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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 08-28-10, 11:39 AM   #1
nesssa
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How to explain to everyone my decision to go car free......(such pressure)

Recently my husband and I decided to sell our car and go car free. We live in an area that is fairly accessible by public transit. As it was already, my husband was taking the train to work and I will be starting school soon and will be taking the bus there (only 1 bus) and free public transportation is provided with tuition for the year. We figured we can get by pretty easy this year by public transit and biking (we just bought new cool bikes!!!)

So the reasons why I decided to go car free were 1) environmental (I've begun recently to feel very passionate about environmental isues) 2) Lifestyle (I feel like I need a change...growing up we never had a car and I loved walking everywhere and taking transit....wasn't until I got married I started driving) 3) Health (I gained 10lbs when I started driving...would love to loose it) 4) Money (our car was costing us about $1000 a month...I can think of many better ways the money can be spent or would love to see it sitting in the bank )

So this decision is fairly new and a lot of our friends and family don't know yet and are just beginning to find out and they think we are absolutely crazy. We keep getting asked How are you going to get everywhere...what about groceries etc. Or people think we are broke....my husband actually just got a promotion and raise recently and makes a good income. How do all you car free people deal with the outside pressures from people? I don't wanna give in...feel really good about the decision and am really happy with it....but I hate having to explain to people. I just don't want to live in a box and live my life a certain way just because everyone says I should.
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Old 08-28-10, 11:49 AM   #2
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I like the weight control angle. With two-thirds of Americans overweight that is bound to get people's attention and acceptance. You can probably say it tactfully, but I don't.

Depending on your age, either your grandparents or your great grandparents went through WWII. With gas rationing, they likely didn't drive or drove only a few times a month. Tell folks you want to see if you are as resourceful and smart as your grandparents were. You might add the patriotic angle: most of our oil is imported, much of it from regimes that are not exactly friendly to America and our last three wars were all fought to secure access to oil. You're just doing your part. Also, with our national economy in a shambles, every dollar spent on imports is money that is not used to help our economy recover.
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Old 08-28-10, 12:01 PM   #3
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I used to get questions and I would shoot them right back at them..."How can you stand to be cooped up in a steel box?" "Jeeze a transmission repair cost HOW MUCH?"...I can buy a years worth of mass transit passes for that!, etc., etc. I live my life the way I want, you live your life the way you want.

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Old 08-28-10, 12:09 PM   #4
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Btw...I'm 26 husband is 29....we live in Canada...I like the weight angle too...but I'm not overweight so I doubt that will fly with most of my friends or family. I figure it will pass with time....people will just get used to it. I do wish more people were understanding though and would let us choose to live the way we want to without all the pressure. Its unfortunate that people will stick up their noses as if they are better because they have a car...its weird really....maybe I just need a new set of friends lol
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Old 08-28-10, 12:10 PM   #5
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How do all you car free people deal with the outside pressures from people? I don't wanna give in...feel really good about the decision and am really happy with it....but I hate having to explain to people. I just don't want to live in a box and live my life a certain way just because everyone says I should.
Outside pressures are a personal choice. You either choose to feel and respond to them or you don't. I choose "Don't".

There is always curiosity. Remember that curiosity does not equal pressure. There is no need to respond to pressure, but it is polite to respond to curiosity.

Like you, I had no single reason to go car-free. Several smaller ones added together made sense. That's all I say to others. If pressed, I stick to broad strokes--environment, health and fitness, lifestyle, money saving...

If they continue, I just turn it around and ask why they made their transportation choices.

For the genuinely curious--those who seem fascinated rather than judgmental--I'll answer the "How do you..." questions, but again, keeping to broad strokes. Grocery panniers for shopping, pedal harder in the cold, and so on. For others I just quote the old Nike commercials, "I just to do it".

EDIT: Not sure how I left this one out--joy. It's just plain fun. Then I ask, "When was the last time you had fun going to the grocery store?" Shuts them up PDQ.

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Old 08-28-10, 12:12 PM   #6
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maybe I just need a new set of friends lol
No lol about it. Maybe you do. And you'll find them living a similar lifestyle as you do.
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Old 08-28-10, 03:12 PM   #7
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I still own an auto. I feel ouside pressure to keep it. The pressure that I feel is indirect, and from my desire to have an auto to take my girlfriend on dates. Other than that, I like being different and can handle pressure from people that I don't want to date.

Stick with it Nesssa.
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Old 08-28-10, 04:20 PM   #8
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In a statistical sense you're abnormal (outside the norm) if you don't drive a car. People will question that. I think the reasons you gave in your first post are a reasonable response. Just explaining that in a brief and positive manner will probably be a good way to handle the situation.

But no matter what you say, after a while people will grow accustomed to the fact that you're carfree and quit talking about it as much.
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Old 08-28-10, 04:29 PM   #9
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I usually offer up fun and money. I like to ride so much that I was only starting my car a couple times a week. It was breaking down to $50 each time just to turn the key, so, I might as well ride everywhere, or rent a car once in a while. Going car-less might mean $500-$1000 a month in the bank, which should at least be worth a second glance.

If they are interested, I might tell them how I lost 100 pounds, and got off my high blood pressure meds. That's why I started riding, but I kept it up for the fun, and turned in the car for the cash.

Don't fret about others' reactions and perceptions. The car is too much a part of their lifestyle, and you'll rarely break through. You might as well ask them to eat bugs or live in a tree.
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Old 08-28-10, 09:11 PM   #10
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I like the weight control angle.
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I usually offer up fun and money.
Took me a while, but I found it!

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Old 08-28-10, 09:31 PM   #11
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But no matter what you say, after a while people will grow accustomed to the fact that you're carfree and quit talking about it as much.
In fact, depending on where you live, nesssa, people's reactions may be less than you think. A lot of Canadian cities already feature a good chunk of the population who get around on bike and transit. Larger US cities also.

It's not like you decided to move to the moon. It's just another vehicle. It's a personal choice.

And even if a few family members of close friends do make a noise about this, they'll soon grow tired of it and peace will reign.
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Old 08-29-10, 07:43 PM   #12
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Whenever anybody gives me ANY grief about not owning a car, it just makes me that much more determined to NOT get another one.

Whenever anybody compliments me on giving up the car (6 years ago now), it makes me that much more positive about staying on the bike.

So, the ratio of #1:#2 is...

1: MANY!
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Old 08-30-10, 12:36 AM   #13
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I don't know how I would deal with pressure to get a car, because no one has ever said anything about it.
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Old 08-30-10, 06:29 AM   #14
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I haven't had a car in about 16 months. I have had people ask me when i'm getting another one and I don't plan on it. I tell them if I did that my girlfriend and I would have to move back home because we'd lose the apartment we got about a mile from work.....and she would kill me if that happened..haha.

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Old 08-30-10, 08:32 AM   #15
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Eliminating a 1000 dollar a month vehicle expenditure is a good enough explanation for me, but you can tell your family and friends that a motor vehicle doesn't have a place in your or your husband's lifestyle and leave it at that.

Let your family and friends speculate all they like, since they still will, even if you told them everything you told us here.
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Old 08-30-10, 09:33 AM   #16
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....but I hate having to explain to people.
Then don't. Just tell them you like it that way and leave it at that. The "pressure" you are feeling comes from nothing but your desire for their approval. Ditch that, and what they say, or ask, or think, won't matter.
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Old 08-30-10, 06:39 PM   #17
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Yes, I would also try to make light of it. Try as best you can not to make others pick up the slack, such as you being too tired to ride your bike or too tired to take transit so you get rides from people. If you do get rides make sure you reciprocate in some form.


If you had never gotten a car in the first place the reaction would be less. It is a bigger deal to have a car then give it up.

You can always tell your family that you are giving up the car for the time being, and seeing how it goes. Then change the subject and ask them an unrelated question. People are generally more interested in themselves anyway.
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Old 09-02-10, 08:01 PM   #18
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I have never owned a car. I just tell people I hate working and have better things to do than go to work 5 days a week. So, I work 3 days a week instead and ride my bike around town and spend a lot of time with people I love! Triple plus!
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Old 09-03-10, 10:52 AM   #19
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Maybe you should have a list all printed up and ready to hand out to the curious. Here's a start:

Burn Fat, not Oil: 30 Reasons to Ride a Bicycle for Transportation

1. Cycling provides mobility while reducing traffic congestion. The vast majority of U.S. population growth from the current 300 million to 420 million by 2050 will occur in urban areas, where there is limited ability to accommodate increased motor vehicle travel and where 40 percent of trips are less than two miles and 28 percent are less than one mile.
2. Cycling can achieve a more predictable commute time and can even be faster than driving in a congested urban environment. Bicycle commuters on average avoid 50 hours of gridlock traffic each year.
3. Cycling affords mobility for the one-third of the population that does not drive due to age, disability, ineligibility, economic circumstances, or personal choice.
4. Cycling is possible in a wide variety of climates and topographies.
5. Cycling can transform your commute from the worst to the best part of your day.
6. Cycling reduces energy consumption. The bicycle is the most energy-efficient means of transportation ever invented. A cyclist can travel 3 miles on the energy from one egg. Walking would require 3 eggs to go the same distance. A fully occupied bus requires the energy equivalent of 2 dozen eggs to carry each person 3 miles. A train: 3 dozen eggs per person. A car @ 12.5 mpg: 7 dozen eggs per person. For the average 180 pound American adult piloting a 4,000 pound vehicle, 96 cents of every dollar paid at the gas pump is used to propel the vehicle, not the human riding inside.
7. Cycling reduces our dependence on foreign oil.
8. Cycling reduces the flow of money to those who want to exterminate us.
9. Cycling reduces auto-related costs such as purchase price, finance charges, licensing and registration, fuel, fluids, tires, maintenance, car washing, insurance, and parking.
10. Cycling eliminates the need for a health club membership.
11. Cycling reduces the demand for new roads.
12. Cycling produces negligible road wear, thereby decreasing road maintenance costs.
13. Cycling stimulates the demand for bike facilities, which increase property values.
14. Cycling increases one’s productivity at work.
15. Cycling is low impact exercise. The Center for Disease Control estimates that if all physically inactive Americans became active, the U.S. would save $77 billion in annual heath care costs.
16. Cycling is a cure for the obesity epidemic.
17. Cycling improves endurance and cardio-vascular health.
18. Cycling enhances strength, muscle tone, and bone mass.
19. Cycling increases agility and flexibility.
20. Cycling improves self-esteem.
21. Cycling reduces stress and is therapeutic for the mind and spirit.
22. Cycling reduces the state-sanctioned murder of innocent people (homicide by motor vehicle). Automobile crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 3 to 14 in the U.S.
23. Cycling indoctrinates children into an active lifestyle and can help break America’s pathological addiction to the automobile. In 1969, approximately 50 percent of children in the U.S. got to school by walking or bicycling. Presently, less than 15 percent of students walk or bicycle to school.
24. Cycling reduces air pollution. Bicycle commuters on average reduce their carbon emissions by 128 pounds per year.
25. Cycling reduces water pollution. Bicycles don't drip brake fluid, anti-freeze, and transmission fluid.
26. Cycling produce negligible noise pollution.
27. Cycling reduces the demand for new roads and parking lots and paving over the earth with asphalt and concrete.
28. Cycling reduces deforestation for planting of rubber plantations, because bicycles use very little rubber.
29. Cycling decreases road kill and saves animals from a cruel and violent death.
30. Cycling allows one to better appreciate the nuances of the natural and built environment.

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Old 09-03-10, 11:01 AM   #20
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This is a nice list, but shouldn't the title be "Burn Fat, Not Oil"?
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Old 09-03-10, 11:57 AM   #21
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Recently my husband and I decided to sell our car and go car free. We live in an area that is fairly accessible by public transit. As it was already, my husband was taking the train to work and I will be starting school soon and will be taking the bus there (only 1 bus) and free public transportation is provided with tuition for the year. We figured we can get by pretty easy this year by public transit and biking (we just bought new cool bikes!!!)

So the reasons why I decided to go car free were 1) environmental (I've begun recently to feel very passionate about environmental isues) 2) Lifestyle (I feel like I need a change...growing up we never had a car and I loved walking everywhere and taking transit....wasn't until I got married I started driving) 3) Health (I gained 10lbs when I started driving...would love to loose it) 4) Money (our car was costing us about $1000 a month...I can think of many better ways the money can be spent or would love to see it sitting in the bank )

So this decision is fairly new and a lot of our friends and family don't know yet and are just beginning to find out and they think we are absolutely crazy. We keep getting asked How are you going to get everywhere...what about groceries etc. Or people think we are broke....my husband actually just got a promotion and raise recently and makes a good income. How do all you car free people deal with the outside pressures from people? I don't wanna give in...feel really good about the decision and am really happy with it....but I hate having to explain to people. I just don't want to live in a box and live my life a certain way just because everyone says I should.
Do you really need to convince them? Just do it and don't worry about it.
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Old 09-04-10, 10:46 PM   #22
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For us, personally, we endured a barrage of criticism from our families. My in-laws told us we were being irresponsible parents, my mother said we were just plain stupid, etc. But we have been car-free for two years now, and most of that has faded away. I pointed out to my dad that since we went car-free we have never once had to ask for a couple hundred bucks to tide us over 'til payday. Our financial stresses literally disappeared. Most of the people who knew us before going car-free have come to agree that it was a good decision. It just takes time, don't let them make your decisions for you.

The thing that irritates me is that people assume we are very impoverished because we don't have a car. The truth is, we are NOT impoverished because we don't have one. Plus, we lead a healthy and environmentally friendly lifestyle. On top of it, we spend more time together as a family. Groceries and errands are a family event, traveling via the bus leaves my mind free to play games and talk with my children. In time, people close to you will see how good this change has been, and the rest just don't matter!
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Old 09-05-10, 12:56 AM   #23
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You don't owe anyone an explanation of anything you do with your money.

If you choose to give one, that's fine, but if they persist beyond a point where you're interested, you can say, "I gave you my explanation and now I don't want to discuss it any more."

If the people in your life won't show you the courtesy of allowing you to make your own decisions, then yes, you need new friends. Family you gotta work with, of course. But again, you don't owe explanations. You're doing what you think is best.
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Old 09-05-10, 01:54 AM   #24
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Then don't. Just tell them you like it that way and leave it at that. The "pressure" you are feeling comes from nothing but your desire for their approval. Ditch that, and what they say, or ask, or think, won't matter.

This is true. No need to talk, just walk your walk. The rest will take care of it self. Thanks YMMV IMO IME and all the usual disclaimers.
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Old 09-05-10, 01:20 PM   #25
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This is a nice list, but shouldn't the title be "Burn Fat, Not Oil"?
Despite typo, still a great list. Bit short though... I think we all could add a few more
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