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-   -   Advice for those contemplating a car free life (http://www.bikeforums.net/living-car-free/929881-advice-those-contemplating-car-free-life.html)

Chuchi 01-14-14 06:17 PM

Advice for those contemplating a car free life
 
Here are some random thoughts about becoming car free, I am looking for good advice.

For those of you who are car free and riding bikes in a large city, how do you secure you bike when you park it in front of the grocery store. What kind of locks do you use?

I live in a tiny apartment, with no place to keep a bike, so I am thinking about getting a fordable bike, like this:
http://www.xootr.com/folding-bicycle.html
When I can afford it, that is. I need something light weight so I can carry it up and down the stairs easily. Any advice? I will need to bring all my groceries home on a bike.

Has anyone ever transported a cat on a bicycle? I was looking at some back pack type carriers and wondering how well that would work. I'm afraid the cat would wiggle around so much it would be hard to balance with a kitty packed to my back. I was just wondering if anyone had tried that,as I have too transport cats to the vet.

cooker 01-14-14 06:37 PM

Some starter answers:

I'm not car free, but I am a bike commuter. Over 20+ years of that I've had a bike stolen, a wheel stolen and a seat stolen. My main way of dealing with it is to ride old or second hand bikes, very high quality, but not too attractive to thieves, plus my capital loss will only be $200-$300 if my whole bike is stolen; and to have at least one back up bike ready to go at all times in case of theft, mechanical failure, etc.


I live fairly centrally in a large city and everything I need for shopping is easily available by foot or public transit.

Your bikes should have a rear rack and fenders and you should have a basket and/or one or more panniers (like saddle bags that go on the rear rack), or some other carrying arrangement, plus lights.

You don't have to do everything by bike. With the money you save on car ownership you can treat yourself to an occasional cab or rental car, or pay for delivery of larger items, and still come out away ahead.

If my bike is going to be out on the street locked up for hours, I put the lock through the rear wheel and also integrate a large cable for the front wheel and a small cable for the seat. However just to pop in a store, I only use the rear wheel lock. I never leave lights on the unattended bike.

cooker 01-14-14 06:52 PM

Here is how you lock through the rear wheel. http://sheldonbrown.com/lock-strategy.html
The lock is through the wheel and inside the rear triangle of the bike frame. If they can't break the lock they could cut through the wheel, which is extremely difficult, plus that would greatly reduce the value of the bike. Compact locks with a shorter "U" are much harder to break, but may also be harder to position in awkward spaces.

That link is part of the late and lamented Sheldon Brown's website packed full of reams of useful bicycle information. The specific locks he mentions may be out of date as that is a few years old.

GodsBassist 01-14-14 07:07 PM

I live in a one bedroom apartment with my son. We have 7 bikes where the dining table 'should' be, lol. Folding bike is the way to go, but I don't know enough about them to tell you if they hold racks well or if it's an extra engineering feat to get them on there.

I carry my cat to the vet in her carrier. The cat carrier fits in a large gym bag, and the gym back goes over my shoulder. Top zipper is wide open for good venting. It's only a mile to the vet's though.

Smallwheels 01-14-14 08:52 PM

1 Attachment(s)
If most of your trips are less than a mile I would suggest getting a Xootr for dry weather use. They are good for short trips and faster than a bicycle because you just fold them and carry them inside wherever you go. One would be good for taking on public transit. Of course this means you can only really carry a back pack. I use my Xootr to take me to the gas station to fill my 1.5 gallon gasoline canister. I strap it to the floor board using a large bungee cord. I suppose a small box or similar container could be strapped to the floorboard just like I do with the gasoline canister. Xootr also sells a rack and bag combination that can be mounted to the handlebar. Together with a back pack it could haul a bigger load.

Xootrs don't work on ice. They don't work well on wet surfaces but they can work. If the ground is damp I stay focused and don't do any quick movements on the slippery ground. Using a Go-Ped type scooter with rubber tires would work fine on wet pavement but would be slower overall. That brand calls their non-motorized push scooter the Know-Ped.

In Walmart I've seen adult size push scooters with big urethane wheels. Those should be as fast as the Xootr. Not all of them fold without tools and their weight limit is lower. Check them out. These are great alternatives for short distances and would easily fit into a one room apartment.

I really enjoy using my Xootr. One time I used it to go to work three miles away. It took just over twenty minutes to get there. Part of the trip was on a 55 mph road without a shoulder. I was fine. It can get bumpy on roads that are older and a bit rough. Xootrs work great on the smooth concrete sidewalks.

http://bikeforums.net/attachment.php...hmentid=359650

Artkansas 01-14-14 09:07 PM

Plan ahead.

Find a neighborhood with all the services you need, located within 10 miles or less from where you work.

Machka 01-15-14 06:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chuchi (Post 16411425)
Here are some random thoughts about becoming car free, I am looking for good advice.

For those of you who are car free and riding bikes in a large city, how do you secure you bike when you park it in front of the grocery store. What kind of locks do you use?

I live in a tiny apartment, with no place to keep a bike, so I am thinking about getting a fordable bike, like this:
http://www.xootr.com/folding-bicycle.html
When I can afford it, that is. I need something light weight so I can carry it up and down the stairs easily. Any advice? I will need to bring all my groceries home on a bike.

Has anyone ever transported a cat on a bicycle? I was looking at some back pack type carriers and wondering how well that would work. I'm afraid the cat would wiggle around so much it would be hard to balance with a kitty packed to my back. I was just wondering if anyone had tried that,as I have too transport cats to the vet.

First of all ... thanks for starting this thread. :)

1) I never felt comfortable riding my bicycle to the grocery store ... never felt really confident that it would still be outside when I got back outside ... so I walked.

2) We're considering foldable bicycles too and we're looking at Bike Fridays. If you're going to go that route, see them in person. Lift and carry them, ride them, get the sales person to demonstrate how they fold, and then try folding them. Not all foldable bicycles are created equal ... some can be quite heavy and cumbersome and awkward.

3) See my answer about cats in the pets thread. :)

Machka 01-15-14 06:14 AM

Was it you who asked about panniers?

Panniers ... and other bags:
http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Categor...y=&searchTerm=

More panniers ... and other bags:
http://www.rei.com/search?cat=450012...848%3APanniers

Roody 01-15-14 07:24 AM

I think the most important consideration is the location of your home. Besides convenience and distance, it's important to me to live in a place that is attractive and has an interesting street life--someplace where I truly enjoy riding, walking, or even waiting for a bus.

Another important thing is to have a Plan B. If cycling is your main or only transportation, what will you do if for any reason you can't ride? Make sure your location includes access to Plan B. Public transit is the main backup for many people, but other possibilities are walking, taxis, mooching rides, car share, and so forth.

Roody 01-15-14 07:38 AM

I was apprehensive the first few times I rode to the grocery store, but actually it's very easy.

If you live alone, it's easy to carry your own food and supplies. I always just used a backpack and went to the store 2-3 times a week.

If you buy food for several people, it might be time to get panniers or a trailer. Also, talk to your household about everybody sharing the responsibility for procuring food. When I lived with my son and a friend, we did three man food runs--we all went together twice a week on our bikes. Another way is to have one person shop every day, but take turns so each individual only goes a couple times a week.

There are so many ways to do things without a car! You have to take your mind outside the rut of "car thinking". At first it will be difficult, but before long it will become very simple. You will learn many skills and ideas that will make your carfree life very convenient and joyful. Always have fun with it!

Chuchi 01-15-14 12:22 PM

Thanks, everyone who responded for all the advice. It’s given me a lot to think about and has been very helpful. I do have to get used to doing things differently. My car is broken down right now and it is very old. I'm not sure if I'll fix it or just sell if for parts. And I can not get another car till I get out of debt. Being poor sucks. That Xootr scooter is really cool. I might get one of those. I can imagine people laughing at somebody my age scooting around on it. :)

cooker 01-15-14 01:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chuchi (Post 16413310)
Thanks, everyone who responded for all the advice. Itís given me a lot to think about and has been very helpful. I do have to get used to doing things differently. My car is broken down right now and it is very old. I'm not sure if I'll fix it or just sell if for parts. And I can not get another car till I get out of debt. Being poor sucks. That Xootr scooter is really cool. I might get one of those. I can imagine people laughing at somebody my age scooting around on it. :)

You may not wish to disclose, but it could be helpful to know your location, gender and approximate age.

Chuchi 01-15-14 01:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cooker (Post 16413545)
You may not wish to disclose, but it could be helpful to know your location, gender and approximate age.

OK, but I hate people judging me by my age, because I feel much younger. But I did bring it up. I am 50ish, female and live in Houston.

locolobo13 01-15-14 03:35 PM

Ever since I've left home my bike stays inside when I'm home. That includes a 300sf studio. Some of the people in these forums have shown their storage solutions but I'm probably thinking of the Commuter forum. But it sounds like a folder will work for you.

As to shopping, if there's a bike rack I usually lock my bike to it. Otherwise look for a suitable place to lock it up. Usually at the grocery it is the cart return rack for me.

Can't answer about cats. I think mine would go crazy on the bike. The only way to tell would be to try a short trip, around the block maybe. Pretty sure you'll need a cat carrier, rack and a way to secure it to the rack.

Dahon.Steve 01-15-14 10:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chuchi (Post 16411425)
Here are some random thoughts about becoming car free, I am looking for good advice.

For those of you who are car free and riding bikes in a large city, how do you secure you bike when you park it in front of the grocery store. What kind of locks do you use?

I live in a tiny apartment, with no place to keep a bike, so I am thinking about getting a fordable bike, like this:
http://www.xootr.com/folding-bicycle.html
When I can afford it, that is. I need something light weight so I can carry it up and down the stairs easily. Any advice? I will need to bring all my groceries home on a bike.

Has anyone ever transported a cat on a bicycle? I was looking at some back pack type carriers and wondering how well that would work. I'm afraid the cat would wiggle around so much it would be hard to balance with a kitty packed to my back. I was just wondering if anyone had tried that,as I have too transport cats to the vet.

That's a pretty expensive folding bike at $800 dollars! I was thinking of getting one years ago when the owner made them in New Jersey. I would look at getting a less expensive folding bike about half that price as a starter. Unless you have great public transit, I would buy a folder as soon as possible or you'll want to become car dependant again.

A cat would go crazy on a carrier attached to a bicycle! LOL! I think you might want to call a taxi for trips to the vet.

As securing a bicycle at a grocery store, here are my tips. First, you don't lock an $800.00 dollar folding bike to a pole at a grocery store. You would be better off folding and putting it inside the cart. However, if you must lock the bike, I would go behind the store and lock it away from foot traffic.

chriskmurray 01-15-14 10:30 PM

A folding bike could be a great choice for you.

I have never had an issue riding my bike to stores and leaving it locked up. With that said, I do have a bike that is not terribly expensive and I use a very very nice lock as well as locking skewers for the wheels. None of this makes it theft proof but it does make it hard enough to steal that chances are the thief will look for a simpler target. I always look at bicycle security along the same lines of the theory that you don't have to out run the bear, just your friend. If you make your bike harder to steal than the one next to it, chances are they will take the one next to it.

For carrying animals, if you want to go really nice they make animal specific carriers. This is just one site I found pretty quickly searching online. http://www.petfrenzy.com/bicycle-pet-carriers.html Since it sounds like you are fairly new to cycling, or at least commuting, you will be amazed at how many options there are for accessories out there. No matter how obscure, chances are someone has done it or similar, the key is just knowing where to look.

Best of luck if you make the change, I am now just car lite but I miss being car free. Car free is just tougher with a 3 year old and a wife who wants a car.

cooker 01-15-14 10:55 PM

Houston is a lot more spread out than Toronto, and there are probably more dangerous areas. Hopefully people more knowledgeable than I am can advise you on how to ensure your personal safety if you need to go through bad areas or be out late.

cooker 01-15-14 10:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve (Post 16414823)
However, if you must lock the bike, I would go behind the store and lock it away from foot traffic.

Not me. I'd rather the bike thief had an audience.

wipekitty 01-15-14 11:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chuchi (Post 16413618)
OK, but I hate people judging me by my age, because I feel much younger. But I did bring it up. I am 50ish, female and live in Houston.

Funny! I was guessing 28 and Baltimore...

Anyway. I ride to the grocery store all the time, and it hasn't been a problem. Kryptonite locks with something about New York in the title seem to be the best, but they're expensive and heavy. Standard issue on most high-theft college campuses is a U-lock. The lock you use may depend on what you have to work with: if there's a bike rack at the store you'll have more options than if your only choice is a palm tree or newspaper stand.

If you go to the same store a lot, make friends with the customer service folks and front end managers. Sometimes, they'll let you bring the bike in and keep an eye on it while you shop. :)

I honestly think your biggest challenge might be the weather. Little tropical storms are no big deal, it's those Gulf Coast summers that are killer...

Dahon.Steve 01-16-14 12:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cooker (Post 16414898)
Not me. I'd rather the bike thief had an audience.

The bike thief will have an audience of people who will do nothing to protect your bike.

Roody 01-16-14 01:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve (Post 16416269)
The bike thief will have an audience of people who will do nothing to protect your bike.

I don't know, I'm with cooker. True, probably nobody would do anything if the saw somebody trying to steal my bike. But I don't think most thieves like an audience, so they're less likely to try to steal one that's out in the open.

ironwood 01-17-14 07:32 AM

I have a couple of bikes for the store anderrands in town. I rebuilt them from bikes and parts I found in the town dump, except for one for which I paid $20 at a yard sale. However this might not be a practical approach if space is at a premium.

Chuchi 01-17-14 03:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by wipekitty (Post 16414935)
Funny! I was guessing 28 and Baltimore.

:)
I don't have too much of a Texas drawl, so that probably threw you off. I'm still a kid at heart.

Chuchi 01-17-14 03:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ironwood (Post 16418287)
I have a couple of bikes for the store anderrands in town. I rebuilt them from bikes and parts I found in the town dump, except for one for which I paid $20 at a yard sale. However this might not be a practical approach if space is at a premium.

That is so neat! I'm not very mechanical, but I'm very impressed by people who are.

Chuchi 01-17-14 03:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cooker (Post 16414892)
Houston is a lot more spread out than Toronto, and there are probably more dangerous areas. Hopefully people more knowledgeable than I am can advise you on how to ensure your personal safety if you need to go through bad areas or be out late.

I've lived here a while, so I have learned to be careful. I'm looking forward to moving someplace where it is safer and smaller, someday soon, I hope.


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