I'm posting this because of someone else's comment about what makes us become car free... I figure it's long, it should be in it's own thread... Feel free to add your own stories! Should be interesting.
I've ridden bikes since I was young... I realized that my bike could take me a lot further than my feet could. Even as a teen I stayed on the bike... I'm pretty independent and I didn't like to ask people for ANYTHING. I can't remember a time when my family had fewer than three working vehicles, and that even with only ONE licensed driver.
When I got my first job, I rode my bike to work every day, and when I got my first paycheck, I went down and bought my first ever NEW bike. The entire rest of the summer I took home $20 a week while working full time at a pretty good pay rate... the rest went into a savings account through my work. At the end of the summer I bought a computer for $1,300 cash. (Through the company I was working for... they were getting a pretty sizable discount... about a $500 discount on that computer over what I saw similar computers going for.)
I did get my driver's license when I was 16... but only because there was only one licensed driver in my family and I wanted it just in case something bad happened. I don't think I drove any of the family cars more than a dozen times, and even then, it was because someone ELSE needed to go somewhere.
When I turned 18 I went into the Navy... Guess what? Everyone else is car free in boot camp, too! And the majority of them are car free during schooling.
I did buy a car then, which I drove for around 2 years before it's engine blew... and I promptly bought another, and got ripped off pretty severely by the sales company. (They stole $3,600 from me. Essentially twice: My down payment, plus what I paid to pay off my old car... I was stranded in Boise, Idaho, and in a hurry to be on my way... I didn't pay NEARLY enough attention to the paperwork... turns out they rolled what I owed on the old car into the new car loan and never gave me credit for the money I paid them... I got f#$#ed.)
A year and a half later I got fed up with dealing with the bank and told them to come get their damn car... and went back to being car free for the next several years.
Being in the military is a fairly easy place to be car free... especially if you're living on a ship or in the barracks. Everything you absolutely NEED is easily within walking distance, there's always mass transit close by, plus you've always got friends that have cars.
When I was stationed in Bremerton, Washington I met my future wife. We were both stationed at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. We moved into a place that was less than a half block from one of the gates... it actually took me about a third of the time to WALK to the ship that it would take for someone to drive me there. And driving myself to work??? The parking lot was further from the pier than my house! Can't ask for much better than that!
We got a car, which we had for about 9 months... in that time it was stolen twice (by supposed 'friends') and had several minor issues. The last issue happened while I was out to sea, and she had a shop 'fix' it... well they did a lousy job, it broke down, and was left in a parking lot, where it was towed in less than 3 hours.... by the time my wife found out where it was, they were claiming over $800 in towing and storage fees... so she let them keep it.
After about a year and a half of car free, we bought a jeep... it was fine until the head gasket blew after about a year... then we got a Ford Escort.... which served us very well until some lady demolished it making an illegal left turn. So we went back to car free for a year. then bought the most recent vehicle, a full-size Chevy Blazer... Which was always breaking down, or needing replacement parts. Finally, when the transmission went out on it, I just didn't fix it... I left it there and just rode my bike (I'd been doing that on and off, anyway, as the 4x4 lifted blazer with 31" tires doesn't get very economical gas mileage! )
So... I've been without a personal vehicle since February 2006, and I'm in NO hurry to change that!