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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 08-29-07, 05:41 AM   #1
Hasselhof
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How to ditch the car and really really mean it?

G'day everyone

I've come to the conclusion that I'm addicted to my car. Its true, I'm an addict, and I'm here for help.

My situation is fairly simple. I'm a single (no kids), full time student that lives within about 40mins ride of my university, I live right along a major busway, and within 3mins walk of a major train line. I work one day a week at a medical clinic which is just too far away to ride, particularly given that I like to sleep in on Saturday mornings (I have to be at work by 8am on Sat) and there are no shower facilities). The only other time that I can really see myself needing a car is to go visit my parents, however there is no reason I couldn't catch a train to the end of the line and either ride the last 10km or get my little sister to come pick me up (yeah yeah yeah, the lazy option).

So here is the idea. I want to ditch the car. But I only want to ditch the car for 6.5 days a week. What I need though is ideas of where I might be able to leave my car during the week, but in such a way that it is easily retrievable for work on Saturdays... yet not so easy that it becomes a viable option to wuss out on during the week. I'm not sure that I've been too clear but hope someone has understood what I'm trying to say.

I guess some of the options would be
A) leave the car parked (with a steering wheel lock etc) out the front of, say, a friends place that is about 6km away. this way its an easy ride on Sat mornings to retrieve the car and I'll have someone to keep an eye on it.

B) Suck it up, leave the car at the parents and ride ride ride everywhere including work.

C) Get myself a lockup garage some distance from home and use the money I save on fuel to pay the rent.

The car is a bit of a beater... its a 1999 Hyundai Excel that I've not exactly taken care of. The city I live in is relatively safe and as long as nothing valuable is left visible in the car I'm not too worried about it being stolen. Besides, I've got third party property, fire & theft insurance so that would help cover it if it were to disappear.

So... any suggestions? Option A seems like it could be a bit of a goer, but I"m sure there is something I've not thought about. Has anyone else tried this approach? Any success stories? Any dismal failures?

Cheers !

Scott
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Old 08-29-07, 06:04 AM   #2
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Park it somewhere it'll get blocked in

Last edited by Jerseysbest; 08-29-07 at 11:05 AM. Reason: Sleepy
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Old 08-29-07, 06:15 AM   #3
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Park it somewhere it'll get blocked it
Sorry, I'm not quite sure I understand what you're saying
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Old 08-29-07, 07:25 AM   #4
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It really just comes down to not wanting to drive anymore. If you choose option "A" and park it at a friends place it is still close enough to go and get at anytime, which kinda defeats the purpose. Option "C" is kinda the same, except now you gave to pay for a garage too. Option "B" makes the most sense out of the three you have given.

I would just sell the car and ride. When it is your only option it no longer seems like a difficult choice.
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Old 08-29-07, 08:18 AM   #5
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i let a buddy store a trailer in our driveway....my truck was behind the trailer...
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Old 08-29-07, 09:11 AM   #6
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Can you sell the car and get a scooter instead? It's much easier to store, is nearly as fast as a car, and gets much better gas mileage. You'll only ever have trouble when it rains, but I suppose you already own raingear, right?
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Old 08-29-07, 10:33 AM   #7
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I would lean toward the "bike to work on Saturday" option. It seems pretty extravagant to put up with all the expenses of owning a car -- gas, maintenance, insurance, registration fees, depreciation, and maybe even garage rental -- just to drive it to work once a week.

Run the numbers yourself, though. Figure out what insurance, registration fees, and routine maintenance are costing you per week. Add the gas you burn on that Saturday commute, and parking if applicable...and you've just calculated what you will be "paid" each week (tax-free!) to ride your bike to work. (With a one-time cash bonus at the beginning, for selling your car.)

Waking up early on Saturday might be a lot easier once you know you're being well paid for it.


Edit: removed reference to California. I was mixing up two different threads.

Last edited by divergence; 08-29-07 at 01:13 PM. Reason: removed reference to California -- I was mixing up two different threads
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Old 08-29-07, 10:41 AM   #8
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Just do what I did.

Crash your car into a tree.
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"And now I think I'll take a bath"
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Old 08-29-07, 11:00 AM   #9
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How far away is work on Saturday mornings? I think that's the big thing to consider here.
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Old 08-29-07, 11:05 AM   #10
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Sorry, I'm not quite sure I understand what you're saying
Sorry, I just got in when I wrote that. it=in
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Old 08-29-07, 11:47 AM   #11
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I would lean toward the "bike to work on Saturday" option. It seems pretty extravagant to put up with all the expenses of owning a car -- gas, maintenance, insurance, California registration fees, depreciation, and maybe even garage rental -- just to drive it to work once a week.
+1. Saturday morning is a gorgeous time to ride a bike. How far away is that Saturday job?

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I work one day a week at a medical clinic which is just too far away to ride, particularly given that I like to sleep in on Saturday mornings (I have to be at work by 8am on Sat)
If you have to be at work at 8, then you're not sleeping in no matter how you get there. By my standards sleeping in = getting up in the afternoon.
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Old 08-29-07, 11:49 AM   #12
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Another possibility: are there cheap rental options around? Or - hey - even a taxi. If you're resolved to only use the car for two trips a week, a rental car or a taxi might end up costing you less than all the insurance, gas etc. etc.
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Old 08-29-07, 11:57 AM   #13
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Is there any reason why you can't just leave the car where you are and not use it unless you have a significant commute? From the perspective of cost I would say if you have someplace to store the car safely do so and only put insurance on when you need it. I'm not sure about Australia's regulations, but the cheapest bet is some kind of moped/bicycle w/ power assist for the all trips provided you don't have to pay insurance/registration on it. If you want to bicycle for a workout you can whenever you want, but a DIY electric bike is so much cheaper than riding because food prices are high per useful kWh, and much more environmentally responsible for most people given where they get their food. A gasoline moped/bike is more expensive, but still usually cheaper than food, provided there aren't any additional fees besides gas/installation. Iono, it really depends on what you want. A DIY electric bike is the easiest, cheapest, fastest, and cleanest option, and you can still bike normally too.
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Old 08-29-07, 01:57 PM   #14
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auto share or zipcar might work for you, but if you find the commute too far by bike on sat mornings, I suggest trying a taxi or arranging a carpool with a co-worker (cycle to the co-workers place, and grab a ride to work for example).

The biggest benefit of going car free is that you save cash.

The other thing you can do is let a nearby friend use the car in return for a) insuring it (saving you money) and b) letting you use it saturday mornings.

good luck
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Old 08-29-07, 02:44 PM   #15
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Take a class in willpower
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Old 08-29-07, 03:30 PM   #16
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Just do what I did.

Crash your car into a tree.
I tried that, but I just wasn't convincing enough


Thanks for all the replies, its a bit hard to keep a conversation going from the other side of the world unfortunately but I'll give it a go.

The ride on Sat mornings would be a minimum of 20km (I just looked it up on google earth and the straight line distance was 20.4km). Although I could easily cover this distance in say, an hour, the only real way to get from A to B in this case is along THE major highway in my state. 2 lane main road I can handle, but 4 lane highway... not so much The second problem with this idea is that we are about to come into summer in Australia where the temperatures are regularly in the 30 degree range from sunup to sunset, and there are no shower facilities anywhere near work. (FYI. work itself is an outer suburban medical practice so most of the facilities for bike riders that we have in the city centre just don't exist thanks to the Australian car addicted psyche).

That said, I hadn't considered the motorbike / scooter option before and think that may be a winner. I should be able to pick up a Honda CT-110 "postie bike" for about a grand at the auctions and rego / insurance is pretty cheap as its only a single seater. The bike is a 110cc 3 spd centrifugal clutch utility bike used to deliver mail all over Australia so would be a bit more practical and similarly priced to a 50cc scooter.

I suppose one of the hard parts is that I'm not sure that I could sell rid of my car. From an economoic stand point, its depreciated about all it is going to anytime soon (I've owned it since new, but the second hand value of this model car has hardly moved at all for the last 2 years), the insurance costs are minimal, and the car has great utility value. With the rear seats down (and they always are), you wouldn't believe how much gear you can fit into the back of a Hyundai Excel. Unfortunately Australia is full of incredibly vast distances with very little public transport linking the regions and I travel a fair bit for university (mostly for 1-2 month clinical rotations which are up to 2500km away). That said, I think at least in the short term I'd be happy to accept the costs involved of having the car sit immobile for the vast majority of the time, and use that time to break the shackles of car dependence for inner-city living where possible. I also have a very strong emotional attachment to this car (yeah yeah, laugh if you will) which will make selling it when the time comes difficult enough.

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The other thing you can do is let a nearby friend use the car in return for a) insuring it (saving you money) and b) letting you use it saturday mornings.
This is another great idea that certainly has promise. I'll start asking around and see if I can find any interest. It was mentioned in an earlier post that if the car is so close then the temptation will be there to just go and get it, and while I agree that the temptation will most certainly be there, my average trip length is probably less than than the distance to my friends house, in which case it would actually be easier to ride or take public transport to my original destination.

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Take a class in willpower
Yeah but the next class that starts at my local college is in March. My flatmate actually lives car free... has done for about 5 years and I really respect that. Last month her parents went on holiday and offered her their car while they were away, an option she took them up on. She noticed straight away that her desire to walk or use public transport dissapeared instantly, and that the car became her no. 1 preffered mode of transport. By the end of the month she was happy and eager to give the car back so the temptation was gone. We're both happy to accept that we're weak willed individuals... but if the circumstances are right, we're both more than happy to "do the right thing". Pathetic I know, but its the way things are.

Last edited by Hasselhof; 08-29-07 at 03:45 PM.
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Old 08-29-07, 03:56 PM   #17
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Wow, for interests sake I just looked up the public transport options between my unit and work for a Saturday morning, and there is NOTHING!!! I figured that something would exist even if it took 1+ hours with connections, but according to the integrated transport website for my city, not a single viable service exists that would get me to work on a Sat morning.
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Old 08-29-07, 04:41 PM   #18
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So... to translate, your trip on Saturday mornings would be a little more than 12 and a half miles, with temps above 86*F- Sorry, I tried to think in funny numbers, but it always comes back to that Imperial stuff.

You can't go the whole way on public transport, but is it possible to bike halfway and train or bus halfway? I'm assuming you can take your bike on the public system, since you mentioned a train/ bike trip to your parent's place. If you can bike the first half, you'll have time on the bus to cool down, then you can clean up/ change when you get there.

You're a med student, right? Is anyone else in your class assigned to the same clinic and similar hours? If so, could you bike to their place and catch a ride?

j.
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Old 08-29-07, 05:08 PM   #19
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You can get rid of your car and do a fund-raiser at the same time! Find an open lot where the owner will let you do this and make sure you take all of the legal precautions (waivers, getting rid of the glass, gasoline, anything else flammable, etc.). You'll need a sledgehammer. Now, set your car in that open lot and put out a sign to charge $3 per swing (or 5 Swings for $10 or something like that). You will have no option but to trash the car and you'll have some extra cash!
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Old 08-29-07, 05:34 PM   #20
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You can't go the whole way on public transport, but is it possible to bike halfway and train or bus halfway? I'm assuming you can take your bike on the public system, since you mentioned a train/ bike trip to your parent's place. If you can bike the first half, you'll have time on the bus to cool down, then you can clean up/ change when you get there.

You're a med student, right? Is anyone else in your class assigned to the same clinic and similar hours? If so, could you bike to their place and catch a ride?
I've started looking into the half / half option as it could be a good way to go, but it seems that the main problem with public transport is that most of the outer suburban routes don't appear to run that early on a Saturday morning. On a weekday I'd be spoilt for choice, the fact that its on the weekend seems to be the problem. Will have to do some more thorough investigation when I get home this arvo.

Yeah, I'm a first year med student, however this is actually for my job as I'm also a registered nurse. Usually we only have one receptionist (all of whom live a short distance from the clinic), myself and two doctors on a Saturday morning and very few of them live anywhere near me. That said, one of the doctors at my clinic lives about 100m down the street from me so on the weekends that he will be working (about one in six), we've already planned a car pool.

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You can get rid of your car and do a fund-raiser at the same time! Find an open lot where the owner will let you do this and make sure you take all of the legal precautions (waivers, getting rid of the glass, gasoline, anything else flammable, etc.). You'll need a sledgehammer. Now, set your car in that open lot and put out a sign to charge $3 per swing (or 5 Swings for $10 or something like that). You will have no option but to trash the car and you'll have some extra cash!
Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter. sounds like a great idea... but I might leave that as say... plan B.
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Old 08-29-07, 11:35 PM   #21
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Throw your license away. If you literally *can't* drive, you won't.
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Old 08-30-07, 10:10 AM   #22
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Lol - your greeting should have twigged me that your location is Southern Hemisphere Aus, and not the landlocked mountainous one . I imagine snow and rain are not going to be a big problem then. FWIW I just go to work sweaty, it doesn't bother me - but I get that others don't feel the same way (I do wear anti-perspirant though )

If your location is not very rainy, I would totally go for the scooter/motorcycle option.
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Old 08-30-07, 11:16 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by squegeeboo View Post
Just do what I did.

Crash your car into a tree.
That was very unfair to the tree!
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Old 08-30-07, 12:17 PM   #24
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Sell the car and buy a scooter or a motorcycle.

If you just want to get around on motor power AND keep your bicycle, get an electric bike / gasoline engine powered bike ...
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Old 08-30-07, 01:40 PM   #25
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Why not just leave the car parked at your house, but leave the keys at school. Take the keys home on Friday, so you can drive to work.
After you get used to that, you may want to find another way to get to work. It won't hurt to take it step by step though.
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