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New to Forum. Thinking of Going Car Free

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.

New to Forum. Thinking of Going Car Free

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Old 03-03-18, 01:53 PM
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rockthisworld
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New to Forum. Thinking of Going Car Free

Hi world my name is Nick nice to meet you. I am new to bike commuting and slowly working to transition to a car free lifestyle once I move 10 miles from work in June. My reasoning is to get in shape, save money, and have less negative impact on the enviorment. I need some advice, words of encouragement etc that could help me on my 2018 journey. Thank you all. Can't wait to build some awesome friendships with a community of people who love to bike.
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Old 03-03-18, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by rockthisworld View Post
Hi world my name is Nick nice to meet you. I am new to bike commuting and slowly working to transition to a car free lifestyle once I move 10 miles from work in June. My reasoning is to get in shape, save money, and have less negative impact on the enviorment.

I need some advice, words of encouragement etc that could help me on my 2018 journey. Thank you all. Can't wait to build some awesome friendships with a community of people who love to bike.
Hi Nick,

An essential question, IMO for Car-Free / Car-Light Living is “Where do you live?"
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Boston is probably one of the most Car-free cities in the world, and having a car is often detrimental. We live near the transportation hub of Kenmore Square. Our easily accessible Car-free / Car-light modalities at home and work are:
  • subway and Commuter Rail
  • taxis and Uber
  • car rentals, including Zipcar
  • shopping and personal services within walking distances
  • a convenient place to stay overnight at work
  • my cycle commutes are on pleasant routes in the reverse of the usual commuting direction.
I’ve been an avid cyclist for decades, so that and other Car-free transportation is fine with me. I posted to this thread on LCF, "What's awesome about Living Car Free": ….
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
And I have equally pleasant driving and mass transit alternatives…Sometime ago I tried to schematically diagram the comparisons between my three transportation modes:

Overall Satisfaction:
BIKE>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>TRAIN>>>CAR

Intensity of Focus:
BIKE>>>CAR>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>TRAIN

Convenience:
CAR>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>BIKE>>TRAIN
You’ll find many different viewpoints, often on long posts, and many disputed with great enthusiasm, but I'm an infrequent poster.
Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
I hope I do not come across as combative (I have that tendency at times.) I truly appreciate your rational criticism of my posts. I find it helpful.
Originally Posted by cooker View Post
It's all done in good will. Cheers.
Consider also the Commuting Forum on BF as a resource.
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Old 03-03-18, 02:23 PM
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Jim, Will do thank you. I live in Rhode Island. I worked up in Boston for alittle. Its nice up there as long as I'm not driving in the city. Nice to meet you.
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Old 03-03-18, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by rockthisworld View Post
Jim, Will do thank you. I live in Rhode Island. I worked up in Boston for a little. Its nice up there as long as I'm not driving in the city. Nice to meet you.
Thanks for your nice reply
Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
NJ drivers are, um, special.
Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I lived in NJ for 26 years. I have a lot of nice things to say about the place, but driving is where New Jerseyans earn their reputation.[
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Hey, wait a minute. I’m from the Motor City, and good driving is in my blood.

"For the third year in a row, Massachusetts drivers were ranked the worst in the nation. This will hardly come as news to many of you."

See also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMqVLVi1Zpk
Gotta love being a cyclist in the Northeast Corridor
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Humbly, if Bike Forums ever had a Best Commute Award, I would be a frontrunner...
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
… through one of America’s most charming, interesting, and historic metropolises on residential and light commercial roads (and partially on a bikepath in a park)…during all four (pleasant to tolerable) seasons…

Not to brag, but to illustrate the possibilities.

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Old 03-03-18, 04:44 PM
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I'd start by thinking of all the things that might be tough on a bike .... if you can find ways to deal with or not to do those things, you're ready.

Winter weather, particularly rain and wind with a temp just above freezing. Really big loads. Any time you'd need to bring a passenger. Any time you'd need to be clean and professional-looking upon arrival (unless you wanted to look like a professional cyclist ... )

Also ... make sure you know a couple people you can call if you need to go to the emergency room. I gashed my knee one night and riding would have been very painful and messy and just not fun. If you have cabs and Uber, and cash or plastic, not an issue.

Do you have more than one bike? That matters for a lot of reasons ... the bike which can carry 100 lbs of groceries and laundry might not be good to ride unladen, and vice versa. if the bike breaks or even if you come downstairs in the morning and find you have a flat .... and you are already running late. (I used to have a garage-full of throwaway bikes--bikes i literally picked up on the side of the road and refit, so in case of a disaster, i didn't have to call in to work ... which often doesn't sit well with management.)

Also ... do you have an absolutely safe and secure place to park your bike every where you need to? That's important, obviously.

None of this stuff is hard to deal with, but it is best if you plan it all out ahead of time.

I have a few bikes, but most of the heavy hauling is done with a $500 mail-order bike ... and I could have gone cheaper and still gotten a reliable set of components. The hauling bike just needs to have rack mounts and be cheap enough that yo can lock it up outside any store where you might want to shop. It doesn't need to be really light, as it will usually be loaded anyway.

Supposing you can keep your bike somewhere indoors at work, you can get a decent commuter---something which can roll over any pavement, can carry whatever you need for work( food, change of clothes, whatever else) but is enough of a performer that it is still fun to ride. You can commute on cheap bikes and it is still great .... but you can also commute on a decent bike.

Plus you will want a bad-weather bike (hauler can double for this) for those days when you need to bring extra rain gear, need to wrap everything three times to keep it dry, absolutely need to bring dry clothes and shoes, and maybe a towel. Rain isn't bad for a bike, but rain and fine silt will clog things up and grind things down and wear things out.

Also, flats seem to happen more in the rain---maybe because everything on the road ends up on the roadside where you are riding? So sturdier tires, anti-puncture strips, all that .... (Some will tell you to go tubeless ... can't address that.)

No reason not to just do it ... except that sometimes the lessons hurt more that way.

Best, I think, to imagine every rotten scenario and make a plan. You will still get hit with stuff you didn't consider, but not so often.
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Old 03-03-18, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Do you have more than one bike? That matters for a lot of reasons ... the bike which can carry 100 lbs of groceries and laundry might not be good to ride unladen, and vice versa. if the bike breaks or even if you come downstairs in the morning and find you have a flat .... and you are already running late. (I used to have a garage-full of throwaway bikes--bikes i literally picked up on the side of the road and refit, so in case of a disaster, i didn't have to call in to work ... which often doesn't sit well with management.)
A lot of people talk like that but I have one bike - a touring bike (Surly) that will carry a big load or not and still handle well. I used to have regular flats in town till I started investing in better tires. I ride CityContacts in recent years. My last flat was a few years ago. I've never ever found my tire flat before I leave in the morning but I'm sure that's possible - it's just not much of a worry. It also helps to leave for work earlier than you need to so you can adapt.

In practice I see car drivers at work show up late regularly and complain about traffic jams. A couple wrecks can easily delay a car by an hour. But riding my bicycle for about 75 minutes as my average ride to work, even the worst possible traffic jams are going to slow me down by 2 or 3 minutes max.
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Old 03-03-18, 05:19 PM
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Yeah, traffic jams are a positive joy for cyclists ... try not to grin as you pass all the gridlocked cars and scowling drivers .....
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Old 03-03-18, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Yeah, traffic jams are a positive joy for cyclists ... try not to grin as you pass all the gridlocked cars and scowling drivers .....
I have to admit really, that sometimes it gives me a burst of energy to go even faster
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Old 03-03-18, 07:16 PM
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Im just not sure what to do from the end of November until the end of February for the winter months. Not sure if I should keep my car and only insure for those 3 months? Or find a way to make it work. I know people bike in all weather but I just want to find out next winter if its possible for me.
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Old 03-03-18, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by rockthisworld View Post
Im just not sure what to do from the end of November until the end of February for the winter months. Not sure if I should keep my car and only insure for those 3 months? Or find a way to make it work. I know people bike in all weather but I just want to find out next winter if its possible for me.
Yeah, that's not a bad idea.

I eased into being car free. For several years my ex-husband had the car and I rarely saw it so I got used to taking the bus, cycling or walking places. In the winter, I'd take the bus or occasionally beg a ride from him. But then I started riding my bicycle later into the season, and earlier in spring until one year, I rode right through the winter except for the occasional really bad day when I took the bus. That gave me time to build up equipment etc.

When he finally totalled the car and we had to go car free, it wasn't much different to me.
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Old 03-03-18, 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Yeah, that's not a bad idea.

I eased into being car free. For several years my ex-husband had the car and I rarely saw it so I got used to taking the bus, cycling or walking places. In the winter, I'd take the bus or occasionally beg a ride from him. But then I started riding my bicycle later into the season, and earlier in spring until one year, I rode right through the winter except for the occasional really bad day when I took the bus. That gave me time to build up equipment etc.

When he finally totalled the car and we had to go car free, it wasn't much different to me.
That sounds good. Like I have my gf's car but I don't want to be a burden. I told her if I go carfree Id fill up her tank if I ever used her car. But here in Rhode Island seeing bike commuters are few and far between. But there is always uber for the occasional ride. Plus technically I only need to ride 3-4 times a week anyways during the winter.
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Old 03-04-18, 05:33 AM
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Yeah, I'd follow Machka;'s advice I eventually total your gf's car.
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Old 03-04-18, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by rockthisworld View Post
Hi world my name is Nick nice to meet you. I am new to bike commuting and slowly working to transition to a car free lifestyle once I move 10 miles from work in June. My reasoning is to get in shape, save money, and have less negative impact on the enviorment. I need some advice, words of encouragement etc that could help me on my 2018 journey. Thank you all. Can't wait to build some awesome friendships with a community of people who love to bike.
We're a one car family and I bike commute while my wife has the car most of the time. What works for me is that I can take public transit as my backup. The bike ride takes 45-55 minutes, and public transit takes 1 h and 15 min, so I bike most of the time, but I prefer not to bike on ice or snow so it is about a 66/33 split between bike and transit.

If I have a flat or mechanical on the way to work I have a choice of trying to fix it, or locking the bike and hopping on a bus. This only happens once or twice a year. Mostly I am able to fix it.

However another reason I take transit in really cold weather is I would hate to have to fix a flat then. I carry both a patch kit and a spare tube, so I decide at the time which to use. However, it's actually rare to have emergency flats. More likely its a pinhole, and you come out to your bike in the morning and the air has slowly leaked out overnight. In that case I use my backup bike and fix the tube that evening. However if I had to, I would fix it. With practise you can fix a flat in under 5 minutes, while some pros do it in under one minute.

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Old 03-04-18, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by rockthisworld View Post
That sounds good. Like I have my gf's car but I don't want to be a burden. I told her if I go carfree Id fill up her tank if I ever used her car.
Are you living with her? The convention here is usually to call that car-light, which is also covered by this forum, but I almost hesitate to say that as we often have lengthy debates about definitions! Many of us are car-light here.

There are a couple of other forums you may be interested in as well - commuting and utility cycling.

Good luck with your plans!
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Old 03-04-18, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by rockthisworld View Post
I am new to bike commuting and slowly working to transition to a car free lifestyle once I move 10 miles from work in June.
As others have noted the BF sub-forum Commuting is a wealth of practical knowledge and advice on getting reliably from here-to-there on time in relative comfort while schlepping the necessities of the workplace and the kit for dealing with flats, security and weather.

A 10 mile one-way bike commute day after day will most likely be wearing on a person new to the grind/routine of getting to/from the workplace plus errands and "whatever" week after week. Have Plans B & C firmly nailed down ready to execute when "stuff happens", which it will.

Good luck, be safe,

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Old 03-04-18, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Bandera View Post
As others have noted the BF sub-forum Commuting is a wealth of practical knowledge and advice on getting reliably from here-to-there on time in relative comfort while schlepping the necessities of the workplace and the kit for dealing with flats, security and weather.

A 10 mile one-way bike commute day after day will most likely be wearing on a person new to the grind/routine of getting to/from the workplace plus errands and "whatever" week after week. Have Plans B & C firmly nailed down ready to execute when "stuff happens", which it will.

Good luck, be safe,

-Bandera
Thank you for your advice. For work I only have to do it on Sun, Mon, and Tues. I work 36 hours in 3 days. I have Wed-Sat off but I do have to attend a 2 hr staff meeting on Thursdays but I can uber for that.
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Old 03-04-18, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by rockthisworld View Post
Thank you for your advice. For work I only have to do it on Sun, Mon, and Tues. I work 36 hours in 3 days. I have Wed-Sat off but I do have to attend a 2 hr staff meeting on Thursdays but I can uber for that.
A solid Plan B.
While commuting by bike can be a healthy cost effective mode of getting about in the right settings there are no hardcore cyclist bonus points or elevation to environmental Sainthood for doing so.
Make smart choices and enjoy yourself, mostly.

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Old 03-06-18, 01:17 AM
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Originally Posted by rockthisworld View Post
Im just not sure what to do from the end of November until the end of February for the winter months. Not sure if I should keep my car and only insure for those 3 months? Or find a way to make it work. I know people bike in all weather but I just want to find out next winter if its possible for me.
When I first started year-round commuting, I resolved to ride every day up until a certain date (Dec. 15 IIRC). By then it was so enjoyable that I just went ahead and decided to ride all winter.

Once you get used to it, you realize that cold will never stop you from ricing. The only thing that can stop you is snow and ice on the pavement. And here they always clear the roads within 12-24 hours. Side streets and bike paths might take a bit longer to be cleared. But in general, if a car can get through so can a bike.
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Old 03-06-18, 09:43 AM
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Achieving car free is a lofty goal few ever attain in life time. Only by self discipline and clear vision of what you hope to accomplish will you succeed. Good luck!

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Old 03-07-18, 01:08 AM
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Originally Posted by rockthisworld View Post
Hi world my name is Nick nice to meet you. I am new to bike commuting and slowly working to transition to a car free lifestyle once I move 10 miles from work in June. My reasoning is to get in shape, save money, and have less negative impact on the enviorment. I need some advice, words of encouragement etc that could help me on my 2018 journey. Thank you all. Can't wait to build some awesome friendships with a community of people who love to bike.
Hey Nick ... if you want to discuss the real world aspects of going car light and/or car free, allow me to suggest heading over to the Commuting forum. Over there, you'll find people who are actually doing it!

The people in this forum just want to argue the theories.
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Old 03-07-18, 01:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Hey Nick ... if you want to discuss the real world aspects of going car light and/or car free, allow me to suggest heading over to the Commuting forum. Over there, you'll find people who are actually doing it!

The people in this forum just want to argue the theories.
I do feel bad for the guy who came here looking for some practical advice and some encouragement.

The OP did wonder whether he should hold onto the car in case LCF doesn't work for him. Another idea, OP, is to go ahead and sell the car. Put the money in the bank, and for a couple months put the money you didn't spend on auto insurance in the bank also. After a few months, decide whether you want to remain carfree or not. If you don't want to, use the bank money to buy a new car and insurance. If you do decide to stay carfree, spend the money on something awesome.

Anyhoo, for me personally LCF is neither a hardship attainable only by saints, or a state of being wanted only by pathetic losers. It's just the way some of us choose to live, purely out of preference. I have been carfree for much of my life, a total of 30 years or more. In that time I have maintained a good full-time job, raised a family, and put myself through college and grad school. In addition I'v enjoyed the hell out of myself--thousands of awesome bike rides, walks, and even bus trips. In no way was being LCF ever a compromise, a sacrifice or a sell-out. It has always been a wonderful way to live for me, and I think for many other people also.
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Old 03-07-18, 02:45 AM
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Old 03-07-18, 03:08 AM
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Being car free worked really well for me for 6 years. I was in an ideal situation for it ... easy walking distance from many of the things I needed, and cycling distance to and from work and several other things that were somewhat further away. Plus a decent bus service. I also discovered that my city had many ways to help me in difficult circumstances ... things like grocery delivery, pet taxi services, and car rental services that would pick me up and drop me off at my door.

And Winnipeg was flat as a pancake!
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Old 03-07-18, 05:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
I do feel bad for the guy who came here looking for some practical advice and some encouragement.

The OP did wonder whether he should hold onto the car in case LCF doesn't work for him. Another idea, OP, is to go ahead and sell the car. Put the money in the bank, and for a couple months put the money you didn't spend on auto insurance in the bank also. After a few months, decide whether you want to remain carfree or not. If you don't want to, use the bank money to buy a new car and insurance. If you do decide to stay carfree, spend the money on something awesome.

Anyhoo, for me personally LCF is neither a hardship attainable only by saints, or a state of being wanted only by pathetic losers. It's just the way some of us choose to live, purely out of preference. I have been carfree for much of my life, a total of 30 years or more. In that time I have maintained a good full-time job, raised a family, and put myself through college and grad school. In addition I'v enjoyed the hell out of myself--thousands of awesome bike rides, walks, and even bus trips. In no way was being LCF ever a compromise, a sacrifice or a sell-out. It has always been a wonderful way to live for me, and I think for many other people also.
I really appreciate this. Im going to hold my car and try going car free for a few months and if successful then will probably sell my car. I just have really no enjoyment from driving anymore to be honest. Nothing but anxiety riden, and money consuming impact on the enviorment.
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Old 03-07-18, 06:08 AM
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Originally Posted by rockthisworld View Post
Hi world my name is Nick nice to meet you. I am new to bike commuting and slowly working to transition to a carfree lifestyle once I move 10 miles from work in June. My reasoning is to get in shape, save money, and have less negative impact on the enviorment.

I need some advice, words of encouragement etc that could help me on my 2018 journey….
Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Being car free worked really well for me for 6 years. I was in an ideal situation for it ... easy walking distance from many of the things I needed, and cycling distance to and from work and several other things that were somewhat further away.

Plus a decent bus service. …And Winnipeg was flat as a pancake!
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Boston is probably one of the most Car-free cities in the world, and having a car is often detrimental. We live near the transportation hub of Kenmore Square.

Our easily accessible Car-free / Car-light modalities at home and work are:…
Originally Posted by cb400bill View Post
Please do not post political content outside of the P+R forum.
LCF is so closely intertwined with cycle-commuting, that I had replied to this thread with a recent, now-deleted, non-political (IMO),but contrarian post, partly re-submitted:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston
However, I don't proselytize about cycling. I posted to this A&S thread, “How can we get more people riding their bikes?.”
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I’m going to be a Captain Bringdown to this thread, but I just posted yesterday to this Commuting thread, Beginner Commuting In a Big City,” given the state of current Road transportation,
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Frankly, I have posted that I would not be inclined to encourage, unless by example (nor discourage) someone to cycle-commute, but if they so chose, I would freely and gladly give any advice.
Public exhortations to cycle-commute, or utility cycle are well and good with no individual responsibility for bad outcomes, but I would not want the recriminations of a personal endorsement if something bad happened.
Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Hey Nick... if you want to discuss the real world aspects of going car light and/or carfree, allow me to suggest heading over to the Commuting forum. Over there, you'll find people who are actually doing it!

The people in this forum just want to argue the theories.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 03-07-18 at 06:19 AM.
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