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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.

View Poll Results: How long have you been car light or car free?
Car light less than 1 year 163 16.48%
Car free less than 1 year 92 9.30%
Car light less than 5 years 133 13.45%
Car free less than 5 years 113 11.43%
Car light more than 5 years 82 8.29%
Car free more than 5 years 205 20.73%
Contemplating a car light or car free change 177 17.90%
Not interested in becoming car light or car free 24 2.43%
Voters: 989. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 04-19-10, 05:10 AM   #301
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Hi Brad. That's a nice, long ride! I hope you get well soon. I ride Raleigh, too. I prefer backpacks, like you do. I dislike the feeling of having anything heavy attached to my bike: I feel it upsets the steering and balance unless I am on a long straight-away. One other thing that is good about wearing a pack: It stops you from getting splashed on your back if you have no fenders! Have a blast and let us know how your rides are going!
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Old 04-20-10, 06:13 AM   #302
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I have been car free since my divorce 8 years ago.

Previous to meeting my ex-wife I was also car free for many years. Cars are expensive and I am now single and live in the middle of a large city. I have always loved cycling for it's mechanical simplicity and it's freedom. I am not a bike snob as I now ride old beaters. I love seeing the return of single speed and fixed gear bikes. My main bike is an old 1970's single speed coaster brake (with front handbrake) touring style bike. It has nice chrome/steel fenders, is comfortable to ride and simple in operation. If I need to venture out for a long ride I also have a 1980's Bianchi MTB with less aggressive knobby tires.

I still maintain my driver's license but I don't ever see myself buying a car in the future.
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Old 04-20-10, 06:19 AM   #303
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I love my car. Bike too. If I could afford it, I'd love a big SUV to carry my bikes out-of-town. My experience with car-free-ers is that they bum rides from car-have-ers. They live downtown. I don't. Enjoy your chosen life-style. I enjoy mine.
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Old 04-20-10, 06:30 AM   #304
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Hi my name is Brad
All: "Hi, Brad."

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Old 04-20-10, 07:27 AM   #305
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I love my car. Bike too. If I could afford it, I'd love a big SUV to carry my bikes out-of-town. My experience with car-free-ers is that they bum rides from car-have-ers. They live downtown. I don't. Enjoy your chosen life-style. I enjoy mine.
Well really you are making the same point car-free-ers are making without realising it. One of the major appeals is to reduce the amount of pollution, ride sharing is a great way to reduce pollution. Of course if you don't want to be the provider of that ride share, that's up to you. Ride sharing also contributes to alleviating traffic, which is good for you right...
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Old 04-20-10, 08:59 AM   #306
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I love my car. Bike too. If I could afford it, I'd love a big SUV to carry my bikes out-of-town. My experience with car-free-ers is that they bum rides from car-have-ers. They live downtown. I don't. Enjoy your chosen life-style. I enjoy mine.
If you read some of the threads here, you'll find that your assumptions are false:
  • Most carfree people don't mooch rides. In fact, there have been discussions here of how people pressure us to ride in their cars, even though we'd rather ride our bikes.
  • Many carfree and carlight people live in suburbs, small towns and rural areas--although I will grant it's easier if you live someplace where your destinations are close together, or where there's public transit service nearby.
  • If you're a bit short on cash, the solution might be to get rid of your car, or drive it less--not buy a bigger and more expensive car.

Another thing I think you'll find here is that nobody (or practically nobody) is going to pressure you to get rid of your car. But if you approach us with an open mind, you might discover some tips for relying more on your bike for transportation-- and then you'll be saving money, helping the planet, getting more exercise...and having a lot of fun.
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Old 04-20-10, 09:05 AM   #307
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If you read some of the threads here, you'll find that your assumptions are false.
He doesn't have assumptions, he has experience.
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Old 04-20-10, 09:10 AM   #308
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He doesn't have assumptions, he has experience.
Wrong. He assumes that all carfree people are like the few examples he has met.
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Old 04-20-10, 11:46 AM   #309
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Wrong. He assumes that all carfree people are like the few examples he has met.
You have a point. Another was made that ride-sharing isn't bad. I had to think about that one, but I'm leaning to acceptance. How about this: If I lived downtown, I'd be car-free. No question. But with visits to relatives far away, and a cottage also far away, my chosen life-style needs a car. ( sometimes I type more extreme than i think ).
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Old 04-20-10, 12:07 PM   #310
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You have a point. Another was made that ride-sharing isn't bad. I had to think about that one, but I'm leaning to acceptance. How about this: If I lived downtown, I'd be car-free. No question. But with visits to relatives far away, and a cottage also far away, my chosen life-style needs a car. ( sometimes I type more extreme than i think ).
I have no problem with you or your lifestyle.

A lot of people who visit this forum--including many of the "Regulars"--are not carfree and don't want to be. But they do like to use their bikes more and their cars less. I like to think of this as a forum for people who want to rely more on their bikes for transportation.
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Old 04-23-10, 01:03 PM   #311
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I became car-light about 4 years ago. My husband and I had two cars at the time, but hardly ever drove the second one. My husband drove the second one on a business trip and it got totalled during that trip. When he came back, we decided to see if we could get by with one car. So far we're doing well being car-light and can't imagine ourselves having a second car as long as we're living where we are. In the city where I live, it is often easier to get around on a bike and get a free parking place. Many of the businesses in town provide bike racks because there are so many cyclists. Between April and October/November I ride my bike to work (about 2 miles each way) an average of 3 days a week. In addition to saving money on gas, we're also saving on insurance and maintenance costs of a second car as well as reducing our carbon footprint.

An aside...two years ago I was in Southern California with my son to visit family. My son, who was 9 at the time, commented on how he didn't like having to go everywhere by car. He said that he preferred living in our town because he can ride his bike to school, to visit friends, or just to go around town with his pals.
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Old 04-25-10, 09:33 PM   #312
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Does a motorcycle count? My wife has a car (we have two kids), but I don't. If not, I have been car-free since June or so last year. I really enjoyed taking the bus this winter and now I'm trying to work up some endurance to bike to work this summer. It's only 7 miles each way.
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Old 04-26-10, 04:04 AM   #313
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Hey netdewt, my ride is about 7 miles as well. I rode it home almost every day for 8 months before I got the courage to ride in, as well, starting last November. Just start slowly and you'll be fine!
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Old 04-26-10, 07:11 AM   #314
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Hi all, I'm fairly new on here. I never got started on the car habit, I suppose it is easier for me to manage than other people who had to go through the withdrawal. As I have gotten older I have found that I wish to move larger loads than I could manage with my regular bike alone, so I bought a utility bike. I'm quite happy not having the expense of a car or the temptation to be lazy which comes with it. I'm also glad not to be contributing to the social, political and environmental ills which come with car ownership
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Old 04-27-10, 05:10 PM   #315
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I've been car-free since February of '09, and it's been a great experience. My bike and Austin's weak-ass public transportation covers 98% of my needs. I catch a ride a few times a year with a coworker to go to work-related meetings. I'll be riding/driving with my girlfriend on a little vacation soon. That's it. I'm 52, and I've been car-free most of my adult life.

1) It's healthier for me, physically and psychologically
2) It's healthier for my town to have one less car (and I am perhaps setting an example for others?)
3) I have more money.
4) I live a little bit more "mindfully" now.
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Old 05-02-10, 04:26 AM   #316
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Greetings, my name is Daniel, live in New Zealand, and I have been car free for 26 years, which just so happens to be my age, funny that. I grew up riding bikes as one does. Thing is, I have never been that interested in cars. Oh sure I got my license (eventually) but even with my license I never really had a desire to get a car and drive anywhere. I have lived in towns suited for cycling, never lived far from anything, and when I needed to travel long distance I fly or take a bus. I always thought that eventually I would have to bite the bullet and get a car, I mean how can someone live without a car? How can someone do things like grocery shopping, go anywhere, do anything, those kinds of things. Well, I never really bit the bullet so to speak, I just decided to make a lifestyle choice to try and never bite the bullet, and I've never regretted it. I used to ride mountain bikes & bmx bikes. I currently own two bikes. My first bike is an '08 Trek 520 touring bike which I have so much fun riding. I used it to commute to work daily, rain or shine, hail or snow. It is also my workhorse bike, and I use it for grocery shopping and generally transporting stuff. Two years ago I cycled across the USA from Virginia to Oregon, following the TransAmerica route, and last year I went back to the states and rode some of the pacific coast highway. My second bike is a '10 Jamis Sputnik single speeder. I've only had it a few days but am hooked on it, so much fun.

So that's the story so far, maybe one day I'll bite the bullet, if I end up getting married and having children who need driven places, who knows, for now I'm car free and happy to say so. I only just stumbled onto this forum after frequenting the touring forum here, so I will be adding this forum to my list of sites I visit
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Old 05-19-10, 10:31 PM   #317
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most people are shocked when they find out that i never got my driver's liscence. they're usually even more shocked when i tell them that i don't ride my bike to save the environment or to loose weight. i have nothing against cars, i just like riding my bike.
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Old 05-19-10, 11:32 PM   #318
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i have nothing against cars, i just like riding my bike.
My thoughts too. I'm not anti-car; I'm pro-bike.
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Old 05-20-10, 12:03 AM   #319
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most people are shocked when they find out that i never got my driver's liscence. they're usually even more shocked when i tell them that i don't ride my bike to save the environment or to loose weight. i have nothing against cars, i just like riding my bike.
Oh man, when I read that I realized that I forgot to renew my DL on my birthday a couple weeks ago. I have a license--dont use it much but I have it. Anyhoo, welcome to the forum--hope you like it!
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Old 05-20-10, 01:34 AM   #320
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I grudgingly got my license about 5 years after I became "of age" simply because I figured I might need it for my first job... well it's since expired and I really have no plans to renew it, whats the point - still works fine as a form of ID
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Old 05-20-10, 09:08 AM   #321
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Hey everyone,
I have been around for a while and don't post as much as everyone else but wanted to say hi so hello.
People around here in New Jersey think I must be crazy for wanting to go car light because they only see the way of the car.
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Old 05-25-10, 11:14 PM   #322
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A longish story about my cold-turkey car-free decision. Just to share…*enjoy, or not, as you choose. :-)


By nature, I'm methodical. I generally plan things far in advance, and work toward known, tangible goals. In certain instances, I can be spontaneous, but these outbursts are generally reserved for "free time" (i.e., vacation and the rare extended-break-but-not-quite-vacation from work).

Most who know me were thusly somewhat shocked when I arrived at the decision to accept a transfer from Ohio to California with my current employer. Don't get me wrong: I did a little bit of prep work, but the window during which to make my decision was uncomfortably short (approximately eight days from job offer to arrival in LA), and in the end, I abandoned reason and made the move.

It was a difficult decision. I really dig California (especially San Diego), but my two short visits to LA in years past were not all that exciting. It was crowded, hot and brown. (By brown, I mean the plant life lacks lushness found in the midwest; not some sort of racial/ethic insensitivity.) So that was strike one. Strike two is the absolutely ridiculous cost of living. Santa Monica apartments cost sums of money typically reserved for the mortgages of beautiful palaces in the midwest.

Strike three is that my entire family lives east of the Mississippi. Mom, dad, sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. all reside some 2500 miles or more away.

And while I could write for hours about my personal dealings, discoveries and the emotional challenges of my move, I don't care to. Rather, I think it may be more interest to consider some of the other parameters of my experience.

In central Ohio, cars are a relative necessity unless you live and work within the city. In certain circumstances, you can do without, but the suburban sprawl makes it difficult to accomplish life comfortably without transportation. Public transit is nearly non-existent outside of the city, or the services provided so inconvenient and meager that they might as well not exist at all. Cycling is possible – I know, because I did it – but is confounded by erratic weather. It's hot and humid in the summer, and winter will often surprise with frigid rain or reasonable snowfall. Temperatures can vary 30-40F during a single day, making wardrobe choices a challenge if not an inconvenience.

It turns out I also love cars. I really do. I think they're brilliant. The cleverness of the car should never be underrated, and unfortunately, many proponents of public transit and car-free life claim cars to be the great evil. But they're not, I promise you. Like many indulgences in life, cars are best enjoyed in moderation; and as a society, we absolutely abuse this and refuse to enjoy the privilege of the automobile in moderation. Instead, our addiction to cars is of a degree that a tobacco exec could only dream of. We use them to cart ourselves from parking lot to parking lot, consuming goods and enforcing the use of more vehicles with every purchase. Then we forget things, or we need to return them; or we get hungry and go through the drive through.

The design of cars has always been admirable. Automotive sculpture rivals some of the most celebrated artists of our time. The innovative touches and engineering brilliance of the various widgets and gadgets we so enjoy is awe-inspiring.

As a sport, driving is top-notch. It's insanely satisfying to integrate yourself with a machine and defy physics, finding yourself performing maneuvers that deliver rushes of adrenaline and release serotonin into the brain with incredible brilliance.

Close acquaintances of mine found it doubly surprising, then, when they found out I was selling my beloved car. Yes, I loved German engineering. After owning three modest vehicles, I had the means to order myself a beautiful new sports car. It was a fantastic automobile, and it is currently providing joy to a new and very enthusiastic owner. Something in me felt that adding another car to LA traffic was irresponsible, so the car had to go.

(I also sold my bikes; I had two: one for road and one for trails. They were great, too, but the difficulty of transporting them across the nation was too costly, both in absolute dollars and environmental sense. It wasn't just the car; not just the bikes; about 98% of everything I owned had to go. My piano – my only truly prized possession –*has not been sold, but is in Ohio waiting for me to find the right living arrangements before investing in its cross-country journey.)

I had a rental car for the first week of the move. Two family members helped me to select and build the few pieces of Ikea furniture that now grace my apartment. The car also served as a reasonable way to get some beautiful plants home to my balcony. These are all items that I would have had great difficulty getting by bicycle or bus. And indeed, while the furniture could have been shipped, the immediacy of our need meant that a car was a reasonable investment. It carried three people comfortably, while allowing us to carry a substantial amount of cargo. Completely reasonable use. We used only one full tank of gas in our Avis-provided Ford Flex. Not bad at all.

The idea was to commute everywhere by foot or bicycle (I purchased a fixed gear bike for the purpose). My commute to work is about 4.5 miles of simple, flat, beach-front riding each way. There are grocery stores and farmer's markets within a couple miles of my apartment. All in all, it's relatively easy to secure what I need. If I had a family, well, I might need a trailer, but I think it could still be possible.

One of the things I've most enjoyed about not having a car is that I'm not tempted to buy things. I'm not tempted to buy anything. Anything I add to my existence means I have to get it home, and that adds weight and complexity to my commute. It follows that any purchase becomes incredibly well-informed.

I also dig forgoing insurance and fuel costs. I'm not sure how much driving you do or what kind of insurance you had, but cutting these items out saves me an additional $250 or so a month. That extra cash has allowed me to live closer to the beach, which I considered a bonus for my first year on the West coast.

I also don't have cable. Or a TV. Or internet. Or a couch. I've opted for simplicity wherever possible. Electricity costs only $4-6 a month (basically just enough to run the refrigerator). My computer usage is down to about once a month (usually photo management, or, as in this case, a work trip). My one indulgence is a smart phone; that provides my Internet fix by allowing me to e-mail friends/family. (It's worth mentioning that not having TV or Internet also fuels the I'm-not-tempted-to-buy-things ideal because I simply have no clue what's available to buy. When I come to places like bikeforums.net and visit the roadie forum, I suddenly want new bibs and fancy carbon widgets…*then I realize I don't care anymore.)

It's been nearly a year, and I'm still happily car-free. I won't deny there's a part of me that would like to get a vintage German car for amusement (and minimal driving… classic rallyes perhaps?), but I'm just not sure I could bring myself to deal with the entire economy of car ownership again. It is a truly liberating feeling to escape the "cage" mentality.

I hesitate to offer my experience, but if it helps someone else to have the confidence to make the plunge, then I consider it worth the effort!
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Old 05-26-10, 04:17 PM   #323
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G5Ti, I enjoyed reading your story. You sure made a lot of life changes in a short time! I hope it continues to go well for you. It's great that you can do so well in the LA area.
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Old 06-02-10, 02:08 PM   #324
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i've been living car-free in chicago for a decade now. however, for the first 7 or so years i wasn't a cyclist, i relied solely on the CTA to get around town. now that i've traded in a train commute for a bike commute, my car-free life is much, MUCH happier. bicycles simply rule the universe.
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Old 06-02-10, 10:31 PM   #325
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Hi! Just picked up my new used Dahon Espresso from a friend today, so I'm about ready to move to car-lite. The goal is to eventually go car-free, but I want to build some experience commuting and running errands by bike before I do. It's been really interesting going back through the older threads in the forum, and I'm looking forward to putting the information I've found to good use.
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