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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 10-12-13, 07:49 PM   #1
Machka 
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Your Motivation For Becoming Car-Free or Car-Light

Why are you, or were you, car-free or car-light? What motivated you to take that step?

There are threads here from people wanting encouragement to become car-free or car-light ... maybe sharing what motivated those of us who have gone that route will encourage others.



[HR][/HR]

For me, being car-free or car-light, or simply opting to walk or ride my bicycle somewhere rather than drive, is mainly a fitness thing. It's a great way to get a few more minutes of exercise into my day. Both my walks to and from work recently, and my cycling to and from work back when I was car-free, added up to 40 minutes a day. That's almost half of the recommended 90 minutes of exercise a day, and was a very enjoyable part of my day.

We've just moved, and I am now 4 km from work. Once I get a little bit more settled, I'm hoping to either take the bus to work and then walk home, or ride my bicycle to and from work. It'll be a good way to get in shape and stay in shape!


A secondary aspect is that I simply don't like driving, dealing with traffic, trying to find places to park, etc. I'd rather not deal with that sort of hassle.

And thirdly, if it saves me a bit of money ... wonderful! More money for travels around the world.
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Old 10-12-13, 08:54 PM   #2
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In the summer of 2000, I started building the Wally BSO's (they were better back then, by FAR). After a couple months of doing that, I thought it'd be fun to start riding to work. Hauled out the "Green Monster" ('97 Huffy Blades 18-sp rigid w/ thumbshifters), and started to pedal the 7 miles each way. Didn't take long to be more fun than I could turn away from.

Then...it happened.

One morning in January '01, rolling in through sub-freezing temps, around and through frozen plowbanks of snow, I rolled OVER one...and felt an emotional shift.

That feeling of liberation, freedom, that euphoria -- there it WAS! I'd been trying to recapture that since 1976!

From then on, it was easy to leave the van home for my wife (and later, when SHE left, my sister) while I pedaled back and forth. I GAVE my sister the van, she sold it, I'd already bought another car (there were still days the bike wasn't the best choice back then); the car died in September '04, and when the junkyard tow truck hauled IT away, I got back on the bike and kept pedaling. There were still a few days when the bike wasn't getting through the crap, but I found out I spent less on the BUS for an entire winter than a month's CAR INSURANCE.

I have since provided myself a way to avoid the bus even in the worst weather; NOTHING stops me now! The thought of not riding to work, or to go pay bills or whatever else, just sickens me.

I used to work a lot of fitness work into the rides; there was a time that, if I didn't STAGGER off the bike in the evening, I was slacking. Now, though, it's less important. I'm RIDING, that's all that counts.
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Old 10-12-13, 08:57 PM   #3
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My initial motivation for going car-free was partly because of freaking out about climate change, but it was mostly motivated by money and was fairly self-indulgent. I wanted to buy, moor and maintain a cruising sailboat, and realized that doing this costs about as much as having a moderately nice car. So I sold the car, bought the boat, and started taking the bus everywhere. This lasted about a week, and then I bought a used hard-tail MTB for $75. The advantages of having a bike in an urban setting quickly became obvious. Over the the years, I gradually came to like bicycling even more than sailing. (I gave the boat away this summer.) Being car-free has huge advantages over using a car all the time: As Matchka says, it's a really convenient way to stay in shape. (I'm 52 years old and not quite as fit as I was 20 years ago, but I still don't have a gut, and I can still easily run up five flights of stairs, and it's due to nothing more than biking and walking everywhere I go.) It's also a lot less expensive than driving; for a fraction of the cost of driving a used car, I can indulge my bike habit as much as I want. And, though some on this forum sneer at this, it actually is a lot less hard on our natural resources. It's not "green" per se, it's a matter of degree more than kind, but the impact of riding a bike every day is negligible compared to driving an SUV every day. If you magnify this effect by millions of people, the effect on our planet could actually be significant. (It's being thoroughly erased by billions of enthusiastic new car drivers across Asia, but that's a topic for another time...)

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Old 10-12-13, 09:13 PM   #4
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My primary motivation is fitness. I've also wanted to reduce my dependency on fossil oil and "personal mobility" for a few years. I've been taking public transit as much as I can since 2008. Now that I moved to a more transit-friendly city and began riding a bike, I've been able to leave my car in the garage at least 5 out of 7 days.
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Old 10-12-13, 11:33 PM   #5
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Reasons for being carfree and for cycling are different...

My main reason--only reason, actually--for becoming carfree when I first became an adult, in 1973, was CO2 and climate change. Yes, that was a concern to a few of us way back then, although there have since been a couple name changes. In 1973 it was known as the Greenhouse Effect.

i did own a car for about a dozen of the intervening years. When carfree, I walked, took transit, hitchhiked, etc. One day I was walking somewhere when a heavy senior lady slowly passed me on a squeaky old bike. At first I thought it was pretty comical. But when I looked again just a couple minutes later, that old lady was already way up the street, almost out of sight. Epiphany! A bike is four or five times faster than walking! Ordinary people can do it! And it still emits no carbon!

Of course, I quickly discovered even better reasons for pedaling a bike. For me, the benefits of cycling are pleasure, exercise, and damn good transportation.

I would be carfree if I didn't ride a bike, and I would ride a bike if I wasn't carfree. But it's hard to imagine cutting either one out of my life.
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Old 10-13-13, 06:47 AM   #6
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ECONOMICS. With me being single and having no kids that I know of. Gas prices being the way they are with no sight of them ever becoming reasonable again. I didn't see the point in spending money on maintenance,gas,insurance,and such. So I decided why spend the money on something I really don't need and can go without. Now I just spend the money I would be spending on a car on cycling gear and other stuff. I still spend the money cause the more you make the more you spend lol I just didn't see the point in throwing money at something to is of no use to me.
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Old 10-13-13, 07:09 AM   #7
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Riding a bike gives me a sense of freedom which I could never experience when stuck inside a car. I also enjoy the exercise and all around great feeling I get from it...Saving money is great too.
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Old 10-13-13, 08:32 AM   #8
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Back in 2007 I had an epiphany and realized that I was throwing money away to drive my car a mile to the place I worked and having to buy gasoline that much sooner, when I could ride the old mountain bike I inherited from my dad instead. I tried it and gradually I went from riding a few times a week, to everyday, and then I started going other places by bike. Took me about three years and an introduction to road bikes, but eventually I reached the point where I just wasn't using the car anymore, and it made more financial sense to give the car to a family member and do away with the expense entirely.

Living frugally was the initial motivation for my becoming car-lite, but what made me take the next step and go car-free was that I gradually got 'hooked' on cycling and found that riding a bike is much more rewarding (pleasant, invigorating, satisfying) for me than driving a car. No matter what I'm doing, where I'm going, even if it's just 'work,' I can always enjoy the journey.
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Old 10-13-13, 08:42 AM   #9
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I gave up my car to save up for a trip to Paris for a bike event. It turns out I spent the savings on a condo instead.

Getting rid of the car was less stressful than I anticipated, and it saves me so much that I am reluctant to get another car.

I could afford a car, but it takes such a big chunk of disposable income that it would crowd out better options, like vacations and retirement savings.
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Old 10-13-13, 09:53 AM   #10
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My household is 'car-lite', we have one older, high mileage beater that is used for errands/group trips.

Previously, we had two cars. The motivation was two-fold. In 2010 a household, family member suffered some severe health issues. Selling one of the cars (the one still carrying a monthly payment) became a financial imperative.
I continued to drive the remaining car for a few months, but then the introduction of using a bike came out of simple logistics. My son was scheduled for a job interview mid-morning.
If I had the car at work, he would be unable to go to the interview. I opted to ride my bike to the bus-stop.. which has since grown to full on commuting.

Over time, I've actually come to prefer using the bike.
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Old 10-13-13, 10:17 AM   #11
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I prefer cycling over just about any other form of transportation. Unfortunately I have to drive for a living, so when I crawl out of my metal box at the end of the day the last thing I want to do is get back in it. Cycling is faster than walking and I am inherently lazy...

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Old 10-13-13, 11:23 AM   #12
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  • Fitness (have lost 60 pounds and am in best shape of my adult life)
  • Environment (I care about climate change and want to use less petroleum products)
  • Economics (I am saving money on gas, insurance, car maintenance, license plates, etc.)
  • Quality of Life (I enjoy being out in nature daily and have less commuting stress without a car)
  • Enjoy the Challenge (I've found I especially enjoy completing a bike commute in truly bad weather, for the challenge of it)

Plus, it's fun.
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Old 10-13-13, 11:32 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Why are you, or were you, car-free or car-light? What motivated you to take that step?
I didn't choose the car-free life, the car-free life chose me.

I rode a lot when I was a kid. I started bicycle commuting in the 2nd grade. We moved a number of times, and the bicycle was my vehicle for exploring, so I was doing 20-30 miles a day on weekends by the time I was old enough to drive.

When I went off to college, I had no car and was living in the dorms. UCSB is a very bicycle friendly place, so like everyone else, I bought a bike for going to classes and into Isla Vista.


When I moved out on my own, I still had no car, but used my parent's. So moving out eliminated that option. But my employer was close enough, so it worked out to be car-free.
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I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

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Old 10-13-13, 12:47 PM   #14
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For me it was to help the environment. I was one of those people who would take a car to go four blocks to the grocery store. One time I remember taking a car about three hundred yards to the nearest convenience store.

I didn't litter and I was one of those people who would try to buy items with less packaging but I would drive a car everywhere. As a child I was in love with cars. Nearly every day I would be dreaming about some type of great car to own. In high school my route in passed a Porsche dealership. There were times when I would use public transit to go to school. It wasn't fun.

As an adult in my twenties I decided to just walk to the nearest store one day. I liked doing it. From then on that is how I bought groceries unless I stopped on my way home from work.

While on the internet one day I learned about Xootrs. They seemed so cool that I bought one. I used it to go to the store when I didn't need to carry much home. If I needed two or more bags of stuff I would walk. I use the Xootr to this day. It is on my list of things to keep as I continue to downsize my possessions. I highly recommend one for anybody who wants to travel a little farther than walking will take them.

When my car was acting up a bit I decided to buy my first street motorcycle. It was a 500 cc Kawasaki Vulcan. It was a great bike. From then on I felt I didn't need a car. I would still walk to the store because pulling out a motorcycle from the garage and then putting it back in when done would take a lot of time. I am the type of rider who uses full riding gear so putting that stuff on and removing it takes time.

When that motorcycle got a flat tire I was without motorized transportation. So I bought a 49 cc Honda Metropolitan scooter as a spare vehicle. My main job was thirteen miles from home and my secondary job had me going all over town. I loved the scooter so much that I stopped riding the 500 cc motorcycle. Even though the top speed was 39 mph it was more fun. It got 93 mpg. This was the environmental solution for me at the time. Eventually I sold the scooter and cruiser to buy a 250 cc scooter. It did it all for me.

During the latter years of living in Louisiana I bought a recumbent tricycle because they were cool. I started riding it all around my area for fun. It was sold when I needed some money. When I got to Montana I bought another recumbent bicycle. I rode it everywhere. I was car free with a scooter. A couple of years passed and I sold the scooter and bought a car to haul stuff. Eventually the car was sold and all I had was bicycles. Now I know I could live anywhere in the USA and live without a car if I live close enough to work.

After experiencing life without the expense of a car I realize that cars are just huge money sucking things that aren't for everybody. My standard of living is much better without a car.
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Old 10-13-13, 01:14 PM   #15
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Enviroment, cash, health. Some ladies dig it.
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Old 10-13-13, 01:23 PM   #16
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I'm "trying" to become car-light because it saves me $, I can do most of the things I want to do with my bike, Went from two vehicles to one, I still have my truck because I NEED it to haul my boat and camper, that I don't want to give up...
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Old 10-13-13, 04:22 PM   #17
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I'm surprised and heartened that so many list the environment as an important motivator.

I have to confess it wasn't particularly in my case. When I first got on a bike (since my youth...) at age 51, I hadn't peddled out of my driveway before I knew how much fun I was going to have. For quite a while, I kept kicking myself for having waited so long..

All the rest seemed like nice side effects, but ultimately... if it wasn't such fun, I'd probably be walking to the store.

I like to think I'd be carfree even if I weren't cycling... but I'm not too certain of that.
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Old 10-14-13, 08:23 AM   #18
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For the longest time I lived in a village far away from amenities. In the summer, however, I would ride the bike for an hour to get to the bank, store, etc. and I loved it. But other times I had to drive everywhere. I was also a single parent on a limited income. I would drive old cars then sit in auto service shops spending a fortune on the next repair.

When I had an opportunity to move, I chose a small city where I live close to downtown and my work. I no longer need a car for my commute or for shopping or entertainment. We have one car here for three adults, one of whom uses it to drive to work in another city. In other words, my choice to not use the car has allowed us to downsize to one car.

I am car lite because
a) I find driving stressful
b) A car for every adult in the household is expensive
c) With a car, I ended up spending time doing things I hate (ie riding in traffic and spending time at car repair shops)
d) I want to contribute as little as I possibly can to climate change and to other environmental degradation
e) I hate parking lots and urban sprawl and try not to contribute to it
f) I hate gyms and love biking, so I still keep in great shape
f)OMG biking is fun. I
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Old 10-15-13, 09:13 PM   #19
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I hate working. Not owning a car has allowed me to afford to "work-a-year, take-a-year-off" for the past 30 years. Thank you college Economics course!
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Old 10-15-13, 09:34 PM   #20
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My main reason--only reason, actually--for becoming carfree when I first became an adult, in 1973, was CO2 and climate change. Yes, that was a concern to a few of us way back then, although there have since been a couple name changes. In 1973 it was known as the Greenhouse Effect.
I was late to that party; I didn't learn about the Greenhouse Effect until '78 in a college course. That was a life-changing event. While it certainly looked like there wouldn't be severe effects until I became a very old man, I just didn't want to be in my nineties and have to answer to a ten-year-old for my lack of concern for his world. Back in those days, it wasn't fashionable to just not give a darn about other people. Times have changed.


Quote:
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When I went off to college, I had no car and was living in the dorms. UCSB is a very bicycle friendly place, so like everyone else, I bought a bike for going to classes and into Isla Vista.


When I moved out on my own, I still had no car, but used my parent's. So moving out eliminated that option. But my employer was close enough, so it worked out to be car-free.
I had a similar experience, although I was already primed for it. After a couple of years of making the seven mile trip to my local community college by alternating bus, bike, walking, jogging and roller skating (great fun when you cross freeway on/off ramps), but still having any of my parents' cars at my disposal, I needed to move along to finish my bachelors. I took a trip to Davis and thought I had gone to heaven. It was the late '70s and there were literally thousands of bikes in use per car. I moved right in, found I had no need for a car and loved it.

Twenty-some-odd years later, when the golden age of bicycles had long vanished from Davis, so did I. I'm going back this weekend, but such trips are always bitter-sweet. It's like a reunion with a former lover who has let himself/herself go to pot. The features are familiar, but they don't invoke the same passion as they once did.

Of course, most of the miles I have ridden have nothing to do with being car free. When I was in high school, I was running ultra-marathons in the (L)East Bay hills before such things existed. Once I started riding for transportation, I began doing long distance cycling to experience the same freedom and joy. I guess I was randonneuring before there was a RUSA. 500,000 miles later I still love being in the saddle, even if the miles go by a bit slower than they used to.
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Old 10-16-13, 08:19 PM   #21
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I hate working. Not owning a car has allowed me to afford to "work-a-year, take-a-year-off" for the past 30 years. Thank you college Economics course!
Um... I'm wondering why I haven't done this. Not owning a car hasn't saved me that much. (Ok... I guess it depends on the car you don't own... like if I don't own a Maserati... I guess that would let me take next year off.)
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Old 10-16-13, 11:26 PM   #22
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Um... I'm wondering why I haven't done this. Not owning a car hasn't saved me that much. (Ok... I guess it depends on the car you don't own... like if I don't own a Maserati... I guess that would let me take next year off.)
I think when you've been carfree for quite a while, you tend to forget what you're doing with that extra money. I had to make my DIL's car and insurance payments for a few months while she was getting back on her feet. Man, that $750 a month put a hurt on the budget! I had to give up a lot of things I like--good coffee beans, taking the family out to eat, and a lot of other things I had taken for granted. The worst part for me was having to work a couple extra shifts every pay period.
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Old 10-17-13, 12:42 AM   #23
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Um... I'm wondering why I haven't done this. Not owning a car hasn't saved me that much. (Ok... I guess it depends on the car you don't own... like if I don't own a Maserati... I guess that would let me take next year off.)
Or how much a year of living costs. Seems that saving $5,000-$10,000 a year by not having a new or very good car really isn't all that much to live on for a year, especially if living above a subsistence level is a desired goal.
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Old 10-17-13, 06:46 AM   #24
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It's pretty easy to live on 7k a year at a level above subsistence living, but I'm a bohemian 20 something loon with very modest needs and no rugrats. I'm probably gonna burn through all of my cash when I'm in grad school though.

Also ILTB, but didn't you say (I'm recalling this totes from memory so I may be wrong) a lot of LCF folks live in urban areas? Parking in places like Boston and San Fran can run up to 70k a year dude!

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Old 10-17-13, 06:48 AM   #25
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Totaled 3 cars, that's what got me started. Then I realized I'm inherently lazy, so if I bought a 4th car I'd stop getting daily exercise, because it's always easier to sleep in 30 more minutes than take the bike.
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