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  1. #1
    Senior Member mister's Avatar
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    Car-free and your own mortality

    As I've been browsing through here and beginning my own car-lite life, I keep asking myself, "how long can one really be car-free realistically?"

    I think of my and my wife's grandparents and there's no way they would be able to get around on their own if they didn't have a car. Between the ailments of aging and whatnot, even my fittest grandparent wouldn't be able to, and he's an avid cyclist. Then there is my wife's grandma who has been car free her whole life (still has never had a driver's license or driven at over 80 years old) but she depends on everyone else in the family to drive her to the store and dr appointments, etc.

    I honestly don't see myself being car-lite more than a couple years and I'm only 30. How long do you see yourself, realistically, being car-free? How do you plan to be car-free as you approach the end of life?
    Brilliant!

  2. #2
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    So, which health problems, do you predict, will cut your cf lifestyle short before you're 34?

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Good question mister ...

    I remained car-free for 6 years (into my 40s), and Rowan remained car-free for 10 years (into his 50s). So it can be done for a fairly length period of time.

    My parents are in their 70s and still walk and cycle as much as possible ... they'd probably qualify as car-light. Same with my grandmother in her 90s ... she doesn't cycle, but she walks and it has only been relatively recently that she has had to depend on family to take her to most places.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mister View Post
    As I've been browsing through here and beginning my own car-lite life, I keep asking myself, "how long can one really be car-free realistically?"

    I think of my and my wife's grandparents and there's no way they would be able to get around on their own if they didn't have a car. Between the ailments of aging and whatnot, even my fittest grandparent wouldn't be able to, and he's an avid cyclist. Then there is my wife's grandma who has been car free her whole life (still has never had a driver's license or driven at over 80 years old) but she depends on everyone else in the family to drive her to the store and dr appointments, etc.

    I honestly don't see myself being car-lite more than a couple years and I'm only 30. How long do you see yourself, realistically, being car-free? How do you plan to be car-free as you approach the end of life?
    Been car-free most of my life and, as I move into my late fifties, I have no plans on changing.

    The scenario here in Spain is just the opposite of the one you describe. As people grow older, they often give up driving because they realize (or the authorities make it clear to them) that it is no longer safe for them to be behind the wheel. This is the case with my wife's great-uncle, for example, who recently gave his car to his daughter because he's nearly 80 years old and decided it was time to stop driving. My father, on the other hand, who lives in the southern part of your state, is also in his 80s and still relies on his car, which is very worrying to me because I don't think he should be driving as his reflexes aren't as sharp as they used to be, he's hard of hearing, suffers from arthritis and so on.

    This is one of the strongest arguments against car-centric transit systems. The elderly have a choice to make if there is little or no public transit available to them: they can either rely on others, become isolated, or jeopardize their own lives and those of other motorists, pedestrians and cyclists by continuing to drive.

    There is a particulary high number of octogenerians and nonagenerians on the road in Florida. It's frightening.

    When should you take keys from elderly drivers?
    Last edited by Ekdog; 01-15-14 at 03:20 AM.
    Gimme that car-free living!

  5. #5
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Almost everybody has to quit driving at some point as they get older. If they live somewhere with good adaptive transit, they can maintain independence longer. Here in Michigan, every county has door-to-door on-demand bus service for elderly and disabled people. The cost is typically around two dollars. In some counties you have to give a couple hours advance notice, in others 24 hour notice is required. You might be limited to one trip per day, and some counties don't have weekend service.

    Taxi cabs are another option in most towns and cities.

    In towns that lack these services, elderly people rely on caregivers to drive them places. Again, this would be the same for former motorists and for carfree people. They all lose independent mobility at some point regardless of car ownership status.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  6. #6
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    When Old Drivers Attack!

    Gimme that car-free living!

  7. #7
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    One old guy on my street goes down to the corner nearly every morning for a cup of coffee and a newspaper. He has a dog who looks even older than him (in dog years). With his walker, it takes him more than 30 minutes to walk half a block. I hope I'm that guy in 25 years.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  8. #8
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    A lot depends upon your health and, of course, luck; but I spent four years until I was seventy two, car free. I discussed some of my reasons for getting a car on another thread, but one reason was safety: drivers are more dangerous now: another was that a car gives you more mobility. I still do a lot on foot, by bike; and I use public transportation. My car is not a necessity, it is a luxury.

    I know someone 82 who rode his age on his birthday. So the OP can look forward to another fifty years.

    When I can't continue to be car lite, I probably shouldn't be driving either.

  9. #9
    Senior Member GodsBassist's Avatar
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    I don't plan on ever going back to driving. As long as you select the right living places and set your self up to not have to travel exorbitant distances or terrible routes, it's easy being car-free. With the expansion and acceptance by planners of smart growth, the right areas to be car free in will only become more numerous.

  10. #10
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    Since the OP mentioned mortality, I started thinking about it and thought that if one is really dedicated to living car free, shouldn't he insist on a car free funeral? A pedal powered herse ( I don't think Rene built them however), and all the mourners on bikes.

  11. #11
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ironwood View Post
    Since the OP mentioned mortality, I started thinking about it and thought that if one is really dedicated to living car free, shouldn't he insist on a car free funeral? A pedal powered herse ( I don't think Rene built them however), and all the mourners on bikes.
    http://www.kval.com/news/business/Bi....html?mobile=y


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  12. #12
    Senior Member
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    Maybe that's why Chris Christy is trying to lose weight; so he can fit in one of those.

  13. #13
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ironwood View Post
    Maybe that's why Chris Christy is trying to lose weight; so he can fit in one of those.
    Gov. Christy should get a bike and ride it across the George Washington Bridge.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  14. #14
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by GodsBassist View Post
    I don't plan on ever going back to driving. As long as you select the right living places and set your self up to not have to travel exorbitant distances or terrible routes, it's easy being car-free. With the expansion and acceptance by planners of smart growth, the right areas to be car free in will only become more numerous.
    Been mostly car free for the last 16 years. I view cars as obsolete technology at this point, especially those solely reliant on fossil fuel, and have no desire to ever own or drive another one. If my health fails, I'd probably have to re-arrange my life a little, but give up car-free? I think not.

    Sometimes the lifestyle on "Mountain Men" doesn't seem extreme, it seems appealing. If only I could haul a bike up into the woods....

  15. #15
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mister View Post
    I honestly don't see myself being car-lite more than a couple years and I'm only 30. How long do you see yourself, realistically, being car-free? How do you plan to be car-free as you approach the end of life?
    At your age I also wondered that. At age 60, I still don't have the answer and I'm once again car-free. Bill Cunningham, car-free in NYC at age 80 is still going strong.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    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.

  16. #16
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Gov. Christy should get a bike and ride it across the George Washington Bridge.
    That WOULD stop traffic.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    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.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Spld cyclist's Avatar
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    Everyone's experience will be different, but if I had to play the odds, I would bet that the longer you are car free/light the longer you will retain the ability to be car free/light.

  18. #18
    Senior Member RPK79's Avatar
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    Anecdotally there is an elderly woman in my town, must be late 80's, who uses a 3 wheeled utility bike as her only transport. I see her all over town. More often than not she is walking the bike, especially this time of year in the snow and ice. She lives right across the street from my office and I always smile a little inside when I see her bike chained to the tree outside my office window.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GodsBassist View Post
    I don't plan on ever going back to driving. As long as you select the right living places and set your self up to not have to travel exorbitant distances or terrible routes, it's easy being car-free. With the expansion and acceptance by planners of smart growth, the right areas to be car free in will only become more numerous.
    I imagine this is true. While this is a cycling forum, being car-free does not require a bicycle. It's just the method many of us use to achieve that goal. If you figure out where you need to go and what your options are to get there, then you can hopefully choose your living situation to accommodate that. In the past 14 years, I have only lived about 18 months in a situation where I didn't know how to get to work without a car. I was uncomfortable being dependent on a car and unhappy with my commute, so I moved. The rest of the time, I have been happy in the knowledge that I could use either busses, bikes, and/or my feet to get where I needed to go. Right now a combination of bussing and biking has been the most effective way to get to work, but I could get there using solely a bike or the bus system if necessary. If you want to be car free and live far from any amenities, you may have a problem, but if you want it badly enough to make living situations based on a desire to be car-free, it seems very possible to me at any age that you are also mobile enough to drive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spld cyclist View Post
    Everyone's experience will be different, but if I had to play the odds, I would bet that the longer you are car free/light the longer you will retain the ability to be car free/light.
    And I hope this is the case, too. I suspect that making an effort to remain active will enable you to remain active longer, barring some catastrophe. At any rate, it seems that saying that eventually you get too old to bike, and will be forced to drive, is not a great pattern given that people's ability to drive safely often seems to deteriorate with age as well. Better to say that no matter what your method of transportation, you may have to make some changes as you get older.

    But, me, I'm just hoping those self-driving cars are up and running before I'm too old to get around on my own.

  20. #20
    Member pyratenomad's Avatar
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    I am nearing 46 years old and have been car-free for most of my life. The few motorized vehicles that I have owned were mostly novelties and didn't get much use.
    The drivers license in my wallet is about to expire without being used for anything other than cashing a check and renting a motel room.
    I can see a person cycling well in to their 90s, providing they do it daily.
    I have no intention to stop cycling and I haven't slowed down a bit. With the exception of a few aches and pains associated with age, my cycling abilities have remained rather consistent.
    I can see myself giving up the aggressive geometry for a more comfortable, upright setup at some point in the DISTANT future, though.
    'I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.' ~Albert Einstein

  21. #21
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    I'm 39 and plan on being car free for the rest of my life. In the still relatively distant future, I'll just get more stuff delivered and leave a little early to hobble to the bus stop.

  22. #22
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    When Old Drivers Attack!
    The music in that video is to die from.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    The music in that video is to die from.
    I nearly died (literally) when my grandfather did a u-turn on the Santa Monica freeway many years ago with me riding shotgun. Of course the bourbon he'd been working on all morning was more to blame for that than his age (about 70 back then).

    When a highway patrolman pulled up and was about to put the cuffs on him, he pulled out his I.D. (retired parole officer) and his golden badge from when he left the San Francisco police department and in very slurred speech said: "Look, buddy, I was a cop once, too". The officer gave him back his documents and asked him to drive straight home.
    Gimme that car-free living!

  24. #24
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    We were car-free for 3 years (starting at 48 years old), and car-light now. Honestly I could do fine without it, so I'd say to answer how long is it possible, "forever".

  25. #25
    Mister Bleak! mconlonx's Avatar
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    When I used to visit alzhy grandma in the assisted living joint, she and, I assumed, most of her neighbors were car-free...

    Car-free we were born into this world; car-free we shall leave.

    Well... those of us who don't die in car wrecks, anyway...
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus regarding mconlonx View Post
    You, I don't generally think of you as clueless. You're kind of ok.
    I know next to nothing. I am frequently wrong.

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