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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 04-10-08, 07:15 PM   #1
nedgoudy
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Any Geezer's Here Car Free? Europeans?

I am considering a radical move to Northern Germany
near the Dutch border. My GF is car free and although we
might have enough money to get one and maintain it, I
imagine that we'd just stay car free. She lives just a 1/4
mile from grocery shops and the downtown in about
4 km. I am comfortable on bikes and have learned to use the train the bus and the tube in LA so it might be a fairly smooth transition for such a radical change.

I was thinking that a couple of bikes, one outfitted with
a baby carrier trailer might be just the ticket for getting
plenty of shopping done.

Anyone got any words of encouragement or gentle
warnings, suggestions, etc.???

Ned, age 57
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Old 04-10-08, 09:05 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nedgoudy View Post
I am considering a radical move to Northern Germany
near the Dutch border. My GF is car free and although we
might have enough money to get one and maintain it, I
imagine that we'd just stay car free. She lives just a 1/4
mile from grocery shops and the downtown in about
4 km. I am comfortable on bikes and have learned to use the train the bus and the tube in LA so it might be a fairly smooth transition for such a radical change.

I was thinking that a couple of bikes, one outfitted with
a baby carrier trailer might be just the ticket for getting
plenty of shopping done.

Anyone got any words of encouragement or gentle
warnings, suggestions, etc.???

Ned, age 57
Sorry, clarification please, your GF is car free in the US? or Germany?
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Old 04-10-08, 09:21 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nedgoudy View Post
I am considering a radical move to Northern Germany
near the Dutch border. My GF is car free and although we
might have enough money to get one and maintain it, I
imagine that we'd just stay car free. She lives just a 1/4
mile from grocery shops and the downtown in about
4 km. I am comfortable on bikes and have learned to use the train the bus and the tube in LA so it might be a fairly smooth transition for such a radical change.

I was thinking that a couple of bikes, one outfitted with
a baby carrier trailer might be just the ticket for getting
plenty of shopping done.

Anyone got any words of encouragement or gentle
warnings, suggestions, etc.???

Ned, age 57
Ned, I am 54, living in the US and doing about 80% of my transportation using a bicycle. I ran into a gentlemen a few weeks ago who was retired, had lost his auto license and now moves about town on his bike. He is 80.

My advice is not to let anyone tell you you're too old for anything.

If you need to get some shopping done, buy a set of panniers. Maybe 40L between the 2.
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Old 04-10-08, 09:42 PM   #4
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Ned, as a 50+ person who is car free and has spent a little time car-free in Europe in times past, I'd say go for it as long as you can read the signs well enough. Sounds like you have an excellent mentor in your GF.

I'd say, get the bicycle(s) there, and get some warmer clothes for winter..
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Old 04-10-08, 11:43 PM   #5
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Check the local topography there. I'm told that in some places it can get hilly very fast as you get away from the Netherlands coastal plain.
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Old 04-11-08, 12:10 AM   #6
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I used to live in Northern Germany near the Dutch Border, not too far from Emden. The terrain there is flat as a tabletop. It's cold, rainy and dark in the winter, with occasional black ice, but not too much. IMO, it's very good terrain for bicycling; open, pastoral, with lots of side roads, and a culture that accepts bicycles without even thinking about it. And, by German standards, it's not very densely populated, either. On the whole, it's a lot more pleasant than most places in the US (not all), IF you can stand sunset at 4:00 in the dead of winter. Also, I found the people there to be polite but distant at first. Until they get to know you. Then they're great.
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Old 04-11-08, 12:21 AM   #7
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sounds peachy...
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Old 04-11-08, 08:59 AM   #8
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I live in Germany, and have an xtracycle that hardly ever gets used. Like your GF with grocery shopping 1/4 mile away, that close it's hardly worth loading up a bicycle. The refrigerators tend on the small side here (a gross generalization on my part i'm sure) and we tend to make more frequent, quick trips than the typical US massive shopping expedition stockpiling for the next Y2K. We use a wagon (an inexpensive plastic tub of a bicycle trailer) when hauling bigger heaver stuff (e.g. cases of beverages)

I can't imagine an easier place to live Car-free, so go for it, settle in a bit and you will figure out the lay of the land. If you are itching for an equipment purchase, consider something dual use (hand/bike) like the Winther Donkey
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Old 04-11-08, 11:13 AM   #9
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I'm living carfree, but I've got a motorcycle collecting dust in my garage... I was planning to sell it, but I can't get the right price for it. so for extremely long trips abroad I still keep the thing.
I'm a year round bicycle commuter and I'm in way better shape than way back when I started.
I can advise everyone to get rid of their cars, for health and environmental reasons. (and so they stop bothering me with their stupidity and blindness)

I live in Belgium and commute ca. 60km a day

bikes rule!!

I'm ready for the next step in my evolution: commuting fixed gear
bought a frame today for my first conversion which will be finished before the summer
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Old 04-11-08, 11:32 AM   #10
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At 62 I can tell you the only requirement to be car free or
car lite is the ability to pedal a cycle. All else will work itself
out. Trust me.........
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Old 04-11-08, 11:45 AM   #11
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Make sure that your lighting system is compliant with the StVZO regulations! Many of the high-powered lights used in the USA aren't street legal in Germany.
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Old 04-12-08, 12:42 PM   #12
becnal
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Northern Germany is flat as a pancake. No car needed around here!
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Old 04-12-08, 12:42 PM   #13
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Make sure that your lighting system is compliant with the StVZO regulations! Many of the high-powered lights used in the USA aren't street legal in Germany.
Right; get a dynohub and front & rear lights. Don't buy the setup here, though -- it's much, much cheaper over there simply because generator lights are mandated. Plus, the demand is so high that a shop will have it in stock -- no need to specially order anything.

My sister, her husband, and their daughter have been almost car-free for well over two years in southern Germany. They usually take public transportation, and sometimes borrow a friends' car for carrying large items, but it's possible to do almost anything -- and do it easily -- without a car.

Last edited by BarracksSi; 04-12-08 at 02:45 PM.
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Old 04-13-08, 08:47 AM   #14
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I qualify for geezerhood ( in mid 50s ), and have been living with no car in Seattle for years.
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Old 04-16-08, 11:10 PM   #15
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Thanks folks... you are all VERY supportive and
the message I hear is comforting. I would consider this the adventure of a lifetime and
it might just be what I need to find a new level
of happiness and satisfaction in my life.

Good luck to all. I am leaving on Monday for
an exploratory trip and to do some problem
solving. Again, thanks to all of you. I am
encouraged...

Ned
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