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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 01-17-08, 09:49 PM   #1
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Importance of carfree lifestyle

It is well known that technologies or capabilities that used to exist can often be forgotten by a society. For example, most member of the First World would not have the wherewithal to survive a typical MidWest pioneer's lifestyle of, say, 150 years ago.

Likewise, capabilities that *could* exist... like using the bicycle for transportation... is a skillset that doesn't come to mind easily for most First World residents. That's odd... because you hear so many environmentalists assume that we have to replace the automobile with a new, more technologically savvy vehicle to survive Peak Oil/climate change/urban clutter. It's like they just don't get it or the knowledge has somehow been lost. It's like they just don't see that this technology already exists!!!

That's why resources like this subforum are so valuable at this time, as we discuss alternatives to gas guzzling vehicles. Much of the know-how to use the bicycle through summer and winter transportation is kept here.... almost like the ancient Irish monks held on to the literature of Europe during the Dark Ages.

Do you think the carfree lifestyle will ever be widely accepted? Or has society degenerated to the point where viable, healthy solutions like cycling will never work for the masses?
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Old 01-17-08, 10:58 PM   #2
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...so we're the monks keeping the cycling knowledge alive during the dark ages of motorised transport!
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Old 01-17-08, 11:17 PM   #3
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...so we're the monks keeping the cycling knowledge alive during the dark ages of motorised transport!
Maybe. Or like the obscure but energetic & quick witted mammals in a world dominated by dinosaurs, the day before the meteor hits.
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Old 01-17-08, 11:43 PM   #4
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Maybe. Or like the obscure but energetic & quick witted mammals in a world dominated by dinosaurs, the day before the meteor hits.
A day towards which we seem to be hurtling at breakneck speed.

Seriously though, I feel that motorized vehicles do have their place. It's only their mindless usage that turns me off, like the neighbour who rides a scooter to her workplace less than 500 metres away.
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Old 01-18-08, 12:15 AM   #5
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kinda like not everyone that uses/benefits from airplanes has to own/use on on a daily basis.
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Old 01-18-08, 12:29 AM   #6
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Do you think the carfree lifestyle will ever be widely accepted? Or has society degenerated to the point where viable, healthy solutions like cycling will never work for the masses?
If we're going to look back, let's consider what was available in the past, before the rise of car culture.

Where I live, we had passenger and freight rail service starting around 1915. The passenger service was discontinued about 50 years later and the last freight train went through around 1975.

We once had sternwheeler boats on Okanagan Lake, again providing passenger and freight service up and down the valley. The last of the sternwheelers plied the lake in the 1950s.

Horse-drawn wagons were once used to haul people and goods. Today, the only horse-drawn wagons we have are tourist attractions.

We once had transportation options other than cars. We need options once again. But the transportation options of an earlier era probably won't return.

The Kettle Valley Railway line only made money in one year. The rest of the time, it operated at a loss. Sternwheelers were abandoned when the demand dropped. Horse-drawn wagons and the horses that pull them require a lot more attention than the typical owner will give his or her car.

As a society, we need to identify our transportation needs and consider the various ways to meet those needs. And we need to learn from our history to understand why some options have been abandoned.

This isn't nearly as dramatic as advocating an end to car use, but it's much more important.
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Old 01-18-08, 02:01 PM   #7
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...so we're the monks keeping the cycling knowledge alive during the dark ages of motorised transport!
It's a good thing I wasn't drinking coffee while I read that.

Though that is a funny way of looking at it, I think we may have our eye on the bigger picture. And in that picture, one learns to accept what will work and what won't, in each of our respective lives.

From my perspective, I think it's imperative that I lead by example. Even if no one is watching. Because ultimately, it matters to me. What about you?
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Old 01-18-08, 06:28 PM   #8
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It is a proven fact that we lose some technology as we supposedly "advance". My brother works in the IT field, he was moaning at Christmas that he was in desperate need of a couple of programmers that could handle Fortran, seems they were migrating someone's system that had quite a bit of information still stored on it in that particular programing language. I consider myself fortunate to be old enough and poor enough to have had the pleasure of having lived on a working farm, where many things were still done manually. We are currently active in bringing the old family farm we live on back to life, on thing we discovered and are supporting whole heartedly is the conservation of older breeds of poultry. And old seed stocks. Many people don't realize that the chicken they are buying today is unable to survive outside of an intensive production environment, many of the seeds you buy to grow in the garden cannot be reproduced...

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Old 01-18-08, 07:37 PM   #9
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It is a proven fact that we lose some technology as we supposedly "advance".

Aaron
Just read a book that touched on this very topic regarding technology. (Dark Age Ahead by Jane Jacobs.) Jacobs talks about how in the early 20th century, a great number of streetcar companies were bought up by the big car companies. As soon as these were bought, the streetcar companies were mysteriously shut down. The end result was that customers soon forgot the convenience of the streetcar, as they learned to struggle through car traffic to move around.

In the same way, many environmentalists, politicians and even urban/transportation planners do not see the bicycle as a viable means of transportation. Reason is that any knowledge of moving around seriously by bike went out after about 1890. The bicycle became marginalized and nowadays no one even considers the possibility of traveling by bike -- particularly at this time of the year.... though the truth is you CAN bike in winter, in rain, in all kinds of conditions. In fact, the experience isn't that bad... The only problem is that a large swath of our society DOES NOT KNOW THIS!
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Old 01-18-08, 08:03 PM   #10
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The bicycle became marginalized and nowadays no one even considers the possibility of traveling by bike -- particularly at this time of the year.... though the truth is you CAN bike in winter, in rain, in all kinds of conditions. In fact, the experience isn't that bad... The only problem is that a large swath of our society DOES NOT KNOW THIS!
I'm hoping they'll begin to realize it as they see us pedaling in the rain, snow and cold.
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Old 01-18-08, 08:30 PM   #11
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Fortran is the devil. I do not admit to any knowledge of Fortran.
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Old 01-18-08, 09:04 PM   #12
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It is a proven fact that we lose some technology as we supposedly "advance". My brother works in the IT field, he was moaning at Christmas that he was in desperate need of a couple of programmers that could handle Fortran, seems they were migrating someone's system that had quite a bit of information still stored on it in that particular programing language. I consider myself fortunate to be old enough and poor enough to have had the pleasure of having lived on a working farm, where many things were still done manually. We are currently active in bringing the old family farm we live on back to life, on thing we discovered and are supporting whole heartedly is the conservation of older breeds of poultry. And old seed stocks. Many people don't realize that the chicken they are buying today is unable to survive outside of an intensive production environment, many of the seeds you buy to grow in the garden cannot be reproduced...

Aaron
While I'm not necessarily envious of where you live, I am always impressed with the things you mention doing down "on the farm".

I really wish I had the knowledge and/or motivation to do this. I have come to despise my suburban lifestyle. I'm on the fence about whether I need/want to go to an urban/walking-distance situation, or rural/farming one.
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Old 01-18-08, 10:16 PM   #13
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I am amused by the idea I have heard, that "technology" will solve our transportation problems. That seems to be code words for a pollution-free automobile. I think that "technology" already has solved the problem, and people have ignored the solution. The solution is (among other things)...the bicycle.

(The other things are walkable communities, buses, trains, streetcars, telecommuting, changes of zoning requirements, all that stuff we have heard of.)
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Old 01-19-08, 07:43 AM   #14
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While I'm not necessarily envious of where you live, I am always impressed with the things you mention doing down "on the farm".

I really wish I had the knowledge and/or motivation to do this. I have come to despise my suburban lifestyle. I'm on the fence about whether I need/want to go to an urban/walking-distance situation, or rural/farming one.
I have lived in various situations over the years, with the true suburban being my least favorite. To me the absolute best situation for me is to be living on an acre or so on the edge of a small town (think Dunn, NC) where I can have gardens and small livestock (which are usually outlawed within city limits) and still have only a 20-30 minute ride into the town center, where hopefully there will be libraries and shops. My second choice would be living in the older neighborhoods of a larger city, usually first or second tier suburbs will fill the need, with a nod to those that still have shopping that is easily accessible by bike or foot.

Most of my motivation comes from love of the out doors and just general curiosity and doing different things.

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Old 01-19-08, 08:03 AM   #15
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Do you think the carfree lifestyle will ever be widely accepted? Or has society degenerated to the point where viable, healthy solutions like cycling will never work for the masses?
No. I think too many people have priorities higher to them than environmentally responsible transportiation.
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Old 01-19-08, 08:46 AM   #16
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One problem I see is that nearly all of America seems to think that low-tech is bad and high-tech is good, no matter what. They also seem to believe that old things can never be as good as new things. Interestingly, I've found that many old or low-tech designs work better than new ones, many old things last longer than new, and much of the past saw more ingenious designs than many things modern. But Americans are so in love with all things high-tech that they would be utterly humiliated if they were ever seen using a product that is considered out of date or old. Of course a bicycle is considered a children's toy or a piece of exercise equipment, to be used only in the designated nature areas (bike paths). It's amazing that one of our most clever inventions has been reduced to such.
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Old 01-19-08, 08:46 AM   #17
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Just read a book that touched on this very topic regarding technology. (Dark Age Ahead by Jane Jacobs.) Jacobs talks about how in the early 20th century, a great number of streetcar companies were bought up by the big car companies. As soon as these were bought, the streetcar companies were mysteriously shut down. The end result was that customers soon forgot the convenience of the streetcar, as they learned to struggle through car traffic to move around.

In the same way, many environmentalists, politicians and even urban/transportation planners do not see the bicycle as a viable means of transportation. Reason is that any knowledge of moving around seriously by bike went out after about 1890. The bicycle became marginalized and nowadays no one even considers the possibility of traveling by bike -- particularly at this time of the year.... though the truth is you CAN bike in winter, in rain, in all kinds of conditions. In fact, the experience isn't that bad... The only problem is that a large swath of our society DOES NOT KNOW THIS!
Thanks for the link on the book...now to run down a copy

From what I have observed most of the people that you mentioned all have a fairly myopic view of transportation in general. The car as a personal form of transport is so ingrained into the American (and many others) way of life that people can only see a form of motorized personal transport as the only solution. It is going to take a long time to rid people of that way of thinking. It only takes 2 days to learn a new habit but something like 3 weeks to get rid of and old one. I am constantly warping people's minds by showing up places on a bicycle they would never expect to see me; church, grocery store, dinner/sales meetings in "remote" towns, etc. We need mass transit, but it is in gross need of an overhaul, we don't "need" the automobile to the extent that it is currently used.

The only way out I can see is to keep plugging away at it, showing people what can be done and working on a local level.

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Old 01-19-08, 11:10 AM   #18
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The cult of science always hunts for a new more advanced technology to solve the problems they created with their current technologies. Then in the future they will have to invent an even newer even more advanced technology to solve the problems of the stuff they make now. So much bullsh!t.
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Old 01-19-08, 12:21 PM   #19
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No. I think too many people have priorities higher to them than environmentally responsible transportiation.
Yes, being lazy and selfish for one.
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Old 01-19-08, 12:31 PM   #20
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One problem I see is that nearly all of America seems to think that low-tech is bad and high-tech is good, no matter what. They also seem to believe that old things can never be as good as new things. Interestingly, I've found that many old or low-tech designs work better than new ones, many old things last longer than new, and much of the past saw more ingenious designs than many things modern. But Americans are so in love with all things high-tech that they would be utterly humiliated if they were ever seen using a product that is considered out of date or old. Of course a bicycle is considered a children's toy or a piece of exercise equipment, to be used only in the designated nature areas (bike paths). It's amazing that one of our most clever inventions has been reduced to such.
I agree with this in general. My friends often think it's strange that the camera I rely on isn't a sleek, modern digital camera. It's a chunky old Pentax K1000, that's 27 years old, which isn't really that much but it has 8 years on me. It's solid and reliable. As are many things that are older - they seem to come from a time when stuff wasn't viewed as being so disposable, and therefore they're engineered to last, and they are more artfully crafted.
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Old 01-19-08, 12:44 PM   #21
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The few times I have driven a car I am usually caught up in the busyness of life. I would imagine most people who drive are caught up in trying to get to one spot in a hurry. When you ride a bike or walk you appreciate what you have around you. You see your neighbor and the neighborhood. You don't buy as much junk because you can not fit it all on your bike. Your food products are perhaps fesher because you may visit your local store more often.
Instead of focusing on the price of gas and whether or not it will force more people on their bikes as a primary means of transportation focus on the benefits of appreciating the people and the environment you live in because you ride a bike.

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Old 01-19-08, 12:56 PM   #22
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Yes, being lazy and selfish for one.
Laziness and selfishness definitely enters into the equation. But there are a lot of other factors, so let's not get too "holier-than-thou" here.

If you could take away the downsides of cars (and you can't) there are a lot of things that are really nice about em. You can live far from work. You can live with your spouse and still live far from your spouse's work. You can change jobs/choose from jobs in a radius of many miles without having to move house. You can travel without getting hypothermia/frostbite/heatstroke even though you aren't dressed for the weather. You can travel quickly, spending less time per day away from your family. You have a ton of steel between you and anything you crash into.

Humans got along fine for countless millenia without gigantic rolling hunks of steel, but you can see why people who don't mind the pollution and cost of a car would love their car.
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Old 01-19-08, 01:06 PM   #23
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One problem I see is that nearly all of America seems to think that low-tech is bad and high-tech is good, no matter what. They also seem to believe that old things can never be as good as new things. Interestingly, I've found that many old or low-tech designs work better than new ones, many old things last longer than new, and much of the past saw more ingenious designs than many things modern. But Americans are so in love with all things high-tech that they would be utterly humiliated if they were ever seen using a product that is considered out of date or old. Of course a bicycle is considered a children's toy or a piece of exercise equipment, to be used only in the designated nature areas (bike paths). It's amazing that one of our most clever inventions has been reduced to such.
Agreed! I have guys at work that always grab for the power tools first, most of the time the task at hand can be completed with hand tools before they can drag out all the necessary cords and attachments I can appreciate technology and some of the things it has done for us, but we should never forget history and old technology. I much prefer the older, repairable equipment. Most of the things I own are older and much more durable than things on the market today. Planned obsolescence and marketing are what drive the "need/wants" of today, very little of it is design or durability. When we make many of our purchases the questions always ask of ourselves are: Do we really need it? Do we have something else already that can do the job? Can it be repaired and are repair parts available? Do we really need all the features or will a simpler less expensive model do? And which is the best value for the dollar? We have avoided many, many purchases of things we wanted but did not really need to have cluttering up our lives. My weakness is gadgets of all types, but I usually stay pretty well reigned in

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Old 01-23-08, 03:04 PM   #24
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I agree with this in general. My friends often think it's strange that the camera I rely on isn't a sleek, modern digital camera. It's a chunky old Pentax K1000, that's 27 years old, which isn't really that much but it has 8 years on me. It's solid and reliable. As are many things that are older - they seem to come from a time when stuff wasn't viewed as being so disposable, and therefore they're engineered to last, and they are more artfully crafted.
I also have to agree entirely. My Pentax is almost as old as I am (I'm 26) and I've dropped it, banged it, got sand it, dropped it in puddles, lost it, manhandled it, and it still works as good as ever! I do have a digital camera, and I doubt it could survive even one of the previous incidents of my Pentax.
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Old 01-23-08, 06:38 PM   #25
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And old seed stocks. Many people don't realize that the chicken they are buying today is unable to survive outside of an intensive production environment, many of the seeds you buy to grow in the garden cannot be reproduced...

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The seed thing is a really good example of a lost technology. I bet 99% of people in the US would not understand anything about the concept of saving seeds. Although at one point it was a very necessary part of being a farmer. Right now, seed stocks are almost all controlled by major corporations and ...yes... quite a few of these seeds cannot be saved and reused.
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