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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 02-09-14, 08:43 PM   #1
nostalgic
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Carfree females

There is an ingrained notion (at least in my area) that a female, especially a young single female, dare not live without a car because of safety reasons.

I have been wanting to go carfree and take my bicycle everywhere. However, my boss would probably let me go if she knew that I was riding my bike home from work. My work hours are from 6 pm to 11 pm, sometimes midnight depending on the workload.

I'd be riding on main roads where there is lots of light. I have never feared for my safety as much as others do.

Is this stereotype of the dainty helpless woman prevalent where you live?
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Old 02-09-14, 09:24 PM   #2
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I'm sure that feeling is prevalent in most places. It takes a long time to uproot old myths.

One of the nurses I work with used to ride her bike about eight miles one way to work. She works 8-hour and 12-hour midnight shifts at the hospital, which is in a fairly high crime area.

Both ways of her commute were in darkness for much of the year. She rode on the sidewalks along a major highway through Lansing and into East Lansing--35 mph with four lanes on a one-way highway.

She's about 30 years old and 4'11".

She just bought her first ever car a short time ago, but says she will ride her bike again as soon as it gets a little warmer.
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Old 02-09-14, 09:34 PM   #3
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One of my girlfriends was car-free. She lived in West Hollywood. At that time, I had a motorcycle for our longer trips.
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Old 02-09-14, 09:39 PM   #4
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I am 31 and 5'3". I would feel so much better if I rode my bicycle everywhere. To me, that is freedom.

This morning as I was getting ready to leave the house in my car, something malfunctioned. So I wound up taking a taxi. On top of that, last week I was in my very first car accident. So I am dealing with insurance and the other party getting an attorney. If I didn't have a car, none of this would have happened. I digress...

I just want my employer and other potential employers to accept that I am safe and reliable while riding my bicycle.
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Old 02-09-14, 09:40 PM   #5
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People who don't ride bikes tend to think anyone riding at night is nuts and unsafe. If you feel safe riding at night, go ahead; your boss should not penalize you because of your choice of transportation to get to work.
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Old 02-09-14, 10:12 PM   #6
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I am 31 and 5'3". I would feel so much better if I rode my bicycle everywhere. To me, that is freedom.

This morning as I was getting ready to leave the house in my car, something malfunctioned. So I wound up taking a taxi. On top of that, last week I was in my very first car accident. So I am dealing with insurance and the other party getting an attorney. If I didn't have a car, none of this would have happened. I digress...

I just want my employer and other potential employers to accept that I am safe and reliable while riding my bicycle.
What has your boss said or done to indicate she/he has a problem with bikes?
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Old 02-09-14, 10:43 PM   #7
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What has your boss said or done to indicate she/he has a problem with bikes?
In my job interview, she wanted to make sure I had a car. She has not explicitly said that a bicycle is an unreliable mode of transportation. It's the car culture that I'm dealing with, the idea that being exposed to the elements and taking longer to get from one place to another is bad in and of itself. Also, the idea that I need to be kept safe by being encased in a car.

Since my car accident, I have gone an entire week without the car, and I have not missed a day of work. I have been taking the bus to work and getting a ride home from a coworker. I am just about ready to put an extra headlight on my bike and take the leap.
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Old 02-09-14, 10:50 PM   #8
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Have you commuted to your current job by bike before? If not, now would be a good time and you can use the auto accident as the "excuse" should your boss ask.
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Old 02-09-14, 10:59 PM   #9
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Have you commuted to your current job by bike before? If not, now would be a good time and you can use the auto accident as the "excuse" should your boss ask.
Not a bad idea!

I have not commuted there by bike before. However, I used to commute by bike to the university, and that commute involved riding through a canal on a single speed bike. It took about 45 minutes.

In addition to that, back in January 2010, I hitchhiked into a town in Utah, borrowed a bike, and rode it through town almost every day for 2 weeks. The weather was extremely cold. I live in a much milder climate, and I know what my body can handle.

Thanks for that tip.

So, what is it with this idea that I will get mugged if I ride my bicycle at night? It seems like a stretch to me. Not unrealistic, but definitely a stretch.

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Old 02-10-14, 01:11 AM   #10
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I am a female, who was car-free for 6 years as a single female. I'm also a randonneur who has done many night rides, several of which were solo.

My employers didn't care. As long as I showed up on time every day.

I'd agree with no1mad ... start riding, and see what happens.
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Old 02-10-14, 02:10 AM   #11
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I had one job where there were 4 animators, two of us in each office. And as it happened, each office had a driver who lived less than a mile a way and a cycle commuter who lived more than 9 miles away. One morning, the boss, a weekend cyclist but dubious about cycle commuters, came through and wanted to know where my short-distance-driving office mate was. I didn't know. He went to the other office only to discover that the other short-distance-driver was also a no-show. As he came back by and told me of this. I quipped that perhaps he should only hire cycle commuters who live far away. He looked a little irritated but never brought up the subject again.
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Old 02-10-14, 02:28 AM   #12
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My wife was car free for a decade and rode every day... now we are car light because of climate and work / family schedules.

Once we are out of the deep freeze and the roads don't look like skating rinks she will be riding to work which is not that far and not so far that one could not walk instead of taking the bus.
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Old 02-10-14, 11:38 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by nostalgic View Post
In my job interview, she wanted to make sure I had a car. She has not explicitly said that a bicycle is an unreliable mode of transportation. It's the car culture that I'm dealing with, the idea that being exposed to the elements and taking longer to get from one place to another is bad in and of itself. Also, the idea that I need to be kept safe by being encased in a car.

Since my car accident, I have gone an entire week without the car, and I have not missed a day of work. I have been taking the bus to work and getting a ride home from a coworker. I am just about ready to put an extra headlight on my bike and take the leap.
Look closely at your job description. Asking if you have a car is typically not allowed in the US unless it is a job requirement. If it isn't a job requirement in your job description, then just stop driving to work and don't say anything about it. So long as you make it to work on time, there is nothing to discuss with your boss.
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Old 02-10-14, 11:56 AM   #14
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Asking if you have a car is typically not allowed in the US unless it is a job requirement.
This is not true. About the only thing they're not allowed to ask has to do with membership in a "protected class" such as race, religion, age, and a couple others. They can ask about anything else, and refuse to hire you for any other reason, or for no reason at all. They can also generally fire you for any reason (or no reason) unless you have a contract.
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Old 02-10-14, 12:56 PM   #15
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This is not true. About the only thing they're not allowed to ask has to do with membership in a "protected class" such as race, religion, age, and a couple others. They can ask about anything else, and refuse to hire you for any other reason, or for no reason at all. They can also generally fire you for any reason (or no reason) unless you have a contract.
I have had to listen to HR lawyers from multiple companies come and speak to hiring managers about what is allowed and what is not allowed. Perhaps what you say is true in that it is not explicitly disallowed, but asking about a car is dangerous since it can be associated to protected classes. There are religions associated with car ownership or lack thereof, and often poverty and racial class are associated. Ask about a car when not required, and if one of the other elements is present and you get sued, kiss your wallet goodbye. Perhaps it is a difference between coroprate HR policy and law, but more likely than not, the question is "can you reliably get to work on time." that is all they need to know. Since the OP already has the job, I still suggest saying nothing about mode of transportation and just start riding unless her job description requires a car. Unless she is late, there is nothing to talk about.

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Old 02-10-14, 01:04 PM   #16
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People who don't ride bikes tend to think anyone riding at night is nuts and unsafe. If you feel safe riding at night, go ahead; your boss should not penalize you because of your choice of transportation to get to work.
I know about termination with cause and without cause and at will employment but I find it hard to believe something like this would be legal. Even if the OP's boss believed she was endangering her life/safety by commuting by bike, I don't think it would stand. Otherwise, look how many people could be fired for driving to work in snowy or icy conditions. What the OP does on her own non-work time should be her business as long as it doesn't reflect badly on the company and I can't see how this would.
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Old 02-10-14, 03:48 PM   #17
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Update: I did a bike trek this morning to the area near my job. I was on my mountain bike, which was actually more stressing than my cruiser. With my cruiser it will take me a little over an hour to get to work, if that.

If they choose to let me go because I got to work on time on a bike instead of in a car, they are nuts. This past week, my coworker had car trouble with both of his cars, missed three days of work because he depended solely on cars to get to work, and was written up for no shows. I had no car because of the accident, but because I took the bus to work, I made it there an hour early. To me, it's all about planning well ahead.

I feel so much better on my cruiser!
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Old 02-10-14, 04:13 PM   #18
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Ride your bike if you want. I'm another female who lives (nearly) car free. I'm 5'3" and I live in a not that great area. The only times I've been hassled have been by the local college kids. Even then it's just stupid crap from kids who apparently think they are still in HS/were never taught any better by their parents.

Funny enough, the 'scary' people leave me alone.

Generally if they ask about a car they just want to be sure you aren't going to have trouble getting to work on time.
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Old 02-10-14, 04:44 PM   #19
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Link from Society for Human Resources Management.

"The page you have requested is available only to SHRM members."
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Old 02-10-14, 04:55 PM   #20
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"The page you have requested is available only to SHRM members."
Totally forgout about the single signon. Paraphrase: Asking about car ownership when not related to job description may be viewed as an attempt to gain information about the persons financial status or other protected status.

I'm sure if you do a search on it you will find other sites. My point was basically to say it shouldn't be asked. I acknowledge your point that it can be asked, regardless of HR best practice.

Article title and first line:
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHRM
Can a Recruiter Ask a Job Candidate, "Do You Own a Car?"
In most cases, no. That’s because the question of whether an individual owns a car is irrelevant, unless the position requires employees to use their personal vehicle to travel between worksites, or other locations, as a primary job duty...

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Old 02-10-14, 05:00 PM   #21
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Have you commuted to your current job by bike before? If not, now would be a good time and you can use the auto accident as the "excuse" should your boss ask.
Oh yeah!!!! Lie to your boss at every opportunity! If that doesn't get you fired... at least it should help you avoid the promotions everyone hates.

If you can post thoughts and desires to people on an Internet forum... those same topics should also be acceptable to employers, fellow employees, friends and family. This might be a good time however to try out bicycle commuting. Having the bosses blessing could also be a plus.

Many employers lose more employees due to a lack of reliable transportation than any other reason. That doesn't reflect poorly on bicycle commuting in any way. But many employers automatically think.... nice late model car = reliable transportation/employee.
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Old 02-10-14, 05:28 PM   #22
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And to me, a lack of reliable transportation could very well be a car that overheats on the way to work, or has a tire blow out, or is in an accident, etc.

By the way, I have made it to work. I rode my cruiser, and I am an hour and a half early, so I'm hanging out at the coffee shop nearby.
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Old 02-10-14, 05:30 PM   #23
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Oh yeah!!!! Lie to your boss at every opportunity! If that doesn't get you fired... at least it should help you avoid the promotions everyone hates.
I don't think that's anymore a lie than saying "good morning!" when you're actually having a really crappy day and wish everyone around you would just drop dead. In this case there really was a car accident, and by presenting that as the logical justification for choosing to ride the OP can avoid the potential disagreements with the boss about the utility of bicycles and the vulnerability of women.
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Old 02-10-14, 05:45 PM   #24
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Totally forgout about the single signon. Paraphrase: Asking about car ownership when not related to job description may be viewed as an attempt to gain information about the persons financial status or other protected status.

I'm sure if you do a search on it you will find other sites. My point was basically to say it shouldn't be asked. I acknowledge your point that it can be asked, regardless of HR best practice.

Article title and first line:
I certainly agree that it shouldn't be asked. But according to dozens of people on this forum, it often is asked.
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Old 02-10-14, 05:51 PM   #25
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And to me, a lack of reliable transportation could very well be a car that overheats on the way to work, or has a tire blow out, or is in an accident, etc.

By the way, I have made it to work. I rode my cruiser, and I am an hour and a half early, so I'm hanging out at the coffee shop nearby.
Good job! I hope you enjoy bike commuting as much as I and many others have. It won't be too long before you get the timing worked out so you don't have to leave so early.
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