, as we did. Does that make us the exceptions to prove the rule that you can't live responsibly with kids without a car in the US? It's OK, ILTB; I forgive you for failing to find a way, or failing to try; you can quit calling these grapes sour or fake or impossible for real people to reach. How about every time you want to check the car-free forum you go ride your bike instead, or check your transmission fluid or something?

I can tell the OP how to move kids of any age by bike many miles safely and comfortably in principle, but whether the drivers in the area make it safe in reality or psychologically comfortable is beyond me to say. Another reason I hesitate to repeat similar technical advice is because our livelihood is increasingly comprised of selling equipment I've discovered or made for these purposes, and I'm not here to spam. That said, here's some inspiration from Amsterdam, taken on a business trip: http://todd.cleverchimp.com/blog/?p=172
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Old 01-23-07, 03:51 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by tfahrner
"How to keep it simple?" doesn't have a simple answer. It's hard; it's a life's work, and every life is different.
That IS the bottom line. And is the point that the bulk of the counterculture, single or no dependent posters gloss over with their grossly simplified solutions for/generalizations about family transportation requirements.

Hope your family stays healthy and never have need for emergency or personal powered transportation and as your toddlers get older they will always consider you as the center of their universe and wish to remain within the bicycling/public transportation boundries and limits that please you. Your transportation requirements might remain simple that way.
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Old 01-23-07, 05:22 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by KiLlMuNcH
I drive for a living, but ride my bike to work, and around town. but with me second child on the way (my first about to turn 2), im wondering how i can keep on living my simple lifestyle.
I'm wondering why people always ask these questions AFTER deciding to have another child. Why not think it through first?
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Old 01-23-07, 06:24 PM   #13
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I'm wondering why people always ask these questions AFTER deciding to have another child. Why not think it through first?
Gee Patc, don't you think if a person had thought it through first the person
wouldn't have to ask the question so the question wouldn't appear? Not just
with kids but other questions read as though the asker has gotten in an ugly
lifestyle trap before realizing it.

I also agree with the person who posted that car free people with several kids
have better things to do than hang out on bike forums. The ones I know occasionaly look at the local parents or schools forums and thats all the internetting they have time for.
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Old 01-24-07, 02:50 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
By naively speculating about how easy it would be if they had kids and no cars simultaneously during the children's first 18 years? And perhaps also assuming that living in a crowded urban environment like NYC is a desirable place to raise children.

With maybe one exception, (a work at home couple who had several successful real estate deals to finance their gentrified lifestyle), I don't think you will find too much experience based answers to your specific question on this forum.
ILTB, if you have nothing, absolutely nothing to contribute on the subject, please shut up instead of hijacking the thread. Thank you.

--Juha, a Forum Mod
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Old 01-24-07, 07:24 AM   #15
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ILTB, if you have nothing, absolutely nothing to contribute on the subject, please shut up instead of hijacking the thread. Thank you.

--Juha, a Forum Mod

Don't mind ILTB. From what I have gleaned here and on other forums, ILTB fills the bikeforums.net role of contrarian. He often seems to post just to be contrary to whatever subject is being talked about.

If you ignore him, he won't go away unfortunately. But on the plus side his posts can be ignored without affecting the outcome of the discussion at hand.

That being said. "I" am not car free. But I have friends who are completely car free with kids. Now they live downdown Manhatten, so it is easier to be car free than have a car. Heck, they can walk down to the hospital faster than drive. Probably faster than an ambulance to get there.

I would surmise that that this is the biggest factor in being carfree in the US. So much of the country these days is laid out in such a way that it is very difficult to be car free.

-D
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Old 01-24-07, 12:15 PM   #16
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ILTB, if you have nothing, absolutely nothing to contribute on the subject, please shut up instead of hijacking the thread. Thank you.

--Juha, a Forum Mod
I'm sorry, but as much as I hate ILTB's smarmy posts, I think he's raising a legitimate point (for once ).* I would love to hear from carfree parents who've dealt with these issues. I can't address this from personal experience, but I hope that others can.

Obviously, there are millions of them here in the US. Almost every time I take a bus, I see parents with kids of all sizes and ages. this suggests that it certainly is possible to live carfree with children, even if you don't have a lot of money. It should be easier if you are blessed with a good income and decent logistical skills.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KiLlMuNcH
[ . . . . ] im going to need to take my daughter to school, which is about 8 miles, and im going to need to pick up more slack around here while my wife recuops. so basically im asking how do you people with kids keep it simple??
If you HAVE to take your daughter 8 miles to school, you might HAVE to have a car. But have you looked at other altenatives?
  • Carpool with other parents?
  • Does the school have a bus or shuttle?
  • Can you move closr to the school?
  • Can you find a different school, closer to your home?
  • Public transit?
  • Can you move to a less sprawled area all together, where all services and locations would be closer together?


*Addendum for obligatory (but sincere) brown-nosing: Juha, I do appreciate the mods keeping an eye on things here. Thanks!
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Old 01-24-07, 12:33 PM   #17
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I'm sorry, but as much as I hate ILTB's smarmy posts, I think he's raising a legitimate point (for once ).* I would love to hear from carfree parents who've dealt with these issues. I can't address this from personal experience, but I hope that others can.

Obviously, there are millions of them here in the US. Almost every time I take a bus, I see parents with kids of all sizes and ages. this suggests that it certainly is possible to live carfree with children, even if you don't have a lot of money.
Certainly it is possible for those without much money to live carfree with children. Housing projects are filled with such families. The issue is quality of life and would (m)any of those you see taking their children on the bus do so daily if they could afford an alternative? I'd be willing to bet your paycheck that few if any of those bus passengers with children would consider a bicycle a suitable means of year round reliable family transportation.
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Old 01-24-07, 12:38 PM   #18
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Welcome to Bike Forums, KiLlMuNcH. Sorry you got such a nasty greeting.
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Old 01-24-07, 02:00 PM   #19
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Gee Patc, don't you think if a person had thought it through first the person
wouldn't have to ask the question so the question wouldn't appear? Not just
with kids but other questions read as though the asker has gotten in an ugly
lifestyle trap before realizing it.
While it was meant as rhetorical, this is something I consider one of the greatest flaws we humans have. We make decisions (or allow them to be made for us) and only then consider the ramifications.
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Old 01-24-07, 04:51 PM   #20
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While it was meant as rhetorical, this is something I consider one of the greatest flaws we humans have. We make decisions (or allow them to be made for us) and only then consider the ramifications.
That might be the only reason the human race is still around. If people actually thought before procreating and realized all of the ramifications of having children before having them, I think there wouldn't be a whole lot of people on Earth now...
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Old 01-24-07, 05:32 PM   #21
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That might be the only reason the human race is still around. If people actually thought before procreating and realized all of the ramifications of having children before having them, I think there wouldn't be a whole lot of people on Earth now...
Tom Robbins had a good line somewhere (Skinny Legs and All, maybe?) about the value of having kids when you're young and messed up, and the kids' marginal contribution to your total messed-uppedness is the least it ever will be. If you wait until you're old and stable Hurricane Children will totally freak you out.
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Old 01-24-07, 05:55 PM   #22
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That might be the only reason the human race is still around. If people actually thought before procreating and realized all of the ramifications of having children before having them, I think there wouldn't be a whole lot of people on Earth now...
And we would all be much better off.
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Old 01-24-07, 07:05 PM   #23
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And we would all be much better off.
The OP too? Is that your On Topic advice?
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Old 01-25-07, 03:48 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Roody
I'm sorry, but as much as I hate ILTB's smarmy posts, I think he's raising a legitimate point (for once ).* I would love to hear from carfree parents who've dealt with these issues. I can't address this from personal experience, but I hope that others can.
His post would have been very legitimate if it was in reply to posts like "...gee, dunno, don't have any kids or family and I live in Frankfurt Airport with good public transport connections to anywhere in the world. But here's how I do it..." We do get that a lot, too.

But as a first reply to an honest question, I don't think it helped to keep the discussion on track. Hence my rant.

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Old 01-25-07, 05:19 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Juha
His post would have been very legitimate if it was in reply to posts like "...gee, dunno, don't have any kids or family and I live in Frankfurt Airport with good public transport connections to anywhere in the world. But here's how I do it..." We do get that a lot, too.

But as a first reply to an honest question, I don't think it helped to keep the discussion on track. Hence my rant.

--J
You rant came after my predictive post and honest and very legimate advice for the OP (not to expect much advice gained from experience with his situation on this list) was proven right on target. As if on cue, the Usual Posters (without children, or who detest people who have children, or have cars, or know someone who "knows" somebody who lives in the public transportation equivalent of the Frankfurt Airport (Manhattan)) posted their advice to the OP.

I did not predict the one poster who appears to be anything but naive when advising the OP (and other man-woman couples) to practice birth control to improve the world.

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