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Why does everyone feel like they need to rain on my car-lite parade?

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.

Why does everyone feel like they need to rain on my car-lite parade?

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Old 03-31-18, 07:06 AM
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Why does everyone feel like they need to rain on my car-lite parade?

I’ve been trying to be car-lite for a few months now, with the ultimate goal of moving someplace where I can be car-free. I’m slowly getting used to it, but the one thing that is driving me crazy are the people who tell me how impractical I’m being. Or how ridiculous it is to bike everywhere. I constantly get questions like “Well, how are you planning to get to _____?” or “What if you need to ______?” They like to come up with scenarios where I would fail at being car-lite or car-free.

I wish people would just see this as a choice I’m making that doesn’t really affect them. Instead, it would be even better if they said “Sounds challenging! Let me know if I can help you.”
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Old 03-31-18, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
I’ve been trying to be car-lite for a few months now, with the ultimate goal of moving someplace where I can be car-free. I’m slowly getting used to it, but the one thing that is driving me crazy are the people who tell me how impractical I’m being. Or how ridiculous it is to bike everywhere. I constantly get questions like “Well, how are you planning to get to _____?” or “What if you need to ______?” They like to come up with scenarios where I would fail at being car-lite or car-free.

I wish people would just see this as a choice I’m making that doesn’t really affect them. Instead, it would be even better if they said “Sounds challenging! Let me know if I can help you.”
It doesn't go away, but it gets less and you get used to it. At this point, I have people say things like that to me and I just take it as a reminder of how much cultural bias there is toward driving. I had one person recently tell me I am 'extreme,' as if all choices should be measured in relation to how far they are from collective norms. It takes so long to explain to such a person why it's not good to measure choices relative to social norms that it's not worth it. It's easier to just say something like, "I don't view it as extreme but just a prudent choice for my health, budget, and happiness."

The reason why they come up with scenarios for failure is because they view driving as an absolute necessity. Many people in this forum will argue that driving and LCF are just choices, and in fact they are and people should see that, but most people I talk with about it ask questions like, "well what if it rains?," or "what do you do when it's hot?," Then, when I tell them about ponchos and shoes that don't absorb water, and squeezing out socks when they're soaked, and carrying a change of clothes so I don't have to sweat in my work clothes, their eyes get wide with amazement. Then I respond by saying I can't justify spending hundreds of dollars a month to avoid changing clothes or wearing a poncho, and they sort of get that but they don't really want to deal with it cognitively because it implies that they are spending hundreds of dollars a month unnecessarily to avoid changing clothes or to avoid wearing a poncho when it rains.
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Old 03-31-18, 09:05 AM
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I agree with tandempower. Just eliminated my car from my life earlier this year after it got totaled and I just didn't want to replace it. However there are a few people who just think choosing to be car free is utterly incomprehensible and they'll probably never understand, no matter what you do. My closest friend, he doesn't understand, he kinda accepts it, though he does occasionally toss in a "you should just get a car" or something similar. I've jokingly started telling him he just get rid of his. He does occasionally offer to drive me somewhere if its somewhere he thinks is too far to ride, I just thank him for the offer and tell him I've got it covered. No need to get unkind or upset, after all someday I might just need that ride and no need to burn bridges now.

I was car free when I lived in Alexandria, VA, inside the DC beltway, and there it doesn't really garner as many confused responses, but here in a relatively small town in the midwest, many people just think that if you chose not to have a car its because you have financial issues that preclude it, even if that is not the case.
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Old 03-31-18, 10:04 AM
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I also agree with tandempower & ReclusiveOne.

I try to stay car free as much as possible. I tell people I always make my bike/feet my first choice for transport. If I feel that will not work, I take the car. I find that approach gets people thinking and even gets some to ride their bike more. But, when you think there are people who will ride 50 miles for a recreational ride and do not consider taking their bike a mile to the hardware store, makes it easy to imagine how people can't even think about active transportation as an alternative.

My 100% car free experience was during my Peace Corps service. We were not allowed to drive. You figure out how to accomplish things with bicycling and public transport. Moving at human speed creates a remarkable lifestyle. Those people criticizing have no idea what they are missing.
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Old 03-31-18, 11:09 AM
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Try to look at it from their points of view; to them it really is "crazy" to not have a car. Most people lack the conditions in their lives, minds, and bodies which would permit it. Many people are not willing to make the sacrifices which you see as "trade-offs."

You are rejecting their view, also, and are in effect saying to them, "This way is better," which is a tough sell when you roll in soaked and shivering after a particularly bad ride, with terrible weather, worse drivers, and maybe that ever-exciting rainy-day roadside flat.

To a lot of people it Does look crazy.

Shoot, I know cyclists who think people who ride in traffic are crazy. They ride trails or off-road, dirt or gravel, because they can see that trundling along in the gutter with fifty pounds of groceries and cars and trucks whizzing by at fifty mph is Nuts.

If you aren't tough enough to deal with the questions ... how are you going to deal with the days when you have ridden too many miles, every piece of cycling gear you own is mud-spattered and soaked, and another three days of near-freezing rain are predicted?

Those people aren't even insulting you---they just don't understand why you have chosen a lifestyle they would find impossible to live themselves.

Have some pity on them.

Last edited by Maelochs; 03-31-18 at 11:13 AM.
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Old 03-31-18, 11:31 AM
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I wouldn't worry too much about it. People don't realize how capable cyclists are when living the car light lifestyle. Case in point: I went to a convention in Richmond BC, Canada) I walked to the rental car place downtown where I live. Took about 1 1/2 hours, one way but it was a nice day. Same thing when I dropped it off. My parents thought I was nuts.

Since a substantial number of people don't cycle, they tend to only look at things from a driver's perspective, because that's how they get around.
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Old 03-31-18, 11:42 AM
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As I went mostly car-free, I think some of my friends were initially a bit skeptical. Now they've just accepted it.

I do have my limits. I try to keep my one-way commutes under 200 miles. But, that does give me a pretty big radius of what is accessible. And even that may be flexible.

One thing you might point out is that there are many situations that a bike can be very practical.

Say one needs to drop the car off at a shop. Simply toss the bike in the back, drive to the shop, get the bike out and ride around... then ride back to the shop and pick up the car. No need for two drivers, car pooling, taxis, etc.

I was helping Mom out post-surgery recently. Easy enough. She drove in. I rode my folding bike. We met. She had surgery... then I loaded my bike in the back of her car and drove her home. Somehow I've volunteered my bike/car shuttle service to one of her friends too.

Oh, and I periodically carry loads on my bike that many people would struggle with carrying in their cars.

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Old 03-31-18, 02:22 PM
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Something tells me people aren’t just coming up to the OP and commenting on the choice to go car light or car free.

More than likely the subject is broached by the OP as a question that solicits opinion. Once opinions have been asked for people that can see no reason for such a change in their life are unlikely to be supportive of the OPs change.

If the goal is to become car light just do it and don’t ask permission.

Once you open a alternative lifestyle to debate that is what you will get, debate.
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Old 03-31-18, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Have some pity on them.
I do empathize with all sorts of people, but what happens when you get a reputation for something like LCF is that you get tired of the same questions and you see a pattern that the cultural assumptions are stacked against you. Of course it's understandable that culture develops this way around a technology as popular as driving, but it doesn't prevent it from getting old and tiresome to hear all the time, let alone explain.

Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
Once you open a alternative lifestyle to debate that is what you will get, debate.
Well that's debatable
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Old 03-31-18, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
I’ve been trying to be car-lite for a few months now, with the ultimate goal of moving someplace where I can be car-free. I’m slowly getting used to it, but the one thing that is driving me crazy are the people who tell me how impractical I’m being. Or how ridiculous it is to bike everywhere. I constantly get questions like “Well, how are you planning to get to _____?” or “What if you need to ______?” They like to come up with scenarios where I would fail at being car-lite or car-free.
This is because they are trying to rationalize to themselves and to you why they need a car to survive.

(BTW, I put about 10K miles on a car since late August 2017, and none of that was commuting. So I have nothing to be proud of.)
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Old 03-31-18, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
I’ve been trying to be car-lite for a few months now, with the ultimate goal of moving someplace where I can be car-free.
Sounds like you need to move to someplace where you can be "those people" free....

-Bandera
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Old 03-31-18, 04:43 PM
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Anytime you set out to be different from other people, it will confuse them and clash with their innate conception that societies function best when everyone is the same. Whether you get used to that is up to you.
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Old 03-31-18, 04:47 PM
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Eliminating something common in our society (meat, parenting, cars, phones) implies a criticism of those who do not. That makes people defensive.

You don't need to tell anyone you are "LCF" - that's where the questions come from. I ride a bike all sorts of places and no one has ever asked me questions as if I would never use a car.
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Old 03-31-18, 06:02 PM
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Car dependent

I think humans have become so car dependent that it just freaks most people out. I would think just don't tell any one u are trying to be car light , just do what feels right for u. I would be happy just driving less.. My job of home remodeling requires tools and a truck combined.. So I am truck dependent,,luckily my jobs are structured around rentals apartments so my radius driving is not to far, rather than driving 50 miles to a job...my radius is 10 miles or less. I guess if I got some panniers I could grocery shop with my bike which has front and rear racks..but ..laziness. .
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Old 03-31-18, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
Eliminating something common in our society (meat, parenting, cars, phones) implies a criticism of those who do not. That makes people defensive.

You don't need to tell anyone you are "LCF" - that's where the questions come from. I ride a bike all sorts of places and no one has ever asked me questions as if I would never use a car.
Eliminating something common in our society implies a criticism of those who do not only if the "eliminator" insists on gratuitously interjecting his holier-than-thou "thinking" on the subject with others, especially with people who didn't ask for his opinion or advice on it.

I suspect that some of the alleged grief is instigated by individuals who find that they do have a "need" to parade their opinionated views about lifestyle choices whether anybody asked for them or not.
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Old 03-31-18, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
More than likely the subject is broached by the OP
Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
Eliminating something common in our society implies a criticism of those who do not only if the "eliminator" insists on gratuitously interjecting his holier-than-thou "thinking"
I've had lots of unsolicited comments about my bike commuting to work including people offering me rides or saying "you didn't ride today, did you?" if the weather happens to be bad. A few family members expressed concern. It's all well-intentioned, and I don't mind it, but it definitely happens without the person having to broach or interject it.
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Old 03-31-18, 07:12 PM
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Don't make it a parade. Get there how you want to get there and don't make it a topic of conversation.
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Old 03-31-18, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
As I went mostly car-free, I think some of my friends were initially a bit skeptical. Now they've just accepted it.
Same here

To be fair, I think that the skeptics are/were just trying to be helpful. They were often the same people who could not imagine walking a mile to a store or spending any time outside when it's raining/snowing/windy/below freezing. Once they discover that I can still show up to places and do things, it's no longer a big deal.

The naysayers tend to stick out, but IME, there's an equal number of people who are thoroughly impressed as well as a larger number of people - most people in fact - who could really care less about how I get around.
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Old 03-31-18, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
I've had lots of unsolicited comments about my bike commuting to work including people offering me rides or saying "you didn't ride today, did you?" if the weather happens to be bad. A few family members expressed concern. It's all well-intentioned, and I don't mind it, but it definitely happens without the person having to broach or interject it.
Somehow I cannot see you going home with a long face and fretting about people being concerned about you. I cannot see you feeling like someone is raining in your parade. And if you consider it your parade then I am just as sure you would have brought attention to it.

It took seven years for anyone to notice I was driving less and riding my bikes more. Like you if it was hot, getting dark or cold and windy I would get offers of a ride. Never once bothered me and at times I might have said yes to the offer.

I have friends that are vegetarian and we can have dinner together without consternation. I have had friends turning towards vegan that I couldn’t stay in the same room with because they became advocates. Crossed them off my Christmas card list.

People that are adults are secure with their decisions, “Generally” If they aren’t secure they are easily offended and are closer to adolescents. They complain because others aren’t cheering their new lifestyle as if it was never considered before they thought of it.

If someone wants to change follow Nike, just do it.
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Old 03-31-18, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
I've had lots of unsolicited comments about my bike commuting to work including people offering me rides or saying "you didn't ride today, did you?" if the weather happens to be bad. A few family members expressed concern. It's all well-intentioned, and I don't mind it, but it definitely happens without the person having to broach or interject it.
The unsolicited comments that you received weren't negative , nor did they disparage you nor your choice of commuting mode; they certainly weren't raining on your parade, but rather were being friendly and helpful.

Go around preaching and ranting about the virtue of your choices at the same people and antagonizing them and you too might see the same rain on a self created parade.
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Old 04-01-18, 06:26 AM
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Wgscott nailed it. I've recently given up alcohol entirely and have similar interactions about it. Drinking is ingrained in mainstream culture, you've deliberately chosen not to do something everyone else does. The person responding to that isn't actually thinking about you, they are trying to justify why they do it. I've been car light for a decade and mostly avoid much conversation with people about it. I got tired of feeling like I needed to help everyone understand it.


Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
This is because they are trying to rationalize to themselves and to you why they need a car to survive.

(BTW, I put about 10K miles on a car since late August 2017, and none of that was commuting. So I have nothing to be proud of.)
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Old 04-01-18, 11:26 AM
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I think it must also depend on where you live. In the Bay Area, being car lite or car free is no big deal. Probably true in NY and other major cities with good public transit.
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Old 04-02-18, 05:01 PM
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Your transportation choice should be inconsequential & invisible to those around you. If it was they wouldn't comment.
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Old 04-02-18, 05:04 PM
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I look at it is, you make the life choices you have to to be true to yourself. Whether others support, laugh, disagree, whatever .... why would it matter? You do what you have to do.

Are you constantly supporting all of their choices ... particularly the ones with which you do not agree?
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Old 04-02-18, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by davidmcowan View Post
I've recently given up alcohol entirely and have similar interactions about it. Drinking is ingrained in mainstream culture, you've deliberately chosen not to do something everyone else does.
I haven't had a drink in 30 years. I can think of exactly one such interaction.

If you just live your life as you see fit without advertising it, people generally just let you be.
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