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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 04-12-12, 05:57 PM   #1
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Carfree infrastructure

There are lots of rural and suburban folks who hang around LCF.

I'm kind of curious as to whether they can continue to pursue active transportation when there's really no infrastructure to support their activity. For example, I know people who ride their bikes 6 or 7 miles to the grocery store. Or commute a god awful number of miles each day. Or who have to make a major bike expedition to even get to a coffee shop.

But how practical is that over the long haul? Don't you thing you'd eventually get a car? Or maybe move somewhere closer to things?
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Old 04-12-12, 07:15 PM   #2
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move closer to things makes more sense to me.-
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Old 04-12-12, 08:54 PM   #3
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I'm close (< 5 miles) from almost everything I really need. What bothers me is my friends who like to meet for a little walking exercise that's at a park 10mi from me, or when they want to do a 50mi ride that starts 8mi from my house (giving me a 60+ ride). If I was 25 I'd be fine, but I'm 67 and it's tiring to do that much mileage.
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Old 04-12-12, 09:13 PM   #4
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I'm close (< 5 miles) from almost everything I really need. What bothers me is my friends who like to meet for a little walking exercise that's at a park 10mi from me, or when they want to do a 50mi ride that starts 8mi from my house (giving me a 60+ ride). If I was 25 I'd be fine, but I'm 67 and it's tiring to do that much mileage.
I know all about that. There are a lot of organized rides around here. They always start somewhere far away from my house and I'll be damned if I'm riding 10 miles to do a century.
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Old 04-12-12, 11:12 PM   #5
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I'm hooked into a mortgage, credit and liquidity are issues, so moving is off the table. Fortunately, there are several groceries within 2 miles.

But I can safely say: I will do just about anything to avoid having to buy another F'N car. To me, it's like slave chains.
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Old 04-13-12, 01:45 AM   #6
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The boyfriend has a car that's paid off completely, so if anything is out of range of my outofshape body powering the bike, he can give me a ride. I see no reason to throw away thousands on a car if I dont need to.
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Old 04-13-12, 08:18 PM   #7
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I'm in the suburbs, yes. But things aren't that far from me. There are sidewalks, I'm not far from the mall, library, community center, parks, grocery store etc... There's plenty of public transit here. Plus taxis for emergencies. Being in the suburbs doesn't exclude carfree infrastructure.
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Old 04-14-12, 03:07 AM   #8
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Before I was car - free, my longest commute was 29 miles each way. I did it by bike most of the time, and loved it; and was terrifically fit as a result, of course. But note I say "most of the time". There were occasions when weather conditions were simply too foul. I don't mind riding one hour forty five minutes in the rain, but snow and ice are a different matter. And there were other occasions when it was imperative that I have access to the car during the day for work purposes. So it would have been very tough to go car free under those circumstances.

Now, when I no longer need to commute, it is no problem. I ride, or I take public transport. In the 18 months since I sold the car I have hired one on three occasions for journeys that would have been impracticable otherwise. And I have, on occasion, ridden 20 miles to the start of an organised 104 mile ride, making it a 144-mile round trip for me. A long day, but not insupportable. In fact I quite like the reaction of other (younger) riders when they discover I've got to the start line by bike.
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Old 04-14-12, 05:45 AM   #9
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I live in a semi-rural area. Carfree could be done (and is by a couple of people) but jobs are limited in this area to low paying retail/service type jobs. Eventually we will either become a relative self sufficent farm or move into town where things are a lot closer. In the past 5-6 years we have gotten a small pharmacy, a chain grocery store, dentist and GP within a 3 mile radius, if you 8 miles you get a couple more grocery stores and some fast food. It is 19 miles one way into the largest nearby town with full services. About 16 miles to a smaller town with full services. Biggest problem is the roads getting to and from those towns, they are not cyclist friendly.

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Old 04-14-12, 04:43 PM   #10
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There are lots of rural and suburban folks who hang around LCF.

I'm kind of curious as to whether they can continue to pursue active transportation when there's really no infrastructure to support their activity. For example, I know people who ride their bikes 6 or 7 miles to the grocery store. Or commute a god awful number of miles each day. Or who have to make a major bike expedition to even get to a coffee shop.

But how practical is that over the long haul? Don't you thing you'd eventually get a car? Or maybe move somewhere closer to things?
Look you throw $1500-$2000 and get a BionX rear wheel with a RR high-end battery, and when you want it you use it. You recharge it by pedaling at 1/4 or 1/2 resistance down hill, use it to keep your 20mph speed without getting winded. Let's face it, a 20 mile highway drive in clear traffic is 20 minutes, but you're not going to get clear traffic commuting to or from work are you? And everything isn't a straight highway shot.

I plan on buying myself a Trek 520 when I get a job and putting a BionX rear wheel into it a few months later. I'll drop the rear wheel and swap on the original (and take out the battery) when I don't want to go eBiking. This may involve reconfiguring the rear brake as well, we'll see.

Your work commute is 10 miles? That sucks. It's a nice ride if it's not hilly, but some days you want that power so you can shave 10-20 minutes off the ride... at which point it's exactly as long as (or faster than) the drive. You work down I-95, 35 miles away? Traffic in rush hour is so much suck that a bike ride through the city takes just as long if you're Lance ... maybe you can eBike it, maybe not. It really depends, but it could happen. A "quick" 5 mile drive downtown involves $15 parking or finding a parking spot 12 blocks away, if you just don't feel like biking it today you can eBike it but I'm sure 5 miles is nothing in the city, I do that all the time.
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Old 04-14-12, 04:46 PM   #11
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I don't mind riding one hour forty five minutes in the rain, but snow and ice are a different matter.
See for me I don't mind the rain in 106F weather, but if it's like 70, 40, a few degrees above whatever's Farenjerk for freezing, the rain is my enemy. If it's below freezing and snowy... Schwalbe winter tires and lots of wool!
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Old 04-14-12, 07:24 PM   #12
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See for me I don't mind the rain in 106F weather, but if it's like 70, 40, a few degrees above whatever's Farenjerk for freezing, the rain is my enemy. If it's below freezing and snowy... Schwalbe winter tires and lots of wool!
I'm with you. I find snow is often more comfortable than rain. (and a lot prettier too.) If the temp is less than about 70F, you really need some kind of rain gear to stay warm and dry. And then you sweat--unless perhaps you pay a fortune for breathable rain pants and jacket. In snow you just wear your light winter shell and maybe a couple layers of wool and/or fleece.
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Old 04-15-12, 03:08 AM   #13
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I'm with you. I find snow is often more comfortable than rain. (and a lot prettier too.) If the temp is less than about 70F, you really need some kind of rain gear to stay warm and dry. And then you sweat--unless perhaps you pay a fortune for breathable rain pants and jacket. In snow you just wear your light winter shell and maybe a couple layers of wool and/or fleece.
Less than 70f? It's less than 70f maybe 275 days a year, here. But then, it's not often below freezing, either.

The thing that interests me about this discussion is the notion that 10 miles each way is a long commute by bike. I commuted for many many years. My shortest was 8 miles, which even in London traffic was a 35 minute ride - comfortably faster than I could have done it by car or public transport. Mostly I commuted in the 15-20 mile range. About an hour each way riding, which in big cities is a commonplace travel time to work, and it kept me pretty fit at the same time. I'm a bit surprised to find riders in a carfree forum regarding a 10 mile commute as a serious inconvenience.
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Old 04-15-12, 08:50 AM   #14
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Less than 70f? It's less than 70f maybe 275 days a year, here. But then, it's not often below freezing, either.

The thing that interests me about this discussion is the notion that 10 miles each way is a long commute by bike. I commuted for many many years. My shortest was 8 miles, which even in London traffic was a 35 minute ride - comfortably faster than I could have done it by car or public transport. Mostly I commuted in the 15-20 mile range. About an hour each way riding, which in big cities is a commonplace travel time to work, and it kept me pretty fit at the same time. I'm a bit surprised to find riders in a carfree forum regarding a 10 mile commute as a serious inconvenience.
Who mentioned a 10 miles commute being a serious inconvenience? We'll toss them right off this forum.... right now!

My thought in starting this discussion was a scenario that I see often here. A > 20 mile roundtrip commute, many miles for groceries, many miles for just about everything. There are commuters here who do that, just as there are car commuters who do 3 to 4 hours a day on the road.

My question is at what point do carfree types say.. hey, maybe I should give all this up and get a lifestyle where I'm not on the bike 3-4 hours every day.

I know bike riding is a good way to keep fit, but at a certain point, long days in the saddle must really detract from the rest of your life.

And certainly, for myself at age 58, I don't think I could handle that type of lifestyle. I try to keep my weekly miles in the 80-120 range and find it keeps me adequately fit and also gives me time to spend on this forum
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Old 04-15-12, 09:24 AM   #15
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I know bike riding is a good way to keep fit, but at a certain point, long days in the saddle must really detract from the rest of your life.

And certainly, for myself at age 58, I don't think I could handle that type of lifestyle. I try to keep my weekly miles in the 80-120 range and find it keeps me adequately fit and also gives me time to spend on this forum
Each to their own. I'm a year younger than you, and I am on the bike for 12-15 hours a week, no longer because I need to but just because I like it. I'm happy to acknowledge that I'm slightly nuts, of course...

The real issue for the rural/suburban car free lifestyle is health. Cyclists age more slowly than the general population, and there are some posters in the 50+ forum who are still racking up prodigious mileages in their eighties. But eventually, accident or infirmity is going to stop us carting 40lbs of groceries ten miles home by bike. At that point it makes sense to move somewhere a little closer to services and amenities.
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Old 04-15-12, 10:48 AM   #16
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Each to their own. I'm a year younger than you, and I am on the bike for 12-15 hours a week, no longer because I need to but just because I like it. I'm happy to acknowledge that I'm slightly nuts, of course...

The real issue for the rural/suburban car free lifestyle is health. Cyclists age more slowly than the general population, and there are some posters in the 50+ forum who are still racking up prodigious mileages in their eighties. But eventually, accident or infirmity is going to stop us carting 40lbs of groceries ten miles home by bike. At that point it makes sense to move somewhere a little closer to services and amenities.
I don't know how you young fellows do it But let me tell you, sonny, it's all downhill after 57.

Actually, I'm doing about 10-12 hours a week throughout the year. I guess that doesn't speak much to my speed. I seem to average about 10-11 mph. I blame it on the red lights.
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Old 04-16-12, 02:19 AM   #17
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So I looked up 70F in centigrade, and confirmed that rain at a balmy temp like that is a take-your-t-shirt-off situation for me.
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Old 04-16-12, 04:57 AM   #18
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So I looked up 70F in centigrade, and confirmed that rain at a balmy temp like that is a take-your-t-shirt-off situation for me.
It is all acclimation, I don't go to short sleeves until the sustained temperatures are above 85*F (29*C)

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Old 04-16-12, 09:05 AM   #19
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I don't know how you young fellows do it But let me tell you, sonny, it's all downhill after 57.

Actually, I'm doing about 10-12 hours a week throughout the year. I guess that doesn't speak much to my speed. I seem to average about 10-11 mph. I blame it on the red lights.
11 mph (as measured on a bike computer) is a damn good average for city riding, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise. Actually, 11 mph is around the average speed for cars in the city.
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Old 04-16-12, 09:30 AM   #20
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I'm car light (6,000 miles a year) and live in out in the burbs. But not too far, and can walk to the grocery, bank, drycleaners in a little over a mile. Work and the GF are 4 - 6 miles away, and I ride those routes enough to keep the mileage low like I do. But public transportation doesn't work for me most of the time, I'd rather walk or bicycle than take the bus if I'm not driving.
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Old 04-16-12, 06:27 PM   #21
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I'm car light (6,000 miles a year) and live in out in the burbs. But not too far, and can walk to the grocery, bank, drycleaners in a little over a mile. Work and the GF are 4 - 6 miles away, and I ride those routes enough to keep the mileage low like I do. But public transportation doesn't work for me most of the time, I'd rather walk or bicycle than take the bus if I'm not driving.
But you have a car as a backup. Otherwise, you'd be taking a very inconvenient bus or a bicycle.

If you were planning on moving, would you think about moving where walking and biking would be even more convenient (I'm imagining there might be in Chicagoland, but depends on a lot of factors I guess... cost of housing, proximity to girlfriend, family, etc,,,)??

Reason I ask is that I'm living in a house that has become over-sized. I just don't need that much space. And every time I have to mow the lawn, I keep thinking... this is rather silly...
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Old 04-16-12, 06:50 PM   #22
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I've mentioned this before, but I'll add here as well. I love riding my bike, moreso than my kids. My wife loves riding as well. We have a pair of Xtracycles with various brackets and seats should someone have a mechanical problem or fatigue set in sooner than normal, we can still get everyone and everything home. When we looked for a home after moving to Ohio, we choose a place close to shopping and not so far from work. We actually do 95% of our grocery shopping on bike. We're getting around to doing other shopping on bike as well. I'd love to bike to work and dont think the 7 miles one way would be any challenge. The only issue is rider safety as one part of the road is very narrow and has many blind spots. During the day, I could manage, but I go to work well before the sun comes up and that is where my commute becomes scary. I'll stick to driving, thanks.

Carfree works for some, but not all. I dont ride for green/mother earth. I dont ride because its easier or faster. I dont ride to get back at the oil companies. I dont ride for my health. I ride because I like to ride. I just try to incorporate my enjoyment for riding into everyday activities.
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Old 04-17-12, 12:37 AM   #23
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If you were planning on moving, would you think about moving where walking and biking would be even more convenient ...
Speaking for myself, I'd move somewhere that offered easy access (by bike and public transport, preferably rail) to a City/town centre, but allowed me to get out into the countryside pretty quickly on the bike.
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Old 04-17-12, 09:31 AM   #24
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Speaking for myself, I'd move somewhere that offered easy access (by bike and public transport, preferably rail) to a City/town centre, but allowed me to get out into the countryside pretty quickly on the bike.
Do you have any examples of this type of situation?
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Old 04-17-12, 11:11 AM   #25
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But you have a car as a backup. Otherwise, you'd be taking a very inconvenient bus or a bicycle.

If you were planning on moving, would you think about moving where walking and biking would be even more convenient (I'm imagining there might be in Chicagoland, but depends on a lot of factors I guess... cost of housing, proximity to girlfriend, family, etc,,,)??

Reason I ask is that I'm living in a house that has become over-sized. I just don't need that much space. And every time I have to mow the lawn, I keep thinking... this is rather silly...
After buying a condo in 2004 that I still owe more on than it's worth, I don't think I'll be moving soon. But in 1998 I got divorced and moved out of the single family home I'd lived in for years and into an apartment in the downtown area of an old suburb. There wasn't much there then, but by the time I moved out of that town and into my condo the downtown area had started to come back to life - and I'd accidentally ended up working about a mile from home. I loved walking to work but wanted to move out of the area and the decision to buy my condo was based in part on being able to walk to so many things in my neighborhood. And after I moved I ended up dating the GF who has a single family home with all the stuff I used to take care of - so in a way I'm back to where I started on one hand. Except I didn't have to pay for the lawnmower, snowblower etc...

If i was going to move, my first choice would be the Netherlands - but I don't think that's going to happen. My second choice would allow me to live either car free or car light. I wouldn't want to go back to an isolated suburb or Chicago - neither one appeals to me now.
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