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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 09-22-07, 10:10 PM   #1
roughrider504
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The car-free teenager thread

Really starting to think about skipping the car. I will be getting my license next year but I am unsure about giving into the car. I have been thinking it is just not favorable for me to own a car. Gas is going up and it will be expensive to insure me being a teenager. Currently, everything I would do with a car I could do on a bicycle. Not to mention helping the environment. School is less than two miles away and I can fix anything mechanically on my bicycles. So what am I asking? Well I am asking about for experiences or advice. I hear a bunch about people living car free, but not anything about teens and car-free living. What do you think?
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Old 09-22-07, 11:11 PM   #2
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I was car free in high school, and always walked to school in less than 15 minutes. I also had a part time job within walking distance of my home. By the time I got my license, there was really no need to change my routine simply because the option to drive became available. If you can deal with it before you're old enough to drive, then you can certainly do the same despite having a license.
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Old 09-23-07, 01:41 AM   #3
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Car-Free Teen

Roughrider504 you are really fortunate to have the knowledge that bicycles can be used for most of your transportation needs. Had I had a clue about this when I was younger I would be a much richer person today.

You don't need to be a car hater just because you ride a bicycle (not that you are one now). Just get a drivers license for those rare occasions when you might need to drive. Sometimes other people might need for you to drive their car. It has happened to me a few times.

You are under the age of 23 you can't rent a car yet, so that isn't a reason to get a license.

Being a car free teen might lead to a little peer pressure. Remember this, the only person who can feel the pressure is you. If you don't give value to negative comments from others about being car free then there can be no real peer pressure.

Teaching your friends about the benefits of being car free might make a difference. Maybe it wouldn't, but at least you will be letting them know of another possibility for their transportation needs.

The layout of your city and the types of mass transit will play a big part in your ability to remain car free easily.

What would your car insurance cost per year? Have your parents looked into it? If your parents make you pay for it, ask yourself if you want to work that many hours to pay for it. Honestly how many hours would you get to drive your parents cars per month? Unless you get your own car it would probably cost way too much per hour of use. Well, many people say any car costs too much to use.

If you can skip car ownership, do it. I wrote a book about money (How to Be Debt Free Fast!). Here is something that will give you a great retirement income; If you invest only $2000.00 per year for the next six years and don't ever invest again, you will retire a millionaire at age 65. This assumes the world doesn't go to hell and the stock market gives the same long term average increase in value. You are young enough to do this. If you wait till you are 21 to start you will lose tens of thousands of dollars in compound interest years from now.

Whaddya think about that?
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Old 09-23-07, 06:06 AM   #4
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My son is 15, he doesn't want a driver's license. He rides everywhere on his road bikes. I'm going to train him how to drive (the RIGHT way, as if he were a bike... invisible and surrounded by nuts) when he's closer to 18. He likes being car-free for now. Many of his peers are fat and disgusting. He's fit. Some of the cheerleader girls bike to school. RWAR !!!
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Old 09-23-07, 06:53 AM   #5
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I am going to use a bike for most things, and use a Ducati for when I need to go longer distances.

Yay for Chrome messenger bags!
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Old 09-23-07, 06:59 AM   #6
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I too was carfree during my teen years. I was 20 before I bought my first car (and still regret it) I rode to school, I had a part time job all the way thru high school and rode my bikes to them too. I say go for it. One thing I did was negotiate with my dad, that if I didn't drive he would help me purchase an expensive bike that I wanted with the savings from the insurance

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Old 09-23-07, 08:30 AM   #7
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I was car-free all through high school. This is the perfect time to do it because:
a) you are probably fitter than your older counterpart
b) no family to take care of (and shuttle around in a car)
c) huge group of peers that will often be driving to the places you want to go. Carpool.

I did take some crap for walking or riding everywhere, but it was all in jest and it made me feel even better about myself. "Not only do these people drive" , I would say to myself, "but they have no perception of the enjoyment I get from not driving." Didn't know what they were missing.
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Old 09-23-07, 10:04 AM   #8
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I'm mostly a lurker. I think I have two total posts, one about how much a mountain bike that was gifted to me was worth and one about fixing the shifting on a bike I picked up at a tag sale. That tag sale bike has become my main carfree transportation. I visit this forum and the commuting forum almost daily.

I'm 18, just graduated high school. My parents gave me a car so i could start driving to school right before my senior year started. after a few months i had had enough. I made the decision to stop driving about half way through that school year. I ended up giving the car back to my parents a few weeks later. Although the car afforded me great mobility, i felt like i was paralyzed, motionless. I hated that feeling, I was so bored, so stressed. also more than half my check from work was going toward car expenses. It was awful. When I first gave up the car I walked to school. It was 3 miles. The walking calmed me and allowed me to think, and the self satisfaction of walking somewhere put a smile on my face. After I discovered the bicycle, i retained all the positives of walking while increasing my distance and speed. I still walk alot, because I feel its good to slow down every once in a while.

My expierence hasn't all been positive. when I first gave the keys back to my parents they didn't uderstand what was going on. After explaining my intentions, my dad was adamantly against what I was planning to do. My dad works in the auto industry and is absolutely car crazed. He also one of the most miserable and money hungry people I know. Well, after becoming car free he has all but stopped talking to me. My mom supports me. In the end I know I have to do what makes me happy.

OP, I thinks it admirable that you realize the negative effects a car can have on your life as well as on society. you may not fully realize the extent of this unless you drive and then go carfree, but learn from the collective past expierences of the people on this forum. bikes can take you all local places that people drive to.
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Old 09-23-07, 11:10 AM   #9
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I'm sixteen years old and trying to go car-free. My family is as supportive as I can ask of them since they love their cars. (We have six cars for six people. My younger sister doesn't even have her license, and obviously I'm not driving a bunch.)

I've had to make some concessions. My family goes out of town a lot, and they won't let me stay home or ride my bike there. Thus I've adopted the principle of riding in cars with at least four people if I absolutely have to according to my parents.

My social life hasn't been affected at all. It's strange, too; I've read all these posts on here about negative remarks from other teenagers, but I've never had anything at all like that. Some people think it's cool. Maybe my classmates accept it since I was already a strange teenager.

Hmm, let's see. Annoying things about teenage years and being car-free. Well, my mom sometimes begs of me to be "normal" and do all the things other teenagers want to do, but I think that is more of an issue between her and me as opposed to having anything with bicycling.

How about siblings? Do you have any? Younger, that is. My mom always wants to me to take my younger sister places which is another annoyance to her.

I love being car-free whenever I can, though.
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Old 09-23-07, 12:21 PM   #10
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I think you are all very wise. My boss' son graduated from high school this June and he received a lot of gift money. By August, it was all gone - spent on gasoline. (He's lucky his parents didn't make him contribute to his car insurance costs.) Fortunately for him, he's at a school that doesn't allow freshman to have a car on campus, and it's enough of a small town that he really won't need one. (Roughrider - Grambling, LA) But he blew through a lot of graduation money before he left...

Roughrider, why don't you just take it a week at a time? See how long you can go without needing a car? You're a very resourceful and creative bike mechanic and innovator. How much can you do with a bike that most people think they need a car for? Challenge yourself.
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Old 09-23-07, 12:25 PM   #11
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Mod note: I stuck this thread and altered the title a little. I think the teenage members of this forum have some unique challenges in being car-free, and deserve their own sticky to discuss those issues.
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Old 09-23-07, 12:31 PM   #12
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What would your car insurance cost per year? Have your parents looked into it? If your parents make you pay for it, ask yourself if you want to work that many hours to pay for it. Honestly how many hours would you get to drive your parents cars per month? Unless you get your own car it would probably cost way too much per hour of use. Well, many people say any car costs too much to use.
Not sure about the costs, but I'd bet it wouldn't be cheap. If my parents would give me a vehicle, it would be my dad's truck. That brings up another subject, a truck! Bleh! Don't get me wrong, I like cars. I like little old cars that have souls. Not huge trucks that will take my whole paycheck at the pump, not to mention it runs pretty bad. I know if I had it, it would sit, a lot.

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One thing I did was negotiate with my dad, that if I didn't drive he would help me purchase an expensive bike that I wanted with the savings from the insurance
Good point. Just about two months cost of insurance could build me a real nice utilitarian bicycle. Having a useful bike would reinforce being car free.

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Maybe my classmates accept it since I was already a strange teenager.
Yeah, that is about right for me too. Not one other person rides a bicycle to my school. I am considered weird but eh, I don't really care.

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How about siblings? Do you have any?
I have an older sister. That could be what started me wanting to be car-free, actually. Her getting a car caused a lot of drama. The thing was not reliable at all which caused alot of problems. That is when I started thinking, you know what! I don't need that.
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Old 09-23-07, 12:33 PM   #13
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I'm 19 and car-free. In high school I really wanted a car, because I lived far from anything. Now I'm in college full-time, and I live in town/on campus, and I can do absolutely anything I want to on a bike. I bike to work, dates, bars, and class. (pretty much in that order ) and I actually went bike camping last night, which I recommend. I think that we're going to be the generation that really cracks the lid open on bike culture and sends it out to the masses.
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Old 09-23-07, 05:02 PM   #14
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Roughrider, why don't you just take it a week at a time? See how long you can go without needing a car? You're a very resourceful and creative bike mechanic and innovator. How much can you do with a bike that most people think they need a car for? Challenge yourself.
I thought about this when I was looking out of my shop at the rain this afternoon. Without a car, I will have to brave the elements. So, thinking about your post I grabbed my jacket and went ride. Not bad at all, almost pleasant.
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Old 09-23-07, 05:47 PM   #15
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You can walk those two miles, driving would be a waste in every sense of the word.
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Old 09-23-07, 06:33 PM   #16
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I'm a huge car guy, but I'm considering primarily using my bike even when I have my license. I'm in a small town, so it will be easier, and I'll likely enjoy it more. The car will be for highway duty and cruising for fun
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Old 09-23-07, 07:07 PM   #17
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I probably should add that my children are both in college or grad school My DS is living in Leeds, England and is car free. He depends on mass transit and is looking for a beater bike. He has never owned a car. My DD is a senior at a smaller college, she owns a 15 year old car that sees maybe 5,000 miles a year, mainly when she comes home for holidays and at the end of the year. What cracks me up is that she owns a kayak and a nice MTB...each of those cost more than her car

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Old 09-24-07, 01:12 PM   #18
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I had the same problem when I was a teenager. I put off getting a drivers liscence until I was 17.
I passed the road test on the first try, which is easy because cyclists already know the rules of the road.

People ought to get their facts straight. Fact is, 99% of bicyclists have a car. As I stated in the first paragraph; cyclists allready know the rules of the road.

And I can afford both a bike and a car. I don't know when was the last time someone had to choose between a bike OR a car.

This article sums it up:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle2500754.ece

It's more likely that the motorist can't afford a bicycle, at leats not a high-end or decent one.

I don't know why cars are pushed on teenagers. Human legs only get stronger untill the mid-twenties.

And when a teenager drives a car, all your friends , and your friends friends, want a ride in the car. That cause accidents, because of the distraction, and has been banned in some states.

Yes, you should get a liscence, but it should be easy to pass the road test on the first try, you already know the rules of the road. "No Sweat".
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Old 09-24-07, 08:21 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by roughrider504 View Post
I thought about this when I was looking out of my shop at the rain this afternoon. Without a car, I will have to brave the elements. So, thinking about your post I grabbed my jacket and went ride. Not bad at all, almost pleasant.
Well, with all the PNWers on this forum, you know where to go for raingear advice.
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Old 09-26-07, 12:21 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by kjohnnytarr View Post
I'm 19 and car-free. In high school I really wanted a car, because I lived far from anything. Now I'm in college full-time, and I live in town/on campus, and I can do absolutely anything I want to on a bike. I bike to work, dates, bars, and class. (pretty much in that order ) and I actually went bike camping last night, which I recommend. I think that we're going to be the generation that really cracks the lid open on bike culture and sends it out to the masses.
same with me(and i agree with the last sentence!). in high school, i was from upstate, NY where a lot of things we're pretty far from each other. now that im out of HS, ive since moved to LA and got a bike as soon as i got out here. havent thought about getting a car since. i could not begin to fathom having car payments/insurance while living here. plus the last thing LA needs is another motorist!(bleh)... if it wasn't for school, i would be else where in CA, but thats neither here, nor there. good luck!
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Old 09-26-07, 08:56 AM   #21
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I lived car free all through high school and college. I owned a Pegeot bike. I took transit and lived near Montreal, a city with probably the best transit in Canada. However, my bus ride to Montreal was at least an hour because I was off the island. I did no need a car until I moved, joined the Army at 20 years of age, then I lived in a city with poor transit. I asked to put myself on my Dad's insurance as a second driver, for those weekend trips to the ski hill and dates. Face it, we are slaves to the oil companies and to the Auto Culture!
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Old 09-30-07, 04:20 PM   #22
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The only reason i don't have a car is i can not afford one.

If i got one it wouldn't be for utility use (or commuting). It would be for some serious tinkering, crazy joy rides and all the track days i can find. But that, of course, is if i could afford a car in the first place.

Affording a car, from my point of view, is not buying some rundown car but getting a $10,000 car and not having to worry about it. Other wise theres no fun.

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Old 09-30-07, 05:18 PM   #23
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I didnt get my license til i was 17......senior in high school.....2 months after i graduated i got a DUI...im not even really a drinker but this was one of the few times i did.......i was car free for 13 months and when i look back on it in retrospect it might have been a good thing......i rode that bike everywhere

now its 20 yrs later and i just got back into bikes.......had a 3 yr period of mtb'n about 10 yrs ago but never considered usin a bike for more than fun.....we used to drive 2 hours away to ride then drive 2 hours back......since then ive tried to use my car less and less.....i finally got a decent bike and ive been ridin for work and it feels great.....i still use my car but im really tryin to atleast go car light

as others have said......i wish i never got into the car lifestyle but i did.....i really hope you guys are right and the bike makes a comeback as a common form of transportation.....i dont know if its just because im on a bike now but i see alot more bikes on the road lately
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Old 10-01-07, 03:39 PM   #24
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I'm so impressed with you guys! This thread makes me feel better because you are willing to get away from cars and see that life can be so awesome without them. I've been car free for over seven years now and I hope that I can stay away from them. I do use a car sometimes, but I haven't owned one since 2000. I've owned one car in my life (I'm thirty now) and one motorcycle. I wouldn't mind having a motorcycle again for my commute to work, but I still love riding my bike for everything else.
Just stay away from them and you're life will be simpler and healthier. Congrats my friend....
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Old 10-01-07, 04:59 PM   #25
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Thanks, halfro. I know our generation (gen Y?) does some pretty stupid stuff, so it feels good when at least some of us have one big thing figured out. Like I said earlier, I think the generation that's in its teens now is gonna be the one to really blow the lid off of the car-free culture, and unleash it on the masses.
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