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  1. #1
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Your car-free or car-light motivation

    What motivates you to pursue a car-free or car-light lifestyle?

    It it about saving money, going green, reducing dependence on foreign oil, convenience or something else?

    And more importantly, is car-free or car-light living an end in itself or is it a way to accomplish other goals?
    Life is good.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    For me, it's simply more enjoyable and more convenient to get around by bike than to use the car. There's a joy in riding my bicycle that I don't experience in a car.

    In addition, I'm interested in maintaining a simple lifestyle and going car-light is one part of that.
    Life is good.

  3. #3
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    Reducing dependencies and simplifying my life is the biggest motivation for me. Being car lite is not the end in itself, rather a side-effect.

    Saving money and being green come as a result of that, although I blow everything I save on bike parts that are delivered by planes and trucks..

    Besides that, I really hate driving. And I really, really like riding a bike.

  4. #4
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    I can drink more beer.

    I only have one goal in life,to wake up in the morning,everything else is window dressing.
    Last edited by Booger1; 10-27-10 at 11:48 AM.
    Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein

  5. #5
    Lost on the road of life
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    It was money at first. I had lost my job in 2002, and could no longer afford the $150/month car payment, along with the $150 for insurance, $100 for gas. That was eating up nearly 50% of my income! But I needed the car to get to the job, right? (As we so often hear) So now that I didn't have the job, I didn't need the car, plus, I needed the money to make rent and buy food when I didn't have the job. I sold the car for $2500 and that allowed me to live for a little while. I got a bike for $50 off craigslist. I got another one later off freecycle and between those two bikes, I had one really great bike that I had until just last year when I moved from NorCal to Hawaii.

    But the money issue soon turned into other issues. Not getting jacked by the insurance industry for all that money when they wouldn't pay out when I actually needed it. "I give you guys $150 a month! You're supposed to help me!"Nope. I'd pay the $700 for the car repairs, they'd pay $13. It's a racket, pure and simple. Protection money. Then there was gas, which was, at the time, only $2.40/gallon. If I can't afford that racket, I don't even want to think about paying for gas now, where in Hawaii, it's $3.60 or so. So it was more about not supporting these industries that are already rolling in it when I can barely afford to eat because I couldn't find a job.

    Then it was pleasure. Riding a bike is fun! Plus, riding my bike, I can still get on it and go where I want, when I want. I don't have to wait around for the bus or hitch a ride. I'm also fat, so getting all that exercise is probably good for me. I ride my bike everyday. Sometimes for fun/exercise, other times, because I have errands or want to go somewhere fun, like the beach. The "green" component came last. Because really? That many people going carfree? Isn't going to have an impact on greenhouse emissions or whatever the latest rallying cry is these days. I'm still an environmentalist, but let's work on getting rid of industrial agriculture, the military industry, the utter waste of landfills and garbage before we start thinking that tiny personal changes make an impact.

    And also, riding a bike keeps me from accumulating stuff. I can only carry around what I can fit in 4 panniers and a basket (maybe a backpack for some light things) and that's all my worldy possessions that I allow myself. When you have a space to fill, you often fill it. I don't. Keeps me simple.

  6. #6
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    35% - Exercise. I can easily fit in 40 minutes of cycling every day, replacing 30 minutes of sitting in my car. 10 extra minutes of my day for 40 minutes of excercise? What a deal!
    35% - Enjoyment. I like riding my bike and look forward to it. I do not like sitting in traffic.
    20% - Environmental. Why should I waste oil by lazily sitting in my car when I can be on my bike, using far less resources? Plus, the air quality in my city sucks due to the hundreds of miles of freeways.
    10% - Ego. I enjoy the false feeling of superority I get from the other 90% reasons I listed above

  7. #7
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Bamboopiper, you've made the transition many have wanted to see. You started riding for reasons of necessity and it became a source of joy. I don't know if it's the same for others who start riding out of necessity, although I would hope so.
    Life is good.

  8. #8
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    Ours was initially an absolute financial decision, but now it's a lifestyle choice. I love the pace of life being car-free requires. I spend much more time with my kids. Running errands by bike is a family affair. Riding the bus allows me to play games and carry on a conversation with the kids without the distraction of driving. Because of our traveling limitations, we only commit ourselves to appointments that are very important or something we really want to do. We cannot run from one activity to the next, so we just don't do it. I watch friends dash through life, constantly complaining of exhaustion, and I can't see the allure.

    Oh yeah, and because we don't have a car sucking 25% of our income (yes, that's what it was before we went car-free), I don't have to work full-time to support my family while my husband is in school. 25-30 hours a week is more than sufficient. That allows me even more time with my family, and I just have a lot more fun than I did when both of us were working full-time and the kids were locked up in daycare all the time, still struggling to make ends meet because of that money-sucking car. I get to see my kids grow up now, and being car-free is almost entirely responsible for that.

  9. #9
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I ride for mental health reasons...

    I use a bike to relax and enjoy the view at a slower pace. And in many areas where I go the bike will allow me to circumvent traffic, unlike all the other tourists that insist on driving everywhere and clog up the roads and parking lots.

    I consider myself car light for the most part. I do have to drive for work, to the tune of 40,000+ miles a year but only put 2,000 miles on my personal truck last year. We are in the process of simplifying and decluttering our home life.

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  10. #10
    Je pose, donc je suis.
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    I see no reason to buy a second car just to drive a few miles to work.

    I enjoy biking.

    It feeds my holier-than-thou complex. ;-)

    On a side note, my office is now giving a $10 monthly bonus to anyone who bikes/walks/public transits to work. I've offered my share towards a better bike rack.

  11. #11
    Senior Member zeppinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CarFreeFam4 View Post
    Ours was initially an absolute financial decision, but now it's a lifestyle choice. I love the pace of life being car-free requires. I spend much more time with my kids. Running errands by bike is a family affair. Riding the bus allows me to play games and carry on a conversation with the kids without the distraction of driving. Because of our traveling limitations, we only commit ourselves to appointments that are very important or something we really want to do. We cannot run from one activity to the next, so we just don't do it. I watch friends dash through life, constantly complaining of exhaustion, and I can't see the allure.

    Oh yeah, and because we don't have a car sucking 25% of our income (yes, that's what it was before we went car-free), I don't have to work full-time to support my family while my husband is in school. 25-30 hours a week is more than sufficient. That allows me even more time with my family, and I just have a lot more fun than I did when both of us were working full-time and the kids were locked up in daycare all the time, still struggling to make ends meet because of that money-sucking car. I get to see my kids grow up now, and being car-free is almost entirely responsible for that.
    This was great to read. Thank you!

    I started out riding for the environment and because I am a minimalist. After I while I realized that I hadn't driven my car in three or so months and just sold it. Now I am car free for the financial benefits. I take 3-4 months off a year to travel. Sometimes I travel by bike and sometimes I just go backpacking and take buses. My last trip was 3 months in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Japan. This year I am thinking China, Tibet, Nepal, and India. I could never afford this much time off to travel while owning a vehicle.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Titmawz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CarFreeFam4 View Post
    Ours was initially an absolute financial decision, but now it's a lifestyle choice. I love the pace of life being car-free requires. I spend much more time with my kids. Running errands by bike is a family affair. Riding the bus allows me to play games and carry on a conversation with the kids without the distraction of driving. Because of our traveling limitations, we only commit ourselves to appointments that are very important or something we really want to do. We cannot run from one activity to the next, so we just don't do it. I watch friends dash through life, constantly complaining of exhaustion, and I can't see the allure.

    Oh yeah, and because we don't have a car sucking 25% of our income (yes, that's what it was before we went car-free), I don't have to work full-time to support my family while my husband is in school. 25-30 hours a week is more than sufficient. That allows me even more time with my family, and I just have a lot more fun than I did when both of us were working full-time and the kids were locked up in daycare all the time, still struggling to make ends meet because of that money-sucking car. I get to see my kids grow up now, and being car-free is almost entirely responsible for that.
    You guys ROCK !!!!

  13. #13
    Senior Member Titmawz's Avatar
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    For me it was quite similar to what people have mentioned above. About two years ago I had a car of my own. I always hated paying insurance and the escalating gas prices were not appealing to me at all. My car ended up blowing up by the time I have met my ex girlfriend. I ended up moving in with her from the place that I used to live at. Once living with her, we shared her car. Both of us had the same route to commute to work. I noticed that one car is more than enough for a household. And I started realizing the amount of pollution that I am making over a period of time just traveling 20 miles just commuting to and from work. Over time things between us started to disintegrate, both were equally guilty. And I ended up leaving her, I could not put up with Bipolar disorder. One night that she has freaked out on I decided to hop on my bike and did about 15 miles to and from home and my lost love for cycling was reborn. Once I have left her, I lost the car and my drivers license was suspended. I started commuting to work by bus and coming back home by bicycle. I was hooked. I look into my old account on meet up and looked up cycling groups and have found out about Critical Mass rides and have met alot of really cool and calm people. My whole lifestyle has changed for the better and I am happy with my life and have reconnected with my favorite toy, which was a bicycle since the age of four years old. As I got older the interest was lost, due to wanting to have a car, etc, etc ,etc... Now I have been for nearly a year on my bicycle everyday, my driver license is still suspended but that does not phase me since I do not drive nor own a car. It only comes handy when cashing my paycheck and buying beer. It has changed the aspect when it comes to material possessions as well... - = + I also get to interact with the environment, enjoy the weather (good or bad), get to where I wanna get when I want to get there. Slowed the pace of my life considerably as well. Keeps me healthy and fit..... The benefits can only be understood by the people that do the same... Sorry for the long post though =)

  14. #14
    Senior Member oban_kobi's Avatar
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    Because it's fun. There is a university bus system that stops here, and it's price is included in tuition, but I prefer riding. It's fun, healthy, and I plan on touring someday, so being used to riding will really help there. After commuting by bicycle for a while, I've decided that I won't get a car, ever, unless there is an absolute need for one. Cycling is way more fun! On a side note, apparently the average course for owning a car over ones lifetime, assuming ~80 years, which btw is a bit lower than I expect to live, by about 20 years, one would save about $500,000. That's a lot of bikes XD

  15. #15
    Senior Member Titmawz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oban_kobi View Post
    That's a lot of bikes XD
    Nice Bicycles indeed !

  16. #16
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    I'll be "car-light." It looks like I lost my parking spot at work. I commute by bicycle on average 3 times a week. It looks like I'll be going 5 for 5 from now on.

  17. #17
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    I started commuting when the days got shorter,just not enough time to ride after work. Takes me about 40 minutes each way.
    Then in August, they offered a commute challenge. Commute 30 days between Aug-Oct and reap the rewards. Tomorrow is day thirty and I will be riding even if it rains!
    In the last two months I have only filled the car up three times versus once a week if I drive.
    I have also noticed my tolerance for dealing with "difficult" people at work has gone way up in the last month of commuting.

  18. #18
    nw commuter memnoch_proxy's Avatar
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    In college, a cheap mtb got me around, but I wasn't all religious about it like I am now...I'd take the bus whenever I could find one. But as I followed my career, the car was central to living in Silicon Valley. But I moved up north and when I finally got re-employed and reduced my car need (being an on-call tech), I was intimidated by riding what I thought was 10 or more miles to work, so I biked to a carpool point for a while. Then when my office moved closer, I figured I could do 6-1/2 miles. Also about that time, my health took a turn for the worse and I seriously had to keep my measurements under control. So I went from biking to work 3 days a week to 5 days a week in after about a season, skipping my first winter. After doing a whole year, plus winter for bike commuting, I sold a car and now I've just got a van, mostly for the wife and kids to use. I feel great on a lot of accounts. I'm saving money and I'm in better shape than I ever was so long ago in high school. I like trying to expose people to the possibility that bike commuting is fun...like camping is fun. I wish I had lived with more bike-centric people earlier in my life. I love the DIY attitude that comes with bikes. My kids are learning that they don't need a car, either. Boy--they get car-sick easily, too.
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  19. #19
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    For me its health reasons. With some dietary changes and riding my bike everywhere under 6 miles, I have lost almost 40 pounds, and I am still dropping. Its like going to the gym for an hour or more everyday but it doesn't feel like I am exercising. Riding my bike is like a drug to me now. When I have a headache I go for a quick ride and it almost always clears up, really a fantastic experience.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Spudd's Avatar
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    We used to live in the suburbs and I commuted by car (as did my husband, so we had 2 cars). The daily commute was 30-60 minutes, depending on traffic. 30 minutes was absolutely a best case scenario, normally it was around 45 minutes each way. I was getting major pain in my shoulder blade area from all the driving. We decided to move into the city closer to my work. My husband had quit his job and was going to school, so his work wasn't a factor. We ended up buying a house 3km from my work. As soon as we moved, just about, we put the 2nd car up for sale and got rid of it. The new house only had a 1-car garage and we never used both the cars any more, so definitely no need for the 2nd car. I got rid of my parking pass at work and started walking to work (or taking the bus or getting a ride from my husband if it was bad weather).

    The past year or so I've had a craving to do something crazy. Like I read a book by a guy who walked from Thunder Bay to New York, which is pretty darn far. It took him 2-3 months I think. My husband and I decided to bike across Sweden (he's from Sweden, that's why we picked it). Prior to deciding this, I hadn't been an avid biker at all. We'd bought bikes in 1998 or so, and they were NOT good bikes. We bought them at a big box store (Canadian Tire). They're 4-speed cruisers with coaster brakes. I hated riding it. I hated the coaster brake, and even the lowest gear I found hard to pedal. So I said if we're going to bike across Sweden we need to get new bikes. I was optimistic that I didn't actually hate biking, I just hated my bike. It turned out to be true.

    We started biking a lot to train so that we would be in shape for next summer when we make the big trip. As part of this, we started running errands by bike as well. We both really love it.

    Now my husband is done school and works freelance, mostly from home. We still have the car but we barely drive it. We mainly use it for out-of-town trips at this point. I am thinking of selling it but can't quite bring myself to do it yet.

  21. #21
    Senior Member crazybikerchick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spudd View Post
    Now my husband is done school and works freelance, mostly from home. We still have the car but we barely drive it. We mainly use it for out-of-town trips at this point. I am thinking of selling it but can't quite bring myself to do it yet.
    The thing I found in Toronto was that the cost of insurance was quite high relative to the cost and convenience of renting a car. When I moved to Toronto I sold my car figuring for out-of-town trips I would rent. Be sure to get a no-fee gold credit card that covers the CDW part of the insurance. So if insurance is $1500 and renting a car for a day is $30 all in except gas (some times of year it is more expensive) that's 50 days of car rental just for the insurance costs - never mind the ownership/maintenance costs, and the cost of parking. If you have your own garage that's free but how much could you rent your garage out for if you weren't parking a car in it? Or think of all the things you could reclaim the space for!

    There is a tradeoff in convenience though. For occasions like Thanksgiving you need to plan well in advance or there will be no cars available to rent.

  22. #22
    Fat Guy Rolling dcrowell's Avatar
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    My wife and I still have two cars. Hers hasn't been driven in a while, and she drives my truck. I rarely drive. Why?

    I started cycling for health reasons, but I fell in love with it. Not just the riding, but the whole lifestyle. Enough so that we moved into town so I could ride everywhere.

    I don't do it to save money or the environment. I do it for the challenge, the fun, the stress-relief, and the funny looks when riding in bad weather.

    I can't sell my truck, as I still owe too much on it. I need to convince my wife to sell her car. Once my truck is paid off, I will never have another car payment.

    If my wife is amenable to the idea, we'll go car-free and rent for trips. We still have to figure out her commuting situation first. I highly doubt she'll ever ride to work (even though it's three miles).
    Car-Free IT Geek
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  23. #23
    Senior Member iManda's Avatar
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    It just happened organically. I have never had a driver's license, so car-free is all that I know. Admittedly, I sometimes enjoy the novelty (road trip!!) of riding in other people's cars.

  24. #24
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    I did it at first out of necesity, being too young to drive. Now although I love driving, I also love biking, the feeling of being part of your surroundings, not just moving through surrounded by a cage of solitude. There is also the whole green thing, I've saved a buttload of money, and it kind of makes me feel like some kind of badass, as I seem to share the commuting scene here mostly with hobos and migrant workers.

  25. #25
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    I bought my current house in 1987 with the intention of having a short commute to work, so I didn't want to be too far from downtown, and that meant it was really expensive, but unexpectedly it has served me well for cycling. For me it was a confluence of factors - hitting a financial wall with a huge mortgage, two cars, and a growing family, and realizing I needed to find ways of economizing; no longer having time for hockey and/or squash 3 times a week and starting to get fat and out of shape, looking for ways to get more exercise; and the beginnings of environmental awareness.

    So in 1991 I sold one of our cars and started to take public transit to work, and within a few months there was a public transit strike, so I experimented with biking and found it feasible. The next year I started biking 3 seasons and taking public transit in the winter, and I still do it.

    It's become part of my identity and a source of pride. We have two cars again for the moment, since I took over my mother's car in June when she stopped driving, as it was better than what we had, and at some point maybe next year, I will again sell one of them, but in the meanwhile, my driving hasn't increased.
    Last edited by cooker; 10-28-10 at 08:59 PM.

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