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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 03-30-07, 02:49 PM   #1
Lurch
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Gave away the car

About two weeks ago, I gave my car to a young pizza delivery guy. This act wasn't as generous as it sounds because, although it was a reliable vehicle, at 10 years old and classified as a "rolling total loss" by State Farm after a hailstorm 4 years ago, it wasn't worth much. Giving it up also wasn't as rash as it sounds since we still have my wife's car. Two years ago we downsized from a suburban house to an urban condo and since then it has been easy to walk or use bicycles and city buses for most of my transportation needs. My wife isn't as enthusiastic about biking or riding a bus, but very few 58-year old women are. However, we both walk to appointments and nearby businesses and restaurants regularly, something we could not do at our last house. I am 63 years old and we are both retired and maintain a fairly busy schedule of volunteer activities. There is a good system of sidewalks, trails and bike lanes in our area which makes traveling under one's own power feasible. For me, getting around by bike is much more enjoyable than driving even on the rare occasions when traffic is light. When the weather is bad, there are two bus routes within half a block of our condo and the local buses have bike racks. It is amazing how much driving most of us do. Almost everything about the typical suburban lifestyle is detrimental to our health as well as the environment. However, keeping everyone in constant motion is probably very good for the economy.

Anyway, I bike a 15-mile round trip to one volunteer job 2 or 3 times per week as well as other trips of lesser and greater lengths. It is very gratifying to get around under my own power and at a pace that allows enjoying the scenery. That is especially true now that spring is in full bloom here. I am still looking for the perfect commuter bike with my Bianchi Bergamo being the best one so far. A better chain guard and less chain maintenance are my goals now. It would be nice to try an 8-speed hub to see if the gear range would cope with our hilly terrain.

Yes, we are not car-free, but it feels like a significant step for us. This is the first time since 1967 that I haven't owned a personal motor vehicle. It is liberating although a bit disconcerting not to have an automobile at one's full-time disposal. I don't think I would have taken this step without the encouragement gathered from other bike forums participants. For that, I thank you.
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Old 03-30-07, 03:42 PM   #2
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Way to go..so you're back to being 23 again.

You can always rent a car whenever you want. Actually you will now have the money to do so, and walk away at the end of the rental without having to watch it depreciate in your driveway.

Take in some movies/plays/restraunts with the cash you would've spent on that vehicle.

Thanks for walking the walk and inspiring all of us 40 year olds too.. lol

cheers
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Old 03-30-07, 04:01 PM   #3
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Congrats

Selling my car was one of the best things I've ever done.
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Old 03-30-07, 06:57 PM   #4
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Good job, Lurch! I think carfree urban retirement is going to be a big trend in the future.
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Old 03-30-07, 07:58 PM   #5
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My trek L200 with 8 speed hub and fully enclosed chain works for hills. You can swap out the rear sprocket to get lower gears. Also check out
http://www.dutchbikes.us/

for other 8-speed enclosed chain options. Your wife might feel more comfortable on one of those European bikes with the step through frame.

On my way to car free I gave away a nice BMW R-100 motorcycle but sold the car. Somehow I feel better about the giveaway than the sale. The receiver liked it better and the give away was a clearer statement of my values so the gift generated more total happiness or contentment than the sale. I know that the capitalists say that the sales generate more happiness than gifts because sales are more selfish but I think in this instance they are wrong. I am happier about the gift and I'm pretty sure the reciever of the BMW was happier with the transaction than the purchaser of the car.
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Old 03-30-07, 08:27 PM   #6
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Yea I gave my car to a church. They even towed it away since it didn't work and needed new tags.

Way to go. I like giving things away makes me feel good.

1000 Kharma points for da man! Maybe you will get a free pizza.
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Old 03-30-07, 11:05 PM   #7
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If you give away your car, be sure to do what it takes to legally transfer ownership to the other person. I failed to do so (I've never dealt well with beauracracy), and received an $800.00 towing bill about 8 months after I gave the car away. Apparently, the new owner had given the car to a third person, and, since the plates were still good, no one in the chain had seen fit to re-register the car. Fortunately for me, the person to whom I gave the car was a man of spotless character, and he took care of it; otherwise, legally, I would have been liable for the full amount of the bill.
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Old 03-30-07, 11:40 PM   #8
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Congratulations, Lurch!

My dad is in a similar situation. He retired recently (after working 30+ yrs for an auto company ), and now rides his bicycle or take public transportation to his volunteer works. He still owns a car, but it's mostly used for driving elderlies and people with limited mobility to hospitals (one of this volunteer works). He doesn't really like to own a car, and he is thinking about getting rid of it soon... But anyway, I think he feels liberated that he no longer works for a company whose goal is to sell more cars, and he seems much happier doing volunteer works and playing with his grand kids.
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Old 03-31-07, 01:50 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Platy
Good job, Lurch! I think carfree urban retirement is going to be a big trend in the future.
the other day at the bike shop i talked to an 86 year old guy buying a folder.
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Old 03-31-07, 08:05 AM   #10
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Stuck with my car?

I need advice. During my divorce ten years ago, my wife got everything including both cars. I was carless. (I gave her everything, I wanted OUT!) I was much happier for the next six years, living carless. I was lucky to live in a small mountain ski resort community and everything was within a few miles. My bicycle commute to work was along a nature trail, over a wooden walkway and quiet back streets. I WAS much HAPPIER WITHOUT MY CAR. Then there was the bonus. Better for my health, the planet, road ragers, suicidal squirrels, my well being etc. I figured out during that time, I frickin hate cars. So I bought a small motorcycle to get the thirty miles down the mountain to my doctor, dentist etc. I then crashed the motorcycle, blew out my ACL, had two knee surgeries and pins, donor ligiments etc. After a year I was back on the bicycle, and sold the motorcycle. Then came two back surgeries, (2nd and 3rd) and a double hernia surgery. Back to owning a car. Damn. I moved to Oregon last year, and face carpal tunnel surgery on both wrists and possibly shoulder surgery. My wife who I divorced ten years ago, was killed in January by falling asleep at the wheel and driving off a cliff. I fricking hate cars.

Here is my quandery. I want to sell my car, or even give it away. But then what? How do I get around? An electric scooter? I have been thinking about that seriously because I pay carbon credits to my electric company to ensure my money just goes to generating wind power. For long trips I can always rent a car. The scooter would be my transport when I am in too much pain, recovering from surgery or too lazy to ride my bicycle. I would still feel bad, because of the cost to the enviroment that the manufacture etc., that the ownership of the scooter would bring. Neurotic? Maybe, I just think responsible. Public transport like busses etc. is off the table, as I am retired firefighter paramedic with severe chronic PTSD, I have a hard time being around people. I want to smash in their ignorant selfish faces. Neurotic? Oh yes. So. Help? What would you do, if your body was falling apart, but you must get rid of your car, to save your soul? (and the planet, and having my kids lose both parents to car wrecks etc.?)

Lurch, I am proud of you. How much are those condos? lol
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Old 03-31-07, 09:14 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by treefire
What would you do, if your body was falling apart, but you must get rid of your car, to save your soul? (and the planet, and having my kids lose both parents to car wrecks etc.?)
From what you say above, I think your have some karma around vehicles. I would be frightened to get in one. But it sounds like you would be willing to undertake the changes needed... but you just have to relax and think all the consequences through carefully.
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Old 03-31-07, 10:31 AM   #12
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Electric vehicles are available given your situation doesn't demand extreme range. The initial investment and cost per mile is high because nobody is subsidizing electric power transportation, but it's an option. I did a lot of research on alternatives to oil based transportation, and I discovered that the electric assisted bicycle is the only thing that really competes with ICE vehicles in terms of cost per mile. The bicycle is just so inherently efficient that nothing can match it. The problem is that for one reason or another ebikes can't breakout into the mainstream. However, there are still more ebikes offered by the big brands than recumbents, but in my estimation the ebike phenomenon is just beginning take off in the states.

If I were in your situation and most my routes were bike friendly and money was not a big consideration, I would get an electric-assisted tadpole trike something like this:

http://www.wizwheelz.com/ttpowercruiser.htm

If you're modestly skilled with your hands and had an existing bicycle/tricycle to donate to the project, you could build your own for a fraction of the cost. The only investment you really need in this case is time and creativity. In any event, fortune in your quest.
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Old 03-31-07, 11:21 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by treefire
What would you do, if your body was falling apart, but you must get rid of your car, to save your soul?
Hi treefire, I don't really know what your situation is like. So I don't know what I would do if I were in your situation, and this is not meant to be an advice of any sort. But this is what I am wondering... Are you getting any help with your PTSD? I don't know much about PTSD, so I'm curious how difficult it is to treat it. Maybe it is very difficult, maybe there is not much anyone can do to help you with you wanting to "smash in their ignorant selfish faces". I don't really know. But it seems like if you want to "save your soul" in a greater sense, you might want to consider getting some help with your PTSD (that is, assuming that you are not getting any at this point). And if/when you overcome it, maybe you can start taking public transportation. Take care.
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Old 04-01-07, 07:33 PM   #14
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What would you do, if your body was falling apart, but you must get rid of your car, to save your soul? (and the planet, and having my kids lose both parents to car wrecks etc.?)
Hi Treefire,

Okay, I don't know what to say that would begin to answer your question. I do want to thank you for your response and encouragement. Have you tried talking to any sort of counselor about your PTSD? My experience with counseling and counselors has been mixed. They are not all worthwhile, but if you find one that you connect with they can make a big difference. It may not be easy to find someone to talk to and can be even harder to keep trying when the first one(s) don't work out. The VA is a good, if overworked source, but it isn't available to everyone. Depending on your circumstances and local resources, you might try starting with your retirement system or local health care organization. Peace of mind is every bit as valuable as good knees, so please consider finding someone to help you work on that aspect of your health.
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Old 04-02-07, 08:14 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by wheel
Yea I gave my car to a church. They even towed it away since it didn't work and needed new tags.

Way to go. I like giving things away makes me feel good.

1000 Kharma points for da man! Maybe you will get a free pizza.


I tried to give my car away to a church or Rescue Mission but they didn't want it as it was a 1987 VW Golf. Too old they said. So I gave it to my next door neighbor who is retired and can't afford a car. It was better than selling it for 500$. Unfortunately the subframe broke this spring and it is not worth fixing.

Giving the car away was the best move I have made in a long time. Too bad it wasn't a better car,then my neighbor would still be driving.
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Old 04-02-07, 08:55 AM   #16
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Thanks to all of you for your advice. Yes, I have sought counseling. I am in counseling and taking headmeds for the PTSD, and have been seeing different professionals for it for over a year. But this isn't a PTSD forum. So back to .....I think if I get rid of my car, things will work out. I will either ride my bike, or I won't. I live in Oregon and the infrastructure for cycling is awsome. But the winter temperatures.....zero degrees with wind? I must buy some spiffy clothes for the cold, and a beater bike for the dark season, because in that kind of cold, with snow, at fifty years old, I am a sissy. But a PET trike, or electric tadpole trike just might be the way to go. I can rent a car when needed. No bus. Viva la revolution!
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Old 04-02-07, 11:30 AM   #17
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"Two years ago we downsized from a suburban house to an urban condo and since then it has been easy to walk or use bicycles and city buses for most of my transportation needs. My wife isn't as enthusiastic about biking or riding a bus, but very few 58-year old women are. However, we both walk to appointments and nearby businesses and restaurants regularly, something we could not do at our last house. I am 63 years old and we are both retired and maintain a fairly busy schedule of volunteer activities."

You & your wife may be more normal ,in the not to distand future, than you might think. IMO
more babyboomers will wake up to the very real value of being car free or car light as a way
to live a better life on less money. You wife may come to see that there is real value for her
by leaving the car sit and either walk or ride a bike as that will become the new norm as petrol
runs out.

I've been an avid utility cyclist for years with my wife not being interested. Now that I'm retired
we've slowly adjusted to not having all the responsiblities of a working life slowing down to savor
life at a much slow pace. She now insist that I get her 3speed bike ready first thing in the spring.
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I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

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Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 04-02-07, 12:14 PM   #18
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Another thing to consider about carfree retirement. If we live long enough, our sons or daughters may eventually come around and gently take away our car keys. It's good sense to make a retirement plan that works without complete dependence on a car.
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Old 04-02-07, 12:37 PM   #19
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Its interesting, my parents are about the same age as you, and they too are attempting to sell their suburban house, for a smaller urban one and avoiding the use of cars.
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Old 04-02-07, 12:44 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by treefire
Thanks to all of you for your advice. Yes, I have sought counseling. I am in counseling and taking headmeds for the PTSD, and have been seeing different professionals for it for over a year. But this isn't a PTSD forum. So back to .....I think if I get rid of my car, things will work out. I will either ride my bike, or I won't. I live in Oregon and the infrastructure for cycling is awsome. But the winter temperatures.....zero degrees with wind? I must buy some spiffy clothes for the cold, and a beater bike for the dark season, because in that kind of cold, with snow, at fifty years old, I am a sissy. But a PET trike, or electric tadpole trike just might be the way to go. I can rent a car when needed. No bus. Viva la revolution!
I thik the little electric scooters are cool, especially if you don't need to make any long trips. They're pretty cheap and easy to find. They should also have good resale value if you want to sell it after your recovery. Hopefully the recovery from your wrist surgery will only take a few weeks, and then you'll be good to ride again!

I have problems with both wrists. I'm able to ride just fine, but of course everybody is different. Not riding is probably not the best way to go. Explain to your surgeon that you want to be treated as an athlete, with special care for getting back in shape to ride ASAP.

As for the PTSD, like others said, stick with the counseling and the meds. If your current counselor is ineffective, try to find somebody else. There have been a lot of changes in treatment in the last couple years, so look for somebody who has good recent training and lots of experience with PTSD. I would suggest a PhD psychologist if you're looking for somebody new.

Good luck, treefire and keep us posted.
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Old 04-02-07, 12:49 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lurch
About two weeks ago, I gave my car to a young pizza delivery guy. This act wasn't as generous as it sounds because, although it was a reliable vehicle, at 10 years old and classified as a "rolling total loss" by State Farm after a hailstorm 4 years ago, it wasn't worth much. Giving it up also wasn't as rash as it sounds since we still have my wife's car. Two years ago we downsized from a suburban house to an urban condo and since then it has been easy to walk or use bicycles and city buses for most of my transportation needs. My wife isn't as enthusiastic about biking or riding a bus, but very few 58-year old women are. However, we both walk to appointments and nearby businesses and restaurants regularly, something we could not do at our last house. I am 63 years old and we are both retired and maintain a fairly busy schedule of volunteer activities. There is a good system of sidewalks, trails and bike lanes in our area which makes traveling under one's own power feasible. For me, getting around by bike is much more enjoyable than driving even on the rare occasions when traffic is light. When the weather is bad, there are two bus routes within half a block of our condo and the local buses have bike racks. It is amazing how much driving most of us do. Almost everything about the typical suburban lifestyle is detrimental to our health as well as the environment. However, keeping everyone in constant motion is probably very good for the economy.

Anyway, I bike a 15-mile round trip to one volunteer job 2 or 3 times per week as well as other trips of lesser and greater lengths. It is very gratifying to get around under my own power and at a pace that allows enjoying the scenery. That is especially true now that spring is in full bloom here. I am still looking for the perfect commuter bike with my Bianchi Bergamo being the best one so far. A better chain guard and less chain maintenance are my goals now. It would be nice to try an 8-speed hub to see if the gear range would cope with our hilly terrain.

Yes, we are not car-free, but it feels like a significant step for us. This is the first time since 1967 that I haven't owned a personal motor vehicle. It is liberating although a bit disconcerting not to have an automobile at one's full-time disposal. I don't think I would have taken this step without the encouragement gathered from other bike forums participants. For that, I thank you
.
I think you're doing great!!! Keep it up and keep us posted.

I'm only 51, but one thing I'm very aware of is the importance of staying fit as I get older. Getting a lot of vigorous execise is the best thing I know of as we get older. Walking and riding are both great. Personally, I think it's also important to get exercise that develops strength, flexibility and balance. Even 80 year olds have been shown to benefit greatly from weight lifting as well as cardio exercises like cycling and walking.
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Old 04-03-07, 08:41 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Platy
Good job, Lurch! I think carfree urban retirement is going to be a big trend in the future.
And with the saved money it will happen a lot early. (At least I'm hoping for me it will).
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Old 04-03-07, 09:26 AM   #23
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And with the saved money [retirement] will happen a lot early. (At least I'm hoping for me it will).
I calculate that having the skills to live carfree is roughly equivalent to having an extra quarter of a million dollars in your retirement account.

The rule of thumb is, to cover an annual expense of $X in retirement you need to have $25*X invested. This accounts for both historical investment returns and life expectancies. Of course you have to also pay taxes on whatever investment income you have.

Thus $250,000 invested during retirement supports an annual withdrawal of $10,000, giving let's say $8,000 after taxes. (The Bush tax cuts have been more generous to investors in the last few years, but I expect they cannot be extended very far into the future.) $8,000 is about what the American Automobile Association estimates for total annual cost of ownership for one average vehicle. You can craft a scenario where your out of pocket expenses are less than the AAA estimate, but it will probaby involve doing all your own repairs, going with mimimal insurance coverage, and making no provision for replacing the car at the end of its life.
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Old 04-03-07, 11:28 AM   #24
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I calculate that having the skills to live carfree is roughly equivalent to having an extra quarter of a million dollars in your retirement account.

The rule of thumb is, to cover an annual expense of $X in retirement you need to have $25*X invested. This accounts for both historical investment returns and life expectancies. Of course you have to also pay taxes on whatever investment income you have.

Thus $250,000 invested during retirement supports an annual withdrawal of $10,000, giving let's say $8,000 after taxes. (The Bush tax cuts have been more generous to investors in the last few years, but I expect they cannot be extended very far into the future.) $8,000 is about what the American Automobile Association estimates for total annual cost of ownership for one average vehicle. You can craft a scenario where your out of pocket expenses are less than the AAA estimate, but it will probaby involve doing all your own repairs, going with mimimal insurance coverage, and making no provision for replacing the car at the end of its life.
That's assuming you don't become carfree until you retire. If you're carfree your whole life then the money you save can basically fund your whole retirement.
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Old 04-03-07, 11:54 AM   #25
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I think you're doing great!!! Keep it up and keep us posted.

I'm only 51, but one thing I'm very aware of is the importance of staying fit as I get older. Getting a lot of vigorous execise is the best thing I know of as we get older. Walking and riding are both great. Personally, I think it's also important to get exercise that develops strength, flexibility and balance. Even 80 year olds have been shown to benefit greatly from weight lifting as well as cardio exercises like cycling and walking.
Tell me about it. Before my grandfather passed away at age 93, he was able to do quite a bit of exercise for a guy his age. I think part of his longevity was due to exercise (and part was definitely due to diet--he was a very picky eater and refused all sorts of foods that he believed would cause heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.). Even in his 80's, I've seen him do stretches (he could STILL TOUCH HIS TOES IN HIS 80's) and calisthenic routines like push-ups.
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