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Contemplating giving up my car (hear me out)

Old 10-12-16, 11:14 AM
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Contemplating giving up my car (hear me out)

Hi Everyone,

I'm thinking about selling my car for a couple reasons.

a) I know I can easily commute to 95% of the places I need to go on a bike, including things like nearby library and grocery store.

b) It's too much of a temptation to drive the car and ignore my bike.

I like owning a car, I like driving a car. So I'm not really in need of a discussion about the merits/drawbacks of "living car free". That's not the point...... which is why I'm posting here and not LCF.

The point is.... I think I am missing out on a lot of adventure, health, and enjoyment because owning a car is too easy and lazy. And it's starting to bum me out I'm starting to consider that maybe I need to take more drastic measures to properly motivate myself to overcome my laziness. I'm almost 33 years old and I need to be having more adventures and fun in my life.

I suspect that after a short adjustment period of maybe 3 or 4 weeks, I'd be very happy with just my bike. I'd learn to commute through the winter and by next spring I'd be a bulletproof cyclo-commuter. And maybe after a period of not owning a car and relying on my bike, I could decide to get another car if I want to.

Thoughts? I love riding my bike, and every time I drive my car I watch longingly and lovingly as other folks whiz by on their bikes, wishing that was me. I don't have a family and rarely ever transport anyone in my car other than myself. There is also light rail that I can ride w/ my bike on board almost the whole way to work if the weather is very bad.

(plz don't throw bricks at me for not posting this in LCF. Those peeps are not always the most objective or gracious about a question that has nothing to do with philosophy or stickin-it-to-the-man, neither of which I care about at all. thanks!)
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Old 10-12-16, 11:36 AM
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I get that you like the security of having a car for whenever you need it, and getting rid of it means that there's no back-up anymore. Lots of people live without a car. This is easier if you live within an urban centre where you have easy access to public transportation.

Try it and see. It's not something that can't be undone.

I contemplated on getting rid of one of our cars a few years back (we're a family of five) before I started commuting by bike. I thought about moving closer to work so I could either take transit or walk or run to work, but in the end we decided we like our neighbourhood too much.

Now that I am essentially a year-round bike commuter we could ostensibly get rid of one of them, but still have decided that we should keep it since our eldest is only a year or two from learning to drive himself.
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Old 10-12-16, 11:39 AM
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I bike commute a lot less than I'd like because the car is faster and I often need to pick someone up. It's easier if you're single or you don't have a busy schedule.
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Old 10-12-16, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by mcours2006 View Post
I get that you like the security of having a car for whenever you need it, and getting rid of it means that there's no back-up anymore. Lots of people live without a car. This is easier if you live within an urban centre where you have easy access to public transportation.

Try it and see. It's not something that can't be undone.

I contemplated on getting rid of one of our cars a few years back (we're a family of five) before I started commuting by bike. I thought about moving closer to work so I could either take transit or walk or run to work, but in the end we decided we like our neighbourhood too much.

Now that I am essentially a year-round bike commuter we could ostensibly get rid of one of them, but still have decided that we should keep it since our eldest is only a year or two from learning to drive himself.

I would like to go car free, or at least go down to 1 car. It's me, my wife, and our 2 yr old. It won't happen for us as I need to drop the toddler off at parents/in laws before work some mornings. I would have gone car free happily 5-10 years ago though, but the car I had at the time wasn't really worth the effort to try and sell it for actual money lol!

Now that I have more car than I want/need, the thought has occurred to me as well, but it's not practical.

My first recommendation, unless there are serious financial reasons for you ditching the car, is to just suck it up and make a commitment to riding ACK WAIT!!!!!

Great idea!!!! Let all the air out of all 4 of your tires lol!! That should be sufficient motivation. It will take you an hour to get them pumped up at home unless you have a powered compressor.
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Old 10-12-16, 11:44 AM
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OK, so what problems might you encounter that you haven't thought of yet?

1. You might be too sick or injured to ride at some time, but could still drive.
2. At some point you may want to have a car again - insurance rules can be kind of a headache in this scenario (they like to see continuous coverage.)
3. You might want to travel someplace where getting there by bike is impractical.
4. Weather might be enough to keep you off the bike.
5. Might need to carry something too big for your bike that would fit in the trunk of a car.
6. Evacuate town a hurricane is coming.
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Old 10-12-16, 11:45 AM
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I know the feeling! Before I biked I had planned to get rid of my car. Then I needed it for my commute. Then it died and I had to buy a new one.

Now I am working on it for my 3-ish year plan! I plan to pay off my car and give it to my parents.

I have a goal right now it not drive anywhere in my 3-5 mile radius (unless there are extenuating circumstances). I am working on a bike first, transit second mentality. It isn't perfect. There are times when I take an Uber when I am too lazy to wait for the bus or feeling exhausted to make the ride home from work (which can require transfers at the wrong time of day).

But over the past 2 years, as I transitioned back to a transit friendly commute, my car gets little use. Maybe 1-2x a week! I rarely use gas, filling up maybe once a month. The most common uses for my car: Target (because the bike ride isn't very comfortable) and visiting my friends who live 50 miles away (transit options SUCK to visit them).

My coworker told me after a few months of working together, that he had no idea I had a car because I don't talk about it, I don't mention it, and he knows all about my bike!

I ended up getting a new bike last year, with a partial aim of optimizing my bike to be suitable for all trips with no though. I added dynamo lights so I can ride at night and not worry about charging my lights! I added a porteur rack a few months ago to carry more stuff easily (like my purse). I have a mental catalog of which clothing is bike friendly (some jeans are not bike friendly).

Try an experiment, don't use your car for 2 weeks and see how it goes. And I do mean that literally. Not long after I got my first bike, I had to send my car to the shop and it took a few days to get parts. And the car place wasn't super convenient to my job anyway. So I had a full week of no car access at all (this was pre-Uber/Lyft). I went to errands, got my groceries, went to the pharmacy, went to work, etc. And it worked fine! And that moment was when I realized that it wouldn't be a huge issue to have no car for most things. I do know that I'd want a car share membership to fill in some of the gaps.

After 2 weeks is a success. Do it for 2 months. And then you can evaluate if it makes a lot of sense.

You can go car light as I have done, without giving up your car! Just choose your bike first. And make sure it is outfitted in a way that makes that decision practical!
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Old 10-12-16, 11:49 AM
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It can be done. And there is a forum here:
Living Car Free - Bike Forums

However, before you sell your car, give the keys to a friend or family member so you can't easily get to them, or even see if you can park the car somewhere else so it is not convenient to get to. Then see how your plan works on a temporary basis.
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Old 10-12-16, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
I bike commute a lot less than I'd like because the car is faster and I often need to pick someone up. It's easier if you're single or you don't have a busy schedule.
I am pretty busy, and I have lots of car and license free friends that are busy. They get all of their stuff done. The car/license free friends don't bike either!

My sister takes transit and uber/lyft as a backup when needed. Most important is living in a place that is conducive to having access to what you need without a car.

Personally, I rarely need to go more than 3-5 miles away. My job is 12 miles away but with traffic driving is terrible and transit is faster 85% of the time. And in the rare case you can hit that no traffic window, it only takes 10 more minutes to take transit. It is not much slower.

As for the other things? I have times it. The bike isn't really any slower for a lot of them! And I am not a fast rider. It adds 5-10 minutes for most things. No big deal at all.
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Old 10-12-16, 11:52 AM
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I am also looking at ditching our 2nd car (that we got after I was hit by one on my bike 4 yrs ago). For us it would mean going back to one-car family-dom. Not so hard. It does mean I would need to push kids' non-bikeable appointments more toward my wife which would be suboptimal. Also, she is on bloodthinners so off her own bike more. We used to be able to leave the one car parked for most of the summer, that is not going to resume too soon.
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Old 10-12-16, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by College3.0 View Post
The point is.... I think I am missing out on a lot of adventure, health, and enjoyment because owning a car is too easy and lazy. And it's starting to bum me out I'm starting to consider that maybe I need to take more drastic measures to properly motivate myself to overcome my laziness. I'm almost 33 years old and I need to be having more adventures and fun in my life.

I suspect that after a short adjustment period of maybe 3 or 4 weeks, I'd be very happy with just my bike. I'd learn to commute through the winter and by next spring I'd be a bulletproof cyclo-commuter. And maybe after a period of not owning a car and relying on my bike, I could decide to get another car if I want to.

Thoughts? I love riding my bike, and every time I drive my car I watch longingly and lovingly as other folks whiz by on their bikes, wishing that was me. I don't have a family and rarely ever transport anyone in my car other than myself. There is also light rail that I can ride w/ my bike on board almost the whole way to work if the weather is very bad.
Use them both. Just use the bike more and see how it goes for you. You can leave the car for bad or unplanned days (weather, injury, carry big items, etc). Also try to optimize car expenses (reduce insurance to liability only if its an old car, keep up with regular maintenance, use regular gas if possible, keep tires properly inflated, etc). I actually still use my car for park and ride. I live about 24 miles form work, so riding it every day wears me out. So I drive to a county park and then ride the bike into NYC from there. It helps me break up the longer rides in spring/summer/fall and offload some bike riding in the winter months.
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Old 10-12-16, 12:42 PM
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When I got rid of my truck (we were a single car family for about 5 years), I simply parked it for a year to make sure it was what I wanted. I drove it about once a week just to keep it working. At the end of the year, I sold it. I only left my wife without a vehicle at home for brief periods (if I had to run to the home improvement store or something).

After 5 years of being a single car family, we ended up getting a car again do to having surgery and being off the bike for about 4 months. But I was ready anyway... the novelty of riding to work in all weather conditions wore off (I still ride to work 90-95% of the time).

I've enjoyed some of the additional freedom I have back (like driving the 90 miles to my cousin's brewery instead of riding it every time), but I enjoyed the experience of having a bicycle as my primary form of transportation.
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Old 10-12-16, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
I am pretty busy, and I have lots of car and license free friends that are busy. They get all of their stuff done. The car/license free friends don't bike either!
I wouldn't call myself busy per se. But I'm at work a lot of the time, on a 9/80 schedule. On a cycling day I see my 2yo for about two hours, on a driving day it's three. That can seem like a big deal by Thursday of a bad week.
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Old 10-12-16, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
But I was ready anyway... the novelty of riding to work in all weather conditions wore off (I still ride to work 90-95% of the time).
This is probably where I'm headed, but not quite there yet. I can see it though, suiting up on those February mornings, like getting ready for battle. And coming home in the evening feeling like you didn't lose the battle, but didn't win it outright either. There's still tomorrow.

Come to think of it, I might be there already.
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Old 10-12-16, 01:03 PM
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I've been doing a little bike v. car mileage comparison during 2016. Bike averages around 350 per month, car is at about 65. I've been serious about transportation cycling for about four or five years now, and it took me a while to get to this point. Learning to combine bike and bus trips was a real tipping point for me.

It's become clear to my spouse and me that we do not need a second car. We keep it, though, because it is 14 years old, runs well, and costs next to nothing to insure.

So, I would say, don't ditch the car yet. As someone else suggested, give the keys to a friend or otherwise make them inconvenient to get to. Try out public transit, uber, and other options, and see how you like it. There's no shame in using the car from time to time. I do this for little day trips or if I have meetings across town that are too close together to get to in a timely way via bus or bike.

If you do that for a year or two and find the car really isn't getting any use, then you can gleefully let it go. I wouldn't do it before you've even ridden through your first winter though. Until you've ridden in freezing temperatures with a nasty head cold, you won't really know how committed you are. Good luck!
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Old 10-12-16, 02:39 PM
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If you think it fits your lifestyle, I say go for it! I briefly thought about it, but not living in a major metro area means I am not very well connected with other ways to get around. It just would not work for me. I guess if I moved into our city and I had no friends outside of it, nor any reason to leave it, I would be fine, but really it's too small of a city to not have an escape at hand.
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Old 10-12-16, 02:55 PM
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I just did the math and realized my car payment equates to about 25 Uber rides a month....I'm rethinking the 2 cars in the family thing.

That's not taking into account insurance/gas/repairs....
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Old 10-12-16, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Abe_Froman View Post
I just did the math and realized my car payment equates to about 25 Uber rides a month....I'm rethinking the 2 cars in the family thing.

That's not taking into account insurance/gas/repairs....
I think that ditching one car makes a lot of sense for many families! Especially if one of you can bike or transit to most stuff! 25 "ride shares" a month is quite a lot! And you can also do the only use uber/lyft for last mile trips and take transit. I do take it home from the train station if the bus isn't coming for a while!
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Old 10-12-16, 03:40 PM
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Gah...it keeps coming back to my daughter and having to drop her off at families places in the morning. In a couple years when she is in school this will be so much easier to make happen. Hell my car might even be paid off at that point. I'll sell it and build a Rohloff uber commuter.
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Old 10-12-16, 04:03 PM
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thanks to bike commuting, living in a dense walkable city neighborhood close to multiple transit lines, and car/ride-sharing services, my family of four very easily gets by with owning only 1 car.

hell, we could even get by somewhat easily without the 1 car, but our kids are still little and require car seats, and that's one area where car/ride-sharing becomes impractical.

we don't use our car a whole lot as it is, but since my wife's parents and siblings all live up in the milwaukee area, we do head up that way quite often, and the car is super useful for that.

i think the suggestions to make the OP's car somehow annoying to use to as a way to test going car-free for a while are quite good. if he lives in an area where he can easily walk, bike, transit, and car/ride-share himself around town for several months without touching then car, then he can safely and confidently sell it.

in this day and age of car/ride-sharing services being so ridiculously easy to use, i can't see much need for a single person to ever own a car that they use infrequently. it just becomes a money suck if you aren't using it multiple times per week.

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Old 10-12-16, 04:58 PM
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The advent of car sharing (ZipCar) and services like Uber make living without a car much easier than it used to be.

AAA puts the average cost of car ownership at $8,698 per year; that buys a lot of Uber rides...
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Old 10-12-16, 05:05 PM
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Keep your car, don't get rid of it...I was car-free for 3 years and found absolutely no advantages to a car-free lifestyle...There are times and situations where a car is more practical then a bike or public transit...Don't listen to all the car-free zealots who say that LCF is some kind of Nirvana, because it is not.
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Old 10-12-16, 05:27 PM
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I like the Uber idea but remember to cost out two rides for a round trip.
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Old 10-12-16, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
I like the Uber idea but remember to cost out two rides for a round trip.
I generally take transit to the destination and uber home when transit times aren't convenient. Makes the trip cheaper.
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Old 10-12-16, 07:03 PM
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I need to be having more adventures and fun in my life.
Go car free and that will happen. The most trying days yield the best stories.
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Old 10-12-16, 07:25 PM
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My wife and I are considering becoming a one-car family when one of the cars (likely my '96 Outback) dies.

I agree with a couple other posters that before pulling the trigger, you should "disable" your car for a trial period to see how it agrees with you.
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