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  1. #1
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    Going Car-Lite in Seattle

    Hello Car Free forumites! I'm a long time lurker, first time poster here, and I do enjoy reading about how you all manage to do without the automobile as transportation in places that thrive on it. Of course, once I started to like cycling way more than driving in traffic, I decided I'd try to be car-free too.

    Although I currently reside in "The O.C.," I'm going to be moving up north along the West Coast for Puget Sound over the summer after completing my bachelor's degree in college. I have an uncle who's nice enough to let me stay at his place while I go job hunting.

    I posted my plans in another thread that I started, and the fact that I have a parent as an obstacle:
    So How Bike Friendly is Seattle, Exactly?

    I know there are some Seattle-based car free posters here; I've seen you crop up on threads recently, in fact. I'm just figuring that Seattle is a good place to at least go car-lite, if not car-free. I'm single and unattached, so there's no need to worry about a SO or raising a family or anything, yet.

    I've done a lot of research on the feasibility of doing this, including the blog of the family in Ballard, and it also appears that the city of Seattle is trying to encourage people to get rid of their cars: http://www.seattle.gov/waytogo/onelesscar.htm

    I say "car-lite" and not "car-free" because Seattle has a car-sharing program for people who only need a car once a month, instead of everyday. Might come in handy if I have to drive my many cousins around or if I have to carry furniture.

    I've come up with FIVE reasons to do this:

    1. I save money on car repairs, maintenance (I don't know how to fix cars myself), gas costs, insurance (which is like $1900/yr for an under age 26 driver like me...and that's with a SAFE DRIVER discount added in ). My car was paid off by the time I turned 18.

    2. I get exercise. As my username says, I'm a FAT bike nut (BMI 30.9). I was getting fit on my bike 'til it caused enough mechanical problems for me to junk it. I'm looking for a new bike, and with the money I get for selling my car, I can buy several plus the locks/lights/bags/racks/tools/etc. for commuting! Plus, I'd think that cardiovascular exercise is important to get for a guy with a genetic pre-disposition to Heart Disease, don't you think?

    3. I improve my mental health. I'm happy on the bike. My mom worries that I'll get bored, depressed, and then go crazy for cooping myself up at home. With a good, reliable bike, I'm never home!

    4. I don't waste the environment as much. Please don't misunderstand; I am NOT a tree-hugging environmental nut! I just prefer good air quality so I don't choke and have an asthma attack whenever I breathe! In my most recent trip to Puget Sound, I read a newspaper article stating that most of the air pollution in Puget Sound was caused by automobiles

    5. If I REALLY NEED A CAR, just for carrying bulky furniture, etc., then I can join FLEXCAR, and "borrow" a pick-up truck or SUV for a day: http://flexcar.com/CarsLocations/tabid/55/Default.aspx

    What do y'all think?

  2. #2
    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    doesn't Seattle have flex car or zip car?

    I suggest find a job and then find a place to live.
    My Youtube Cycling Videos Here

  3. #3
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Usually you see Seattle rated as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the US. So I bet you'll do fine, especially with some family support (I was thinking more of your uncle and cousins than your mother ).

    BTW, most people on this forum would probably call you carfree, even if you plan to use a car sharing program once in a while.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  4. #4
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fat_bike_nut
    3. I improve my mental health. I'm happy on the bike. My mom worries that I'll get bored, depressed, and then go crazy for cooping myself up at home. With a good, reliable bike, I'm never home!
    What do y'all think?
    I read the thread where you talk about your mother and I'm comparing it to what is used to be like for me growing up in the 1960s. If you told your mother you wanted to get a bicycle and roam the cities, she'd be fine with it as long as you weren't part of a suicide cult.

    Seriously, if that's all she has to worry about, I think she'll get over it. Have fun! Maybe you can urge her to get out on a bike.

  5. #5
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    Well, thanks for the replies.

    wheel: my uncle is letting me crash at his place for free; the idea would be for me to find a job and then move into an apartment close to said job later (to make bicycle or walking commutes more feasible). But thanks for the suggestion

    Roody: thanks for the encouragement. I just don't see the point in owning a car in a place like Seattle when they have a car sharing program in place. If I lived in, say, Fairfax, VA, then I'd keep the car (no offense to the carfree Fairfax people, but I didn't find the streets over there very friendly at all). By the way, I always enjoy reading your posts here, and I think my baby brother hates cars just about as much (or more than) you do. He has a driver's license, but virtually all of his personal transportation has been on foot, bus, or metro train. He's got a bike, but is too lazy to ride it

    gerv: my mother had orthopedic surgery on her knee about 10 years ago. The only aerobic exercise she can tolerate now is walking (which she gets a lot of, by the way; she's far from being a couch potato when it comes to fitness), and even that causes a painful flare up on occasion. Spinning the crankarms is a lot worse for her.

  6. #6
    Senior Member pmseattle's Avatar
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    I am in Seattle and don't have a car. I am also a member of Flexcar. Most of the Flexcars are downtown or close to downtown. As you said in your OP, you can get the Flexcar pickup if you need to move something bulky. The pickup is currently located in the Capital Hill area. You can also simply rent a car once in a while on an as-needed basis.
    It's easier to be car-free if you live downtown, but I live north of the University district, about eight miles from the downtown core, and have no real problem getting around. The transit system is very extensive. There is also good train service along the coast, and you can take your bicycle on the train. You can get up into the mountains by hopping buses from one transit system to the next, and all of the buses have bike racks.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmseattle
    You can get up into the mountains by hopping buses from one transit system to the next, and all of the buses have bike racks.
    Cool. I thought that I'd need a car in order to head into the mountains, too. That's another reason why I kept the Flexcar option in there.

  8. #8
    Member PVyrus's Avatar
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    I love biking around Seattle, especially its many parks and bike trails like the Burke-Gilman. I live slightly North of it right now but like you hope to get closer to the city for easier biking transportation, and it's a fun place overall. The downers might be too many hills, too many cars, and lots of wetness (we don't get a lot of rain, it just rains a lot, lol) but you get used to it. If not there's always the buses and trains. I remember hearing that Portland is more bike friendly than Seattle, but I don't remember why... either way I love it here. Good luck and hope you enjoy your stay!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by PVyrus
    I remember hearing that Portland is more bike friendly than Seattle, but I don't remember why... either way I love it here. Good luck and hope you enjoy your stay!
    Probably because Portland has more bike lanes

    Actually, I looked at a map of Portland with different colorings to mark which streets had bike lanes, and which ones were restricted to cyclists and pedestrians. It looks like you have way more options for travel routes on a bike in Portland than you do in a car. I don't remember how old that map was of course, but that was my impression.

    Hills? Bah. That's what the "granny gear" is for, isn't it?

    Thanks for the "good luck."

  10. #10
    GATC
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    Bus system is great in Seattle. I lived there 5 yrs, seldom more than 2k miles/ yr on the car I had at that time.

  11. #11
    Lanky Lass East Hill's Avatar
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    I don't think you'd have any problems in Seattle. You've got a great attitude, you've got motivation (the heart thing and all), and you don't have SOs to worry about.

    Go for it!

    East Hill
    ___________________________________________________
    TRY EMPATHY & HAVE LOVE IN YOUR HEART, PERHAPS I'LL SEE YOU ON THE ROAD...

  12. #12
    Senior Member
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    Thanks for the encouragement, y'all

    Funny thing about the buses. I have a cousin who took the bus to work when it snowed, while all the rest of my relatives were too afraid to venture out of the house for fear of crashing their cars into things

  13. #13
    GATC
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    Well, it can be quite a sight on the snowiest days to see the articulated buses accordioning their way through some of the steeper slopes, chained wheels spinning furiously...

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