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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 06-14-08, 08:46 PM   #1
atcfoody
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For the car free, what do you do?

My wife and I will probably never be completely car free, for any number of reasons. I often need to travel for work (a suitcase on the back of the bike doesn't work so well), our parents and families are between 120 and 350 miles away, in multiple directions, and so on. I commute or run errands as much as possible on my bike, but I'll just never realistically be able to shed the car. So, I'm curious about those of you who are actually car free.
What do you do for a living? What are your hobbies? Are you married or single? For those that are married, do you have kids, and how do you get them around for different things (school, sports, music lessons/performances, Dr's appointments, etc.)?
Thanks for the input.
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Old 06-14-08, 08:55 PM   #2
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Car Free (hopefully) in September.
Single, moving to a new apartment that puts me closer to everything
In the middle of a job hunt. My current job is strictly in the office and would be perfect for car free. Even has a bus stop right outside. The apartment is about 500 feet from a bus stop as well. Going to enroll for car share when I move, just for those as needed days.

Parents live 25-30 miles away. If I am hired for this new position, it would require a bit of travel here and there around the city. Some of the locations would be doable by bike. Some (traffic or time) aren't. So I may be looking at a small scooter or motorcycle. Still technically car free at that point.
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Old 06-14-08, 08:57 PM   #3
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I own a bike shop...which happens to be on the bottom floor of my house, convenient. I'm single without kids, I guess that makes it easier

I use the bus system when necessary, going to be using my new motorcycle ocassionally and use a bike+Amtrak combo for visiting family.
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Old 06-14-08, 09:11 PM   #4
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When I was car free (for 7 years) ...

1) I was an Engineering Technologist

2) My hobbies were cycling, and taking night classes

3) Single

4) No kids ... 3 cats

5) Parents ... 1400 kms away

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Old 06-14-08, 09:28 PM   #5
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I'm married with 2 children, ages 5 and 8. My husband and I have been car free pretty much all our adult lives. Neither of us had cars in college where we met. After college we moved to Portland together where I worked in a library and he worked in an office. Then we lived in Salt Lake City where he worked at a library and I attended grad school. We had our first child while we lived there. Later we moved to Madison and added another child. We currently both work at libraries.

For transportation we have primarily relied on buses and walking. As the kids have gotten older, we've started biking more often. We cluster errands. Dance class and the farmer's market are combined. Coming home from work and picking up groceries are combined. Going to work and banking are combined. And other combinations as needed. Neither my husband nor I work full time outside the house so there is always an adult available to juggle kid stuff. Our eldest also rides with friends' parents on some occasions.

My in laws live 2000 miles away. We fly out to see them every 18 months. They fly out here once or twice a year. We have a few relatives closer (my parents and my husband's sister) whom we rent a car to visit a few times a year. They also come see us a few times a year.
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Old 06-14-08, 09:36 PM   #6
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I'm car-free, and have been for four years now. Currently I have no intention of ever going back to car ownership, because, in my situation, car-free works very well. I'm single, and have a decent job, but I'm not wealthy by any means, either (I'm a teacher). I own my own modest home in a large urban area with pretty-good, but not great, public transportation. I live in an expensive city and have pricey hobbies (sailing, travel), but can manage it all on a modest income because I don't have a car I have to pay for.

I have read of families with children who are car-free, but I do not know of any personally. I do know a few people with kids who are car-lite, though: one car for the family, which is used only for longer trips, and to haul big stuff or the weekly grocery run. These families do not use their car to haul their kids to school or to soccer practice, either; they ride bikes with the kids to school, and the kids either walk, ride or bus it to sports practices. If I had kids of my own, this is the model I would follow. I applaud totally car-free families,
but I'm not sure if I'd have the iron will to pull it off myself.
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Old 06-14-08, 09:45 PM   #7
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I applaud totally car-free families,
but I'm not sure if I'd have the iron will to pull it off myself.
I swear we don't have an iron will. We were just to lazy to ever get around to buying a car in the first place.
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Old 06-14-08, 09:51 PM   #8
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I swear we don't have an iron will. We were just to lazy to ever get around to buying a car in the first place.
"Lazy" isn't the right word for you and your husband; maybe "too busy doing other things" would be more accurate.
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Old 06-14-08, 10:05 PM   #9
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What are your hobbies?
I have the same hobby that just about everybody on Bikeforums has! And there's no way I'd have time to ride more than an hour on a workday if I wasn't using my hobby for my transportation.
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Old 06-14-08, 10:46 PM   #10
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I have the same hobby that just about everybody on Bikeforums has!
+1

I'm a retired grandpa with grown children. This is absolutely the ideal situation for living car free.

I've always had a lot of fun riding bicycles, just about as far back as I can recollect. Sometimes I wonder if choosing to live car free isn't just my excuse to ride as much as I want to.

Life without a car can be very interesting indeed. It's not all about grit, deprivation and determination.

My son observed me living without a car when he was in college. At first he didn't quite understand, then he grokked it. He sold his truck, went car free, graduated a few years later (financed mostly with education benefits from Army service) and then ... rode his bike from Austin to Istanbul (and he's not finished yet, not by a long shot).
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Old 06-14-08, 10:54 PM   #11
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I'm single with no children and work from home. All I do is talk on the telephone, send e-mail messages, and maintain my web site. I ride to the local stores for the things I need to buy. If the weather forecast is bad, I'll go out in advance and get enough groceries to get me through those bad weather days.

If I ever become a musician again I'll probably buy another car to haul my gear around.
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Old 06-14-08, 11:18 PM   #12
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I'm currently car free. Throughout my adulthood, I've alternated car light and car free. So I salute your efforts. When I was married, I was car light. For this society, that is probably the best balance.

Now I am divorced, no kids. My commute is 3 miles and I live 8 miles from the center of the city. My hobbies are mostly centered around bicycles and computer animation. Though I have a big soft spot for science and space activism. Now that they have bike racks on the buses, I use them so I can arrive fresh at appointments and then pedal back afterwards. I ride at all hours. Tonight, I worked at the local arena 2 football game, and pedaled back home afterwards. It was about an hour ride.
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Old 06-15-08, 08:35 AM   #13
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I've been carfree for the last 3 years or so, and was car light before then - I had one of my mother's cars 'gifted' to me so I could be made to drive 220 miles one way to visit her whenever she wanted. Not fun.

I have a long-time partner and we're childfree. We either work for our little engineering consulting biz from home or from our office a few miles away and we can visit customers out in the boonies with either public transit or our tandem. We work with livestock so we have to carry a good bit of equipment but it works extremely well with our tandem.

As far as visiting parents, my mother does sales and is based out of my city so she's here often. We can take the train to see BF's mother several states away and it's a relatively pleasant overnight ride. We have some very spoiled cats as well and one has some major health issues, so we've had to beg/borrow/rent a car a few times this year to get her out to the regional vet ICU that's 10 miles away. Otherwise, we have a great vet who has a housecall-based business and it works a lot better because the cats are relaxed and comfortable when he comes.

My hobbies are biking (DUH), knitting and spinning. For the knitting I have no problem biking out to most events in New England that I really want to go to. I don't go to everything (like a lot of my friends) and find that the increased barrier to entry that's created by not having a car is a good thing because I actually have to think about which events I'll actually enjoy and don't automatically go and come home with a carload of new junk. I do wish that fiber event organizers wouldn't automatically put them out in the middle of nowhere in towns that don't have a restaurant for 10 miles, though.
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Old 06-15-08, 09:53 AM   #14
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My commute is 35km RT, If I get a bit sweaty, it's not a problem, but really, I don't have a problem with it. I use Crystal Stick deodorant, and while it doesn't stop the sweat, it sure stops the smell.

My parents are both dead My nearest relatives are 3 Provinces away, If i need a vehicle I belong to a car share group, though, to be honest, I haven't used it in a while because I can take the company van if I need it.

Hobbies are Bicycling and computers.
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Old 06-15-08, 09:57 AM   #15
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I live with my partner, but we're not married and don't have kids. He works at UW, I'm the chase after the house person. (and it takes more chasing than either of us like) If we had kids, they would walk or bike to school (not sure which one since I'm not sure where the neighborhood's elementary school is). Doctor's appointments would be easy, since there's a doctor's office across the street. Other activities would be the normal "well, have you figured out how to get there?". Schools often offer sports and scout troops after school, which is easy enough to manage. And since we're close to a major university, things like music, dance and martial arts are all close by too.

My hobbies are knitting, spinning, computer gaming, cooking and messing around with various mechanical things. Every so often my partner teases me with the idea of a project car to restore. Right now I'd prefer a project bike . Biking doesn't count as a hobby... it's how I go places and do things. Most stuff is within easy biking distance.

Visiting parents is easy enough. His parents live about an hour south of here, and there's regular bus service. Mine are halfway across the country, but it's easy enough to take a bus to the airport or train station and head off to see them.

If I'm not up to riding, I take mass transit.
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Old 06-15-08, 10:48 AM   #16
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Been car/motorcycle free for about 7 months. Kinda tough since i am a horse chiropractor and have to travel to various farms in the country to do my trade. i used to be a horse dentist as well, but i had to quit that side of the business cuz it entailed dragging around about 500 lbs of equipment. The bus system is pretty decent here, and i can throw my bike on the bus rack to go over the grade and then spin over to the stable. Going home is always fun. i am single w/o kids or animals {i miss my old dog:..( **. Hobbies include the obvious, West African drum,dance and spirituality, and again the obvious. i live at my X's stable and do free vet work to cover my rent, which is very nice. Town is about 5 mile away so i plan my trips accordingly, but i ride 7 days a week either way. Ashe.
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Old 06-15-08, 12:18 PM   #17
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I live with my partner of 16 years (common-law), with two cats, a dog, and a gecko. We are both life-long car-free because we never saw a use for the things (I am more political about it than he is). No kids. I only use the bus a few times per year, if extremely sick or when the weather is overwhelming.

I am a photographer, my studio is about 35mins away by bike. I get to location jobs by bike, using a trailer when needed. He is a database admin, now works from a home office but used to bus to work.

I don't have a heck of a lot of time for hobbies, but they can all be done by bike. (If you can call that a hobby, I chair a community event and work with several community groups.)
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Old 06-16-08, 07:18 AM   #18
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Thank you all for your comments, this has been very enlightening, and I look forward the continued conversation. Would it be a safe thing to say that part of someone's ability to be bike free would largely depend on where they live? Also, would you say that there are some points in life where it is very difficult to be car free, and other stages of life that it is much easier?

By the way, rockmom, the fact that you and your husband are able to raise a family being bike free in the US in this day and age is fantastic! We are such a car-focused society, many would say you are doing the impossible. That being said, are your families accepting of your "car-less-ness", or do you wind up catching grief for it every once-in-a-while?

Again, thank you to everyone who has and will be commenting.

D
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Old 06-16-08, 11:17 AM   #19
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I would be car free if it wasn't for my hobbies. I play fiddle twice a month with a group of old folks and I take lessons as well. Both of these activities require me to drive. the fiddle lessons I could ride to but how would I carry my fiddle and protect it from the rain?
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Old 06-16-08, 12:39 PM   #20
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but how would I carry my fiddle and protect it from the rain?
Put it in the case, wrap it in a plastic bag and carry it. It's not a bass fiddle is it?
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Old 06-16-08, 12:41 PM   #21
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Carry it? and ride one handed? sounds dangerous..
it's a regular fiddle, not a bass.
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Old 06-16-08, 01:02 PM   #22
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Carry it? and ride one handed? sounds dangerous..
it's a regular fiddle, not a bass.
Get a backpack style case for it, and a backpacker's rain cover (or just wear a rain cape/poncho over it.)
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Old 06-16-08, 07:59 PM   #23
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Would it be a safe thing to say that part of someone's ability to be bike free would largely depend on where they live? Also, would you say that there are some points in life where it is very difficult to be car free, and other stages of life that it is much easier?
Yes, it does make a difference where you live, and where the things you need to get to are located. People tell me all the time to move closer to my university, so I can get there without using my car ... but what they fail to realize is that rent closer to the university is much more expensive than the cost of owning and running my car. As a struggling student, I go with the least expensive option.

Hopefully, in about a year I'll be in a place where I can be car free again for a while.
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Old 06-16-08, 08:00 PM   #24
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I would be car free if it wasn't for my hobbies. I play fiddle twice a month with a group of old folks and I take lessons as well. Both of these activities require me to drive. the fiddle lessons I could ride to but how would I carry my fiddle and protect it from the rain?
I know a girl who rides a fixie with a cello slung across her back. She lives in the Boston area ... and she's one of the most amazing cyclists I've ever met.
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Old 06-16-08, 08:13 PM   #25
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I'm curious about those of you who are actually car free.
What do you do for a living? What are your hobbies? Are you married or single? For those that are married, do you have kids, and how do you get them around for different things (school, sports, music lessons/performances, Dr's appointments, etc.)?
Thanks for the input.
D
I build the BSO's for the Big Smiley, W-Mart. Pays better than the LBS, sorry. Other than riding and www-surfing, I read, watch movies, and have been known to work with wood and even tip a drink now and again.

Twice divorced, one child left at home, which I share with my extended family. Sister has a car, so dr. appts. are not an issue (the bus would be my answer if I was solo); I picked her up from after-school karate classes in a bike trailer, which she loved.

The only times I'm not on the bike are when the road surface is too treacherous to ride, or I have to use the bus for some obscure reason (doesn't hardly ever happen). The aforementioned trailer doubles as a grocery-getter when needed.

Both parents are deceased, btw.
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