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  1. #1
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    A pedal-powered weekend

    I am not ready to go car-free anytime soon. I was so close a couple of years ago, but then the universe conspired against me. Now I am paying off my 2 year old car, and I switched jobs to one that hits all my hot buttons besides location, which gives me 45 minute driving commute each way (it is ~90 minutes via transit or transit + biking).

    So I am trying to take a break from my car on the weekends. To be honest, I get sick of dealing with the congestion, and it is nice to have the mental break! Most of the stuff I do errand and entertainment-wise is in about a 5 mile radius, and the vast majority is less than 3 miles away (albeit a somewhat hilly for me in the last 1/2 miles or so on the way home). Prior to getting my bike, I'd swap occasional car trips for transit or walking, but the bus service to the places I go most wasn't ideal. It was easy to take transit when I need to go to downtown SF. And I don't like paying or searching for parking, so I swapped my downtown Oakland trips for transit to walking during the day as well. But transit to the nearby neighborhoods and commercial districts wasn't very convenient due to frequency or stop location.

    But over the past few months a few key things have changed. One my closest train station is undergoing construction, to build a new parking garage and also add housing and retail on the site. This means they took away about 2/3-3/4 of the parking spaces. They also striped a sharrow on my street, and a bike lane/sharrow on the more direct route to downtown. And another sharrow on the way to the train station with new bike lanes in between as well.

    Since I got my bike, I have been trying to figure out the right "accessories" to swap more of my driving trips, without having to make sacrifices in process or clothing choice! It makes a huge difference in connecting me to all the nearby neighborhoods, without waiting for the infrequent buses.

    This weekend was a milestone. I was 90% car-free all weekend! I racked up 35+ miles going to the movies, the library, the pharmacy, the brewery and all sorts of other errands and activities. I did give in and take my car when I was exhausted and had to stop at the store. But I think 3 days of pedal power is pretty good. And here is to more pedal-powered weekends.

    How have you transitioned into using your car less? What trips have you converted?

  2. #2
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    I think the best way to transition is to establish goals that result in using your car less. Then figure out action plans that will accomplish your goals. I would do this on paper (or use a work flow app) and set up specific target dates.

    Every little bit helps, but you won't really be carlight as long as you are spending 90 minutes a day in your car commuting. Maybe you will want to doo something about that eventually?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    I think the best way to transition is to establish goals that result in using your car less. Then figure out action plans that will accomplish your goals. I would do this on paper (or use a work flow app) and set up specific target dates.

    Every little bit helps, but you won't really be carlight as long as you are spending 90 minutes a day in your car commuting. Maybe you will want to doo something about that eventually?
    The 5 years before I started this I worked from home or took transit to work daily. I work from home about once a week, and I am thinking about working on biking to work one day a week too. But going completely car-free doesn't work now. Moving isn't a good idea either. My office location is less transit and bike friendly than where I currently live. Frankly, in most of the city biking is pretty scary. The route to work is on a quiet street, but any other errands would be on dangerous major thoroughfares. There are few people on bikes and most ride on the sidewalk. There also isn't car-share, and my rent would more than double. So there wouldn't be any net savings at all (besides the social networks I have where I live now.)

    At this moment a job switch isn't in the cards. I am approaching the car problem from the other angle: the infrastructure side. I am volunteering at a non-profit that works on improving transit and creating walkable communities.

    From my perspective, changing work locations is the most difficult part. But we can build communities where driving isn't required for the other trips. As they say, I believe half of all car trips are less than 3 miles. Converting each of those would do wonders, from a health and planet perspective. 3-5 days a week of driving is better than 7.

  4. #4
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
    How have you transitioned into using your car less? What trips have you converted?
    Most of my life I've been able to transport myself to school or work by walking, cycling or by public transportation.

    Even now, I take the bus to work.

    And as for the weekends, many of them have been car-free. We cycle a lot.

  5. #5
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
    The 5 years before I started this I worked from home or took transit to work daily. I work from home about once a week, and I am thinking about working on biking to work one day a week too. But going completely car-free doesn't work now. Moving isn't a good idea either. My office location is less transit and bike friendly than where I currently live. Frankly, in most of the city biking is pretty scary. The route to work is on a quiet street, but any other errands would be on dangerous major thoroughfares. There are few people on bikes and most ride on the sidewalk. There also isn't car-share, and my rent would more than double. So there wouldn't be any net savings at all (besides the social networks I have where I live now.)

    At this moment a job switch isn't in the cards. I am approaching the car problem from the other angle: the infrastructure side. I am volunteering at a non-profit that works on improving transit and creating walkable communities.

    From my perspective, changing work locations is the most difficult part. But we can build communities where driving isn't required for the other trips. As they say, I believe half of all car trips are less than 3 miles. Converting each of those would do wonders, from a health and planet perspective. 3-5 days a week of driving is better than 7.
    There was a major study of transit in several American cities. In all of the cities, transit coverage for residences was pretty good. But coverage for places of employment was much worse. In other words, you can't get to work on the bus, but you can get home.

    Evidently, coverage quality of local transit companies is evaluated based on coverage of peoples' homes exclusively. My area, for example, has bus stops within two blocks of more than 90% of residential units, which is pretty good. But data on coverage for work sites isn't even gathered.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    There was a major study of transit in several American cities. In all of the cities, transit coverage for residences was pretty good. But coverage for places of employment was much worse. In other words, you can't get to work on the bus, but you can get home.

    Evidently, coverage quality of local transit companies is evaluated based on coverage of peoples' homes exclusively. My area, for example, has bus stops within two blocks of more than 90% of residential units, which is pretty good. But data on coverage for work sites isn't even gathered.
    When I started my job, I didn't have a bike. But I knew there would be traffic issues, so I investigated taking transit. Well to take transit the whole way would mean three agencies, at a cost of about $10-11 each way. So I said, um, no thanks. That is way too expensive and too risky. I had two options for the last 4 miles: a train that ran erratically plus a 10 minute walk or a 30 minute bus ride on a bus with 15 minute headways that stops in front of my building. One of my coworkers (who doesn't have a car) lives in a different location, but a similar distance. She carpools if she is lucky or takes transit. Between the 45 minute bus ride she needs to get to the train, and a train that runs once an our after about 9:20a, she often works from home because she missed the train, or ends up being pretty late. That was way too unpredictable. (The bike commute is actually predictable for me, I can bike to my train, the train is at 15 minute or less frequencies, with a predictable 30 minute bike ride to the office.)

    But at least my location does have OK transit if you are originating at the right point. 3 jobs ago I worked somewhere transit impossible. And realized I really hate working in office park land.

    Here in the Bay Area, most job centers are less than 3 miles from the train of some form, but last mile transit is iffy.

  7. #7
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    It's sad, but I'm not sure I can reduce my car usage. I've been giving it thought, but I don't see many ways available to me to use the car less.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
    It's sad, but I'm not sure I can reduce my car usage. I've been giving it thought, but I don't see many ways available to me to use the car less.
    Perfection is one thing, practicality another. I wouldn't beat myself up if I needed to use a car occasionally. I might be pissed if I had one sitting in the driveway doing little or nothing though....

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
    I am not ready to go car-free anytime soon. I was so close a couple of years ago, but then the universe conspired against me. Now I am paying off my 2 year old car, and I switched jobs to one that hits all my hot buttons besides location, which gives me 45 minute driving commute each way (it is ~90 minutes via transit or transit + biking).

    So I am trying to take a break from my car on the weekends. To be honest, I get sick of dealing with the congestion, and it is nice to have the mental break! Most of the stuff I do errand and entertainment-wise is in about a 5 mile radius, and the vast majority is less than 3 miles away (albeit a somewhat hilly for me in the last 1/2 miles or so on the way home). Prior to getting my bike, I'd swap occasional car trips for transit or walking, but the bus service to the places I go most wasn't ideal. It was easy to take transit when I need to go to downtown SF. And I don't like paying or searching for parking, so I swapped my downtown Oakland trips for transit to walking during the day as well. But transit to the nearby neighborhoods and commercial districts wasn't very convenient due to frequency or stop location.

    But over the past few months a few key things have changed. One my closest train station is undergoing construction, to build a new parking garage and also add housing and retail on the site. This means they took away about 2/3-3/4 of the parking spaces. They also striped a sharrow on my street, and a bike lane/sharrow on the more direct route to downtown. And another sharrow on the way to the train station with new bike lanes in between as well.

    Since I got my bike, I have been trying to figure out the right "accessories" to swap more of my driving trips, without having to make sacrifices in process or clothing choice! It makes a huge difference in connecting me to all the nearby neighborhoods, without waiting for the infrequent buses.

    This weekend was a milestone. I was 90% car-free all weekend! I racked up 35+ miles going to the movies, the library, the pharmacy, the brewery and all sorts of other errands and activities. I did give in and take my car when I was exhausted and had to stop at the store. But I think 3 days of pedal power is pretty good. And here is to more pedal-powered weekends.

    How have you transitioned into using your car less? What trips have you converted?
    My situation is probably different -my job is not very far away- but I just went cold turkey. One day I was driving almost everywhere I went. The next day. a guy picked up my car that I sold, and I was suddenly car-free. It took me about a day to figure out that the car hadn't actually been necessary at all. I've bought a couple of cars since then, but they don't last very long. Right now, virtually all of my trips are by bike or transit. I like not having a car: it's more convenient, more financially sensible, and does wonders for your peace of mind. I'm not saying I never drive a car; I do drive once or twice every few months via a car-sharing service. I just don't think you need to actually own one.
    Last edited by bragi; 05-27-14 at 10:48 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
    It's sad, but I'm not sure I can reduce my car usage. I've been giving it thought, but I don't see many ways available to me to use the car less.
    Try it for short trips. Let's say everything within 3 miles. That is easily bikeable or walkable if you have lots of time and not much to carry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post
    My situation is probably different -my job is not very far away- but I just went cold turkey. One day I was driving almost everywhere I went. The next day. a guy picked up my car that I sold, and I was suddenly car-free. It took me about a day to figure out that the car hadn't actually been necessary at all. I've bought a couple of cars since then, but they don't last very long. Right now, virtually all of my trips are by bike or transit. I like not having a car: it's more convenient, more financially sensible, and does wonders for your peace of mind. I'm not saying I never drive a car; I do drive once or twice every few months via a car-sharing service. I just don't think you need to actually own one.
    my sister doesn't even have a license so my parents worry a bit about one of us (read this as me) not having a private car now that thy are in their 60s and live 90 miles away from us. When I was closer to going car free and I mentioned it to my dad and he had a cow!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    I think the best way to transition is to establish goals that result in using your car less. Then figure out action plans that will accomplish your goals. I would do this on paper (or use a work flow app) and set up specific target dates.

    Every little bit helps, but you won't really be carlight as long as you are spending 90 minutes a day in your car commuting. Maybe you will want to doo something about that eventually?
    That's still 22-1/2 hours a working day not driving a car. Or almost 94% of the time,

    Or 95.5% of a full week when he is not driving the car.

    That's car light if you have the perspective to see it that way.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  13. #13
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    I've been lucky enough to be car-lite for most of my adult life, thanks to owning unreliable automobiles and working at places that have spotty and/or expensive parking. I used to walk and take transit more, until I discovered that biking part of the trip or the whole thing was much faster (particularly when I had a 35 mile one-way commute.) Once I got in the habit of biking all the time, it made more sense to bike to errands and social events rather than drive.

    Eventually, I hit sort of a limbo stage where I was driving only a few times a month - for "adult errands" like big grocery shopping and home improvement supplies - and it didn't make sense to keep the car any longer. With the money I got from selling the car (not very much), I was able to get a cargo trailer and a better bike for hauling heavy things.

    Quote Originally Posted by jade408 View Post

    Since I got my bike, I have been trying to figure out the right "accessories" to swap more of my driving trips, without having to make sacrifices in process or clothing choice! It makes a huge difference in connecting me to all the nearby neighborhoods, without waiting for the infrequent buses.
    I'm a big fan of everyday cycling in normal clothes! The exceptions are in potentially dangerous weather, such as cold rain and temperatures below 20F or so. Over the years, my wardrobe has evolved to be more bike-friendly - no more long skirts or baggy pants. I also check Google Street and look at accident statistics before trying new routes, just to get ideas about which routes are going to be safest.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wipekitty View Post
    I've been lucky enough to be car-lite for most of my adult life, thanks to owning unreliable automobiles and working at places that have spotty and/or expensive parking. I used to walk and take transit more, until I discovered that biking part of the trip or the whole thing was much faster (particularly when I had a 35 mile one-way commute.) Once I got in the habit of biking all the time, it made more sense to bike to errands and social events rather than drive.

    Eventually, I hit sort of a limbo stage where I was driving only a few times a month - for "adult errands" like big grocery shopping and home improvement supplies - and it didn't make sense to keep the car any longer. With the money I got from selling the car (not very much), I was able to get a cargo trailer and a better bike for hauling heavy things.



    I'm a big fan of everyday cycling in normal clothes! The exceptions are in potentially dangerous weather, such as cold rain and temperatures below 20F or so. Over the years, my wardrobe has evolved to be more bike-friendly - no more long skirts or baggy pants. I also check Google Street and look at accident statistics before trying new routes, just to get ideas about which routes are going to be safest.
    This is the first time I have seen someone consider accident statistics as part of their route reconnoitres (it doesn't mean to say there haven't been others, just the first time I have seen it).

    Interesting, although there has to be recognition that there is considerable under-reporting when it comes to accidents that don't involve injury.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
    It's sad, but I'm not sure I can reduce my car usage. I've been giving it thought, but I don't see many ways available to me to use the car less.
    Well, there are negative numbers.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    That's still 22-1/2 hours a working day not driving a car. Or almost 94% of the time,

    Or 95.5% of a full week when he is not driving the car.

    That's car light if you have the perspective to see it that way.
    Yes, but if she's driving 90 minutes a day she's probably well over the US median for miles driven. I respect and admire that she's sincerely trying to drive as little as she thinks she can. But there's really no honest way that she can be described as carlight.


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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    This is the first time I have seen someone consider accident statistics as part of their route reconnoitres (it doesn't mean to say there haven't been others, just the first time I have seen it).

    Interesting, although there has to be recognition that there is considerable under-reporting when it comes to accidents that don't involve injury.
    Why would somebody be concerned about accidents that don't cause injury?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Why would somebody be concerned about accidents that don't cause injury?
    Because it may well involve property damage (damaged bike, car), sheer luck that the rider wasn't killed, and when I say "don't involve injury", I mean the ones that don't involve medical intervention by ambulance -- injuries that aren't reported and make it on to the statistics list.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  19. #19
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
    Try it for short trips. Let's say everything within 3 miles. That is easily bikeable or walkable if you have lots of time and not much to carry.

    Ummmm ....

    There's a reason Artkansas can't reduce his car usage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Yes, but if she's driving 90 minutes a day she's probably well over the US median for miles driven. I respect and admire that she's sincerely trying to drive as little as she thinks she can. But there's really no honest way that she can be described as carlight.
    There are many people who spend 45 minutes driving one way to work and cover just 10 miles... if that.

    Plus, jade is trying not to use a vehicle at weekends, when the time and distances involved can really pile up.

    I thought you were supposed to be in the business of encouraging people. To read what you have posted, I wouldn't blame jade for being put off from her idea that she was car-lighter.
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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    There are many people who spend 45 minutes driving one way to work and cover just 10 miles... if that.

    Plus, jade is trying not to use a vehicle at weekends, when the time and distances involved can really pile up.

    I thought you were supposed to be in the business of encouraging people. To read what you have posted, I wouldn't blame jade for being put off from her idea that she was car-lighter.
    I'm certainly not trying to discourage her, and I said that I admire her efforts. But words do have some meaning; they can't just be twisted anyway you like. If you want to coin a new word like "car-lighter" I'm up for it!

    As for hypothetical people who drive 45 minutes to go 10 miles, and voluntarily do it ten times a week...as a psychologist I couldn't recommend such self-inflicted mental torture!


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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    There are many people who spend 45 minutes driving one way to work and cover just 10 miles... if that.

    Plus, jade is trying not to use a vehicle at weekends, when the time and distances involved can really pile up.

    I thought you were supposed to be in the business of encouraging people. To read what you have posted, I wouldn't blame jade for being put off from her idea that she was car-lighter.
    I plan my car use on a trip by trip basis. I try not to drive if my trip is less than 4 miles or I am headed to San Francisco. Half or more of the Bay Area is suburban, and not particularly transit friendly. The trip takes forever or the transit runs infrequently. That is a structural problem, not a choice problem. It would be great to choose transit for more types of trips, but it isn't particularly practical.

    My definition for car-light(er) is choosing not to drive for trips. Many people use a car for every trip. I've been on a pretty concerted mission not to do that over the past few years.

    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    I'm certainly not trying to discourage her, and I said that I admire her efforts. But words do have some meaning; they can't just be twisted anyway you like. If you want to coin a new word like "car-lighter" I'm up for it!

    As for hypothetical people who drive 45 minutes to go 10 miles, and voluntarily do it ten times a week...as a psychologist I couldn't recommend such self-inflicted mental torture!
    I didn't use the work "car-light." I picked "car-free weekend." Which is the current best goal based on my current job situation, although I'll likely add an additional car-free day during the week as well..

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
    I didn't use the work "car-light." I picked "car-free weekend." Which is the current best goal based on my current job situation, although likely add an additional car-free day during the week as well..
    I know. It was somebody else who said you were carlight. Keep up the good work! I hope someday the circumstances change and you really can be carlight or carfree.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    This is the first time I have seen someone consider accident statistics as part of their route reconnoitres (it doesn't mean to say there haven't been others, just the first time I have seen it).

    Interesting, although there has to be recognition that there is considerable under-reporting when it comes to accidents that don't involve injury.
    I lived for a couple of years in an area with insanely high rates of pedestrian fatalities (and quite a few other road incidents as well.) After repeatedly reading news reports of fatal crashes at an intersection that I crossed every day on my way to work, I decided that I should look for a safer route. I'm kind of fascinated by crime maps and things like that, anyway.

    Under reporting is certainly a problem: I once had a police officer refuse to locate a guy who hit me with his car, parked, and went into his apartment building. A report and a ticket for this gentleman would have been nice, but without an injury, the police officers suggested I was wasting their time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    This is the first time I have seen someone consider accident statistics as part of their route reconnoitres (it doesn't mean to say there haven't been others, just the first time I have seen it).

    Interesting, although there has to be recognition that there is considerable under-reporting when it comes to accidents that don't involve injury.
    I had not thought about accident stats, I do check traffic volumes on some roads, and look for alternates. Sometimes it will be obvious, like a large office park emptying out at the same time each day, just avoid those times and you will be golden.

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    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

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