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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 01-23-14, 06:24 PM   #1
Colorado Kid
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How To Get Around In The Sticks

For members who live out in the sticks, how do you get around? It's 10 miles to town for me, 25 miles (one way) to a nice warehouse club where I get most of my food etc. I have a 8 year old car with only 26K on it but still I would like to use it less. Does anyone have ideas? Bus service is super slow in my area and doesn't go everywhere.
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Old 01-23-14, 06:29 PM   #2
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One of the first rules of car-free living is to locate yourself where it is practical.
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Old 01-23-14, 07:19 PM   #3
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Disclaimer: I'm not currently living in the sticks. And, I didn't even own a bike back when I lived in the sticks (a shame, given how hott the local trails were)...But...

My strategy, at least initially, would be to use fireroads, deer trails, dirt bike trails, and any other alternative routes that I could. When I lived in NE Tennessee, and when I used to visit my Mom in the exurban distopia known as Jackson, NJ, I was acutely aware that shoulders were either 6" wide or entirely nonexistant in most places. Cyclists were so rare, it might actually be unreasonable to expect motorists to be on the lookout for us. Given that, if I were car-free in a place like that, I'd likely ride a 'cross or mtb everywhere, and look for off-road routes.

Here in suburban South Jersey, we don't have a lot of trails that act as cut-thrus, but there are some and I tend to use them when I can. The part of TN where i lived didn't seem to have a lot available, but Jackson had a bunch of quad/dirtbike/enduro riders, plus herds of deer, so there was a network of dusty but rideable trails that offered a lot of alternatives to praying for mercy on the pavement.

But, yeah, Artkansas has it right: car-free or not, location is a huge concern when you choose your digs. Close and easily accessible shopping, rec, and services trump scenic beauty every time, in my view.
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Old 01-23-14, 07:22 PM   #4
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One of the first rules of car-free living is to locate yourself where it is practical.
Agree %100. I wanted to be car free for a long time and finally realized how important geography was to making that leap. I couldn't live this way in the sticks. 25 miles to groceries… ouch. #mylegshurtthingingaboutit
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Old 01-23-14, 08:10 PM   #5
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Bus service is super slow in my area and doesn't go everywhere.
Some bus service is better than nothing.

I would find out the schedule of the bus and print out on a piece of paper the numerous times the bus arrives at the closest bus stop. Also include the amount of time it takes you to reach the stop then add ten minutes. I would attach the paper (schedule) to my computer as a handy reference for weekday and weekend use. You would be surprised how useful it is knowing exactly to the minute you have access to transit.

A bus schedule that's made for your use and enables you to avoid wasting time at a stop. You can now multimode to other locations using a folding bike or kick scooter (Xooter) along with that bus. You can also ride to the stop and lock the bike close to the bus stop.
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Old 01-23-14, 08:26 PM   #6
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Given the circumstances, I think you can make that 50-mile round trip occasionally and still keep your car-light cred.
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Old 01-23-14, 10:28 PM   #7
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Do a lot of online shopping. With the survivalist movement a lot of food service sites have sprung up and you can get much of your food delivered. Meat, fish poultry can be more expensive however. As far as hard goods amazon.com and others can supply just about everything you need if you don't want to travel. If you also have a freezer you can stock up. I hate shopping and bought a trailer so I could haul 100 pounds of food for a week or two. I no longer live that far out so it isn't a big problem now but that falls back on location.
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Old 01-23-14, 10:30 PM   #8
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Given the circumstances, I think you can make that 50-mile round trip occasionally and still keep your car-light cred.
Good advice IMO. Living without a car in an urban thing unless you can find a small town that has the essentials and also some bus service.
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Old 01-24-14, 01:34 AM   #9
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If I was in the OP's situation, I would probably plan on riding 10 miles to town twice a week for groceries. Then every two or three months I would drive the 25 miles to the warehouse club to get the bulky staples like paper goods, cleaning supplies, peanut butter, and whatever else.
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Old 01-24-14, 07:00 AM   #10
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8 year old car with 26k on it? My wife put 29,000 miles on her Toyota and we just bought it last February! You don't sound like you're in the sticks, [i]I'm[i] in the sticks! The only thing I have within 25 miles is a gas station.
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Old 01-24-14, 07:10 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colorado Kid View Post
For members who live out in the sticks, how do you get around? It's 10 miles to town for me, 25 miles (one way) to a nice warehouse club where I get most of my food etc. I have a 8 year old car with only 26K on it but still I would like to use it less. Does anyone have ideas? Bus service is super slow in my area and doesn't go everywhere.
Buy a large freezer.

Drive to the warehouse club about every 3-4 months and stock up on everything.

Then you might only need to do the 10 mile trip once a week or so on your bicycle, with trailer or panniers, about once a week ... to get fresh fruit and veg. Unless you're growing your own, of course.


We lived well out in the sticks for a year ... and bought a 4WD van so that we could get in and out of the property where we lived, let alone getting to someplace we could do the shopping. And I had to use the van to get to work.
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Old 01-24-14, 07:45 AM   #12
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Some bus service is better than nothing.

I would find out the schedule of the bus and print out on a piece of paper the numerous times the bus arrives at the closest bus stop. Also include the amount of time it takes you to reach the stop then add ten minutes. I would attach the paper (schedule) to my computer as a handy reference for weekday and weekend use. You would be surprised how useful it is knowing exactly to the minute you have access to transit.

A bus schedule that's made for your use and enables you to avoid wasting time at a stop. You can now multimode to other locations using a folding bike or kick scooter (Xooter) along with that bus. You can also ride to the stop and lock the bike close to the bus stop.
That's a good point. Use multi-mode transportation. For example, I'm imagining what it would be like if I lived in the rural areas west of my city, and it wanted to get to a rural area to the east of the city.I might ride my bike the five or ten miles to a mall in the far western suburbs of the city. I could catch a bus there and ride the bus 15 miles to a mall in the far eastern suburbs, with my bike on the bus rack. Then I could ride the bike however many miles to my destination.

this approach would be a real PITA if you were getting groceries or any other cargo. Transferring them from bike to bus to bike would be very unpleasant indeed. But it wouldn't be too bad for other kinds of errands, especially for people who don't like using bikes in city traffic.
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Old 01-24-14, 07:54 AM   #13
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I would check out rural bus service also. It does exist in many places. I believe every rural county in Michigan has "on-demand" bus service. This means you have to call to have the bus sent to your location. Then they will take you right to your destination, but pick up and drop off other passengers along the way. I used it infrequently when I lived in the small town of Charlotte in Eaton Co. MI. It wasn't very convenient, but it did get me places...eventually. Most of the passengers seem to be retired and disabled people who presumably have more time on their hands.
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Old 01-24-14, 12:39 PM   #14
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Falls City just has a couple of convenience stores though it does have a wood-fired bakery. I rode 9 miles this morning to Dallas over a lightly traveled road to catch my bus to Salem where I'm working today. Sometimes I ride all the way home from work, about 35 miles, but today I intend to catch a bus back to Monmouth and take a slightly longer (about 14 miles) ride home, again on rural back roads. There isn't very much traffic, and it's really pretty in the daytime. I usually pick routes that include a few miles of gravel roads, as that cuts down on car traffic even though I eat some dust in the summer.

I'm not car free by any means and don't really see myself hauling many groceries over the ridges in between home and Dallas, but at least I can commute like this. I think Arkensaw has it right about being car-free, but I love living on my 32 acres of forest land and I won't move.
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Old 01-24-14, 11:04 PM   #15
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I've lived car-free when I was much further from any retail than the OP. Basically, if you don't find a way to enjoy riding the distances involved, then you're going to have to do something else, like settle for the crappy bus, use a car occasionally, or go to an electric-assist bike. Personally, I like the last option best since it lets you continue to train physically and mentally for the day when you can do it all under your own power, which is, well, empowering.

Most of the folks on this forum live in cities and haven't ever tried living car-free where the distances to be covered are more than a few miles. Anyone who has ever toured or ridden "events" like centuries, brevets or double centuries, all of which call for routine training rides over fifty miles, can attest to the joy that is to be found in just riding. Don't be fooled into thinking your location can't work. It may just be great.

That said, riding in the suburbs, which if you are only ten miles from town is what you are likely in, does have its own problems. Chiefly, I suspect that most of your neighbors are commuting to the nearby city by car daily for work/play/shopping/entertainment. That can create some less than ideal traffic conditions on the roadways at peak times. If you don't have the freedom to avoid the worst roads at the worst times, it can suck the joy right out of the ride. In real estate, the priorities are location, location and location. On the bike, the priorities are routes and traffic timing. It's like a moving location with temporal overtones.
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Old 01-25-14, 12:02 AM   #16
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There's a lot of factors to consider here: weather (snow and ice), infrastructure (type of roads/trails and your access to them), county services (snowplows, if you have snow), terrain, traffic, and your comfort level.

25 miles with a trailer once or twice a month doesn't seem that bad, especially if you have the time and you're in good shape or work up to it by riding to town regularly. But if the rides are on narrow hilly roads with no shoulder in a snowy area without county services (I grew up in such an area), that might be a different story.

For route planning, it might be worth checking mapmyride.com, nearby cycling clubs, and the regional forum, just to get an idea about where people near you tend to ride. A few more details about your infrastructure, weather, and terrain might also help folks on here brainstorm a few ideas.
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Old 01-25-14, 01:25 PM   #17
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If I lived in the sticks I would choose to be car-light instead of car-free.. I would defenitly have a pick-up truck and a motorcycle as a back up.

Last edited by wolfchild; 01-25-14 at 01:28 PM.
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Old 01-25-14, 01:35 PM   #18
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I live 11 miles from any sign of humanity. I wanted to give up my car, and ride to work (25mi away) and school. But, faced the fact that I should wait until I live in a more practical location.

Which is around a year away!
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Old 01-25-14, 05:18 PM   #19
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I've lived car-free when I was much further from any retail than the OP. Basically, if you don't find a way to enjoy riding the distances involved, then you're going to have to do something else, like settle for the crappy bus, use a car occasionally, or go to an electric-assist bike. Personally, I like the last option best since it lets you continue to train physically and mentally for the day when you can do it all under your own power, which is, well, empowering.

Most of the folks on this forum live in cities and haven't ever tried living car-free where the distances to be covered are more than a few miles. Anyone who has ever toured or ridden "events" like centuries, brevets or double centuries, all of which call for routine training rides over fifty miles, can attest to the joy that is to be found in just riding. Don't be fooled into thinking your location can't work. It may just be great.

That said, riding in the suburbs, which if you are only ten miles from town is what you are likely in, does have its own problems. Chiefly, I suspect that most of your neighbors are commuting to the nearby city by car daily for work/play/shopping/entertainment. That can create some less than ideal traffic conditions on the roadways at peak times. If you don't have the freedom to avoid the worst roads at the worst times, it can suck the joy right out of the ride. In real estate, the priorities are location, location and location. On the bike, the priorities are routes and traffic timing. It's like a moving location with temporal overtones.
Agreed.

Putting aside Machka's observation about that particular 12 months, I lived in the sticks for four or five years without owning a car. I shopped once a week. My needs were minimal. I either worked about 5 miles away from home, or lived on the property where I worked.

Just ride your bike. Get lifts with friends or colleagues when you need to. If public transport is available, you have to think about your scheduling and consolidating the purposes for your trips into one big day attending to business. Ride your bike to catch the bus or train.

Plan out your shopping and grocery needs. And yes, internet shopping means the the goods come to you rather than you having to go get the goods.
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Old 01-25-14, 05:39 PM   #20
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Agreed.

Putting aside Machka's observation about that particular 12 months, I lived in the sticks for four or five years without owning a car. I shopped once a week. My needs were minimal. I either worked about 5 miles away from home, or lived on the property where I worked.

Just ride your bike. Get lifts with friends or colleagues when you need to. If public transport is available, you have to think about your scheduling and consolidating the purposes for your trips into one big day attending to business. Ride your bike to catch the bus or train.

Plan out your shopping and grocery needs. And yes, internet shopping means the the goods come to you rather than you having to go get the goods.
Very good advice, IMO. Flexibility and innovation are crucial to the success of carfree living in any location.
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Old 06-16-15, 06:10 PM   #21
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If you've got more ideas about how to be car light or car free while living outside urban areas, let's hear them. Let's continue this conversation ... it's a good one.
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Old 06-16-15, 07:50 PM   #22
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Online shopping has proven to be even better since the last time I posted here. Stores have sprung up even closer to me but like I said before shopping is not a favorite chore of mine. But just just the other day I ordered 100 patches, a can of glue and new bar tape on a Sunday night and the patches and bar tape were in the mail box Monday. I have discovered Amazon put in a warehouse about 25 miles away.

Last year I had about 70 percent of my food shipped to me. Meat and vegetables were the big exception.
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Old 06-16-15, 09:39 PM   #23
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I live 11 miles from any sign of humanity. I wanted to give up my car, and ride to work (25mi away) and school. But, faced the fact that I should wait until I live in a more practical location.

Which is around a year away!
Being practical certainly isn't a crime. I spent a while in the country back in the 1980s. There was a 1-2 stretch where I didn't have a car. You'd need to be a pretty resourceful character to pull it off successfully. For me, it was more convenient to move to the city.
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Old 06-16-15, 09:40 PM   #24
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We made a lot of use of online shopping when we lived in a small town in the middle of nowhere north of Melbourne. It was so much more convenient to place an order from the comfort of our own living room, and then receive the order 3 or 4 days later ... rather than driving into a nearby city approx. 100 km away, and go to a shop only to be told that they could order it for us, but that we would have to return 6 weeks later to pick it up!!!
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Old 06-16-15, 09:50 PM   #25
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Being practical certainly isn't a crime. I spent a while in the country back in the 1980s. There was a 1-2 stretch where I didn't have a car. You'd need to be a pretty resourceful character to pull it off successfully. For me, it was more convenient to move to the city.
Man, I haven't logged in for such a long time, thanks for getting me hooked again!

Actually, next week I will be moving into the city. Pretty excited for the cycling transportation, but, alas, my new university is 26 miles away, gah... I will be using my bike for most everything else.

Gerv... are you in Des Moines WA or Iowa?
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