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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 04-07-14, 08:11 PM   #1
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Your maximum car-free zone

A while ago (when I had a car) I read somewhere that the average Medieval citizen rarely moved outside their small village. I imagined that was a stultifying existence.

However, in the years since I've abandoned the automobile, I realize I rarely travel anywhere beyond 5 miles from my house.

Some may see this as a serious impediment for a modern lifestyle. I personally see it as a limitation, but not necessarily a serious limitation. The only thing I imagine myself doing beyond 5 miles is visiting a distant Trader Joe's to pick up some neat food at a reasonable price. Despite that, I've been able to eat well without ever having visited Trader Joe's.

There is also a cinema about 6 miles from my house that I sometimes miss, but not a lot.

What about you? Do you have a fixed car-free zone? How the hell do you survive?
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Old 04-07-14, 08:45 PM   #2
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6 Miles is exactly, my car free zone. Any more and I jump into my car and just drive... OK, maybe 3 miles if it looks like rain...
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Old 04-07-14, 10:57 PM   #3
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7 or 8 miles seems about right. On a daily basis, I rarely go more than a few miles from my house, but the chain stores are 7-8 miles away. I find myself going there more now without a car than when I had one - it was a pain to drive, but the bike route is very pleasant.

During an earlier car-free time, I worked 35 miles from my house. There was a bus three miles away that went there, though, so I just took the bus most of the time.
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Old 04-07-14, 11:40 PM   #4
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No limits. I'm very committed to the car-free life-style.
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Old 04-08-14, 12:54 AM   #5
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I guess I don't really have a fixed zone, though I am limited and often frustrated by the dearth of reasonable transportation options to reach a lot of places I'd like to go. For example, I once went to hear a Tibetan Buddhist teacher speak. Unfortunately the auditorium was not so easy to get to -- to cover the 50 miles or so required 2 trains and 3 bike segments, and it took me 3 hours. I also love hiking and backpacking, and most of the time my only option for getting to the trailhead is to carpool with a friend, although I have gone on a 3-day trip where I took a bus to the start point. There are a few places one can do that.

Just for ordinary day to day stuff though, the radius is pretty small. Most things I do on a frequent basis are within 3 or 4 miles of home. Some things that I go to are farther away, 10-20 miles, but I don't go to those places as often.
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Old 04-08-14, 01:32 AM   #6
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I guess my bike zone could be as small as 5 or 6 miles and I could do everything I absolutely have to do. But I enjoy riding places that are farther away. Until last year my good friends lived 16 miles out in the country and I rode to visit them every month or so. Sometimes on a long summer day I will ride 60 or 70 miles a day.
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Old 04-08-14, 01:59 AM   #7
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I'm primarily a pedestrian now and my 'zone' is 3 miles (or whatever can be covered in an hour or less). I may knock my 'burb because of the distance my wife has to travel to work (~52 miles r/t) and moan about the lack of public transit and groan about the inconsistent sidewalks, but 90% of what I need to survive is within walking distance.
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Old 04-08-14, 02:19 AM   #8
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I just noticed this is about your maximum carfree zone, not your bike zone. I take the bus to a Meijer superstore 12 miles from my house. Three other Meijer stores are closer, but I go to the one that's easiest to get to on the bus. Even by bike, I don't go to the closest Meijer because it's located on the only stroad that I detest riding on.


I used to visit my parents by bus every month. They lived 200 miles away, so I guess that was my carfree zone at the time.


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I guess my bike zone could be as small as 5 or 6 miles and I could do everything I absolutely have to do. But I enjoy riding places that are farther away. Until last year my good friends lived 16 miles out in the country and I rode to visit them every month or so. Sometimes on a long summer day I will ride 60 or 70 miles a day.
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Old 04-08-14, 04:38 AM   #9
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No such zone exists for me, really, as I can always get where I want to go by bike, bus or train.
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Old 04-08-14, 04:46 AM   #10
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When I was living car free it was about a 12 mile radius... I was born a ramblin man

I think it would depend on the locale, availability of public transit, and available time. When we are in Boston it is basically where the transit goes and what we want to see.

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Old 04-08-14, 05:09 AM   #11
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No such zone exists for me, really, as I can always get where I want to go by bike, bus or train.
Unfortunately, I have to agree that this is true. You are bounded only by your imagination in how to get around. Even if it includes an aircraft to get you to the other side of the world.

We've spent several extended periods in Europe with just our bikes, and using trains and ferries (although I used a taxi once) to get between more distant locations.
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Old 04-08-14, 05:09 AM   #12
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When I was car-free in Winnipeg, Manitoba, I cycled all over the place within about a 200 km radius, and used other transportation to go further.

Work was 6.7 km away.
Shopping was anywhere from 1 to about 6 km away, although I'd travel all over town by bus sometimes looking for something.
Library and church about 3 km away.
Doctor was about 4 km away.
Chiropractor was about 15 km away.
College was about 15 km away.

My short evening cycling route was 20 km round trip.
My long evening cycling route was 80 km round trip.
And of course, everything in between.

My weekend cycling trips were as much as 200 km from Winnipeg in various directions.


But then my long weekends, holidays, etc. took me even further away ... Alberta, Saskatchewan, BC, Europe, Australia.


I can't imagine limiting myself to a 5 mile radius ... might as well be in prison. I can't go a month without wanting to go somewhere! And I can't imagine living in one place for the rest of my life. My inner nomad would go crazy!!
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Old 04-08-14, 07:50 PM   #13
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I guess my bike zone could be as small as 5 or 6 miles and I could do everything I absolutely have to do. But I enjoy riding places that are farther away. Until last year my good friends lived 16 miles out in the country and I rode to visit them every month or so. Sometimes on a long summer day I will ride 60 or 70 miles a day.
Fair enough. I guess I go on long rides when the weather is good.

I do catch flight to Canada once a year too

However about 90% of my life is in my zone. Everything I need to live is there.

For a car centric person, that zone is greatly expanded. However, not sure the expanded zone buys that much.
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Old 04-08-14, 08:30 PM   #14
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Fair enough. I guess I go on long rides when the weather is good.

I do catch flight to Canada once a year too

However about 90% of my life is in my zone. Everything I need to live is there.

For a car centric person, that zone is greatly expanded. However, not sure the expanded zone buys that much.
Why does an expanded zone have to be about buying things? For me, it's about the experience ... seeing things, doing things, enjoying things.

One of the things I enjoyed on weekends in the summer in Manitoba was cycling out to surrounding lakes, anywhere from about 50 km to 100 km away. I'd cycle out to the lake of my choice, go swimming, relax on the beach a bit and read a book, and then cycle home. A marvelous way to spend a hot Saturday or Sunday.

If I limited myself to 8 km (5 miles), I wouldn't have enjoyed those, and other, experiences. Life would have been pretty boring.

You mentioned missing the cinema 6 miles away because you've imposed this 5 mile restriction on yourself. Why not break free and go to the cinema? If you can cycle 5 miles, you can cycle 6. Or is there a bus that will take you all or part of that distance? Just because you're car free doesn't mean you can't enjoy life.
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Old 04-08-14, 10:26 PM   #15
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1.5 miles is about what I'll walk to get somewhere. 10 miles one-way is about my limit on my city bike. Any farther than that, and I load up my road bike. (my parents' place is 16 miles away out in the country.) Any farther than that and I take a bus, train, plane, boat, or rent a car/carpool.
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Old 04-09-14, 05:48 PM   #16
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It's 13 miles to the nearest supermarket, so my fixed car-free zone is around 14 miles in radius. I guess the sensible maximum grocery shopping distance would be about double, but I'm yet to venture into that.
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Old 04-09-14, 06:35 PM   #17
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A while ago (when I had a car) I read somewhere that the average Medieval citizen rarely moved outside their small village. I imagined that was a stultifying existence.

However, in the years since I've abandoned the automobile, I realize I rarely travel anywhere beyond 5 miles from my house.

Some may see this as a serious impediment for a modern lifestyle. I personally see it as a limitation, but not necessarily a serious limitation. The only thing I imagine myself doing beyond 5 miles is visiting a distant Trader Joe's to pick up some neat food at a reasonable price. Despite that, I've been able to eat well without ever having visited Trader Joe's.

There is also a cinema about 6 miles from my house that I sometimes miss, but not a lot.

What about you? Do you have a fixed car-free zone? How the hell do you survive?
I actually travel alot of miles for someone that's carfree. In fact, I calculated my bus and rail commute is about 460 miles a month. Then there are the weekends which may not add much but I estimate I'm doing about 500 miles a month or about 6,000 miles a year. That's not really nothing compared to what the average motorist is traveling by car.

I live across the street from a supermarket and the main shopping district is only half a block away. Did I mention we have two malls and both can be reached by lightrail. I can spend every dime in my pocket and load up my place with junk but quite frankly, I prefer to keep it simple.

You would think a 500 mile a month commute is alot but if I wanted, it would only cost less than $100.00 dollars a month! However, I have expensive tastes and choose the more costly express bus.

Do I have a car free zone? This is a good question because it would have to be really far for me to rent a car. To be honest, it would have to be a family emergency or wedding that would make me rent a vehicle. There was one time I had to drive to Maryland because my identity was stolen there!

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Old 04-09-14, 07:08 PM   #18
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You mentioned missing the cinema 6 miles away because you've imposed this 5 mile restriction on yourself. Why not break free and go to the cinema? If you can cycle 5 miles, you can cycle 6. Or is there a bus that will take you all or part of that distance? Just because you're car free doesn't mean you can't enjoy life.
It's not a self-imposed 5-mile limit. That's just the way it worked out.

As for the cinema, I don't have any friends currently who are into making the trip. Many of them seem to exist in that same corridor.

Although... I agree... it would be a great idea to make a trip sometime.
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Old 04-09-14, 10:31 PM   #19
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It's not a self-imposed 5-mile limit. That's just the way it worked out.

As for the cinema, I don't have any friends currently who are into making the trip. Many of them seem to exist in that same corridor.

Although... I agree... it would be a great idea to make a trip sometime.
You can travel far or you can travel deep. I've always had fun exploring in my own city. People are often amazed at my knowledge of local geography, culture and history. You could blindfold me and take me anywhere within 20 miles of my house. Once you uncovered my eyes, I would immediately know where I am and how to get home from there.
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Old 04-09-14, 10:50 PM   #20
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Depends. If I have three kindergartens to teach at then my limit is about 15km. If I have less? No need for limits. I can go a long way in two hours. If I don't have any work based limitations then there is no zone. I'll ride 300km or more for the sake of it.
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Old 04-09-14, 11:14 PM   #21
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It's not so much distance as time. I'm a teacher, and when school is in session and I'm putting in 70-hour weeks, I can spend a few months without ever getting more than 10 mi (16 km) from my house-work-pub triangle. If you only have a few hours here and there, it's actually very difficult to get too far from home, especially if your average speed is about 10-15 mph (16-25km/h). Come summer vacation, though, when airplanes come into play, things get a little more spread out...
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Old 04-10-14, 02:13 AM   #22
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You can travel far or you can travel deep.
Or you can do both.
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Old 04-10-14, 05:36 AM   #23
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Ya, I've always measured it in time rather than miles. Before retirement I often worked 10+ hours a day 6 days a week. This, and being the dad of 2 kids, put a severe limit on my time back then (Sunday was the only open day for me).

Now that I'm semi-retired I have "all day" to walk, hike, and ride. However, this time is now limited by minor foot problems.
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Old 04-10-14, 05:51 AM   #24
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Or you can do both.
As much as you've traveled, they could probably put you down anywhere in the world and you would recognize your location. I traveled a lot when I was young, then settled down for career and family. As retirement nears, I will pick up on traveling again.
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Old 04-10-14, 05:51 AM   #25
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A while ago (when I had a car) I read somewhere that the average Medieval citizen rarely moved outside their small village. I imagined that was a stultifying existence.

However, in the years since I've abandoned the automobile, I realize I rarely travel anywhere beyond 5 miles from my house.

Some may see this as a serious impediment for a modern lifestyle. I personally see it as a limitation, but not necessarily a serious limitation. The only thing I imagine myself doing beyond 5 miles is visiting a distant Trader Joe's to pick up some neat food at a reasonable price. Despite that, I've been able to eat well without ever having visited Trader Joe's.

There is also a cinema about 6 miles from my house that I sometimes miss, but not a lot.

What about you? Do you have a fixed car-free zone? How the hell do you survive?
Anything within 2-3 miles of home is walking distance (very seldom the bus, but I hate the bus). I'll only take the car a short distance if it's nasty outside, if I'm going somewhere off the bus route, or carrying something heavy.

If I'm travelling by myself then cycling distance is theoretically anything, again unless I'm carrying something that doesn't lend itself to a bike. I used to visit a computer shop (now closed down) that was 35 miles from home. They were surprised to see me turn up on a bike the first time especially when they realised how far I'd come. Then they got used to the daft guy on a bike. The day I cycled there and back to pick up a USB stick that qualified for free shipping did puzzle them, but as I said the free shipping didn't get me any exercise.

For long distances the car provides speed and convenience. In town over short distances the car is more of a liability, what with traffic and parking.
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