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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 10-05-07, 07:10 PM   #1
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Helping your family chuck a bad habit

I'm just wondering how others out there accomplish this? I have pretty much illustrated to everyone in my family that you can use a bicycle for about 90% of your urban transportation needs. I bike to work, shopping, entertainment....

Still, they seem to linger on with a dependency on the car. My wife, for example, has an excellent commuter style bike, but seems unwilling to join me on a bike-to-shop trip. My sons seem likewise disposed to bike for pleasure, but seldom for transportation.

Anyone here work their way through this?
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Old 10-05-07, 07:23 PM   #2
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I think its just something that some people will never get and some people will take a while to get. I know it took me about 10 tries before I convinced my girlfriend that she didnt HAVE to drive 0.15mi across the parking lot to the apartment complexes gym! Now she just takes the folder bike I keep in the living room. I think I am the opposite of your sons. I cant ride more then 8 miles or so for "fun". But I love to do 20+ miles of running errands.

Just keep leading by example and they will come around.
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Old 10-05-07, 09:15 PM   #3
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im the same way MBGS, i cant seem to get out and joyride. thats why i started usin my bike for work, i had a destination. im prety much the same way with my car. if goin anywhere i try and get all my errands done in that one trip

i dont even bother gerv. i already get the 'your serious' look enuff. ive only been back on the bike for a few weeks but i noticed really quick that cars dont want me there. its definatly a choice that only few even want to consider. i cant even get my friends to go for a casual ride just for fun nevermind for anything else.
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Old 10-05-07, 10:27 PM   #4
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I guess that to go car-free, you'd really need, sooner or later, to have a trailer. Would you agree? Perhaps chucking the car habit requires a whole new concept regarding how one hauls stuff around. Food shopping for three or four, for instance, once or twice a month, probably doesn't fit in panniers.
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Old 10-06-07, 05:36 AM   #5
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If your sons take the bus to get somewhere, and you pay for it, tell them you'll give them the money they save by not taking the bus. Likewire with a car. Like 10cents per KM
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Old 10-06-07, 11:48 AM   #6
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I guess that to go car-free, you'd really need, sooner or later, to have a trailer. Would you agree? Perhaps chucking the car habit requires a whole new concept regarding how one hauls stuff around. Food shopping for three or four, for instance, once or twice a month, probably doesn't fit in panniers.
Yes. But you should get past the notion that you have to have everything once you give up driving. Just ride your bike until you can pay for some lights and stuff. Than ride with that, save up some more. By another bike or get a trailer. The key is to just keep riding. Buy your components over time. Keep looking for deals along the way. My dad just found a kid carrier trailer that he picked up for me for 10$. I don't have kids but I can use that for buying groceries, taking out recyclables, and hauling things around town.

My dad is trying to ride more. He's starting to drive to work with his bike, bike home, and bike back in the morning to work and than drive back that day. So half of his trips to and from work will be by bike. He's almost 50 and just lately he's been driving the family to church and than walking or riding the 4 mi. home in the afternoon and letting my mom drive my brother home. My brother rides with me when I'm home in Fairfax, VA to visit. But other than that he just got his license and loves driving. We rode bikes as a family when I was in my grade school days. But I seem to be the one in the family that decided that a vehicle was a bad idea for me. I never bode well with vehicles. I like to ride in them but I don't like driving for the most part. So I don't. I haven't driven a car since January. I have three bikes: Road bike commuter, Fixie w/ fenders for wet weather and fun, and a mtn bike with the rack and trailer for groceries. I have all of my transportation needs covered with these bikes. I would like a touring bike to travel, but that will prolly be a few years before I acquire it.

Think outside the Box of metal. Think: "How can I get things done without using a vehicle?"
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Old 10-06-07, 09:16 PM   #7
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I think its just something that some people will never get and some people will take a while to get. I know it took me about 10 tries before I convinced my girlfriend that she didnt HAVE to drive 0.15mi across the parking lot to the apartment complexes gym! Now she just takes the folder bike I keep in the living room.
Why doesn't she just walk.
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Old 10-06-07, 09:43 PM   #8
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Why doesn't she just walk.
My question exactly. I mean, you're supposed to warm up before exercise anyway, and that's three warm-up minutes right there. Unfolding the bike, riding it 0.15 mi, then folding it again, or locking it, whatever... seems like WAY to much trouble.
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Old 10-06-07, 09:50 PM   #9
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Yes. But you should get past the notion that you have to have everything once you give up driving. Just ride your bike until you can pay for some lights and stuff. Than ride with that, save up some more. By another bike or get a trailer. The key is to just keep riding. Buy your components over time. Keep looking for deals along the way. My dad just found a kid carrier trailer that he picked up for me for 10$. I don't have kids but I can use that for buying groceries, taking out recyclables, and hauling things around town.

My dad is trying to ride more. He's starting to drive to work with his bike, bike home, and bike back in the morning to work and than drive back that day. So half of his trips to and from work will be by bike. He's almost 50 and just lately he's been driving the family to church and than walking or riding the 4 mi. home in the afternoon and letting my mom drive my brother home. My brother rides with me when I'm home in Fairfax, VA to visit. But other than that he just got his license and loves driving. We rode bikes as a family when I was in my grade school days. But I seem to be the one in the family that decided that a vehicle was a bad idea for me. I never bode well with vehicles. I like to ride in them but I don't like driving for the most part. So I don't. I haven't driven a car since January. I have three bikes: Road bike commuter, Fixie w/ fenders for wet weather and fun, and a mtn bike with the rack and trailer for groceries. I have all of my transportation needs covered with these bikes. I would like a touring bike to travel, but that will prolly be a few years before I acquire it.

Think outside the Box of metal. Think: "How can I get things done without using a vehicle
?"
I very much enjoyed the post, just one little nitpicky thing....A bike is a vehicle.
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Old 10-07-07, 06:09 AM   #10
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I'm just wondering how others out there accomplish this? I have pretty much illustrated to everyone in my family that you can use a bicycle for about 90% of your urban transportation needs. I bike to work, shopping, entertainment....

Still, they seem to linger on with a dependency on the car. My wife, for example, has an excellent commuter style bike, but seems unwilling to join me on a bike-to-shop trip. My sons seem likewise disposed to bike for pleasure, but seldom for transportation.

Anyone here work their way through this?
Your wife is not dumb. If she's got the physical strength to walk to the store and carry groceries home, it's a good bet her bike is not safe for the job. She may not know why, but there is a reason. And well, if she can't handle groceries by walking, it's a safe bet that a bike wouldn't be any better. She's not strong enough. If it's not safe to walk to the grocery store well... there's your answer also. It takes a fairly confident cyclist to manage heavy traffic. (I'm presuming the grocery store of choice has a safe place for bike lockup, that she's got panniers or baskets that will handle the needed cargo volume, and her bike is comfortable for 20 miles or more of riding.)

Typical 1x a week load of groceries for 2 adults is in the 30-50 lb range, depending on how many staples need to be restocked and on how much they buy in the way of beverages. A gallon of milk is roughly 10lbs. With teenagers, figure that weight estimate doubles. More if they're the sort of teenager that drinks milk like water or is at the HUNGRY phase. So unless a bike is well designed for loaded touring, one woman getting groceries by bike when she's got teenagers is just going to say "screw this" and get in the car. If it's at all hilly, with the usual idiocy of stop signs and stoplights at the bottom of hills, she's likely to go "screw it" even if the bike is a well designed loaded tourer.

When you look at the problem in those terms, she's got at least one good reason why she's not getting groceries by bike. If you are serious about going car free, talk with her and find out why.
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Old 10-07-07, 06:33 AM   #11
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When you look at the problem in those terms, she's got at least one good reason why she's not getting groceries by bike. If you are serious about going car free, talk with her and find out why.
I don't get why someone would use their bike to fetch groceries if they had a car anymore than I understand why someone would drive 0.15 miles to a gym (perhaps the most obscene example of wasting gas I could think of). Surely there has to be a middle ground between "the car is evil" and "let me drive a few feet in by Chevy Suburban because heaven forbid I get any excise outside my gym".

I think we would be much better off if everyone walked when appropriate, biked when appropriate, took public transport when appropriate and drove when appropriate.
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Old 10-07-07, 08:37 AM   #12
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I don't get why someone would use their bike to fetch groceries if they had a car anymore than I understand why someone would drive 0.15 miles to a gym (perhaps the most obscene example of wasting gas I could think of). Surely there has to be a middle ground between "the car is evil" and "let me drive a few feet in by Chevy Suburban because heaven forbid I get any excise outside my gym".

I think we would be much better off if everyone walked when appropriate, biked when appropriate, took public transport when appropriate and drove when appropriate.
Well... The two adults version is pretty doable for me. It's good exercise. And provided I don't overload the bike, it's fun and faster than walking. Because I can do the two adults version, I can see that the 2 adults 2 teenagers version can be done without a car. I would need better equipment for sure, but with some thought I'd have a workable solution.

Not everyone has a living situation where they can get groceries by bike or even *should*. There's a lot of pitfalls that you won't see at first glance if you're used to a car. But it's not impossible. And well, doing groceries for 2 adults by bike sure beats doing it by walking .
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Old 10-07-07, 09:32 AM   #13
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As far as riding a bike is concerned, the teenagers are adults. In fact, if anything the teens are probably stronger and faster than the adults. This means there are 4 adults available to tote groceries,
IF that's the way the family decides to go.

But that's a big "if". Team work is required to make this work. You can't force a spouse or teens to ride, but it seems reasonable to hope that they (the teens, at least) will give it a fair try rather than reject it out of hand. I think one frustrating characteristic of many teenagers is that they reject some ideas because they're afraid their peers just won't get it.

Do you think you could persuade wife and kids to try just one month (even one week) of carfree living? It might take some creative persuasion and leadership to get them to try it. Let them know that you need their support and willingness to make it work. I would appeal to their interests (such as environmentalism, exercise, self-reliance, saving money) or whatever aspect of carfree living will catch their individual attention.
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Old 10-07-07, 12:12 PM   #14
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Do you think you could persuade wife and kids to try just one month (even one week) of carfree living? It might take some creative persuasion and leadership to get them to try it. Let them know that you need their support and willingness to make it work. I would appeal to their interests (such as environmentalism, exercise, self-reliance, saving money) or whatever aspect of carfree living will catch their individual attention.
We've already done periods of "car free" over the last few years. My wife has gone for up to 7-8 weeks w/o a car when visiting her relatives in Canada. However, when back in the mid West, with things being so spread out and essentials more than a good walk away, she sees the car as a necessity.

While we are not quite car-free at this time, we are both working towards reducing its use.

But your idea of trying a car-free month -- at home in Des Moines -- sounds appealing. I might be able to sell that one
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Old 10-09-07, 01:39 PM   #15
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I don't get why someone would use their bike to fetch groceries if they had a car anymore than...
because it's short trips that do the most pollution and most ppl grocery shop within a couple of miles of their house.
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Old 10-09-07, 02:08 PM   #16
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If you want to shop by bike, it's pretty easy.

You can carry around $100 of groceries in 4 panniers. Load the top for some light bulky items. Use a trailer or x if you want to spend $200 or so.

I typically opt for the bike over the car for a short (2-4 mile round trip) grocery run. It just seems like more fun/less hassle than the car. People wouldn't do it to just save gas, so it has to seem like fun.

The motorcycle would be my least preferred way to shop.
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Old 10-09-07, 02:44 PM   #17
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Anyone here work their way through this?
Well, I do all my shopping on bike, but then again it's all MY shopping. Have you considered volunteering to carry all the groceries home if she will pedal with you to the store?
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Old 10-09-07, 06:48 PM   #18
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Well, I do all my shopping on bike, but then again it's all MY shopping. Have you considered volunteering to carry all the groceries home if she will pedal with you to the store?
No. I normally pack all the groceries I buy in the single pannier I own. So, as long as the grocery purchase is < 20 pounds, we are OK. I do own a trailer, but the hitch is pretty rickety and has already de-spoked one of my wheels.

But, again... a good idea. I should probably [at a minimum] get another pannier going.
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Old 10-09-07, 07:08 PM   #19
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because it's short trips that do the most pollution and most ppl grocery shop within a couple of miles of their house.
How true is that statement!!

I live within 2 kms of 4 supermarkets, a shopping strip, a very large hardware chainstore and more, so I utterly REFUSE, to accept the silly notion of driving a car to do shopping and run messages etc. That's why I bought my BoB Ibex and panniers, which I use with either my MTB, my 2nd roadie or if my wife is in an agreeable and energetic mood, we use the tandem. Little by little with gentle encouragement she is starting to take her bike, which puts a big happy grin on my face, so patience will make it happen, I think/hope.
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Old 10-10-07, 07:21 AM   #20
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No. I normally pack all the groceries I buy in the single pannier I own. So, as long as the grocery purchase is < 20 pounds, we are OK. I do own a trailer, but the hitch is pretty rickety and has already de-spoked one of my wheels.

But, again... a good idea. I should probably [at a minimum] get another pannier going.
Well, now we know why she doesn't want to go shopping by bike. She doesn't have the bare minimum of a bike that can carry things. So she's sensibly using her nice recreational bike as a nice recreational bike. Smart woman!

Gerv, can you try talking with your wife about this instead of with us? It sounds like she's the one who is doing most of the shopping, so she knows what kind of cargo volume she needs and how often. I know what *I* bought when my sister and I were in charge of groceries for 5 adults, but that's probably not the way your wife runs things. Listen to what your resident expert has got to say, and show her the options for carrying things. Ask her if she'd be willing to take you on a dry run to the stores she likes best, so you both know if there's sensible bike parking and what routes work.
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Old 10-13-07, 02:35 PM   #21
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because it's short trips that do the most pollution and most ppl grocery shop within a couple of miles of their house.
One short trip to the grocery store once a week is not going to add much pollution to the environment particularly if done in a reasonable vehicle.

Its the people who use their cars to drive 0.15 miles to the gym who are adding the most pollution to the environment since they clearly believe that the only place they should ever get any physical exercise is a gym.
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Old 10-14-07, 01:21 PM   #22
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One short trip to the grocery store once a week is not going to add much pollution to the environment particularly if done in a reasonable vehicle.

Its the people who use their cars to drive 0.15 miles to the gym who are adding the most pollution to the environment since they clearly believe that the only place they should ever get any physical exercise is a gym
.
Agreed. But if all you're using the car for is one weekly trip, it sure makes sense to change that trip and save hundreds a year on insuring a car that hardly gets used.
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Old 10-14-07, 09:41 PM   #23
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Well... The two adults version is pretty doable for me. It's good exercise. And provided I don't overload the bike, it's fun and faster than walking. Because I can do the two adults version, I can see that the 2 adults 2 teenagers version can be done without a car. I would need better equipment for sure, but with some thought I'd have a workable solution.

Not everyone has a living situation where they can get groceries by bike or even *should*. There's a lot of pitfalls that you won't see at first glance if you're used to a car. But it's not impossible. And well, doing groceries for 2 adults by bike sure beats doing it by walking .
If groceries are the deal-breaker regarding going car-free, wouldn't it be really easy to just go online and have the groceries delivered? I imagine there's a cost involved, but compared to the cost of owning a car, I don't think it even matters.

Personally, I don't think getting groceries by bike is that big of a deal: I get on the bike, go to the store, (which in Seattle necessarily involves going up and down hills), buy what I want, and go home. If it's going to be a lot, I bring the trailer.
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