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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 09-21-07, 05:09 AM   #1
shumacher
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Car free and LBS importance?

I live in a college town with a population of about 20,000, and a student body of about 17,000. The city has a vital and active downtown area with lots of small businesses that are closely grouped, promoting walking. There's a great new public skate park with two very successful skate shops near by, and a really impressive number of public parks for the city's size. I moved here from my home town because I really liked the vibe of this place, and because the people seemed so friendly. With photography as a hobby, this city is always giving me angles and views that make me wish I had my camera. I love this place. There are cyclists and pedestrians everywhere, and motorists are tolerant, if not knowledgeable about driving near cyclists.

There are no bike shops.

Oh sure, there was one here three years ago, but they're gone, and the nearest one is twenty-five miles away. I'm not making this trip on a bicycle. Even in a car, it's a pain because the shops are all 35 minutes away, and close an hour after I get off work. By the time I pack up and get out the door, I get about fifteen minutes in the shop before they start locking doors.

As it is, I'm expecting a package from Nashbar at work today, so I'm working around it, but honestly, I'm looking for a little perspective. How do you manage car free without a local bike shop, when a new presta tube for your roadie is a mail-order item? Did you bum rides from friends, do the mail order thing and set yourself up with bike mechanicing stuff and an inventory of parts? Did you sometimes walk a lot?

I'm not car free, but I can see that it might be possible for me, as none of my day-to-day needs are more than three miles from home. Most are within a mile, in fact.
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Old 09-21-07, 08:25 AM   #2
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I have always maintained a stock of normal wear out parts (tubes, tires, cables and chains) and I have always done my own wrenching from age 6 onwards...(got real good at taking them apart the hard part was learning to put them back together) Much as I hate to recommend it, you can buy things like tubes, tires and cables at Walmart/Kmart/Target, also if you happen to have a mom and pop hardware store they may carry some minor bike stuff too. The town I am moving to has a population of 10k and no real LBS. However there is a Lawnmower and Bicycle Repair shop that carries the basics and will order anything I ask for. Keep looking around, there may be somewhere that sells parts. I also do the internet thing for some of the stranger stuff I need. Where I live right now it is a 25 mile trip one way to any LBS...even the lawnmower one

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Old 09-21-07, 08:31 AM   #3
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Lucky for me, there are 7 bike shops within riding distance of my house. Mind you, I live in a city that's about 15 times bigger!
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Old 09-21-07, 08:50 AM   #4
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get a backup beater?
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Old 09-21-07, 09:34 AM   #5
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If you are going to be car free you are going to have to learn how to bike 25 miles on a highway.

Otherwise you have not become car free as much as you have just decided to never leave town.
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Old 09-21-07, 09:52 AM   #6
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If you are going to be car free you are going to have to learn how to bike 25 miles on a highway.
+1. But depending on how broken your bike is, 25 miles on the highway may be dangerous, if not impossible. I think the second bike option --a backup beater, for example, that uses spare parts you can get at walmart or target-- is a good idea.
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Old 09-21-07, 10:16 AM   #7
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With 17,000 students you cannot be alone. Sounds like it is time to see if you and others can start a bike coop. Check with the student center to see about starting a student group. Being car-free is not a solitary activity. Its best done with friends.

Find a couple of people who will at least say they are interested in starting one and have bicycles. Take some pictures of yourself and them in a group with your bicycles, and individual head shots. Contact the school paper to see if they will do an article on your fledgling group. Or maybe they will accept an article that you write. Also check with KLSU to see if they will do a show on your flegling group.

If not, find a place to have a meeting. Advertise the meeting either in the school paper and or with flyers around the campus, especially at the bike racks. Be sure to list your phone/email as a contact. You might want to see if the campus police bicycle patrol would be interested in cooperating. They might help you put on a bike rodeo as a fund raiser. Also see about getting funding for it from the student council.

Then write up an agenda, have your first meeting. Get people to volunteer to help with different aspects of the coop. From there, you are on your way.

If you need help, write to other campus bike coops or groups like Plan B in New Orleans or the Bike Church in Santa Cruz or the Bike Kitchen in Los Angeles.

It's not as hard a task as it may seem at first. You don't need to do it all. Your job is to get people together and have them do the work. At the first meeting, look out for the hustlers who are eager to be active and be sure to assign them tasks. They will become your best friends. And it will look great on your resume.

Last edited by Artkansas; 09-21-07 at 05:20 PM.
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Old 09-21-07, 12:23 PM   #8
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All this that's been said is dead-on. I often get nuts and bolts, and even washers to use as spacers, at Ace hardware. The most common parts you'll need to replace are always at the superstores.

If I were in your position, I'd be watching craigslist for super-cheap or free bikes that you can use for spare parts / building a beater.
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Old 09-21-07, 12:40 PM   #9
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This was my dilemma a few days ago. My friend shipped me a bike that I bought off of him and I ended up stripping the stem screws for the face plate. It was a front loading quill stem. I ordered a new stem, but unfortunately I don't have the tools to replace the old. So I thought about it awhile and came up with a way to take the bike down to my friend's house. He works at the Lbs and has alot of tools not to mention skillz.

This is what I came up with to take the bike to get repairs. I rode this set up about 12 mi .round trip.
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Old 09-21-07, 09:13 PM   #10
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With 17,000 students you cannot be alone. Sounds like it is time to see if you and others can start a bike coop. Check with the student center to see about starting a student group. Being car-free is not a solitary activity. Its best done with friends.

Find a couple of people who will at least say they are interested in starting one and have bicycles. Take some pictures of yourself and them in a group with your bicycles, and individual head shots. Contact the school paper to see if they will do an article on your fledgling group. Or maybe they will accept an article that you write. Also check with KLSU to see if they will do a show on your flegling group.

If not, find a place to have a meeting. Advertise the meeting either in the school paper and or with flyers around the campus, especially at the bike racks. Be sure to list your phone/email as a contact. You might want to see if the campus police bicycle patrol would be interested in cooperating. They might help you put on a bike rodeo as a fund raiser. Also see about getting funding for it from the student council.

Then write up an agenda, have your first meeting. Get people to volunteer to help with different aspects of the coop. From there, you are on your way.

If you need help, write to other campus bike coops or groups like Plan B in New Orleans or the Bike Church in Santa Cruz or the Bike Kitchen in Los Angeles.

It's not as hard a task as it may seem at first. You don't need to do it all. Your job is to get people together and have them do the work. At the first meeting, look out for the hustlers who are eager to be active and be sure to assign them tasks. They will become your best friends. And it will look great on your resume.
Wow. That's something I hadn't considered. Even farming work out, it's still going to take some doing. Plan B is fairly close to me! I'm neither a student nor an alumni at the college here, but I know many people who are, including a cyclist or two. I'll have to talk to some people.
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Old 09-23-07, 02:01 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
With 17,000 students you cannot be alone. Sounds like it is time to see if you and others can start a bike coop. Check with the student center to see about starting a student group. Being car-free is not a solitary activity. Its best done with friends.

Find a couple of people who will at least say they are interested in starting one and have bicycles. Take some pictures of yourself and them in a group with your bicycles, and individual head shots. Contact the school paper to see if they will do an article on your fledgling group. Or maybe they will accept an article that you write. Also check with KLSU to see if they will do a show on your flegling group.

If not, find a place to have a meeting. Advertise the meeting either in the school paper and or with flyers around the campus, especially at the bike racks. Be sure to list your phone/email as a contact. You might want to see if the campus police bicycle patrol would be interested in cooperating. They might help you put on a bike rodeo as a fund raiser. Also see about getting funding for it from the student council.

Then write up an agenda, have your first meeting. Get people to volunteer to help with different aspects of the coop. From there, you are on your way.

If you need help, write to other campus bike coops or groups like Plan B in New Orleans or the Bike Church in Santa Cruz or the Bike Kitchen in Los Angeles.

It's not as hard a task as it may seem at first. You don't need to do it all. Your job is to get people together and have them do the work. At the first meeting, look out for the hustlers who are eager to be active and be sure to assign them tasks. They will become your best friends. And it will look great on your resume
.
I think this is a fantastic idea. It really shows that famous carfree creativity!
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Old 09-23-07, 03:15 PM   #12
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I'm in a community of around 12,000. Our nearest bike shop is in the next community, 20 kilometres away. This year, one person has been offering bike maintenance and repair work from his home. He has his ads up on community bulletin boards and his rates look reasonable. This could be an important service and a nice moneymaker on the side if you're in a college town or other community where a lot of people cycle.
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Old 09-30-07, 07:30 PM   #13
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There are always obstacles with respect to achieving goals, and becoming car free is no different. If you have the mechanical inclination...

Quote:
I have always maintained a stock of normal wear out parts (tubes, tires, cables and chains) and I have always done my own wrenching from age 6 onwards...(got real good at taking them apart the hard part was learning to put them back together
Since I have pulled wrenches in a former life, acquiring a bike stand and the necessary tools was only a matter of time.

You know that feeling of how the bike responds and rides (quietly) just after leaving the LBS? You can have that feeling every day when you do you own wrenching.

I am a strong advocate of the LBS. And I do patronize the shops that give me great service (parts as well as stuff that I can't do, even though that list is shrinking as time goes on), even if the prices aren't the cheapest.

Because our bicycles are our vehicles, learning more and more about maintenance and repair, will only prove to be an advantage to us. I'm not saying you have to carry around all your tools, all the time - but I do carry the basic stuff that will prevent me from walking.
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Old 09-30-07, 10:03 PM   #14
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I am my own LBS.I used to be into the antique/muscle cars.I'm sorry but there's NOTHING that intricate on a bicycle.The only thing I don't do myself is trueing wheels(I'm still working on that one).As long as you have the proper tools(and this site) for the job it's not too difficult.
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Old 10-01-07, 06:46 PM   #15
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Which school are you near, btw?
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Old 10-01-07, 06:55 PM   #16
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Which school are you near, btw?
Southeastern Louisiana University
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Old 10-01-07, 06:57 PM   #17
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SOunds like a buisness opportunity to me. You need to open a bike shop. Even a tiny part time one might do well.
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Old 10-01-07, 09:19 PM   #18
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Does your school have a cycling club or team? That's a place to start. Then take the bike coop ideas that have already been thrown out, and go for it.

My school's cycling club has a shop that's open on friday afternoons, where they'll fix/tune/lube/whatever bikes for other students for free. It's pretty awesome.
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