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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 04-24-08, 09:19 PM   #1
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Thinking about going car free...

Hi guys I finished my first bike build about a month ago or so and have been riding to a from work and taking some longer rides just for fun and exercise since I am a Clydesdale and I want to be a better rider and loose some weight.. anyways I have been suffering from a car payment and insurance payment for about two years I don't make a ton of money and feel that $550 a month could go to something more us full but I am having some doubts about just giving up my car since its so convenient for drive through and the like I spent quit a bit of money on building my bike and want to keep it and I am worried about it getting stolen.. eventually I will get another frame to build for a utility bike but for now my only bike has a multi purpose and will be getting a bike rack that will suit panniers but for now I will have to use my trusty backpack. after all that I have some questions, what are procedures about going to a restaurant that doesn't have a spot to lock your bike up or no pole in sight, for instance there is a local Mexican fast food joint I like to get a burrito from but they don't have a spot to lock up a bike can I just take it in the diner with me? most secure way to lock, I have an industrial lock and a 4500lb shear strength chain that is DOT approved for tying off a load on a big rig trailer (I almost broke the hydraulic chain cutter that we have at work for chain we sell and that thing is rated at 2 tons) so what method of locking my bike is the best? through the frame and rear wheel and take off the front? I will also be equipping my bike with a brooks swallow saddle so I would hate for that to get stolen...

Well for right now those are all the questions I have if you guys could help out I would really appreciated the advice from a veteran. any thing to make the transition from car to bike easier.

Thank
Roy
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Old 04-24-08, 09:45 PM   #2
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A lot has to do with the neighborhood.

Yesterday I had to meet clients for lunch at a swanky place in the suburbs. I rode back and forth looking for something--anything--to lock to. It was a neighborhood where a cable lock would have been fine, (Hell, twine would have been secure enough) and there were plenty of places I could have locked if I had one. But I live in the city so all I own are U-locks. I eventually decided to ride up the street and lock to a stop sign.

Same goes for accessories. Yeah, it's a good idea to lose the quick-releases on the wheels and seatpost. But the rest depends on where you are. At the grocery store where I shop, cyclists--and by extension our bikes--are all but invisible. I don't worry about lights, cyclometer, saddle or even the contents of my trunk bag because everyone's looking down their nose at me--if they see me at all.

Other neighborhoods, I double-lock the bike, run an accessory cable through the saddle's cutout, then detach and carry everything.

A good locking strategy adapts to the conditions. Same with parking the bike. If that burrito shack is in a decent neighborhood, maybe it's okay to lock up down the street a bit. If it's in the hood, it may not even be safe inside the place with you.
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Old 04-24-08, 09:49 PM   #3
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I use a decent U-lock and a couple of cables. Usually The U-lock goes between rear wheel, frame and rack/pole; the cable has 2 loops on either end-so cable through the front wheel and cinched with one end of the cable through the other and attached/locked with the u lock. I also just picked up a thiner cable designed for the seat rack.

Not having something to attach to is tricky. No utility pole or parking meter? You might want to check with management and see if there is a back service entrance that might have something handy to lock to. The grocery store I go by when I use the bike way to get to work and school has some nasty racks, the concrete block with slots for the wheels and little metal hoops next to the slots. Across the street, however, off the path and next to the bus stop are two nice racks that are much better designed. Guess where I will be locking up on grocery runs? As convenient as it would be to park next to the door, I will walk the extra 500 feet or less to lock properly. Check the neighborhood and see if something exists in the immediate area, even if it loses the park next to the door factor.
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Old 04-24-08, 09:56 PM   #4
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Roy, I am a bit confused about your posting as your punctuation and points have taken me for a loop but I will try to answer this for you.
1. I can understand your point about the money spent on the car but have you ever wondered how you would do without a car? Will there ever be a need to drive it again with what ever you do in your life? Do you live in an area where it is not important? Can you give it up and replace it with a scooter should you ever need to travel a longer distance than you are willing to cycle? I have two cars, two bikes, two skateboards and one scooter. I pay insurance on the cars but don't drive them. In fact, I have only driven a car 5 miles in 11 days. That was only to take it to a mechanic. I ride my bike, scooter and take the bus as much as possible. I do like to have the cars to haul things around, make a loop when running errands, taking my bike to rides/races and to do things at night when it is cold.
2. As for having a bike stolen, I think it is up to you and how well you secure it. I have a hybrid with panniers that I lock up well when out on the street. I even lock my helmet up. If you are at that special Mexican restaurant that has no place to lock it up, ask if you can keep it inside. If the manager tells you that you can't, look for a very public post to secure it to. I think a good $30 cable from a bike shop should do the trick. Get a nice long one so that you can wrap it around the entire bike including wheels and frame.
Dealing with bikes is a matter of common sense. If you have it, things will work out for the best. Good luck!
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Old 04-24-08, 10:08 PM   #5
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To feed off travelmama,

Look into your public transit options as well. Many local transit services offer discounted monthly passes and some have programs set up with various employers.

Is car share available? Rentals? Good way to get around without a car. I have even heard of someusing a taxi for grocery runs. The scooter is a great suggestion as well.

Also, see if your city has a bike rack program. Columbus has a process to call in and request a bike rack. They city approaches and works with the local businesses to get it done.
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Old 04-24-08, 10:28 PM   #6
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Guess I was a little vague I live about a stones through away from work and 5 miles from the bike trail... I ride maybe a quarter mile to work round trip, since I have owned my car for two years I put just over 11000 miles on it and a lot of that was a few trips to cities hundreds of miles away and since then I haven't had the need to wander that far from home. there is a good selections of shops and what not around me so going car free would be to much of a deal since I have friends with cars if I needed to buy a new tv or something, I don't mind riding a slightly long distance as once i get more into shape I would like to get into centuries and long rides... um right now in my life I don't think it is necessary for me to have a car let alone new one, the whole idea was to sell my car catch up on some bills see how much I like being car free and if I needed I could by a little geo metro to get around if needed... as far as theft in my area, my job is in a strip mall and one day while I was at work I saw a guy sprinting across the parking lot with a bike with now front tire once I was positive the guy stole the bike (the owner, one of my customers, came out of bel air with his wheel and was looking for his bike) me and a friend hopped in his car and got the guys bike back.... it wasn't the best or most expensive bike but I saw the guy steel it and I couldn't sit there and just let him get away with it.

Thanks for the responses I like the cable ideas
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Old 04-24-08, 11:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Endofcomment View Post
Hi guys I finished my first bike build about a month ago or so and have been riding to a from work and taking some longer rides just for fun and exercise since I am a Clydesdale and I want to be a better rider and loose some weight.. anyways I have been suffering from a car payment and insurance payment for about two years I don't make a ton of money and feel that $550 a month could go to something more us full but I am having some doubts about just giving up my car since its so convenient for drive through and the like I spent quit a bit of money on building my bike and want to keep it and I am worried about it getting stolen.. eventually I will get another frame to build for a utility bike but for now my only bike has a multi purpose and will be getting a bike rack that will suit panniers but for now I will have to use my trusty backpack. after all that I have some questions, what are procedures about going to a restaurant that doesn't have a spot to lock your bike up or no pole in sight, for instance there is a local Mexican fast food joint I like to get a burrito from but they don't have a spot to lock up a bike can I just take it in the diner with me? most secure way to lock, I have an industrial lock and a 4500lb shear strength chain that is DOT approved for tying off a load on a big rig trailer (I almost broke the hydraulic chain cutter that we have at work for chain we sell and that thing is rated at 2 tons) so what method of locking my bike is the best? through the frame and rear wheel and take off the front? I will also be equipping my bike with a brooks swallow saddle so I would hate for that to get stolen...

Well for right now those are all the questions I have if you guys could help out I would really appreciated the advice from a veteran. any thing to make the transition from car to bike easier.

Thank
Roy
For security, if it's a big concern, I'd get both a U-lock and a cable lock. Use the U-lock for the frame, and the cable for the wheels and seat. All locks can be defeated if the thief is determined, but unless you have a really fancy bike, it probably won't get stolen if your bike is locked to something solid. BTW, there's always something to lock your bike to; there's always street signs in a pinch. Personally, I just use a U-lock, and sometimes, if it's convenient, I just lock the rear wheel to the frame, and so far it's been fine. Don't let fear be a limiting factor. And, given the circumstances you've described, car-free sounds like a no-brainer for you.

BTW, your posts would be much easier to read if you put a little more effort into spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure.
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Old 04-25-08, 01:13 PM   #8
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Roy,

Like anything else, one learns how to do something by doing it. It seems by building a bike you are taking a step in the right direction.

Give yourself a goal of not using the car for a month, and testing your will power to see if you are really able to get by without one. Go to the restaurant, the local shops, etc., and see if you are able to cope with just the bike. You might find difficulties along the way - and you will improvise and find a solution. If you are curious how others do it, come back here and ask on the forum, and share your experiences of what troubled you. You will definitely not be the first to have that issue, as you will see.

I am confident that you can live car-free. I am doing it, and I will be the first to tell you that you will need to think harder before you set out to do certain things, but that little bit of planning might save you a lot of money and it will surely do the environment and your health a world of good.

Good luck.

Also, I second the other posters who mention that your posts would be much easier to read (and therefore easier for us to help you) if you took the time to go back on your posts before you put them online, to check that your spelling and punctuation are correct.
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Old 05-03-08, 09:28 PM   #9
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I'm going to answer by relating my own experience and situation.
A little over three years ago, my car (a little hatchback) gave up on me -- major engine problems. {The fact that I beat on it didn't help, either, but it had 116,000 miles on a mitsu 4-banger.) At that point, I'd been commuting by bike for 80% of the time for four years. But financially, I had a decision to make -- get another car or keep the house? Things were getting tight, and I wasn't in a position to do both. I called the junkyard, they gave me $35 for the car, got on the bike, and I never looked back.

When the weather or conditions are too nasty to ride (pretty tough for me, I only quit riding when traction isn't there -- ice or deep snow), I grab the bus. I'm guessing I spend about $40-50 a year on bus fares. Other than that, the commute is the highlight of my workday. Cold? Put more on. Wet, raining? Rain gear. Fog? Ride a little slower and use LED's. Just GET ON THAT BIKE!! There are days when I don't really feel like it; I force myself, and most turn out to be sweet rides!

Car-free is a mindset; it's one that I've wholeheartedly embraced, and I have no regrets. I LOVE feeling fit, not worrying about measuring my intake, not paying insurance/registration/tuneups/oil changes/etc.

What have I got? Cables new every year, new gears/chain every year? Less than $100. Lube? Synthetic motor oil, the lightest weight obtainable (0W-20 Mobil 1), and I have enough to last about a decade. $4.

I have every intention of riding until I die -- which I've penciled in somewhere after my 98th birthday....
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Old 05-07-08, 01:14 PM   #10
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Roy--
One of my main reasons for being carfree is the fitness issue. Incorporating execise into my everyday life (by riding and walking to the places I used to drive to) has been the single best way to be more fit. You might not lose weight when you exercise every day, but you probably will feel a lot better and get sick less often.
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