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  1. #1
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Define "car" "carfree" and "carlight"

    I have read a few spats on the forum about whqt is meant y the terms car, carfree and carlight. These quibbles are a waste of time and they drive me bonkers. It's cool to disagree about the issues, but we really need to have some understanding of the terminology we are using. And yes, we can make up our own definitions, as long as everybody understands and agrees to the new definitions.

    For years we have had a working definition of "car": it was stipulated that a car is a privately owned (or leased) motor vehicle that is used for the personal transport of an individual and their belongings. This definition sets aside taxis and rental cars, for example.

    It might be harder to devise a definition for "carfree" and "carlight" will probably be the hardest of all. To be honest, I don't remembe the working definition of carlight that we came up with when the forum started.

    Since then, many new people have come onto the forum, and old regulars have moved on to other pursuits. I think we need to have another ciscussion of what these basic terms mean. What do you accept as basic working definitions? How can we make any agreed upon definitions known to new users of the forum?

    BTW everybody, please don't respond to this thread unless you actually understand the definitions of "working definition" and "stipulate." It will be frustrating to have an endless quibble about semantics.


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  2. #2
    sniffin' glue zoltani's Avatar
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    Didn't we just do this awhile bike with the "bikeheavy" thread?

    I simply define car free (which i guess is a silly term anyway) as the LACK OF CAR OWNERSHIP.

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    I also tend to define car free as not owning a car. It's a little ridiculous to argue that one could be a part of this society and absolutely never use a car/bus/taxi, or make use of products transported by truck, etc.

    Car light seems to generally indicate that one maintains ownership of a private vehicle, but aims to use it minimally.

  4. #4
    sniffin' glue zoltani's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CarFreeFam4 View Post
    I also tend to define car free as not owning a car. It's a little ridiculous to argue that one could be a part of this society and absolutely never use a car/bus/taxi, or make use of products transported by truck, etc.

    Car light seems to generally indicate that one maintains ownership of a private vehicle, but aims to use it minimally.
    Agreed. It seems the definitions are pretty simple...

  5. #5
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    Ok, I'm ducking in here, because I've also heard "car lite" as only owning one car. By that definition, I've been "car lite" my whole life

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    Quote Originally Posted by zoltani View Post
    Didn't we just do this awhile bike with the "bikeheavy" thread?

    I simply define car free (which i guess is a silly term anyway) as the LACK OF CAR OWNERSHIP.
    I am interested to see how this develops as well. So I take it by the above definition a teen age driver that drives their parents to school is in effect car free? If two people are living together and one owns a car but the other one drives the car whenever they want only the non owner is car free? Or is it a bit more complicated than that? Just as an example, let us say I had a company supplied car, they paid for my gas, they covered the insurance and they did it for many years. Then the government decided that was a taxable benefit so they took away my car unless I was at work. However I could get mileage for driving to and from work. Was I car free when the company provided the car 24/7? What status changed when I drove my own car?
    From what I have gathered while posting here is car free is a state of mind and like a recovering alcoholic it is one day at a time. From that perspective I am car free maybe three or four days a week. I consider it being car light however and not car free because I have access to a car. ( my state of mind)

  7. #7
    sniffin' glue zoltani's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    [FONT=Arial]I am interested to see how this develops as well.
    Glad someone is interested as I see it as just splitting hairs, and quite boring actually.

  8. #8
    Fat Guy Rolling dcrowell's Avatar
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    I ride a bike to work every day. I plan to sell my truck once my wife is done moving out. There won't be a car in the household after that. I will still rent one occasionally for trips.

    Split hairs all you want.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member NormDeplume's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CarFreeFam4 View Post
    I also tend to define car free as not owning a car. It's a little ridiculous to argue that one could be a part of this society and absolutely never use a car/bus/taxi, or make use of products transported by truck, etc.

    Car light seems to generally indicate that one maintains ownership of a private vehicle, but aims to use it minimally.
    I know I'm new to the forum, but this is the assumption that I've been working under. You could get way more complicated with the definitions than that, but then it'd just be a bunch of people picking nits on the internet instead of going places and doing things.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Cyclepup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CarFreeFam4 View Post
    I also tend to define car free as not owning a car. It's a little ridiculous to argue that one could be a part of this society and absolutely never use a car/bus/taxi, or make use of products transported by truck, etc.

    Car light seems to generally indicate that one maintains ownership of a private vehicle, but aims to use it minimally.
    This is exactly my interpretation of the two terms. I don't see how it could get any simpler.

  11. #11
    sniffin' glue zoltani's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclepup View Post
    This is exactly my interpretation of the two terms. I don't see how it could get any simpler.
    But it surely can get more complicated:



    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    I am interested to see how this develops as well. So I take it by the above definition a teen age driver that drives their parents to school is in effect car free? If two people are living together and one owns a car but the other one drives the car whenever they want only the non owner is car free? Or is it a bit more complicated than that? Just as an example, let us say I had a company supplied car, they paid for my gas, they covered the insurance and they did it for many years. Then the government decided that was a taxable benefit so they took away my car unless I was at work. However I could get mileage for driving to and from work. Was I car free when the company provided the car 24/7? What status changed when I drove my own car?
    From what I have gathered while posting here is car free is a state of mind and like a recovering alcoholic it is one day at a time. From that perspective I am car free maybe three or four days a week. I consider it being car light however and not car free because I have access to a car. ( my state of mind)

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by zoltani View Post
    But it surely can get more complicated:
    well I pointed it out because it is a consideration relating to many in this forum. Some claim car free because their wife or SO ownes the car and they don't. The example of driving a company car even when not working is a common practice in today's economy. But the question I ask is if you can use a car when needed and call yourself car free what do the people who "never" use a car get to call themselves? If it is only a word fine, I can accept that like being a democrat or republican and voting a different way.

    If it is a state of mind during those times when someone is sitting in a car and they pass a cyclist going somewhere do they think of themselves as car free? Not owning a car is different from not using one isn't it?

    How many people that drive for a living call themselves car free rather than car light and why? Is there a big difference?

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    Using "ownership" as any component of the categorization seems to be problematic. I would propose the following:

    Car Free: Does not use a single group passenger vehicle on a regular basis. Predominant transportation modes are some combination of the following: pedestrian, cycling, or public transport

    Car Light: Uses a single group passenger vehicle for less than 50% of regular travel. The majority of travel is accomplished using one of the Car Free transportation modes

    Car: Uses a single group passenger vehicle for more than 50% of regular travel.

    A non-obvious example of the car group are those who do not own a private vehicle, but use cabs or car services for all of their transportation...

  14. #14
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NormDeplume View Post
    I know I'm new to the forum, but this is the assumption that I've been working under. You could get way more complicated with the definitions than that, but then it'd just be a bunch of people picking nits on the internet instead of going places and doing things.
    Welcome to the LCF forum. I think you've nailed it.

    FWIW, I do own a car jointly. It's living about 3000 miles from my current residence. I'm not in a hurry to define this situation. I always thought of being carfree as a direction, rather than a state of being....

  15. #15
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    I define car-free, at its most basic, as not owning a car. (There is one minor exception here. If a couple has one car between two people, neither one is car-free, even if the car is in one person's name only. This speaks more to my understanding of being part of a couple than about being car-light or car-free.)

    Car-light, at its most basic, is using a car as little as practical. How any of us defines practical depends on our specific needs and circumstances. I did not say car-light is using a car as little as possible simply because it could be argued all travel could be done without a car, given enough time. However, for many of us, there will be times when a car is unfortunately the best transportation option.
    Life is good.

  16. #16
    Senior Member NormDeplume's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newspaperguy View Post
    I define car-free, at its most basic, as not owning a car. (There is one minor exception here. If a couple has one car between two people, neither one is car-free, even if the car is in one person's name only. This speaks more to my understanding of being part of a couple than about being car-light or car-free.)

    Car-light, at its most basic, is using a car as little as practical. How any of us defines practical depends on our specific needs and circumstances. I did not say car-light is using a car as little as possible simply because it could be argued all travel could be done without a car, given enough time. However, for many of us, there will be times when a car is unfortunately the best transportation option.
    well put.

  17. #17
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    Here is the point: When you got ready to post in this forum you might have been drawn to it by how it defined itself.

    Forum: Living Car Free
    Did you give up your car for good? Is your bike and public transportation the only way you travel from point A to point B? If your only mode of transportation is your bike, discuss your car-free lifestyle here.

    This was on the door well before I got here. If that isn't the case shouldn't you change it?

  18. #18
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    I have read a few spats on the forum about whqt is meant y the terms car, carfree and carlight. These quibbles are a waste of time and they drive me bonkers. It's cool to disagree about the issues, but we really need tTo have some understanding of the terminology we are using. And yes, we can make up our own definitions, as long as everybody understands and agrees to the new definitions.

    For years we have had a working definition of "car": it was stipulated that a car is a privately owned (or leased) motor vehicle that is used for the personal transport of an individual and their belongings. This definition sets aside taxis and rental cars, for example.

    It might be harder to devise a definition for "carfree" and "carlight" will probably be the hardest of all. To be honest, I don't remembe the working definition of carlight that we came up with when the forum started.

    Since then, many new people have come onto the forum, and old regulars have moved on to other pursuits. I think we need to have another ciscussion of what these basic terms mean. What do you accept as basic working definitions? How can we make any agreed upon definitions known to new users of the forum?

    BTW everybody, please don't respond to this thread unless you actually understand the definitions of "working definition" and "stipulate." It will be frustrating to have an endless quibble about semantics.
    This has become silly. It's obvious that most of us define car free as not owning a motor vehicle. If you're car lite, you own a car, but use it for only a small minority of trips. I consider myself car lite: I own a car, but my SO is the only one who uses it. I use a bike or walk for at least 90% of my trips. Since I live in a car-centered culture, it's clear that living completely without cars is a pipe dream. This is much easier to define than some people think.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  19. #19
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    My working definition would be, car free is not owning a car or having a driver's license.

    car light would be owning a car and or having a driver's license but a car is not your primary mode of transportation.

    Seems simple and clean.

  20. #20
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    If you want a new guys perspective, I would suggest less use of the word "own", and more use of the word "use" would clear things up considerably.

    I.E.:

    Car Free = doesn't USE a car

    Car Light = USES a car minimally
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toeslider View Post
    If you want a new guys perspective, I would suggest less use of the word "own", and more use of the word "use" would clear things up considerably.

    I.E.:

    Car Free = doesn't USE a car

    Car Light = USES a car minimally
    Sounds pretty good.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Cheshire's Avatar
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    The parameters I'm working under for myself, a single person living on my own.
    car: one-owner vehicle, 4 wheels and an engine. In my case, a subaru forester.

    car-light: vehicle is used only for things the bicycle cannot accomplish in a realistic time frame, preferably keeping fuel usage to one tank or less in a 30-day span.
    Examples: hauling full loads to Goodwill, the dump, transporting the animals, heavy and bulky loads (lumber, work supplies like clay, etc), trips out of county.

    car-free: Not using the car at all. I'm permitting myself one drive up and down the street once every 14 days during car-free periods to keep the tires from developing flat spots and to keep the fuel from clogging the engine if I haven't prepped the car for storage.


    If anyone's familiar with the "100 Things Challenge", it's what this reminds me of. There's a generally-accepted set of definitions and rules, but if you're getting caught up in the technical you're pretty much missing out on the point.
    Last edited by Cheshire; 08-25-11 at 10:15 PM.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    My working definition would be, car free is not owning a car or having a driver's license.

    car light would be owning a car and or having a driver's license but a car is not your primary mode of transportation.

    Seems simple and clean.
    I think I could accept the spirit of your definition, but not necessarily the exact wording you've used.

    Two minor questions come to mind:

    1. If, for whatever reason, there is a non-working car parked on your property — the rusted body of a broken down 1952 Chrysler for instance — would you be car-free or car-light? The car in question cannot be driven.

    2. If you own no cars but continue to have a valid driver's license, would you be car-free or car-light? In some jurisdictions, a license is the most easily accepted form of photo identification.

    I know I'm splitting hairs with these two questions and I know they're minor, bordering on petty. I only ask them because the simple definitions sometimes aren't quite as simple as they first appear.
    Life is good.

  24. #24
    Nighttime Rider
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    Car- a 4 wheeled (usually) enclosed transportation device conforming to title CFR 14 standards.

    Car Light- Wanting to be and/or admiring the "car free" lifestyle (see below), but unable to partake due to circumstances.

    Car free- Owns no car.

  25. #25
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrimsonEclipse View Post
    Car- a 4 wheeled (usually) enclosed transportation device conforming to title CFR 14 standards.

    Car Light- Wanting to be and/or admiring the "car free" lifestyle (see below), but unable to partake due to circumstances.

    Car free- Owns no car.
    Works for me...

    I "own" (through our farm) about 7 vehicles. However I seldom drive them, my personal truck only got 2400 miles on it last year. My company issued car...48,000 However those were mandatory miles and I did everything I could to minimize them. By most peoples' standards I am nowhere close to car light.

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