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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 07-19-17, 07:45 AM   #1
tandempower
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Your Ideal Carfree Lifestyle

How do you envision your ideal carfree lifestyle? Would you bike everywhere, have a mix of multimodal transportation options to give you variety? How far would you live from work? From shopping? What kinds of outings would you want and how would you combine and connect them?

Would you include ride-sharing as a go-to option or would you prefer sticking to transit, when you want a ride? Do you hope for driverless cars as a way to bring down the price of an on-demand ride and make it available at any time or place? Would you want there to be significantly less auto traffic, even if that means not being able to get rides?

What kind of built environment would you ideally want to bike/walk/transit between? Do you like tall buildings, even skyscrapers? Do you like them to be jam-packed together, like in dense metropolises like Manhattan? Do you like density, but with less height, e.g. Paris/Amsterdam/Copenhagen? Do you like smaller towns with less density and height of buildings, but you would still like plenty of greenery and bikeable distances? Or do you not mind biking sprawling distances in the 10s and 20s of miles, or using transit for such distances?

What is the ideal LCF lifestyle/environment you can envision?
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Old 07-19-17, 08:12 AM   #2
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The 6-ish years I was car free in Manitoba were pretty much ideal.

Work was 6.7 km away so I cycled most of the year, even in the winter. Winnipeg was pretty good about clearing the streets after snowfalls. If I couldn't cycle, I'd catch the bus or walk.

Grocery shopping was 1 km away. I walked a few times a week. Other shopping was just a few km away, so I either walked or took the bus. For larger restocking trips, I'd take the bus to a big shopping location, then catch a taxi home.

College was a little further away, so I took the bus.

Medical services, library, church, etc. were either within walking distance or bus distance.

When I was there, my recreational activities consisted of lots and lots and lots of cycling ... I was actively into randonneuring ... and travel. For both, I could rent a car if I needed to ... or catch a flight ... or just ride.

Winnipeg is nicely sprawl-y and I lived on the outskirts of the city ... easy 5 min bicycle ride and I'd be in the country. Or if I wanted to cycle in the city, I could do that too.

Winnipeg is flat as a pancake so most cycling was easy. Weather was the only difficulty.

It was really easy to be car free there.
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Old 07-19-17, 08:29 AM   #3
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I enjoy cycling and pretty much like what I have now. I'm car-free during the week, commuting to work about 30km away. I wouldn't enjoy riding slowly through the crowded streets in Amsterdam. I get about 8-10 hrs of riding during the week leaving the weekend for longer rides. I still have cars but don't use them very much. If I'm getting tired I can take a bus partway to work. I live in a quiet suburb of Vancouver and enjoy the benefits of a smaller community.
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Old 07-19-17, 08:48 AM   #4
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I've been in a number of different settings that worked for being car light:

-- small towns where I could walk to work, and where most of the things we needed were in town.

-- the city we live in now. I don't make use of a private car most of the week because I can get around by bus or walking.

-- Winnipeg, prior to being car free. One of the reasons it was so easy to go car free there was because I so rarely used the car anyway.


Just an aside, referring to cycling longer distances in sprawl-y circumstances ... I had a century (100 mile) route which was a lap around Winnipeg, plus three short out-and-backs. If I recall correctly, the lap was 100 km, and each of the out-and-backs was 20 km (10 out, 10 back). So in other words, the circumference of Winnipeg was about 100 km.
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Old 07-20-17, 02:32 PM   #5
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I had a different experience of Winnipeg than Machka, in that I lived in an older, inner "suburb" that would be considered urban by current standards. Even so, it's not as easy to minimize car use there as it is in my current situation. There's no subway and although the bus system is not bad, the city has a somewhat radial design and is carved up by rivers, so it would quite take a long time to go to some of the different places around the city that might require transfers and a roundabout route. As well, perhaps being less hardcore than her, I don't cycle on ice or snow, and the winter is a lot colder and windier and longer there than here. So you could freeze your posterior on the bike or at the bus stop.

So it wouldn't be my ideal site for LCF.

I think LCF would have been quite feasible where I live now, although still a bit inconvenient. We live within sight of all grades of good public schools, and all amenities are within 1-2 km, or accessible by subway which is 1 km away. None of my kids were interested in organized sports, and we had a piano teacher who came to the house, and guitar lessons were about 1 km away - we often did drop the kids off and pick them up by car, but we could easily have done it on foot or by bike if we opted not to own a car. From fairly early on they got quite comfortable getting around on their own and two of them are into their 20s and 30s and still don't drive.

I see cabs, and ride sharing and hailing services, as something to be used extremely rarely - I would almost always use the bike, walking, or public transit. So far this year I have used a cab in Toronto for one event - going to a banquet with my wife in formal clothes so we could drink, and in 2016 three of us shared a cab to and from my son's wedding for the same reason and I used one once to come home from work that year, as I felt ill. If you're going to go car-free or car-light, do it, don't just substitute a different kind of car.

If I had a cottage or ski chalet that I went to multiple times a year I would want to own a car, but since I go to a resort about twice a year, I either rent a vehicle or find shuttle services from the airport etc.

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Old 07-21-17, 07:29 AM   #6
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Where I live right now is actually pretty ideal for LCF. The house and property is a bit large, but we are in a small town with nearly all necessary amenities within walking distance - bank, barber, vet, restaurants, post office, grocery store, convenience stores, recreation areas.

A relatively short bike ride - 10mi or so - puts us within range of bigger grocery stores, hospitals, car rental places, and transportation hubs - bus and train - that connect us with the rest of the world. It's a moderately sized town, 12k population, outside three moderately sized cities, 20-30k, about 45 minutes south of a major city, and 1.5 hrs away from a major metro area (Boston).

Cost of living is a bit high, with rentals and real estate on the higher end of national averages, and winters to contend with, which means heating bills.

Probably the biggest hurdle to LCF is work and health issues. I work 40 mi away at a career that is rewarding for a very unique company. It would require a severe cut in pay and personal satisfaction to abandon it for something closer to home. Likewise, it would be difficult to move closer to work, although if I lived in town near work it would be nearly the same kind of situation.

When I say health issues, both me and my partner have children with special needs. Every week, I travel 30 miles in the other direction to bring my kid to counseling, and I need to stay close to the area to participate meaningfully in his life. My partner's kid is in a residential treatment program about 80mi away, and we head up weekly to spend time with him. Her kid is 16 and will be out of our lives, one way or another, when he hits 18. My kid could avail himself of state-provided transport for counseling sessions. Maybe at that point, we might reconsider a living situation with two cars in it.

Not too long ago, I was living home free, LHF. I was first living in a vehicle, then a rustic cabin in the woods but had a car at that point. Arguably, even though not LCF, I was living a smaller ecological footprint than many who actually LCF. For me, this was a valid compromise, where personal responsibility for ecological stewardship was concerned.

I do hope to LCF in the future, and car lite would not be too much of a hardship. But for where we're at right now, our current situation, there are critical barriers between us and LCF.
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Old 07-21-17, 08:34 AM   #7
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None of my kids were interested in organized sports,
Just following up on my own post - knowing what I know now about concussions etc. I probably would have tried to steer them away from hockey if they wanted to do sports, and it's the only one that really requires heavy equipment that you would prefer to haul in a car. I played competitive badminton as a youth and trained several nights a week and I usually went by bus until I was 16, when I did often get to use the car in the evening. However, obviously if there was no car I could have kept going by bus. And biking would have been very easy too, in the non-winter months. The racquet and outfit are a lot lighter than pads, skates and a hockey stick.

So I don't think organized sports would be a barrier to LCF where I live now.

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Old 07-21-17, 10:06 AM   #8
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A small or medium size city, next to many miles of rural roads and trails, and a lake or river with public access and rented kayaks.
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Old 07-21-17, 02:22 PM   #9
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A small or medium size city, next to many miles of rural roads and trails, and a lake or river with public access and rented kayaks.
I'm in!
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Old 07-21-17, 09:08 PM   #10
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Something in between where I live now in La Crosse, WI; pop. around 50,000 and my neighborhood in Denver, when I lived there, would be ideal.

Features I like specifically in La Crosse: Close to work (less than 2 miles), easy access to awesome road cycling (5 miles gets you to seemingly endless rural paved and gravel roads), affordable housing for purchase, affordable fresh groceries (dairy, produce), relatively safe (low incidence of random muggings, murder, etc.)

Features I liked specifically in Denver: Reliable in-town public transit, reliable regional transit (to other cities, the mountains, the airport), grocery store within walking distance, affordable and up to code rental housing, nearby options for good/cheap/ethnic food, nearby small venues for rock music shows.

Features I like that are common to both: OK weather (no weather that would force evacuation, few days of excessive/dangerous heat), relatively good and connected system of bicycle facilities, streets on a grid system with sidewalks, different types of housing (single family, converted Victorians, hi-rises), nearby non-chain coffee shop (my second office).


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A small or medium size city, next to many miles of rural roads and trails, and a lake or river with public access and rented kayaks.
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I'm in!
I think you guys might really like La Crosse, WI! Except for the six months when it's cold (which I always forget about this time of year.)
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Old 07-21-17, 09:30 PM   #11
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Cost-effective accommodation/housing.

Adequate employment opportunities.

Terrain (flat is better).

Access to transport to other parts of the state/country/world (train, hire car, airport, docks).

Low crime rate.

Friendly people (drivers and non-drivers).

Access to food suppliers.

A general cycling culture.

So far, several places have leant themselves to most of those things, but usually they miss out on the critical ones of employment opportunities and cost-effective housing.

Two that come to mind are Victoria on Vancouver Island, and just about anywhere in France. Melbourne is also fine except for the crazy housing costs. Where we are at the moment... the terrain is way too strenuous to make cycling every single day a realistic option when linked to our employment situation.

However, probably my favourite location right now (with a real prospect of living there sometime into the future) is Chilliwack, a far-flun eastern suburb of Vancouver. It has everything we would ever need... except maybe solid employment oppotunities.
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Old 07-22-17, 12:42 AM   #12
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A small or medium size city, next to many miles of rural roads and trails, and a lake or river with public access and rented kayaks.
Come to Lansing; we have all that stuff! Our economy is car-based, but it's still a great place to be carfree. We have more than 20 miles of beautiful trails within the city, and will soon be directly connected to the hundreds of miles of rail trails and linear parks that go all over the state.
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Old 07-22-17, 03:25 AM   #13
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Ideally, Id like to walk to whatever is necessary. I ride my bike to feel free... work kinda diminishes that ideal, lol.
I like riding my bike in nature, around trees, reminding my body on a mechanical mechanism that, this is what it could be...yeah hippie dippy crap.
I do ride in the city with my three boys and SO, and I'm constantly thinking, that dude could drive up the curb and smoosh my baby!! I like the way my wheels feel on dirt, I like that only a more scared plane that I will notice is the only thing outside a rouge root or pissed off animal that can stop me. I love the scenery. ...Portland OR... their "sky-scrappers" were pretty, I wouldnt mind cruising down some of those roads... but on a path to somewhere I need to be, Shme. ...but currently, right now, I can say that, I walk to work, to my comic shop, If I werent feeding so many bottomless pits I could walk to the food shops. But I bike for release currently, for fun. And I drive my car for the stomachs and arms of my family. .
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Old 07-22-17, 08:38 AM   #14
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Ideally, Id like to walk to whatever is necessary. I ride my bike to feel free... work kinda diminishes that ideal, lol.
I like riding my bike in nature, around trees, reminding my body on a mechanical mechanism that, this is what it could be...yeah hippie dippy crap.
I do ride in the city with my three boys and SO, and I'm constantly thinking, that dude could drive up the curb and smoosh my baby!! I like the way my wheels feel on dirt, I like that only a more scared plane that I will notice is the only thing outside a rouge root or pissed off animal that can stop me. I love the scenery. ...Portland OR... their "sky-scrappers" were pretty, I wouldnt mind cruising down some of those roads... but on a path to somewhere I need to be, Shme. ...but currently, right now, I can say that, I walk to work, to my comic shop, If I werent feeding so many bottomless pits I could walk to the food shops. But I bike for release currently, for fun. And I drive my car for the stomachs and arms of my family. .
Would it be feasible to walk to a food store where you are if you didn't have the volume to buy? Say for one person or just an adult couple? Or is it distance or time, as well as the amount?
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Old 07-22-17, 09:31 AM   #15
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If I werent feeding so many bottomless pits I could walk to the food shops. But I bike for release currently, for fun. And I drive my car for the stomachs and arms of my family. .
Buying dry grains makes it easy to carry and cook a lot of food affordably and without the water weight. I try to cook brown rice often, because it's higher in protein than other grains, but it requires a pressure cooker, which many people are not responsible enough to use safely. If you can absolutely not forget to leave the stove on, you can bring a pressure cooker up to pressure and turn it off after 5 or 10 minutes and just leave it cooling on the stove all afternoon and have chewy, gooey brown rice for dinner. I usually cook enough that I can get a couple days of stir-fries out of the same batch of rice, but I don't know if that would work with multiple teenager 'bottomless pits,' as you put it.

I also like dried beans for the same reasons, i.e. cost-efficient and light to carry without the water-weight. I have learned to soak beans, keeping them rinsed and drained for a few days to soften them up before cooking. I also use the pressure cooker, which is especially good for black beans that can take hours and hours in a crock pot. Unfortunately, my son can be very picky when it comes to preferring canned beans over soaked-and-boiled dry beans, so I end up buying cans, which are heavy and bulky, but we usually do fine going by the store every few days by bike.
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Old 07-22-17, 09:36 AM   #16
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Thanks to everyone posting so far. It is interesting to see people list the things that they idealize as a part of an LCF lifestyle. Interesting how many people are pretty happy with where they live currently. Maybe LCF is as much or more a question of feeling comfortable doing it in whatever situation you're in than looking to changes in your environment as a condition of being able to give up driving.
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Old 07-22-17, 05:47 PM   #17
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Would it be feasible to walk to a food store where you are if you didn't have the volume to buy? Say for one person or just an adult couple? Or is it distance or time, as well as the amount?
Just the volume currently, we have two shops near by, one less then half a mile away.
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Old 07-22-17, 05:55 PM   #18
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Buying dry grains makes it easy to carry and cook a lot of food affordably and without the water weight. I try to cook brown rice often, because it's higher in protein than other grains, but it requires a pressure cooker, which many people are not responsible enough to use safely. If you can absolutely not forget to leave the stove on, you can bring a pressure cooker up to pressure and turn it off after 5 or 10 minutes and just leave it cooling on the stove all afternoon and have chewy, gooey brown rice for dinner. I usually cook enough that I can get a couple days of stir-fries out of the same batch of rice, but I don't know if that would work with multiple teenager 'bottomless pits,' as you put it.

I also like dried beans for the same reasons, i.e. cost-efficient and light to carry without the water-weight. I have learned to soak beans, keeping them rinsed and drained for a few days to soften them up before cooking. I also use the pressure cooker, which is especially good for black beans that can take hours and hours in a crock pot. Unfortunately, my son can be very picky when it comes to preferring canned beans over soaked-and-boiled dry beans, so I end up buying cans, which are heavy and bulky, but we usually do fine going by the store every few days by bike.
Oh I hear ya! Winco has a good bulk section that we hit up hard about once a month. We eat a ton of fresh food so we have to go often. It wuldnt be so bad if they were teenagers, but they are only 1, 9, and 10. So we truck out the bike trailer and my ten year old likes to ride his 2 level tall bike, and they still think they can bolt out and be fine.
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Old 07-22-17, 05:55 PM   #19
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Mass Transit Everywhere 24 hours A Day

My ideal car free lifestyle would be mass transit everywhere 24 hours a day with motorists sharing the roads instead of battling cyclists and pedestrians. The wait times between buses would be no more than fifteen minutes. During peak times the next bus would arrive within five minutes. Each user would have the option to pay for a monthly pass with unlimited trips. This pass would work in any city. Cash would be accepted everywhere. Bus passes or tokens would not be mandatory.

Traveling between cities would still cost more using conventional methods, but; having a way to go between cities and cross country using one system with one pass would be great. Just catch a bus ride from one city to another and transfer when necessary. Such could be done with rail lines too. The city to city routes would be with buses or trains with storage for luggage. This would be different from intra-city transportation.

All motorized transportation would have fast internet and power plugs for recharging personal devices. All buses, trains, boats, and planes would be kept clean with everything functioning properly. All routes would be shown with a graphical interface online. Real-time locations of vehicles would be seen. A program would show the fastest route to each destination and which transit vehicles to use with all stops listed. This would be available online and at stops. All stops would have covered seating areas.
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Old 07-22-17, 06:13 PM   #20
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Unfortunately, My ideal car free lifestyle is... Pretty limited, a climate like California, a small town where one can ride ones bicycle EVERWHERE, and get everything home without much problem because everything is within 1/2 Hr of bicycle riding. .

EDIT; Oh, did I mention no hills...

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Old 07-22-17, 06:52 PM   #21
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Oh I hear ya! Winco has a good bulk section that we hit up hard about once a month. We eat a ton of fresh food so we have to go often. It wuldnt be so bad if they were teenagers, but they are only 1, 9, and 10. So we truck out the bike trailer and my ten year old likes to ride his 2 level tall bike, and they still think they can bolt out and be fine.
I'm surprised they eat so much at that age. I'm also surprised you go through so much fresh food. Do you eat a lot of raw vegetables or do you cook it all down?
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Old 07-22-17, 07:48 PM   #22
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My ideal car free lifestyle would be mass transit everywhere 24 hours a day with motorists sharing the roads instead of battling cyclists and pedestrians. The wait times between buses would be no more than fifteen minutes. During peak times the next bus would arrive within five minutes. Each user would have the option to pay for a monthly pass with unlimited trips. This pass would work in any city. Cash would be accepted everywhere. Bus passes or tokens would not be mandatory.

Traveling between cities would still cost more using conventional methods, but; having a way to go between cities and cross country using one system with one pass would be great. Just catch a bus ride from one city to another and transfer when necessary. Such could be done with rail lines too. The city to city routes would be with buses or trains with storage for luggage. This would be different from intra-city transportation.

All motorized transportation would have fast internet and power plugs for recharging personal devices. All buses, trains, boats, and planes would be kept clean with everything functioning properly. All routes would be shown with a graphical interface online. Real-time locations of vehicles would be seen. A program would show the fastest route to each destination and which transit vehicles to use with all stops listed. This would be available online and at stops. All stops would have covered seating areas.
+1 on the mass transit ... only, I'd prefer they all go to bankcard or phone methods of payment. They're almost there now ... no one uses monthly passes or tokens anymore. Some do use the bankcards or phones, the rest use something similar to a bankcard that you can top up whenever you want.

And I'd like to see a lot more trains.
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Old 07-22-17, 09:57 PM   #23
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I'm surprised they eat so much at that age. I'm also surprised you go through so much fresh food. Do you eat a lot of raw vegetables or do you cook it all down?
Yes we eat a lot of raw, we cook it down too though. We are a vegan family so we get pretty fancy with our veggies. One meal will have three to four veggies cooked in and then we will have an artichoke, or veggies on the side. And then some fruit for desert... Breakfast, snacks. My one year old 2 tomorrow will take down a banana and an orange in one sitting.
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Old 07-23-17, 12:53 AM   #24
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Oh I hear ya! Winco has a good bulk section that we hit up hard about once a month. We eat a ton of fresh food so we have to go often. It wuldnt be so bad if they were teenagers, but they are only 1, 9, and 10. So we truck out the bike trailer and my ten year old likes to ride his 2 level tall bike, and they still think they can bolt out and be fine.
One thing you have to look forward to is that when they're tweens and teens they can carry the load!
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Old 07-23-17, 02:26 AM   #25
Snyder
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Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: currently Utah
Bikes: A Pretty teal Coaster with a Pimp basket!
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One thing you have to look forward to is that when they're tweens and teens they can carry the load!
Lol, I'm looking forward to it!!! When I get older I'm going to insist on bike rides, and I'm going to drag them along and try to jump in front of cars to pay em back!
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