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HOW do you survive without a car?

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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.

HOW do you survive without a car?

Old 05-02-16, 12:19 AM
  #1  
Roody
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HOW do you survive without a car?

Please take the title of this thread literally. Tell us HOW you do it. How have you have adjusted your habits or developed new skills in order to be carfree, or at least less dependent on cars?

If you read this forum, I assume you have an interest in being less car-dependent. Pass along some of what you've learned to help others who share your interest in being carfree or less car-dependent,

(Obviously you don't have to be carfree to participate--just less dependent on cars than you once were.)
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Old 05-02-16, 12:26 AM
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For example:
  1. I moved closer to work in order to have a reasonable bike commute. At about 4 miles, I had a 15 minute commute. Now I live less than a half-mile from work, for a walking commute that is about 7 minutes.
  2. I learned about riding techniques, gear, and equipment for winter riding here in Michigan. So far, I've enjoyed many winters of year-round cycling. I actually look forward to the first snowfall every year.
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Old 05-02-16, 12:57 AM
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When I was car free, I didn't just survive ... I thrived.

The term 'survive' suggests existing despite hardship ... survive definition and synonyms | Macmillan Dictionary ... but that wasn't how it was for me. Being car free was the preferable choice, not a hardship at all. And I lived a full and enjoyable life ... working full time, gaining further education, cycling long distances, travelling ...


As for the HOW, there were two parts to that ...

1) I lived in a very convenient location .... close to work, shops, etc. and there was decent public transportation to take me further afield within the city.

2) I felt quite comfortable cycling long distances at a reasonable sort of pace, so if I wanted to go somewhere out of the city or to the other side of the city or somewhere some distance away, that was fairly easy to do by bicycle.

Last edited by Machka; 05-02-16 at 01:16 AM.
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Old 05-02-16, 07:59 AM
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Although I haven't used a car as my primary transportation most of my adult life, it's never required any adjustment, or planning, it just worked out that way.
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Old 05-02-16, 08:27 AM
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I don't enjoy driving to work in rush hour traffic, and when we bought our first house and then our second one, both in the 1980s, I actually pushed for locations with easy public transit access to work. When I decided to try bike commuting in the early 1990s, it was feasible because of that, since my office was only 5 miles from home.

A couple of years ago my office moved to a new location 7 miles from home. If I wasn't already a veteran bike commuter, and only relied on transit, I might have started driving at that point, because the transit route is now much more inconvenient, requiring two transfers and taking over an hour. However, paradoxically it might be an easier drive than to the old location, since the route skirts more of the downtown congestion. However, it wasn't too big an increase for cycling and I can certainly use the bit of extra exercise.

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Old 05-02-16, 09:53 AM
  #6  
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I have always made it a point to live in neighborhoods that are walkable, cyclable and serviced by public transport. That means I have not lived in a suburb since about 1970. Nor will I accept employment in any establishment that I cannot ride my bike to or reach by bus or train.
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Old 05-04-16, 08:16 PM
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Light rail dependent -- I choose to have the state to buy my 2 billion electric car that’s chauffeured driven. It was very important that my place of employment required using this tram. I even relocated to a city for the sole purpose of being lightrail dependent.

Shopping within walking distance --- I have a full service supermarket about 1 block from my house. This is important because I spend very little time and effort carrying groceries home. Finding an apartment within shopping and rail transit turns out to be easier than I thought.

Bus dependent -- I am also bus dependent and if the lightrail is under service, I can choose an alternate transport system. Using bus system in conjunction with rail is probably the most idea situation the carfree can have. If you had to choose one system, it would be the bus.

Television Independent -- This is critical because I think millions are receiving hundreds of hours of programming each year to be car dependent. Cutting the cord and removing broadcast television from your life will remove your desire to purchase new vehicles. To this day, I have zero emotional need to buy a new or use car. I wish this was the same for bicycles. ;-(

A neighbor of mine said since removing broadcast tv, his kids require little toys for Christmas! It appears the children when watching 3 - 4 hours of TV, were programmed to want more toys. Adults are no different with cars.

Transit App Dependent --- I find myself using bus and rail Apps to time transit within 10 minutes of arrival. This has opened many avenues of travel as I no longer have to wait for that dreaded hour at the bus stop. Transit maps allow me to view every bus and rail route giving me the same independence as the motorist.
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Old 05-06-16, 06:13 PM
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Live as close to work as possible.

Learn how to carry things on your bike.

Invest in some technical clothing to keep yourself comfortable.

Find the right bike for your needs.

Embrace a slower paced life.
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Old 05-07-16, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by blackieoneshot View Post
Live as close to work as possible.
It wasn't always possible, but I was fortunate to have lived where there was an excellent public-transportation system (bus).

Learn how to carry things on your bike.
This only happened a year ago, when I bought a rear-rack and a pair of grocery-bag panniers. A major life-changer. Also, to recognize my load limits (and those of my equipment) and make multiple trips -- doing so helps me to buy produce at a nearby farmers' market, rather than the higher-priced stuff at the supermarket; besides, multiple trips add to my overall mileage, fitness, and self-image.

Invest in some technical clothing to keep yourself comfortable.
My choice is a long-sleeved, high-visibility jersey. If it's cloudy, rainy, early morning, or I just feel "twitchy" about the weather, I'll add a reflective, bandoleer-strap vest.

Find the right bike for your needs.
What would I do without rear-rack braze-ons?

Embrace a slower paced life.
THIS. When I moved overseas (January 1980) I knew I'd never own a car, and spent the first 23 of 25 years without one. Somewhere along the line I recognized "the tyranny of the auto", and understood that having one "obliged" its owner to use it -- one's free time (after work, and/or weekends) became subordinate to running errands. Thankfully, my circumstances never forced me to put that to the test, but I haven't hurried with these things in almost forty years. I learned to leave early for work, or wherever I was going; also, to minimize overtime at work. I'm now 64, retired for the past four years, riding for sport and transport, and hoping to continue this way for many years to come.

And YES, I also recognize and admit that I've had to make many compromises... most, if not all, since retiring; but that's more a function of the severely limited public transportation system(sic) in South Florida. Perhaps compromises are most important, of all.
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Old 05-07-16, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by blackieoneshot View Post
Live as close to work as possible.
I prefer to keep the distance pretty significant as it builds a good workout into my commute. That keeps me in good shape to go touring or go on camping weekends. More adventure in my life.
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Old 05-07-16, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by blackieoneshot View Post
Learn how to carry things on your bike.
Get a cargo trailer. Heavy stuff is easier to manage than trying to get it on a bike rack and keep stuff upright.
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Old 05-09-16, 01:31 AM
  #12  
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I'm happy to see some good responses and suggestions already.

Keep 'em coming! I hope this thread will be a resource for people who are beginning to experiment with becoming less reliant on cars.

One of the first things I had to learn was how to ride a bike in traffic, and feel safe and comfortable doing it. There are a number of books and websites that helped me to learn this, as well as the Advocacy and Safety subforum here on BF. Politically speaking, I am not at all a VC person (vehicular cycling). But the VC people do have some good educational material on riding as a part of the traffic that I thought was helpful.

Another thing I learned early on was about riding in darkness, and the importance of good lights. We're lucky these days that cheap bright lights are widely available, and don't require much special knowledge to purchase and use. If you're an active carfree cyclist, you might spend almost half of your riding time in darkness, especially in the winter time.

A third early lesson was about route planning and trip planning. It's often better to take a different route than you would take when driving. Good resources are Google Maps, bike maps put out by local bike clubs, and above all, just exploring on my own.
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Old 05-09-16, 01:37 AM
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Originally Posted by blackieoneshot View Post
Live as close to work as possible.

Learn how to carry things on your bike.

Invest in some technical clothing to keep yourself comfortable.

Find the right bike for your needs.

Embrace a slower paced life.
Good ones! It's a bit of a cliche, but I've learned that the journey is as important as the arrival at the destination.
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Old 05-09-16, 03:14 AM
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About a year and a half ago i just stopped driving.

I'm out of town and car free.
99% of my transportation is by bicycle.

I use a combo of backpack, kid's trailer, and a custom cargo bike/trailer that I built for the big, awkward, heavy stuff.

Originally Posted by JBHoren View Post
What would I do without rear-rack braze-ons?


They work well for old Campy Style dropouts.
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Old 05-09-16, 12:45 PM
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^^^^ The rear-rack braze-ons to which I referred are the internal seat-stay ones. Thanks for your suggestion and accompanying photos -- I'm sure other readers will benefit from them.
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Old 05-10-16, 09:00 PM
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You know how my family survived for 28 years without a car? View the video below. Today, I simply walk one block to the supermarket.

https://youtu.be/xJP1w35rNY4
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Old 05-10-16, 11:23 PM
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well. all post are awesome on this thread. I had a japanese friend visit me one summer. He was surprised to see so few people riding their bikes or walking around. I was perplexed and asked him for more explanation. He explained that in Japan, many apartments tend to have first floor as retail/grocery. so many people choose to not have a car because they can just walk a couple blocks to buy groceries. Its different in North america, we tend to place homes far away from the retail places. For instance, Where I live, it is impractical for me to ride my bike to work because it would take me in excess of 3 hours one way. So i drive out of necessity. But my next goal is to earn enough money to live closer to my home. again, it all depend on how much you can afford to find a place closer to your work. For example, if you worked in downtown, and you wanted to have a home close by (walking distance or biking distance) most houses would be in the 3/4 million dollars or more. For me, thats too rich for my blood. So many people would prefer to live farther away because the prices of homes are cheaper. As to apartments, or condominums, the one closer to downtown are much higher, a small 1 bedroom condo would be in the stratosphere of 300,000 dollars or higher. Then again, it all comes to affordability. It is affordable to have a house/apartment that are farther from downtown core, and put up with driving a car, or put up with hours of transit trips. I usually use transit (light rail or bus) to commute to School as it is more practical to use Light rail transit. but for work, I drive because time wise, driving is shorter than light rail as well. it would take me 30 to 40 minutes driving time one way, using transit (light rail and bus) would take me a little more than 1 hour one way(barring any incidences such as break down).

P
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Old 05-10-16, 11:34 PM
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I can ride the 9 miles to work, but working 6 days a week, it's tough to keep up with bike maintenance. I usually ride to work twice a week. The rest of the time, I use a monthly bus pass to take the bus to work (buses around here also have bike racks, BTW), then get a ride home from a co-worker (the bus stops running before I get off work). I use rear racks and panniers on my bikes which are usually adequate for groceries. I usually walk to the supermarket, though, because I'm afraid my bike will get stolen. I have a Burley trailer for loads up to 100lbs. 4 30lb buckets of cat litter and a 25lb bag of cat food lead me to ask a friend for a ride to Petco and BJs roughly once a month. I could break that up into a couple trips and use the trailer, but time is in short supply.
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Old 05-11-16, 04:31 PM
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I haven't been around or posted in a while, but this thread is something that caught my eye. I'd been talking of how to get by without a car for probably 15 years before I actually took the plunge.

Finally I stopped driving due to anxiety a few years ago. And I'd had it being the chauffeur for some bar stars every weekend. So, I just stopped driving. For about a year the only time I even got in it was when the building management wanted me to move it for parking lot cleaning.

I get by fine with walking, cycling, and public transportation.

I live close to a train station and work downtown. I can walk to the train station in 10 minutes if I miss the bus. My employer supplies me with a monthly transit pass.

I don't buy a lot of groceries at once. Usually one bag, maybe two. I prefer to shop often and get fresh food when I can. I learned how to make bread so most of the ingredients I keep stocked up at home are dry. The few perishables I buy are in small quantities and pick up a couple of things each time to keep the things I need stocked.

After a while I was sick of paying insurance for something I didn't want or, as I found out, need. I wanted more money for things I enjoy like music and bicycles and I couldn't afford to pursue much of that due to finances. So I made up my mind to sell the car.

Originally Posted by blackieoneshot View Post
Embrace a slower paced life.
This has been one of the biggest influences in my recovery from severe anxiety. I was overwhelmed by a lot of things and the car and driving in this city contributed to that. Now when I go out to anything I grab a bus or walk to the train station and take it downtown. Late nights might mean a cab ride every once in a while. And now that summer is here I'm looking at putting together something bicycle wise for commuting more.

Something I noticed while I was waiting for the bus one day it how much I feel like I did when I was younger. Even waiting for the bus is time to contemplate things or what's around me. Buying groceries every few days reminds me of when I was a kid back in Ireland and my granny would walk uptown and pick up things for dinner that night.

And even in the cold wind in winter standing at a bus stop, I have never once thought to myself, "Gee, I wish I had a car." The only thing I regret is not following through when my younger self thought it was possible.

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Old 05-11-16, 06:28 PM
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Having abandoned 9-5 to become a freelancer last year, I do the vast majority of my work (translation and copy writing/editing) at home, so I haven't really needed to use my car all that much. Just recently, I mustered the courage to ride further and into thicker traffic, which encouraged me to be even less car-dependent.

That said, however, there's no realistic way one can go entirely car-less in a place like Jeddah. Just yesterday, I had to go to a business meeting at King Abdulaziz University, which is about 30 kilometers from where I live. Given the roads, traffic, and the way people drive around here, it's just way too dangerous, time-consuming, and nerve-racking for me to cycle my way there and back.
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Old 05-11-16, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by sjanzeir View Post
Having abandoned 9-5 to become a freelancer last year, I do the vast majority of my work (translation and copy writing/editing) at home, so I haven't really needed to use my car all that much. Just recently, I mustered the courage to ride further and into thicker traffic, which encouraged me to be even less car-dependent.

That said, however, there's no realistic way one can go entirely car-less in a place like Jeddah. Just yesterday, I had to go to a business meeting at King Abdulaziz University, which is about 30 kilometers from where I live. Given the roads, traffic, and the way people drive around here, it's just way too dangerous, time-consuming, and nerve-racking for me to cycle my way there and back.
Are there any buses there?
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Old 05-12-16, 09:53 AM
  #22  
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I do quite nicely without using my truck, or motorcycle. Winter is a different story, but even then, I can get around without driving. The day before yesterday, I gave getting to Staples a shot. Didn't quite work out, as I realized I forgot my bus fare for the ride up the hill. Tried a combination of riding/walking, but it was a bit much for me. The ride downhill was great though.
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Old 05-12-16, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by sjanzeir View Post
Well...
So, are you saying there are buses but you wouldn't ride on them? Besides the one that was being driven erratically, I wouldn't look down my nose at those buses or the people that use them.
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Old 05-12-16, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
So, are you saying there are buses but you wouldn't ride on them? Besides the one that was being driven erratically, I wouldn't look down my nose at those buses or the people that use them.
Congratulations. You, in your infinite wisdom, just proved the longstanding theory that people believe what they want to believe.
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Old 05-12-16, 09:45 PM
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I've been pretty much car free for last 5 years... and extremely car light for 7 years before that. Observations:
-- although I didn't have to adjust workplace or housing, I was lucky to live on a good bus route and also lucky to be within 5 miles of work and 1 miles of food supplies
-- my material (ie, stuff) expectations lightened up considerably... I didn't get to the cinema much and didn't go to many concerts... however, I still got to some.
-- I found a few friends who were sympathetic to my lack of car...
-- perhaps unfortunately, I relied a little too heavily on services like Amazon.


Eventually, being car free doesn't feel like privation... in some ways I tire of talking about it. I just do what I do.
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