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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 05-01-08, 11:01 PM   #1
bragi
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This forum sucks now

I've been car-free for a few years now, and I come here pretty regularly for information and, mostly, inspiration. I've posted regularly, too. It's sometimes tough being an intentionally car-free person in a car-obsessed culture, and it's been nice to have at least the on-line support of like-minded individuals. Lately, though, I've noticed that the majority of threads on this forum have little to do with car-free life-styles. Rather, it's people ranting about oil and/or car culture, the very thing many of us are trying to avoid. It reminds me of an AA meeting where everyone goes on all day about the evils of vodka. I've also noticed that about a dozen or so people comprise the the vast majority of posts here. Occasionally, new people wander in, but they, with few exceptions, run for the hills when they see what's going on. It's become a sick little club of whiners, as a recent poster mentioned. Not always, of course -there have been many, many very encouraging threads- but enough to be a bit disconcerting to anyone who wanders to this forum unawares. And I've been as guilty of many of the nasty-type posts , which I now regret. I suggest the following to revive the integrity of this forum:

1. Don't rag on car drivers so much; or rather, don't rag on them simply because they're driving.
2. Ban Peak Oil as a topic of conversation.
3. Agree to actually mention bicycles in posts once in a while.
4. Agree to discuss motor vehicles a lot less.
5. When newbies show up, go to some effort to make them to make them feel welcome, even if you don't agree with them.
6. In general, spend more time talking about practicalities and less about ideology. (Yes, there's a utility forum, but all they ever talk about is trailers; it's the context that makes things interesting. Speak about the example of Copenhagen, and then start extolling the advantages of Extracycle.)

If you disagree with me, that's okay. But please do it reasonably.
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Old 05-01-08, 11:10 PM   #2
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Here here. I've been here for about a day or two and I'm already a little dis-heartened. Though, I did get some great help. So perhaps it's not all bad?
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Old 05-01-08, 11:38 PM   #3
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I agree, and I'm guilty too, even after realizing that I've spent too much of my personal time reiterating the same ideas. This goes on in the commuting forum as well. I imagine that this is perhaps the one place where many people with like-mindedness come to and are able to vent, so that's why there's been so much of it. But that's no excuse for veering off topic so much. I think it's important especially now to keep a positive attitude, especially with all the new members coming in.

For energy-related discussion, there's a lot of deep, thorough, honest, and intelligent analysis and discussion going on at theoildrum.com, which would be a fine place to shift some of this discussion to.

Let's get back to what we came here in the first place - bikes!

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Old 05-01-08, 11:43 PM   #4
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...Yes, there's a utility forum, but all they ever talk about is trailers; it's the context that makes things interesting. ...
If you disallow discussions about the context of living car free, what you wind up with is a discussion of trailers. We have to consider the Big Picture. And the main thing about the Big Picture is...well, it's really really big.

I'd love to see more welcoming and less criticism, but all it takes is a handful of highly opinionated, emotionally charged, vocal posters to train wreck a thread. And it's not as if those posters are ill intentioned, it's just that if someone happens to be grumpy, a point & counterpoint discussion can turn so easily into tit for tat. Actually, it seems to me that the occasional train wrecks that occur here now are much less of a problem than they were a year or so ago.
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Old 05-02-08, 01:41 AM   #5
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I just get on with living the car-ownership-free lifestyle. I drop in here occasionally to see what useful and useless material there might be. I can't say there is any greater conflict than there was a year or two or three ago... in fact, probably there is less.

It seems to me many of the subject lines to do with oil, fuel pricing, motorist behaviour and so on are attempts to validate the lifestyle that some people have discovered.

Unfortunately, like any religion, there are the fundamentalists who want to take such discussions much further than they need to.
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Old 05-02-08, 01:44 AM   #6
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maybe it is a sign of things to come,
what? I don't know really.
I do know I'm seeing more homeless on the streets.
I think that's really the BIG picture. to me, anyway.
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Old 05-02-08, 01:53 AM   #7
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maybe it is a sign of things to come,
what? I don't know really.
I do know I'm seeing more homeless on the streets.
I think that's really the BIG picture. to me, anyway.
What does that have to do with choosing a bicycle as transport?
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Old 05-02-08, 01:56 AM   #8
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not just transport, but living car free because one has to.
but what do I know, I don't drive nor have a driver's license.
so people can't choose.
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Old 05-02-08, 02:31 AM   #9
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You have to take the good with the bad. Don't click on the topics you don't find interesting. Click on those you do.

When I get discouraged by the topics, I go ride my bike.
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Old 05-02-08, 03:01 AM   #10
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You have to take the good with the bad. Don't click on the topics you don't find interesting. Click on those you do.

When I get discouraged by the topics, I go ride my bike.
Exactly...there are plenty of topics that I may read the orginal post and a couple of replies, if the topic doesn't interest me I don't bother clicking it again. I look on like the movies...you don't go see every movie produced good and bad (at least I don't) There have been plenty of excellent threads on here. Yes some of the are a bit OT and push the politics side of things, but for the most part the discussions remain pretty civil, unlike P&R. Unfortunately oil drives our lifestyles...even the car free/car light ones.

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Old 05-02-08, 03:03 AM   #11
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Lately, though, I've noticed that the majority of threads on this forum have little to do with car-free life-styles. Rather, it's people ranting about oil and/or car culture, the very thing many of us are trying to avoid. It reminds me of an AA meeting where everyone goes on all day about the evils of vodka. I've also noticed that about a dozen or so people comprise the the vast majority of posts here. Occasionally, new people wander in, but they, with few exceptions, run for the hills when they see what's going on. It's become a sick little club of whiners, as a recent poster mentioned.
In the spirit of providing some practical information, here are a couple of options for you:

1. If you think a particular thread has crossed the line and strayed into political or "advocacy" territory, use the report button and alert the mods, who will then decide to either move the post or leave it there, depending on the circumstances.

2. If a particular thread doesn't interest you, don't read it. You're under no obligation to participate in every thread on a particular sub-forum.

To be honest though, I don't really think this place has changed all that much since this subforum was created around 3-4 years ago. Some content was moved to the utility forum when it was created, but as far as I can recall, the whole point of creating this particular forum in the first place was to move a lot of the car-free vs non-car-free flame wars out of A & S (this was originally a sub-forum of A & S). Of course, they just found something else to bicker about to amuse themselves.

The point is, this "club of whiners" is really no different from any other place on the Internet. Virtually every Internet forum in existence is there for entertainment first and everything else a distant second. I remember going through a "this board isn't as good as it used to be phase". That lasted about as long as it took me to have a look at the archives and realise it was basically the same topics being rehashed by half a dozen posters all along, and the only reason I was losing interest is because I'd seen it all before. Then I ventured to other fora and found exactly the same thing happening.

Also, I don't think the new posters are necessarily driven off by the factors you mention. Most people probably just turn up here out of curiosity, realise that it's the same as the forum they "left", or that they have other ways to satisfy their entertainment needs, and move on. Given the amount of time the "core" posters spend online here, the newbie who turns up and only posts once a day, or just lurks probably wouldn't be noticed anyway. The people with the time to spend on line will always comprise the majority of the posts, and no changes in topic are going to change that.
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Old 05-02-08, 05:56 AM   #12
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bragi I fully agree with you. I barely have any interest in being a part of this forum, even though I AM car-free because none of the forum threads interest.

But Copenhagen, that is an awesome topic of conversation! Allow me to go start it!
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Old 05-02-08, 09:17 AM   #13
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+1 on trying to stay more positive. But you can't define your subforum as "car free" without frequent reference to the other side of the coin. To me car free is a beautiful ideal. It does not necessarily mean bicycling (e.g. Venice) but we get here through Bike Forums.

I live in an area that would never come around to accepting bike/ped lifestyle versus car lifestyle UNLESS peak oil and the "Long Emergency" kicks some butt. It is starting to do just that. I want to celebrate that here.

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Old 05-02-08, 09:40 AM   #14
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I suggest the following to revive the integrity of this forum:

1. Don't rag on car drivers so much; or rather, don't rag on them simply because they're driving.
2. Ban Peak Oil as a topic of conversation.
3. Agree to actually mention bicycles in posts once in a while.
4. Agree to discuss motor vehicles a lot less.
5. When newbies show up, go to some effort to make them to make them feel welcome, even if you don't agree with them.
6. In general, spend more time talking about practicalities and less about ideology. (Yes, there's a utility forum, but all they ever talk about is trailers; it's the context that makes things interesting. Speak about the example of Copenhagen, and then start extolling the advantages of Extracycle.)

If you disagree with me, that's okay. But please do it reasonably.
Great list. I have some additions:
7. No "gas prices should be raised" threads
8. No "Lets tax people till they act like we do" threads


More practically: As a subforum if we report threads to mods and suggest they be moved to P&R, then
we can make this subforum more car free and less ranting against this or that.
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Old 05-02-08, 09:47 AM   #15
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I agree with what you're saying, bragi. While I'm not car-free, I'm here because I'm interested in maintaining and enhancing a car-light lifestyle for myself. I'm interested in cycling as personal transportation, not just recreation and I'm interested in reasonable and sensible alternatives to driving when practical.
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2. Ban Peak Oil as a topic of conversation.
Should we perhaps have a Peak Oil subforum here, similar to the Vehicular Cycling subforum in Advocacy and Safety?
Quote:
Originally Posted by bragi View Post
6. In general, spend more time talking about practicalities and less about ideology. (Yes, there's a utility forum, but all they ever talk about is trailers; it's the context that makes things interesting. Speak about the example of Copenhagen, and then start extolling the advantages of Extracycle.)
This is exactly what I'd like to see. We have all sorts of practical real-world situations where we want to go car-free. The post about hauling bikes on a motorcycle is one example of this. The grocery post is another.
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Old 05-02-08, 09:53 AM   #16
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" In general, spend more time talking about practicalities and less about ideology."

Like it or not the "ideology" is a very important step to getting more people on
bike , or walking, on the way to a car-lite America. Without the "ideology"
discussion people will not buy into the very real need that is driving the
movment towards car-lite America. After the public is convinced the
rest is fairly easy.
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Old 05-02-08, 09:55 AM   #17
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Actually, P&R is pretty civil now. I know, it seems off topic, but it isn't.

In P&R, we've instituted a policy of discuss the ideas and not the poster. We have a dedicated thread for when you just absolutely HAVE to anklebite someone and the guidelines are still in force there as well, so there are limits on how hard you anklebite. I won't say it doesn't occasionally get heated, because it does, but the guys and gals (Yes, we even have women in there now! ) have learned limits.

There have been some truly interesting philosophical, metaphysical and political discussions going, that run out 40 and 50 pages and I haven't had to do much at all in hard moderation recently. I'm actually pretty happy with where they are at now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
Exactly...there are plenty of topics that I may read the orginal post and a couple of replies, if the topic doesn't interest me I don't bother clicking it again. I look on like the movies...you don't go see every movie produced good and bad (at least I don't) There have been plenty of excellent threads on here. Yes some of the are a bit OT and push the politics side of things, but for the most part the discussions remain pretty civil, unlike P&R. Unfortunately oil drives our lifestyles...even the car free/car light ones.

Aaron
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Old 05-02-08, 10:08 AM   #18
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2. Ban Peak Oil as a topic of conversation.
This forum has never seen an actual in-depth discussion of peak oil, which would get into the technical details of horizontal drilling, fractional flow in permeable reservoirs, enhanced oil recovery, creaming curves, energy balances in refineries, energy returned on energy invested, analysis of satellite photos of foreign oil fields, contango/backwardation in commodity futures, and so forth. As for occasional casual references to peak oil as a possible driver of current events, you'll get that by watching the financial news channels or reading the Wall Street Journal.
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Old 05-02-08, 12:50 PM   #19
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This forum has never seen an actual in-depth discussion of peak oil, which would get into the technical details of horizontal drilling, fractional flow in permeable reservoirs, enhanced oil recovery, creaming curves, energy balances in refineries, energy returned on energy invested, analysis of satellite photos of foreign oil fields, contango/backwardation in commodity futures, and so forth. As for occasional casual references to peak oil as a possible driver of current events, you'll get that by watching the financial news channels or reading the Wall Street Journal.
That's true, but that's what http://www.theoildrum.com is for.

I guess my feeling in all of this is that when you start to talk about living car free, it is only natural to start to consider the reasons why our society is set up in such a way that living car free is a big deal. If it wasn't a big deal, then lots more people would be doing it, and it would be an ordinary lifestyle choice like the question of whether to get a cat or a dog.

And then of course the question of the degree to which the status quo will be possible in the future. I suppose that's what the dig about peak oil was all about, and I imagine that this sort of discussion makes some people uncomfortable. To me it is highly relevant - if you don't want to read about it, skip those threads.
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Old 05-02-08, 01:43 PM   #20
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Like it or not the "ideology" is a very important step to getting more people on
bike , or walking, on the way to a car-lite America. Without the "ideology"
discussion people will not buy into the very real need that is driving the
movment towards car-lite America. After the public is convinced the
rest is fairly easy.
A friend of mine is going car-light this year. He's trying as much as possible to have car-free days. But he also tells me it's not easy to do. People like him and others who are trying to make the transition will need our help and advice. Many of us have already learned how to cut back or eliminate our dependence on the automobile. We can help show others how to do likewise.
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Old 05-02-08, 05:01 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Tightwad View Post
" In general, spend more time talking about practicalities and less about ideology."

Like it or not the "ideology" is a very important step to getting more people on
bike , or walking, on the way to a car-lite America. Without the "ideology"
discussion people will not buy into the very real need that is driving the
movment towards car-lite America. After the public is convinced the
rest is fairly easy.
I don't mind the ethics and ideology posts even though I think I became car free from self interest rather than altruism. When I first came here some of the ethics posters made me think differently about my decisions. I'm not convinced by the ideological and peak oiler points of view but their posts give a framework for looking at whats happening in the world. I have to admit I don't read all the threads about cars but I can understand that if someone is going to advocate car free that person might have to say whats wrong with cars in addition to whats so great about car free. A friend is going through car repair hell right now and just complained that her office has changed locations from bikeable to non-bikeable. She feels abused by the auto repair shop and doesn't have the bike to work luxury to spend time researching the problem. These stories make us car free people feel lucky and the stories can't be told without mentioning cars.
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Old 05-02-08, 06:00 PM   #22
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If you disallow discussions about the context of living car free, what you wind up with is a discussion of trailers. We have to consider the Big Picture. And the main thing about the Big Picture is...well, it's really really big.

I'd love to see more welcoming and less criticism, but all it takes is a handful of highly opinionated, emotionally charged, vocal posters to train wreck a thread. And it's not as if those posters are ill intentioned, it's just that if someone happens to be grumpy, a point & counterpoint discussion can turn so easily into tit for tat. Actually, it seems to me that the occasional train wrecks that occur here now are much less of a problem than they were a year or so ago.
I would agree that the conversation is much tamer than it was a few years ago. Part of the reason is that the discussion of Peak Oil and gas prices and poor urban and global warming has become accepted within the mainstream media.

Actually, I first learned about Peak Oil from this forum. Now I hear it on CNN all the time.

So... in a sense... what seems like mayhem and vehemence and rather esoteric, non-bicycle discussion may have some importance to our notion of the bicycle as transportation. I don't think you need to include a reference to bicycles in every topic. Sometimes the reference is implied.
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Old 05-02-08, 06:42 PM   #23
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A lot of the bubbling of "philosophical" stuff to the surface while the practical stuff sinks has to do with the name of the forum itself. There was discussion quite a while ago about this, and I said this forum should be called the Utility Cycling Forum. The self-appointed guru who "ran" the forum at that time disagreed. Then the Utility Cycling forum spun off, and the fragmentation has served neither very well.

The simple fact of the matter is that NO-ONE in the countries that BFs serves can possibly live car-free (drill down deeper than your own household to understand why). The naming is superficial in philosophical terms, and panders to the cyclist need to have some sort of social validation for the fact they ride a bicycle. Inevitably, the title Living Car Free gives no clue as to cycling as being the replacement for car-ownership, and rather invites the fundamentalists who hate cars to expound their theories.

I am sure that many people think they are taking up cycling to save the world. Most aren't. They are taking up cycling because it is convenient to them in terms of money, location, health and lifestyle simplicity. It's why we have people who want to be a part of this forum but say they are "car lite" or even admit to not owning a car but have two pick-ups!!!!

If you are living truly car-ownership-free, the discussion of peak oil and oil prices and motor vehicle costs is almost irrelevant, except for the impact it might have on the costs of consumer items and food. I wouldn't know a thing now about the price of fuel except for the constant ramming down our throats by the media of the automobile lobbies' rantings on it.

I maintain that this forum and the Utility Cycling Forum and maybe even Commuting should be reunited and go under the title of Utility Cycling. But of course, that would be too radical a move...
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Old 05-02-08, 11:13 PM   #24
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Inevitably, the title Living Car Free gives no clue as to cycling as being the replacement for car-ownership, and rather invites the fundamentalists who hate cars to expound their theories.
Ah -- so that explains why so many threads focus on cars.

I'd become either really smug (a sense of being superior to cars) or really distressed (sad that society is so car-centric) if this was the only forum I read on BF.
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Old 05-02-08, 11:15 PM   #25
Chris L
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
I maintain that this forum and the Utility Cycling Forum and maybe even Commuting should be reunited and go under the title of Utility Cycling. But of course, that would be too radical a move...
The basic problem is the inevitability that the Peak-oil/anti-car posts ultimately have to go somewhere (assuming that nobody wants to see them deleted outright and replaced by even more repetitive censorship posts). It seems to be the nature of any cycling forum that attracts even a moderate volume of traffic. I remember when I was on the old bike-qld list and the peak-oil posts took over. The admin of that list actually created a separate list devoted to those topics (I think it was called "evironmental transport" or something similar) but it didn't stop them. If you think back to the inception of LCF, it came about as a way of removing those posts from A & S. I don't visit A & S often enough to see if it's made a difference in that regard, but I suspect that it hasn't.

I think a combined forum would be taken over by the peak-oil posts just as quickly. As I pointed out before, the main need served by a forum such as this one is entertainment. The fact is, the "peak-oil", "Cars are bad" and "I'm better than you" arguments keep people with lots of disposable time to spend online entertained, that's why they come about in the first place. I read a study somewhere suggesting that while people claim to be working longer and longer hours every year, much of that time in the office is actually spent surfing the net rather than working. The point of all this is that these posts aren't simply going to stop, regardless of the pleadings of those who don't wish to read them.

At the end of the day, we can create a million different sub-forums, or we can merge everything into one BIG forum, but neither will change the content or the topics of the posts if the users choose to continue posting the same material. Basically, if you want to see different content either here or over in Utility Cycling, you need to take the initiative and start the thread yourself. In the end, there are three realistic options. We can either create a separate sub-forum for Peak Oil discussions (which may or may not keep them away from LCF), we can have the users report posts they think are too political and have them moved to P & R, or people can simply choose not to read the posts that bother them, and instead start posting the content that they want to see here. The choice is up to the users.
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