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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 03-06-08, 08:43 AM   #1
WonderMonkey
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For parents with kids and activities

How do you deal with transportation when you have kids with activities? For instance my daughter has basketball practice at 7pm during the Winter, games on Saturday morning. My son plays baseball and about half of his games are in the surrounding towns right after work. And so on. In these cases how do you deal with it?
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Old 03-06-08, 09:17 AM   #2
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When the kids are old enough, if their activities are close enough to home, they can bike. My son has been biking to school since elementary school. He's 16 now. We don't have paths and trails. He's a road rider.

For longer distances, or at night, or if your kids are younger, try to get them rides from other people?

You might want to steer them away from distant activities, and towards something close to home.
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Old 03-06-08, 09:50 AM   #3
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In the cases of their longer activities, I am assuming that a parent would want to go as well. I happen to coach the baseball team. For the times when we have a home game it is very close and we often bike if time permits.
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Old 03-06-08, 10:20 AM   #4
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Team sports lend themselves to carpooling. If your kids are going from the same school to the same game, it couldn't be easier. For practices, if they're old enough to play, they're old enough to ride to the field/court.
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Old 03-06-08, 10:38 AM   #5
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Sure. Let's say that the kids manage to get into a carpool. Now the moms and dads of those kids also are going to the game, namely me and the wife. Do people car free simply don't attend the away games? When those games are at 5:30 or 6:00 it isn't always possible for your kid to be picked up or for the parents to get a ride as well.

As I move towards reducing my driving I'm just trying to figure out how far I can go.
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Old 03-06-08, 01:18 PM   #6
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Sure. Let's say that the kids manage to get into a carpool. Now the moms and dads of those kids also are going to the game, namely me and the wife. Do people car free simply don't attend the away games? When those games are at 5:30 or 6:00 it isn't always possible for your kid to be picked up or for the parents to get a ride as well.

As I move towards reducing my driving I'm just trying to figure out how far I can go
.
How come you (the parents) can't get a ride also? I would offer to pay for the gas, or offer to pay to take the kids out for ice cream after the game. You might also encourage the kids to select some activities that are closer to home, and limit (but not eliminate) activites that are further away.

Personally, if I had young kids I would probably set up a cycling group in the neighborhood. It would be a lot of fun to spend Saturday mornings guiding your own kids and nieghbor kids on bike rides. Another possibility would be to set up bike races or even charity rides for the kids to participate in. You could include "training rides" as a weekly activity leading up to the races or the charity ride. The Boy Scout's manual for the Cycling Merit Badge is a great resource if you're interested in doing something like this.

What you're running into is the common problem that American institutions--even Little League and Scouts--are set up with the assumption that everybody is willing to spend a couple hours a day inside a cage. I guess there isn't a whole lot we can do to change that, besides encouraging the development of recreational facilities and activities that are close to residential areas.
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Old 03-06-08, 01:54 PM   #7
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If you live in suburbia, or in a low density urban area, you may end up needing a car.

In a normal week, I can hit 30+ miles just getting groceries and going to the library. Both are about 2 miles away, and I'm in a fairly dense urban area. I do fine as a carfree adult because I made sure that the important things to *me* were close, so even a meandering trip that hits many locations is doable. I'd have to really *work* to come up with a list of errands that topped 30 miles in a day.

Where I grew up, my school commute would have been a 20 mile round trip. "Only" 10 if I'd gone to the "local" public school. The miles add up very quickly, and there aren't a lot of possible compromises (and of course the compromise of going to the high school that was close enough to walk to was Right Out since it was in another school district). Add in my job, choir concerts and Science Olympiad, and car free would have gotten unreasonable pretty quickly. If I'd needed to bike to football games with dad, we both would have given up... several of the away games were a 30 mile round trip from our house, and one would have given us a very hilly century.

IMO, car free is not impossible with kids. But doing car free in the suburbs can be brutal, even without kids.
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Old 03-06-08, 02:31 PM   #8
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My oldest in only 7 so I have limited experience in this area. But she rides with a friend's family to girl scouts since it is not in an accessible area. Dance class is easily reached by bike or bus. We live in the city and for the most part just sign up for activities that are easy to get to, either near work or near home.

Honestly, if I had a car, I doubt I'd be willing to traipse all over the place anyway.
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Old 03-06-08, 03:29 PM   #9
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How come you (the parents) can't get a ride also? I would offer to pay for the gas, or offer to pay to take the kids out for ice cream after the game. You might also encourage the kids to select some activities that are closer to home, and limit (but not eliminate) activites that are further away.
Mostly because as we get home from work the window of opportunity to get into the vehicle and get to on the place on time is narrow. For those that get off work a bit earlier they have a wider window and can pool. And some do, I see it all the time.

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Personally, if I had young kids I would probably set up a cycling group in the neighborhood. It would be a lot of fun to spend Saturday mornings guiding your own kids and nieghbor kids on bike rides. Another possibility would be to set up bike races or even charity rides for the kids to participate in. You could include "training rides" as a weekly activity leading up to the races or the charity ride. The Boy Scout's manual for the Cycling Merit Badge is a great resource if you're interested in doing something like this.
I think that is a fine idea. However that is something that would have to start out very slowly and gain some momentum. I don't think it would get very far because they are firmly entrenched in other activities like baseball, softball, soccer, football, cheer, and so on that have practices in the evenings and games or events on Saturday or Sunday. And since the social groups that my son and daughter run in ALSO do the softball, volleyball, etc. then that is what they would like to do as well. If I was to organize some rides I think it could be effective for select times but to make it an event like you mentioned might not work, however a good idea it was/is.

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What you're running into is the common problem that American institutions--even Little League and Scouts--are set up with the assumption that everybody is willing to spend a couple hours a day inside a cage. I guess there isn't a whole lot we can do to change that, besides encouraging the development of recreational facilities and activities that are close to residential areas.
I think you are on the right track but maybe I can add a bit of information on top of that, from my point of view. We will use Little Timmy as our child example.

Little Timmy is in an activity that is at the local rec center. At some point Little Timmy might make the all-star team and goes and practices with them, plays some games, etc. Little Timmy and his parents notice that since he has been playing with the all-star team it is difficult for him to play on his normal team. The reason is that when he goes to do a play, most of the other kids aren't of the same skill level so it doesn't work out. So one day at an all-start game a parent or coach says "There are different levels of abilities in the rec league and the kids who are advanced can't play on the teams because not many other kids can play at that level and the kids who can't play at that level don't want to play with the kids who do because they throw too hard, steal the ball too much, or whatever it is that is appropriate from that activity. So the coach goes to the rec and asks if the league can have like an "A" and "B" and maybe even "C" layer so that like skilled players play against each other and everybody has an opportunity for success. But this request is denied because the league president and so forth KNOW that if Little Roger doesn't make the team the mom and dad thinks he should then all hell breaks loose. Cries of snobbism and elitism and such abound. Chaos, flooding! So the all-star team coach says "Hey, we should just make our own team next year and go play against other towns. SUPER! So that happens. And that is how teams go play so far away from home.

The story above is repeated over and over and over all over the USA. I have seen it and been involved in it, both as a person who's kid is good enough to play traveling and as a person who's kid ISN'T good enough to play traveling. I've always known it's a fact that some players are more advanced then others so it never bothered me if my kid wasn't that good. And when he/she was I let them go play if they wanted to.
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Old 03-06-08, 03:30 PM   #10
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My oldest in only 7 so I have limited experience in this area. But she rides with a friend's family to girl scouts since it is not in an accessible area. Dance class is easily reached by bike or bus. We live in the city and for the most part just sign up for activities that are easy to get to, either near work or near home.

Honestly, if I had a car, I doubt I'd be willing to traipse all over the place anyway.
And many aren't willing to. For my daughter's cheering gymnastics class we take turns picking up the group of girls. It works out very well. For other activities it's not so easy either because of time of all the parents want to attend.
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Old 03-06-08, 03:31 PM   #11
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I do appreciate everybody's inputs. It seems that people handle this situation differently but it all food for thought.
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Old 03-06-08, 03:40 PM   #12
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I should probably note that my dh and I have been car free all our adult lives. It is simply a priority and a value that we want to maintain and pass on to our kids. I have no problem telling the kids that they will have to work within the bounds of our lifestyle.
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Old 03-06-08, 03:52 PM   #13
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I should probably note that my dh and I have been car free all our adult lives. It is simply a priority and a value that we want to maintain and pass on to our kids. I have no problem telling the kids that they will have to work within the bounds of our lifestyle.
I certainly don't hold that against anybody of course. With ours it might be difficult to totally get rid of a vehicle but I can certainly work towards it and see how far I can get.
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Old 03-06-08, 06:28 PM   #14
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We were able to do pretty well when mine were younger. (Both are now college age and beyond) Scouting was in the local neighborhood churches(2 blockes), rec league soccer was at the local rec center 2 miles from the house and most of the games were played at the nearby elementary school, swimming was at the local Y about 1/4 mile past the rec center. That was then, now they have built a huge soccer complex on the far north end of town, the Y has moved to the west side of town and the general public is no longer allowed on school grounds. Welcome to the destruction of the neighborhood. So much for Progress!

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