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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 05-12-10, 09:09 PM   #1
cooker
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OMG going in the wrong direction! For now...

In interests of full-disclosure: As I've posted before we have one family car which my wife "inherited" from her disabled sister. When that came along I sold our previous 14 year old family car as we certainly didn't need two. I've tended to view it as "her" car, because I like to think I'm somewhat car-independent due to primarily biking or using public transit for work and a lot of my errands, but I do drive the car more than I like to admit since hey - it's there. It's a large-ish 2002 Pontiac Montana minivan.

We're also pretty car-light as a whole family, in that we have three somewhat grown kids at home 18-23 yrs of age and two of them haven't even bothered to get their driver's licenses beyond G1 (beginner). They can get wherever they want to by foot, bike or subway.

But a month or two ago, my elderly mother gave up driving at 85, leaving a perfectly good low mileage 2001 Volvo V40 in the parking lot, so upon her offer, and with my support, my daughter has flown out to Winnipeg to drive it here.

In the short term, I'm going to get the other kids to finish getting their licenses since I think that is important to have even if you don't intend to drive much. This will partly be the "kids" car to use for their own errands etc, and if one of them moves somewhere less favourable for car-free living, they could take one of the vehicles.

Failing that, my plan, which my wife doesn't yet fully buy into, is to ditch the Montana in favour of the smaller, more fuel efficient Volvo, but we'll see how that goes.

At 2 cars for 5 (potential) drivers, we're still at the low end of the spectrum, but it is a bit unexpected to be moving in the "wrong" direction for the moment.
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Old 05-12-10, 10:00 PM   #2
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You should research reliability records of each vehicle before deciding to ditch one. Volvos are nice to look at on the interior but they cost a fortune to keep up when something breaks. GM vans are hit and miss regarding reliability. Chevrolet dealerships are everywhere in North America which means parts are easy to get. Pontiacs are supposed to be serviced at Chevrolet dealerships now that Pontiac has been closed as a brand.

Don't feel you need to explain to anybody your choices of transportation. Each of us does our own thing. We're here to help each other do the best we can in our bicycle transportation lifestyle. I could have used a car a few times in the last three weeks. If I had one it would have been used.
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Old 05-13-10, 12:53 AM   #3
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My girl friend has a V40 about that same age. The fuel millage was not all that great despite its small size. I think it had so many options and safety stuff that it just weighed a ton. It was reliable, but when it did eventually need service it was always pretty brutal. Still you cant beat free and I would choose the volvo over the pontiac montana any day of the week. By the way, the montana was a clone of the chevy lumina (is that the right name?) van.
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Old 05-13-10, 11:40 AM   #4
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My hat is off to anybody who can pull off a carlight life. I fiound that when I had a car available, I used it more often than I planned. For example, I would impulsively decide to drive to work when I wanted that extra 10 or 15 minutes to lounge around the house. Or I would suddenly decide to drive to the all night grocery at midnight, rather than just go to bed and ride my bike in the morning.

I think I'm basically lazy and not having a car "forces" me to live the way I really want to live.
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Old 05-13-10, 04:05 PM   #5
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Roody - I identify with you! When we had borrowed a car before for a few days I found myself suddenly "needing" to take a car places beyond the purpose for borrowing said car, just because it was there. And they were places where taking the bicycle would have been just as fast - I suddenly yearned for climate comfort, and effort-free-ness just because I could.

As to cooker, I have refused an offer of a "free" car before from family because maintaining and insuring one is definitely not free! However there are 5 of you and I guess it really depends on how the others feel about car usage whether you decide to keep 2 cars or get rid of one.
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Old 05-13-10, 04:20 PM   #6
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^^I've turned down cars before too, but this time it seems to make a bit more sense. The real test will come when we discover how much frivolous driving we do (or don't do) with it. Regarding driving to work I don't have a monthly pass and I'm not going to get one, so that will help avoid temptation, since there is no way I will pay downtown daily parking rates (about $12).

Regarding reliability, the Montana had a huge problem this year - a shot main gasket. It turns out that it is an acknowledged problem with that model and GM even compensated people for it if they claimed by a certain date. Of course we were "lucky" in that it didn't happen until after the eligible date, so we ended up paying almost $3000 to get it fixed. However we couldn't get a comparable car for $3000 and didn't know the Volvo would be imminently available so it made sense. I'd kind of hate to sell it soon after after investing a chunk in it, and anyway it's not techically mine. So we'll keep both for a couple of years by which time we'll either unload one on one of the kids or sell it.

In fact I partly started this thread as motivation to stick to that plan.

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Old 05-13-10, 04:43 PM   #7
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^^I've turned down cars before too, but this time it seems to make a bit more sense. The real test will come when we discover how much frivolous driving we do (or don't do) with it. Regarding driving to work I don't have a monthly pass and I'm not going to get one, so that will help avoid temptation, since there is no way I will pay downtown daily parking rates (about $12).

Regarding reliability, the Montana had a huge problem this year - a shot main gasket. It turns out that it is an acknowledged problem with that model and GM even compensated people for it if they claimed by a certain date. Of course we were "lucky" in that it didn't happen until after the eligible date, so we ended up paying into the thousands to get it fixed - I forget exactly how much, but I'll edit it into this post later. I'd kind of hate to sell it soon after after investing a chunk in it, and anyway it's not techically mine. So we'll keep both for a couple of years by which time we'll either unload one on one of the kids or sell it.

In fact I partly started this thread as motivation to stick to that plan.
By that time maybe you will have unloaded one of the kids!

Actually, I ride less since my grown son moved out a few years ago. I used to ride places with him that I wouldn't have gone to on my own, and it was a lot of fun too.
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Old 05-13-10, 07:30 PM   #8
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In the short term, I'm going to get the other kids to finish getting their licenses since I think that is important to have even if you don't intend to drive much. This will partly be the "kids" car to use for their own errands etc, and if one of them moves somewhere less favourable for car-free living, they could take one of the vehicles.

At 2 cars for 5 (potential) drivers, we're still at the low end of the spectrum, but it is a bit unexpected to be moving in the "wrong" direction for the moment.
cooker, I think you may be confusing your own goals with your children's. Apparently, they see value in getting their driver's licenses and probably think having a car available is great. I think you are just helping them out... but this doesn't sound like your goal.

In 2005 or so, we gave our youngest son our 2nd car and I started commuting.

I see the value of trying to live without a car, but my son didn't see it that way (although he probably didn't need to have a car...) Now he's moved back home after finishing college, so we have 2 cars for 3 drivers.

I don't use any of the cars much. My transportation needs have been reduced considerably over the years and I find a bicycle gets me to 95% of my destinations.

We can't change the values of our society or our families. All we can do is live our lives as we think right.
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Old 05-13-10, 08:05 PM   #9
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cooker, I think you may be confusing your own goals with your children's. Apparently, they see value in getting their driver's licenses and probably think having a car available is great.
Quite the opposite actually - the 18 and 21 year old haven't bothered to move beyond a G1 beginner's license as they see no immediate need. I'm the one who wants them to get it over with so they will have a license, and can use it or not as they see fit. Better to have a license and opt not to not drive, than to be without one and perhaps have to take a job in a rural or suburban area where that's a handicap.
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Old 05-13-10, 08:42 PM   #10
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Years ago my goal was to not drive my SUV for a month, now that's not even a challenge since it can be upward of several months before I use it. All the other family members have their own car and use them on a daily basis, but I still keep finding different ways to avoid car usage.
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Old 05-13-10, 09:51 PM   #11
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Quite the opposite actually - the 18 and 21 year old haven't bothered to move beyond a G1 beginner's license as they see no immediate need. I'm the one who wants them to get it over with so they will have a license, and can use it or not as they see fit. Better to have a license and opt not to not drive, than to be without one and perhaps have to take a job in a rural or suburban area where that's a handicap.
My children and I were the opposite. All wanted to get a driver's license and a vehicle as soon as possible. I tried to convince them that a car payment is really a trap and I've worked to spare them the need to buy their own vehicle mostly by being very generous in loaning or giving what I own. They like the sound of the bicycling life, but see it as impractical in their current circumstance.
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