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It didnít last very long.

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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.

It didnít last very long.

Old 08-19-17, 02:28 PM
  #1  
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It didnít last very long.

Not long ago I told some of you about my neighbor giving up his car and buying two electric three wheeled scooters. The neighbor had a relatively new Mazda wagon/hatchback. I went over to visit as he transferred his car to one of his nieces and took delivery of the scooters. The plan was he would use the scooters for grocery shopping and medical appointments. He also planned on getting a solar charger to keep the scooter batteries up. After two weeks he posted that he was looking for a ride to the organic food store and a trip to the local DYI store. I and some other neighbors have stepped up and offered to take him to some of the special needs stores when he needs it. That lasted about six weeks. Yesterday he came over to let me know he bought a used Toyota pickup truck. It is small and gets pretty good mileage. The engine and drive train are in good order and it only needs some minor body work.
He decided it was too inconvenient to ride the scooters for shopping and DYI projects plus going to the nursery for supplies for his vegetable garden. When I first moved here before I started cycling I thought about getting a LSV like a Gem to do what he wanted to do with the scooters. I still might someday but I now realize people still seem to need a way of getting out of the elements to be comfortable. To preempt a question, no mass transit isnít an option. But six weeks seems like a pretty short time for someone that had been planning for so long to go car free to toss in the hat.
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Old 08-19-17, 02:34 PM
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As a SoCal dweller, and one who is pretty "car light"-- I average less than 3,000 miles a year on my car-- I can say that attempting to be car free here is difficult at best. Everything is too far apart, and the infrastructure is unabashedly auto-centric.

If I weren't married with children in SoCal, and lived alone somewhere friendly to bikes, going car free would be easy. But here I manage to do 250+ miles a month just buying groceries/supplies and taking my kids to medical appointments, etc. At least for me, car light is manageable, but car free would be utterly impossible.
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Old 08-19-17, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
As a SoCal dweller, and one who is pretty "car light"-- I average less than 3,000 miles a year on my car-- I can say that attempting to be car free here is difficult at best. Everything is too far apart, and the infrastructure is unabashedly auto-centric.

If I weren't married with children in SoCal, and lived alone somewhere friendly to bikes, going car free would be easy. But here I manage to do 250+ miles a month just buying groceries/supplies and taking my kids to medical appointments, etc. At least for me, car light is manageable, but car free would be utterly impossible.

About the same thing here. I go abut a year between oil changes and get a great rate on my insurance. But in my case my wife doesn't ride a bike and has medical reasons for not doing so. I put on about 5000 miles a year even considering leisure and vacations driving. I thought my neighbor was ready for the transition but he cannot take the direct sun on longer scooter runs. I don't mind the heat so I never thought if it.
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Old 08-19-17, 05:53 PM
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Well, good for him for giving it a try. He's not in a great location to be car-free, and he probably had underestimated the need to rely on neighbours for rides, and realized it was kind of rude. What was his motivation to try car-free in the first place - financial, environmental, or something else?
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Old 08-19-17, 07:10 PM
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He seems to be very interested in saving money for travel. But he is also very interested in his power usage. He put in a modern swamp cooler to cut cooling coasts. He grows a lot of his own vegetables and buys organic. He seems to have environmental concerns as well so it might be a combination. Like I said he studies things well before he tries them. He had his home completely gone through from top to bottom for insulation loss. and had these sky light things put in to same him from using lights during the day.

I think he has turned out to be more independent in his movements than he thought and as you have suggested he doesn't like bothering others for the times he needs a ride. But he got the truck for cash and it was less than my backup bike.
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Old 08-19-17, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
I still might someday but I now realize people still seem to need a way of getting out of the elements to be comfortable.

Oh, those harsh SoCal elements. However do you folks manage? (Says the guy who lives where the weather is even better.)


Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post

If I weren't married with children in SoCal, and lived alone somewhere friendly to bikes, going car free would be easy.
I've got some bad news for your fantasy of going car free: there are no bike friendly places in the US. If there were, many thousands of folks would be living out their dreams by moving there (at least those of us who do not depend on some particular job market). I've ridden in most of the so-called bike friendly locales, and it's really a contest to see which midget is tallest.

That said, I've found most places that don't have ice issues to be reasonable for getting around without a car. Yes, there are compromises and yes there are conflicts. However, the more people do it the easier it is for others to follow. If enough get in the saddle, you may just get that bike friendly place you desire. No one's going to build it without people riding. (Yeah, yeah, it's hard to get people riding until conditions on the ground are better, but each rider improves those conditions, imo.)
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Old 08-19-17, 08:36 PM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post

Oh, those harsh SoCal elements. However do you folks manage? (Says the guy who lives where the weather is even better.)




I've got some bad news for your fantasy of going car free: there are no bike friendly places in the US. If there were, many thousands of folks would be living out their dreams by moving there (at least those of us who do not depend on some particular job market). I've ridden in most of the so-called bike friendly locales, and it's really a contest to see which midget is tallest.

That said, I've found most places that don't have ice issues to be reasonable for getting around without a car. Yes, there are compromises and yes there are conflicts. However, the more people do it the easier it is for others to follow. If enough get in the saddle, you may just get that bike friendly place you desire. No one's going to build it without people riding. (Yeah, yeah, it's hard to get people riding until conditions on the ground are better, but each rider improves those conditions, imo.)
Maybe, but how does that relate to people that measure things on a sliding scale of 1-10? 10 being best? I believe my neighbor was just more interested in what he could do for the things he was interested in and not one bit concerned with what others thought of or were willing to do to follow his example. He simply doesn't seem like a joiner to me. I even fixed up an old bike for him a year or so ago and he tried that till he thought it was more trouble than it was worth, "for him." He never asked how I ever shopped by bike.
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Old 08-20-17, 12:20 AM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post

Oh, those harsh SoCal elements. However do you folks manage? (Says the guy who lives where the weather is even better.)




I've got some bad news for your fantasy of going car free: there are no bike friendly places in the US. If there were, many thousands of folks would be living out their dreams by moving there (at least those of us who do not depend on some particular job market). I've ridden in most of the so-called bike friendly locales, and it's really a contest to see which midget is tallest.

That said, I've found most places that don't have ice issues to be reasonable for getting around without a car. Yes, there are compromises and yes there are conflicts. However, the more people do it the easier it is for others to follow. If enough get in the saddle, you may just get that bike friendly place you desire. No one's going to build it without people riding. (Yeah, yeah, it's hard to get people riding until conditions on the ground are better, but each rider improves those conditions, imo.)
Having lived there, I really have little sympathy for anybody who says the weather in southern California is a major issue!

And some of us do just fine with ice issues and mediocre infrastructure. So much has to do with attitude, motivation, and adaptability--internal rather than external factors.

(That said, I do support better infrastructure and proper weather gear--both of which would probably encourage people to drive less.)
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Old 08-20-17, 12:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
Maybe, but how does that relate to people that measure things on a sliding scale of 1-10? 10 being best? I believe my neighbor was just more interested in what he could do for the things he was interested in and not one bit concerned with what others thought of or were willing to do to follow his example. He simply doesn't seem like a joiner to me. I even fixed up an old bike for him a year or so ago and he tried that till he thought it was more trouble than it was worth, "for him." He never asked how I ever shopped by bike.
I'm not a joiner either, but something as simple as joining bikeforums.net was a big help to me years ago.

I do believe that you have to devote a little time to major life changes before you decide it's just a failure. Also, for some people a more gradual approach would work better than an abrupt transition.
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Old 08-20-17, 05:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
He decided it was too inconvenient to ride the scooters for shopping and DYI projects plus going to the nursery for supplies for his vegetable garden. When I first moved here before I started cycling I thought about getting a LSV like a Gem to do what he wanted to do with the scooters. I still might someday but I now realize people still seem to need a way of getting out of the elements to be comfortable. To preempt a question, no mass transit isnít an option. But six weeks seems like a pretty short time for someone that had been planning for so long to go car free to toss in the hat.
Yeah, it would be really difficult to get around by scooter for that sort of thing here too ... too many hills.
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Old 08-20-17, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
I'm not a joiner either, but something as simple as joining bikeforums.net was a big help to me years ago.

I do believe that you have to devote a little time to major life changes before you decide it's just a failure. Also, for some people a more gradual approach would work better than an abrupt transition.
I think he put a lot of thought into his attempted change. I just don't think he put that change as high on his list as wanting to do the things he enjoyed doing already. I can remember last year he would walk to the store to do his shopping several times a week. I offered a ride if I saw him and he declined saying it was his form of exercise. that being said I give him credit for looking into it. He is greener than most of the people I know. Not married, no kids, I don't think he flies for vacations.

I just think his priorities are based on his needs and wants first. He will do his part as long as he can do what he likes when he likes to do it. Like I said every sacrifice has a number value and every pleasure or hobby has a number value. The higher value wins for him I think. I don't tend to judge his motives I was just observing the results of his experiment.

As an example, maybe two years ago he had a front porch added to his house. He asked for permission to use part of my driveway for the construction workers so he could save a tree that would sit right in front of the porch. I said sure but i would have just remove the tree if I were him. He saved tree and redid his front yard to be less labor intensive, no grass. the next year he took out the tree because the leaves were a pain to rake up once they started to fall. Saving the tree must have been a 5 but the effort to clean up after it must have been a 6 so the tree went. ( Just my example not saying that was his reasoning.)
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Old 08-20-17, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
...

... He decided it was too inconvenient ...

...seems like a pretty short time for someone that had been planning for so long to go car free to toss in the hat

.


The mindset here seems to be more like trying to stop smoking and going back to the evil of car ownership being a big fail but there probably was more involved than simply being too inconvenient-- rather, unlike smoking cigarettes, my take on it is that your neighbor learned again what most of us realize who find car ownership to be empowering.
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Old 08-20-17, 11:12 AM
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Interesting thread, albeit a little big-brotherish. Imagine there was a forum of people somewhere with your life as the topic of discussion, albeit anonymously. That said, I think we can all recognize the issues mentioned as things we've struggled with. I am lucky to live in a spot where I can leave my leaves unraked and do almost anything else with the lawn I want, and I empathize and cringe for people who live in neighborhoods where the neighbors complain about things like unraked leaves and unmowed grass, etc.

As far as vegetable gardening goes, I am always failing at it because I try to do it with as little external inputs as possible, with the dream of finding a completely self-sufficient method that will fertilize the crops and keep pests from taking over. I usually end up getting small bags of concentrated fertilizer because I reason that this is more well suited to LCF than carrying huge sacks of manure, which I could do with a bike trailer, but at least in my mind, it seems like there should be a way to use something more concentrated that weighs less and takes up less cargo volume to achieve the same effect.

Some people give me a hard time about seeking change in the world beyond myself, but there are just things that you can envision as societal changes that would make LCF easier. E.g. if there was a local community garden near where I live, it would be easier to hire a truck once to bring in a lot of manure/fertilizer and then everyone in the area could utilize it to grow vegetables. I know of community gardens that function in this way, but I think they are subsidized because my neighbors once tried to get one going and the moment we had to think about investing in a fence to keep out critters, no one wanted to invest in buying the fencing.

So, for me, LCF has become about developing a consumer culture at the personal level that is doable without driving. Ideally, as more people adopt/adapt their consumer behavior to what can be done without driving, more social and business impetus would build up to support that lifestyle. I have noticed this happening with delivery services, though I sometimes wonder if we'll end up with as many cars on the road doing deliveries as there ever were driving. Probably not, though, since deliveries are by definition a form of car-sharing that serve multiple users with the same vehicle, instead of just one family/household.

Many people just can't seem to be able to wrap their heads around cultural adaptations to live without driving; or they just don't want to. It reminds me of when I was young and I could plan university classes to start as late as possible so I could stay up late and sleep late in the mornings. I didn't want to adapt my personal culture to getting up early so I used the flexibility of university class scheduling to support that culture. This is the way the culture of driving-dependency works as well, I think. People like their lifestyles as they are and so they put giving up driving as a lower priority than other things. I can't do this, because I cannot imagine a sustainable future scenario where everyone drives.
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Old 08-20-17, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by McBTC View Post
The mindset here seems to be more like trying to stop smoking and going back to the evil of car ownership being a big fail but there probably was more involved than simply being too inconvenient-- rather, unlike smoking cigarettes, my take on it is that your neighbor learned again what most of us realize who find car ownership to be empowering.
Smoking cigarettes feels very empowering when you ignore all its negative aspects. Otherwise people wouldn't do it.
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Old 08-20-17, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
He seems to be very interested in saving money for travel. But he is also very interested in his power usage. He put in a modern swamp cooler to cut cooling coasts. He grows a lot of his own vegetables and buys organic. He seems to have environmental concerns as well so it might be a combination. Like I said he studies things well before he tries them. He had his home completely gone through from top to bottom for insulation loss. and had these sky light things put in to same him from using lights during the day.

I think he has turned out to be more independent in his movements than he thought and as you have suggested he doesn't like bothering others for the times he needs a ride. But he got the truck for cash and it was less than my backup bike.
Me neither. If I needed to bother people for a ride I would buy or rent a car instead - even for the rare occasion. I just think being car free should be a personal choice that I don't lay on anybody else to chip in and help me with.
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Old 08-20-17, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
Smoking cigarettes feels very empowering when you ignore all its negative aspects. Otherwise people wouldn't do it.

So does wearing a peach-colored robe and carrying around the fingernail parings of a spiritual Guru as a path to enlightenment.
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Old 08-20-17, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Walter S View Post
Me neither. If I needed to bother people for a ride I would buy or rent a car instead - even for the rare occasion. I just think being car free should be a personal choice that I don't lay on anybody else to chip in and help me with.
In that we might agree. He seems to do his own thing and has ever since I met him. He isn't looking for approval he is just doing what makes him feel good about himself. He doesn't like to bother others to do things he can do for himself. I don't have a lot in common with him but we get along because I respect his choices, even when they are not mine. He checks off more boxes than most in low carbon footprint category. Like I said I give him a thumbs up for the giving it a shot part. I don't expect to see the truck leaving the driveway often, his car never did. I do expect his garden to over produce so I get some free carrots, onions, squash and tomatoes. I just never realized how independent he was.
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Old 08-21-17, 12:32 AM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
I've got some bad news for your fantasy of going car free: there are no bike friendly places in the US. If there were, many thousands of folks would be living out their dreams by moving there (at least those of us who do not depend on some particular job market). I've ridden in most of the so-called bike friendly locales, and it's really a contest to see which midget is tallest.
I was never car-free when I lived in America, but it didn't stop me from commuting by bike whenever possible. A little sense, and acceptance of the inevitable cage-driving-morons-who-think-cars-are-a-suit-of-armor goes a long way. Most people can do most of their basic transportation by bicycle, but most people don't like to make the effort.

When I was looking for places to live when I was younger, being bike-friendly was never a concern. Most important were the climate and quality of life. But if climate and quality of life are good, more likely than not, getting around by bicycle will also be more convenient.
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Old 08-21-17, 12:53 AM
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Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
Interesting thread, albeit a little big-brotherish. Imagine there was a forum of people somewhere with your life as the topic of discussion, albeit anonymously. That said, I think we can all recognize the issues mentioned as things we've struggled with. I am lucky to live in a spot where I can leave my leaves unraked and do almost anything else with the lawn I want, and I empathize and cringe for people who live in neighborhoods where the neighbors complain about things like unraked leaves and unmowed grass, etc.

As far as vegetable gardening goes, I am always failing at it because I try to do it with as little external inputs as possible, with the dream of finding a completely self-sufficient method that will fertilize the crops and keep pests from taking over. I usually end up getting small bags of concentrated fertilizer because I reason that this is more well suited to LCF than carrying huge sacks of manure, which I could do with a bike trailer, but at least in my mind, it seems like there should be a way to use something more concentrated that weighs less and takes up less cargo volume to achieve the same effect.

Some people give me a hard time about seeking change in the world beyond myself, but there are just things that you can envision as societal changes that would make LCF easier. E.g. if there was a local community garden near where I live, it would be easier to hire a truck once to bring in a lot of manure/fertilizer and then everyone in the area could utilize it to grow vegetables. I know of community gardens that function in this way, but I think they are subsidized because my neighbors once tried to get one going and the moment we had to think about investing in a fence to keep out critters, no one wanted to invest in buying the fencing.

So, for me, LCF has become about developing a consumer culture at the personal level that is doable without driving. Ideally, as more people adopt/adapt their consumer behavior to what can be done without driving, more social and business impetus would build up to support that lifestyle. I have noticed this happening with delivery services, though I sometimes wonder if we'll end up with as many cars on the road doing deliveries as there ever were driving. Probably not, though, since deliveries are by definition a form of car-sharing that serve multiple users with the same vehicle, instead of just one family/household.

Many people just can't seem to be able to wrap their heads around cultural adaptations to live without driving; or they just don't want to. It reminds me of when I was young and I could plan university classes to start as late as possible so I could stay up late and sleep late in the mornings. I didn't want to adapt my personal culture to getting up early so I used the flexibility of university class scheduling to support that culture. This is the way the culture of driving-dependency works as well, I think. People like their lifestyles as they are and so they put giving up driving as a lower priority than other things. I can't do this, because I cannot imagine a sustainable future scenario where everyone drives.
We are lucky to have community gardens all over the place. Some are beautifully tended, and some look like weed pits.

I used one for a couple years. It was in town but in a wooded area, so the shade and deer were problems. I did get some crops in, especially the second year when I gave up on sun-intensive plants like tomatoes. The city brought in a huge pile of leaves every fall that would compost into fertilizer and mulch, so there was no need to haul fertilizer. This was only 1/4 mile from my apartment if I hopped a chain link fence instead of walking all the way around.

Another useful innovation is tool banks or tool libraries. this is when the neighborhood people own a stock of tools in common and share them. (Usually lawn, garden, and home repair tools--but car and bike tools also in some areas.) It's foolish to spend a lot of money on tools you use a few times a year when your neighbors have the same needs. It's like sole ownership of a car that you only use a few hours a week! Foolish and inefficient...
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Old 08-21-17, 12:55 AM
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Originally Posted by McBTC View Post
So does wearing a peach-colored robe and carrying around the fingernail parings of a spiritual Guru as a path to enlightenment.
I think trolling on the internet feels empowering to some people also, especially as they are able to make cruel and unfunny comments about people who are smarter than themselves.
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Old 08-21-17, 12:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
In that we might agree. He seems to do his own thing and has ever since I met him. He isn't looking for approval he is just doing what makes him feel good about himself. He doesn't like to bother others to do things he can do for himself. I don't have a lot in common with him but we get along because I respect his choices, even when they are not mine. He checks off more boxes than most in low carbon footprint category. Like I said I give him a thumbs up for the giving it a shot part. I don't expect to see the truck leaving the driveway often, his car never did. I do expect his garden to over produce so I get some free carrots, onions, squash and tomatoes. I just never realized how independent he was.
So you would feel OK accepting free vegetables, but not a free car ride? What is the distinction?
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Old 08-21-17, 04:20 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
We are lucky to have community gardens all over the place. Some are beautifully tended, and some look like weed pits.

I used one for a couple years. It was in town but in a wooded area, so the shade and deer were problems. I did get some crops in, especially the second year when I gave up on sun-intensive plants like tomatoes. The city brought in a huge pile of leaves every fall that would compost into fertilizer and mulch, so there was no need to haul fertilizer. This was only 1/4 mile from my apartment if I hopped a chain link fence instead of walking all the way around.

Another useful innovation is tool banks or tool libraries. this is when the neighborhood people own a stock of tools in common and share them. (Usually lawn, garden, and home repair tools--but car and bike tools also in some areas.) It's foolish to spend a lot of money on tools you use a few times a year when your neighbors have the same needs. It's like sole ownership of a car that you only use a few hours a week! Foolish and inefficient...
Some tools can be shared without much wear and tear, but others wear out and then the person that breaks it gets charged for being the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak. A good solution would be to rent tools, but the tool rental businesses I know of charge fees that would pay for the tool after a couple usages.

I think so much waste is caused by a certain business model where people basically buy into unlimited-use clubs. E.g. if you have car insurance on a car you own, that insurance will often cover rental cars, and then the rental car companies give amazing deals like $30/day. But if you use a car-share, the insurance drives up the cost and there are mileage limits, etc. because the car-share company wants to make as much money as the rental car companies, but somehow they're not tapped into the club that is sharing all the money spent by people to be part of the 'unlimited driving club.' I know this sounds weird and made-up, but I don't know how else to make sense of why sharing businesses charge so much more than businesses where customers pay a lot to not share.
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Old 08-21-17, 05:10 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
Some tools can be shared without much wear and tear, but others wear out and then the person that breaks it gets charged for being the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak. A good solution would be to rent tools, but the tool rental businesses I know of charge fees that would pay for the tool after a couple usages.

I think so much waste is caused by a certain business model where people basically buy into unlimited-use clubs. E.g. if you have car insurance on a car you own, that insurance will often cover rental cars, and then the rental car companies give amazing deals like $30/day. But if you use a car-share, the insurance drives up the cost and there are mileage limits, etc. because the car-share company wants to make as much money as the rental car companies, but somehow they're not tapped into the club that is sharing all the money spent by people to be part of the 'unlimited driving club.' I know this sounds weird and made-up, but I don't know how else to make sense of why sharing businesses charge so much more than businesses where customers pay a lot to not share.
There is no "club".

Have you ever heard of "supply and demand"?
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Old 08-21-17, 05:52 AM
  #24  
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I laugh a little when people prescribe renting a vehicle to do their occasional trips. How does the subject of the OP get to the rental agency to pick up the vehicle? Around where I live, you have to travel at least 20km to get to a rental agency.
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Old 08-21-17, 05:58 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
We are lucky to have community gardens all over the place. Some are beautifully tended, and some look like weed pits.

I used one for a couple years. It was in town but in a wooded area, so the shade and deer were problems. I did get some crops in, especially the second year when I gave up on sun-intensive plants like tomatoes. The city brought in a huge pile of leaves every fall that would compost into fertilizer and mulch, so there was no need to haul fertilizer. This was only 1/4 mile from my apartment if I hopped a chain link fence instead of walking all the way around.

Another useful innovation is tool banks or tool libraries. this is when the neighborhood people own a stock of tools in common and share them. (Usually lawn, garden, and home repair tools--but car and bike tools also in some areas.) It's foolish to spend a lot of money on tools you use a few times a year when your neighbors have the same needs. It's like sole ownership of a car that you only use a few hours a week! Foolish and inefficient...
My, we are feeling high and mighty today.

I have tools of all sorts that I might use occasionally. It gives me great satisfaction to have them because I like tools, and it's even better to have unfettered access to the right tool for the job without (a) having to hunt it down, or beg for it, from the co-owners and (b) it's in excellent condition because some other idiot hasn't destroyed it by trying to make it do something it wasn't designed to do (and if it isn't in excellent condition, I have no one else to blame but myself).

There is another poster on BFs who doesn't participate in LCF, but we have met. He used to live in a community with a common garden. The principle is fine, but the reality is that usually activity has to be driven by one or two people, and there are freeloaders who suddenly raid the produce without doing a darned bit of work.
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