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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 05-30-14, 06:47 PM   #1
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Another car-free article during bike to work month

Although the article is mostly about car-sharing services, it's still worth reading, and totally vindicates the bike-centered car-free choice many of us have made:

Carless in Seattle: How it feels to ditch it and get there other ways | Pacific NW | The Seattle Times
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Old 05-30-14, 08:28 PM   #2
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Wow. Long but comprehensive and a good read!
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Old 05-30-14, 08:52 PM   #3
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Although the article is mostly about car-sharing services, it's still worth reading, and totally vindicates the bike-centered car-free choice many of us have made:
Do you really think you need vindication for such a choice? Why?
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Old 05-31-14, 01:18 AM   #4
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Overall I liked the article, but not what was said about bikes:

"Biking, too, is on a healthy rise, though not all of us have the stamina for hills, rain and traffic — much less the ability to pawn off kid pickup or grocery shopping on someone else."

This is very different from the carfree biking experiences reported by most people on this forum!
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Old 05-31-14, 04:31 PM   #5
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Overall I liked the article, but not what was said about bikes:

"Biking, too, is on a healthy rise, though not all of us have the stamina for hills, rain and traffic much less the ability to pawn off kid pickup or grocery shopping on someone else."

This is very different from the carfree biking experiences reported by most people on this forum!
You'll notice that the author of the article was the "car driver" in the race, so we can expect that she was just saying what many drivers think. What can you expect?
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Old 05-31-14, 11:18 PM   #6
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You'll notice that the author of the article was the "car driver" in the race, so we can expect that she was just saying what many drivers think. What can you expect?
Did you think the race was hokey?
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Old 06-01-14, 11:49 AM   #7
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Did you think the race was hokey?
Yeah, the race was pretty silly, but I have to admit I've had similar impromptu races myself. In most of them, if you race door-to-door, the bike will beat the car, but that's usually because the driver has trouble finding a parking spot.

I thought one of the most interesting, and almost totally ignored, aspects of the "race" in the article was the cost. The other modes of transportation were way more expensive than bicycling, even if you accept the author's estimate of $1.75 for a 5-mile bike ride, which I think is very excessive.
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Old 06-01-14, 12:07 PM   #8
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Overall I liked the article, but not what was said about bikes:

"Biking, too, is on a healthy rise, though not all of us have the stamina for hills, rain and traffic much less the ability to pawn off kid pickup or grocery shopping on someone else."

This is very different from the carfree biking experiences reported by most people on this forum!
It's just one of the excuses people use, as if it's not possible to use your car for that and the bike for everything else
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Old 06-01-14, 03:49 PM   #9
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It's just one of the excuses people use, as if it's not possible to use your car for that and the bike for everything else
Actually, a lot of people do kid pickup and grocery shopping exclusively with their bikes. I know that sometimes seems like a radical idea, even on this carfree forum...
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Old 06-01-14, 04:56 PM   #10
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Actually, a lot of people do kid pickup and grocery shopping exclusively with their bikes. I know that sometimes seems like a radical idea, even on this carfree forum...
Ive been doing more grocery shopping in my bike lately. Day care/kid pick-up can be tricky depending on your situation. But the challenge is,even here on the forum, the people doing the most bike riding have fewer household duties and trip chaining.
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Old 06-01-14, 05:58 PM   #11
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Actually, a lot of people do kid pickup and grocery shopping exclusively with their bikes. I know that sometimes seems like a radical idea, even on this carfree forum...
True, and I've done it both ways. So it's doubly just and excuse people tend to use when they want to explain why they can't bike.
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Old 06-01-14, 06:45 PM   #12
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Ive been doing more grocery shopping in my bike lately. Day care/kid pick-up can be tricky depending on your situation. But the challenge is,even here on the forum, the people doing the most bike riding have fewer household duties and trip chaining.
I'm not sure what you mean. It seems like the goal for many carfree cyclists is to do less bike riding. We try to live close to our main destinations and plan our trips efficiently to reduce the amount of cycling we do.
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Old 06-01-14, 08:48 PM   #13
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I'm not sure what you mean. It seems like the goal for many carfree cyclists is to do less bike riding. We try to live close to our main destinations and plan our trips efficiently to reduce the amount of cycling we do.
It is not about the distance, it is about the things you need to do. Head over to the commuter forum, the average commuter is male and never had to stop for groceries, day care or the pharmacy on the way home. So they can take a scenic route or go straight home.

Now let's pretend you have to go to the pharmacy, library and the grocery store during the same trip. And they are all on the same block. Well you still have to carry the other stuff with you on each stop. For the case of a car driver, they can throw it all in their trunk, where it can rest securely. When you are in a bike, this means you've gotta carry it all with you, or assume it is safe on your bike. It may not be particularly continent or practical.

This of course makes a wild assumption that all of your errands are in the same vicinity, which isn't possible in all neighborhoods.

It it is fairly easy, with a bit of equipment, to do a single trip on your bike. Trip chaining is tougher, in terms of logistics.
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Old 06-01-14, 10:15 PM   #14
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It is not about the distance, it is about the things you need to do. Head over to the commuter forum, the average commuter is male and never had to stop for groceries, day care or the pharmacy on the way home. So they can take a scenic route or go straight home.

Now let's pretend you have to go to the pharmacy, library and the grocery store during the same trip. And they are all on the same block. Well you still have to carry the other stuff with you on each stop. For the case of a car driver, they can throw it all in their trunk, where it can rest securely. When you are in a bike, this means you've gotta carry it all with you, or assume it is safe on your bike. It may not be particularly continent or practical.

This of course makes a wild assumption that all of your errands are in the same vicinity, which isn't possible in all neighborhoods.

It it is fairly easy, with a bit of equipment, to do a single trip on your bike. Trip chaining is tougher, in terms of logistics.
Well, this is not the commuter forum. We're not all dudes who ride our performance bikes straight home from work and then hop in the Beemer to go to Kroger's. We have two genders here, and we have all learned (or will learn, in the case of novice transportation riders) how to do our daily errands on bikes.

One thing I like about a backpack is that I can take my stuff into the store or library with me. A messenger bag and detachable panniers also allow you to carry in your stuff. A basket, not so much.

I wouldn't leave shiny trinkets or valuable things outside on my bike while I went into a shop or whatever. But probably nobody will steal my pancake syrup or dish soap if i leave it on the bike. I've never had a problem with people taking non-valuables, and I have always lived and shopped in some pretty rough neighborhoods.

So what I do is chain my errands together. While riding home from work, I stop first at the credit union to get some cash. Then I go to the library to get a couple books and DVDs. These go in the backpack because they might attract thieves while I stop at Kroger's. The groceries are divided between the backpack and the basket or panniers. I know my groceries will be safe on the bike when I make my last stop at rite-aid to pick up a prescription and some razor blades, which are tucked safely into the backpack's small pocket. BTW, if it's dark I take a second at each stop to slip my lights (shiny trinkets) into my coat pocket or backpack.
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Old 06-01-14, 11:29 PM   #15
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Overall I liked the article, but not what was said about bikes:

"Biking, too, is on a healthy rise, though not all of us have the stamina for hills, rain and traffic — much less the ability to pawn off kid pickup or grocery shopping on someone else."

This is very different from the carfree biking experiences reported by most people on this forum!
Hills and rain may be highly relevant, if not unique, to the Pacific Northwest area. I've been riding around on hills a lot lately in order to train myself, and I'm getting more and more comfortable with them. OTOH, hauling your grocery and/or kids on the bike would be made quite a bit tougher by steep hills. Luckily, the grocery stores I go to are accessible without going through those hills.
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Old 06-01-14, 11:33 PM   #16
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Yeah, the race was pretty silly, but I have to admit I've had similar impromptu races myself. In most of them, if you race door-to-door, the bike will beat the car, but that's usually because the driver has trouble finding a parking spot.

I thought one of the most interesting, and almost totally ignored, aspects of the "race" in the article was the cost. The other modes of transportation were way more expensive than bicycling, even if you accept the author's estimate of $1.75 for a 5-mile bike ride, which I think is very excessive.
A bit off, but I wonder which route the racer on the bike took to go from Ballard to Capitol Hill. I would probably take Burke-Gilman to go to Fremont first, and then Dexter. Would it be faster to take Ballard Bridge and Elliot to go to downtown first?
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Old 06-02-14, 12:41 AM   #17
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Well, this is not the commuter forum. We're not all dudes who ride our performance bikes straight home from work and then hop in the Beemer to go to Kroger's. We have two genders here, and we have all learned (or will learn, in the case of novice transportation riders) how to do our daily errands on bikes.

One thing I like about a backpack is that I can take my stuff into the store or library with me. A messenger bag and detachable panniers also allow you to carry in your stuff. A basket, not so much.

I wouldn't leave shiny trinkets or valuable things outside on my bike while I went into a shop or whatever. But probably nobody will steal my pancake syrup or dish soap if i leave it on the bike. I've never had a problem with people taking non-valuables, and I have always lived and shopped in some pretty rough neighborhoods.

So what I do is chain my errands together. While riding home from work, I stop first at the credit union to get some cash. Then I go to the library to get a couple books and DVDs. These go in the backpack because they might attract thieves while I stop at Kroger's. The groceries are divided between the backpack and the basket or panniers. I know my groceries will be safe on the bike when I make my last stop at rite-aid to pick up a prescription and some razor blades, which are tucked safely into the backpack's small pocket. BTW, if it's dark I take a second at each stop to slip my lights (shiny trinkets) into my coat pocket or backpack.
i dont have have kids or a family, so errands by bike are pretty straightforward for me. I usually only have 1-2 bags of groceries, and plastic bags are banned in grocery stores (places that sell food basically) so I keep a reusable bag or 2 in my purse all the time (and leave them in my car, at work, etc).

But your backpack comments bring up a good point, and I will explain a HUGE hesitation for me that kept me from using a bike for transportation for a while. I did (do) not want to change my personal style to ride a bike. This means that my bike needs to accommodate my normal outfits. My normal accessories (and this means a purse for me), I carry a bag large enough to accommodate most of the stuff I need in the day, including scarfs, sweaters and umbrellas!

I categorically do not carry backpacks or most "sporty" bags, they don't go with my outfits. For some people that sounds totally shallow, but I like my stuff, and all accessories to match my look. I wear skirts and dresses about 70-80% of the time. Rolling up a pant leg or wearing leggings under my clothing isn't appealing to me. I live in a city/neighborhood that has lots of hipster cyclist and Lycra cyclists. And my own personal style is pretty important to me.

Basically, I don't identify with many of these tips on how to live the "bike life," since they weren't like me at all. When I see articles, for example, about commuting to work and bring spare clothing I think ugh. I don't take showers at the gym because I don't want to lug all the toiletries around even with car access.

What inspired me and helped push me over the edge was a serendipitous doctors appointment. The cycle chic book was in the waiting room, and on that day my doctor was way behind schedule. I flipped through the book and say people in normal clothing, carrying random stuff, with their purses and basically people that were more like me. Sure they were mostly tall and blond, and I am the polar opposite, but seeing other women in work clothes, polished outfits, going out clothes and so on gave me "roll models."

But I'm still looking for panniers that match my purse and don't look like they came from REI. You don't want to know about my searches for laptop bags. I sought out a "cute" helmet.

I think for some people, they think the challenges are really minor, because for them they were easy adjustments, but for many of us they aren't.

Right now, i've got an item to return, and it is a bulky item. And too big for my purse, but would easily fit in my basket. I haven't figured out when I am going to return it. I thought I would last weekend, even though I was on my bike, because I was going to be near the store on my way to a BBQ. But I realized I had 3 more stops to make that day, and I didn't want to drag the bulky item with me to the other three errands all morning. And well it might not be attractive to thieves, you never know. So I left it at home, and I ended up going into that store for something else. Now it is sitting by my door waiting for me to drop it off.....

On Saturday I also had so e trips to combine, but it didn't work out as well as I hoped. I had a meeting, and immediately following it a pedicure about 1.5 miles away. Ordinarily, if I get a pedi I just wear sandals. But it was chilly, so I brought some flipflops and I hoped to just wear them on the ride home. The ride home was going to be a new route for me. One I have walked and driven, but not taken my bike in. Well lesson learned, hills + slippery feet + flip flops do not mix. I walked my bike up half of the hills. Taking the bus might have been better, but the bus frequency between the two places is limited and the walk was a little too long. It would have been ideal,for bike share if we had it.

And it is the small challenges like these, that add up, and keep people from going car-free.
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Old 06-02-14, 01:23 AM   #18
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i dont have have kids or a family, so errands by bike are pretty straightforward for me. I usually only have 1-2 bags of groceries, and plastic bags are banned in grocery stores (places that sell food basically) so I keep a reusable bag or 2 in my purse all the time (and leave them in my car, at work, etc).

But your backpack comments bring up a good point, and I will explain a HUGE hesitation for me that kept me from using a bike for transportation for a while. I did (do) not want to change my personal style to ride a bike. This means that my bike needs to accommodate my normal outfits. My normal accessories (and this means a purse for me), I carry a bag large enough to accommodate most of the stuff I need in the day, including scarfs, sweaters and umbrellas!

I categorically do not carry backpacks or most "sporty" bags, they don't go with my outfits. For some people that sounds totally shallow, but I like my stuff, and all accessories to match my look. I wear skirts and dresses about 70-80% of the time. Rolling up a pant leg or wearing leggings under my clothing isn't appealing to me. I live in a city/neighborhood that has lots of hipster cyclist and Lycra cyclists. And my own personal style is pretty important to me.

Basically, I don't identify with many of these tips on how to live the "bike life," since they weren't like me at all. When I see articles, for example, about commuting to work and bring spare clothing I think ugh. I don't take showers at the gym because I don't want to lug all the toiletries around even with car access.

What inspired me and helped push me over the edge was a serendipitous doctors appointment. The cycle chic book was in the waiting room, and on that day my doctor was way behind schedule. I flipped through the book and say people in normal clothing, carrying random stuff, with their purses and basically people that were more like me. Sure they were mostly tall and blond, and I am the polar opposite, but seeing other women in work clothes, polished outfits, going out clothes and so on gave me "roll models."

But I'm still looking for panniers that match my purse and don't look like they came from REI. You don't want to know about my searches for laptop bags. I sought out a "cute" helmet.

I think for some people, they think the challenges are really minor, because for them they were easy adjustments, but for many of us they aren't.

Right now, i've got an item to return, and it is a bulky item. And too big for my purse, but would easily fit in my basket. I haven't figured out when I am going to return it. I thought I would last weekend, even though I was on my bike, because I was going to be near the store on my way to a BBQ. But I realized I had 3 more stops to make that day, and I didn't want to drag the bulky item with me to the other three errands all morning. And well it might not be attractive to thieves, you never know. So I left it at home, and I ended up going into that store for something else. Now it is sitting by my door waiting for me to drop it off.....

On Saturday I also had so e trips to combine, but it didn't work out as well as I hoped. I had a meeting, and immediately following it a pedicure about 1.5 miles away. Ordinarily, if I get a pedi I just wear sandals. But it was chilly, so I brought some flipflops and I hoped to just wear them on the ride home. The ride home was going to be a new route for me. One I have walked and driven, but not taken my bike in. Well lesson learned, hills + slippery feet + flip flops do not mix. I walked my bike up half of the hills. Taking the bus might have been better, but the bus frequency between the two places is limited and the walk was a little too long. It would have been ideal,for bike share if we had it.

And it is the small challenges like these, that add up, and keep people from going car-free.
Sorry, I had forgotten that you don't like backpacks. The sack type panniers will probably suit you better.

Thoreau said, "beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” I think both parts of that quote are worth pondering.

I'm pretty sure that the whole enterprise will get easier for you, if you decide to stick with it. After many years of being carfree, I do these things without a second thought. Sometimes I forget that it can be tricky when you're first starting out.
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Old 06-02-14, 03:49 AM   #19
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I used a backpack and threw it in the basket....

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Old 06-02-14, 03:54 PM   #20
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The only thing I would like to add is regarding activity tolerance, and ignoring it as a barrier to active transportation. I also think that weather conditions are really underrated since a person that is converting from a car to a bike will have to address the weather from a different perspective.

In regards to activity tolerance, and the prevalence of obesity in the united states. A person is not going from 0 activity to a regular use of a bike, or even walking without taking the time to develop unused muscles, and now consider individuals that have a disability. So a persons physical fitness, and stamina have to be considered.

With consideration of weather, the auto is known as a cage for a reason, it protects the user from the elements. Again it is just a tolerance a person has to develop in order to endure the process of change in life style. I did not say any thing, but I noticed that as my wife transitioned to the train from her auto, she really started to carry a lot less stuff around.

The article was nice, but it also reinforced the perception of gender types and transportation use so was also boring.

Thanks for the link
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Old 06-02-14, 09:45 PM   #21
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I live in a moderately hilly section of my city. Most of my destinations have a fairly flat route, but for me the last 2-3 blocks from all destinations require a hill. I have been biking around to take the least steep option. One commercial district nearby has horrible options for both routes. Option a has an escalating incline for a mile. The other path has a moderate incline, but the road narrows over a small over pass, with just enough space for 2 cars side by side. The sidewalk is also very narrow, 2 people could hardly walk by. Obviously, it doesn't have a bike lane, the bike lane appears after the bridge, and then quickly turns to sharrows.

So this basically means going home requires perspiration. Not ideal for work clothing. This can be a big hurdle as well.
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Old 06-02-14, 09:57 PM   #22
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I live in a moderately hilly section of my city. Most of my destinations have a fairly flat route, but for me the last 2-3 blocks from all destinations require a hill. I have been biking around to take the least steep option. One commercial district nearby has horrible options for both routes. Option a has an escalating incline for a mile. The other path has a moderate incline, but the road narrows over a small over pass, with just enough space for 2 cars side by side. The sidewalk is also very narrow, 2 people could hardly walk by. Obviously, it doesn't have a bike lane, the bike lane appears after the bridge, and then quickly turns to sharrows.

So this basically means going home requires perspiration. Not ideal for work clothing. This can be a big hurdle as well.
Sounds like your "other" option is workable. You don't need a bike lane - it would be nice if you have one, but you just have to ride in traffic otherwise. And you don't need to be in lycra / spandex in order to ride in traffic.
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Old 06-02-14, 10:02 PM   #23
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I'm not sure what you mean. It seems like the goal for many carfree cyclists is to do less bike riding. We try to live close to our main destinations and plan our trips efficiently to reduce the amount of cycling we do.
Speak for yourself, Roody. I sometimes go ten miles out of my way to do a little grocery shopping, just for the ride.
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Old 06-02-14, 10:10 PM   #24
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A bit off, but I wonder which route the racer on the bike took to go from Ballard to Capitol Hill. I would probably take Burke-Gilman to go to Fremont first, and then Dexter. Would it be faster to take Ballard Bridge and Elliot to go to downtown first?
To go from Ballard to Capitol Hill by bike, I'd take the Burke-Gilman trail all the way to Roosevelt, cross the University Bridge, and go up the Hill via Roanoke. Then I'd go the last stretch to Capital Hill on 10th/Broadway.
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Old 06-02-14, 10:19 PM   #25
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To go from Ballard to Capitol Hill by bike, I'd take the Burke-Gilman trail all the way to Roosevelt, cross the University Bridge, and go up the Hill via Roanoke. Then I'd go the last stretch to Capital Hill on 10th/Broadway.
Thanks for the response. I would probably take the same University Bridge --> Eastlake --> Roanoke route if I rode from Northgate, where I live. I would avoid Burke-Gilman between Fremont and U Bridge simply because I don't know how to get on the southbound direction of the bridge from Burke-Gilman.
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