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Car-free/Car-lite with a family

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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.

Car-free/Car-lite with a family

Old 05-25-07, 05:50 PM
  #1  
rockmom
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Car-free/Car-lite with a family

I was wondering about other people's experiences being car free or car lite with a family. We did not turn many heads as car free single people or as a car free couple. But when my husband and I started having kids, people thought we were crazy to not get a car. Most people we know don't think we're crazy anymore thanks to volatile gas prices, but we are still considered very, very odd.

Have you gotten a lot of flack for not have a car with kids? What will you do in an emergency!? But what about all that baby stuff you need to lug around? How do get all those groceries home? How do you get them to all their activities/appointments?
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Old 05-26-07, 09:33 AM
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People sometimes come here to tell us that carfree with kids can't be done. So, how long have you been doing it?
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Old 05-26-07, 09:40 AM
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What about buying a cheap car for 5-10 years, using it only when it would be unsafe or really inconvienient with kids. Plus, you should factor in what would happen in a medical emergeny with a kid. Drive only 1000-2000 miles a year.
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Old 05-26-07, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by scottyk
What about buying a cheap car for 5-10 years, using it only when it would be unsafe or really inconvienient with kids. Plus, you should factor in what would happen in a medical emergeny with a kid. Drive only 1000-2000 miles a year.
Taxi cab...we did that for years while my dad was deployed/away at school. Momma had a driver's license but had been sick and didn't want to drive very much. Also we were a one car family for many, many years and that was with 4 kids on a 9 year spread People never think of taxis as viable, but if you need them occasionally they are a very useful form of transportation.

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Old 05-26-07, 01:53 PM
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Car free with a 14 month old here. I did get a fair share of reactions from ppl.

Emergencies: Cabs!
Groceries: a Backpack, Solid Shopping bags, and public transit.
To Carry him around: A combination of good planning, public transit, lots of walking, and this:

Last edited by BenyBen; 05-26-07 at 01:59 PM.
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Old 05-26-07, 02:05 PM
  #6  
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Heck my mother did it, she never owned a car. Of course she raised us in an apartment in the city.

My dad wasn't car free, he'd never be no way he was walking or taking the bus anywhere he bought a place in the suburbs.

They were divorced and my sister and I grew up between both parents places.

My dad died penniless after a few company bankruptcies and a heart condition.

My mother is still very much alive and has paid off her condo.

You do the math..
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Old 05-26-07, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by scottyk
What about buying a cheap car for 5-10 years, using it only when it would be unsafe or really inconvienient with kids. Plus, you should factor in what would happen in a medical emergeny with a kid. Drive only 1000-2000 miles a year.
In a real medical emergency, call 9-1-1, car or no car, it's their job to deal with this kind of thing..... In a so so medical emergency, call a cab. The problem with convenience, is that all of a sudden you find, reasons to justify using the car, your tired, it might rain, it is raining, I can't be bothered hooking up the trailer, or putting on the panniers, to do the shopping.... Before you know it, your driving 25,000 miles a year, you have each put on 40+ lbs and one of you has started smoking again.....
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Old 05-26-07, 05:39 PM
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I'm car free and have a 2yo. However, my wife drives.
I do all of our weekly shopping and we take her car once every other month or so to the bulk foods grocer.
I shop for basic provisions 2-3 days a week. I just stop at the grocers on my way home and pick up a few things at a time. I have built a shopping cart to attach to my bike for major shopping trips that I might take.
It's not hard once you start doing it.

For emergencies I have a phone, and that phone can dial 9-1-1.

If my wife did not have a car (which she needs for her job) then we'd just take a cab or do a rental for the times it was necessary. From time to time I rent a pickup truck from Home depot for $20 when I have to pick up heavy things (appliences, lumber, etc). think about it. All the money you save by not owning a car can go into a Motorized transportation Fund and that money can be used for rentals and cabs. At the end of the year you'd have plenty left over in that fund, so the cost of rentals and cabs for a year would be less than that of owning a car, much less.
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Old 05-26-07, 06:15 PM
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Here's my family's story. My husband and I have been car free since we met in college. I haven't had regular access to a car since 1993. At first it was such a savings to not own a car, that we just kept putting it off. Then owning a car seemed like too big a hassle. When we had our fist child 7 years ago, everyone thought we should buy a car. But we didn't. We used the bus/light rail or walked. Every once in a while we use a taxi or more often the car share. Now we've added biking back into our transportation scheme.

The real key has been paying careful attention to where we live. We would never consider a home that was not near public transit or without sidewalks. We have also tried to live within 5 miles of work. Emergencies have been handled fairly easily using taxis or 911, depending on the level of urgency. Groceries are not that hard to carry, even for a family of four, if you break it into two shopping trips. Though we did give up soda since it's heavy.

BenyBen, those are lovely shopping bags. We have canvas bags, but those nylon ones look very durable.
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Old 05-26-07, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by rockmom
BenyBen, those are lovely shopping bags. We have canvas bags, but those nylon ones look very durable.
They are, and they fold so small that they're easy to bring out whenever you leave, even if you don't think you'll need em. We've abused those so much, yet they still don't show any wear.

They are also very large and deep. Highly recommended.
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Old 05-27-07, 12:50 PM
  #11  
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My biggest obstacle in becoming car free are children classes. We have several classes pretty far away; and there is no chance I can find similar ones anywhere closer.

Another problem is doctor's appointments. Sure, I can call taxi, but I have three children, not one. I could move closer to a hospital to solve this problem.

Buying food for a family of five is also a bit tough on a bike. But that's a minor issue.
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Old 05-27-07, 04:27 PM
  #12  
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The wife and I have been car free off and on for a few months. 5 kids. The 2 jr high aged kids ride their bikes to wherever they need.. school, library, scouts. The 2 elementary kids only have to walk about a block. We have a trailer for the youngest, but he doesn't like it after about 10 minutes.

The big concern was medical emergencies. If it's life threatening 911 is the best option car or no car like someone else mentioned. Last week I had to go to the emergency room and was lucky enough to be able to catch a ride from a co-worker. The wife and one of the kids took the bus to meet me there which is fortunately only 10 minutes from the house by bus and the bus route is direct right to the hospital doors. We all rode the bus home together. If need be, I've got enough family and friends in the area we probably could have had a ride home.

As of friday, we're back to one car.. err.. truck. I've been working on the wife to do more by bike and she's starting to get in to it. Yesterday we did a grocery and dept store run. Today her and the boys did a small one. And I think I just heard her say she forgot something so that means I need to cut this post short and saddle up.

But quickly, I use a rack trunk bag with an insulated main compartment and drop down panniers. I don't load it too heavy because it's a seat post rack. Her rack is standard mount and we'll use a duffle bag or back pack tied down. If need be we can also haul the kiddie trailer. On this latest trip, her and the boys used back packs and also looped bags around the handle bars. On my little trip I'm about to take, I'll just use the trunk back since it's just tortilla chips. I'll probalby slip a 6 pack in there for my fee.

Oh yeah.. we also buy in bulk from costco/sam's club when a vehicle is handy. We're also scoping out some grocery getter panniers like the sunlites or nashbar model. My wife is digging on some the collapsable wire cage pannier things, too.
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Old 05-27-07, 04:43 PM
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Another problem is doctor's appointments. Sure, I can call taxi, but I have three children, not one.
I'm not sure why it's a problem to take three children to the doctor by taxi instead of one. Can you explain?
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Old 06-08-07, 09:31 AM
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We're a "car-lite" work in progress. We moved recently in part to facilitate this lifestyle. The motor vehicles are going to end up leaving slowly, I'm sure. Having them sit in the driveway will demonstrate to the wife that they are unnecessary, though I can't imagine not using them in a Massachusetts winter.

In terms of mileage, Work is 3+, Grocery is 2, Hospital is 1 1/2, Dr.'s & Ped's and Vet, hardware store, 150 acre park, library, convenience grocer & restaurants are all within walking distance. I guess I'd agree with the poster who said plan your housing location carefully to reap the benefits of a carfree lifestyle.
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Old 06-08-07, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by cerewa
I'm not sure why it's a problem to take three children to the doctor by taxi instead of one. Can you explain?
Ever bring 3 children into the exam/treatment room with you? Doubt it, since I doubt that there is Doctor who would allow it. Or allow their waiting area to be an unsupervised playground while the parent is being examined or accompanying the one child who is being treated. Do you think the receptionist is going to be a baby sitter for young children. Doubt it.
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Old 06-08-07, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Ever bring 3 children into the exam/treatment room with you? Doubt it, since I doubt that there is Doctor who would allow it. Or allow their waiting area to be an unsupervised playground while the parent is being examined or accompanying the one child who is being treated. Do you think the receptionist is going to be a baby sitter for young children. Doubt it.
That has nothing to do with being car free. That has to do with being a parent of more than one child. Generally, it is quite acceptable to bring children to most doctor's appointments. My kids go to each other's appointments and have gone to many of mine as well. Sometimes I get a babysitter. It is generally advisable to have a couple people you could call in a pinch to babysit. But even people with cars need emergency babysitters since leaving a kid in a car alone is not advisable and often criminal.
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Old 06-08-07, 02:22 PM
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I commute everyday and we go out riding on the weekends pulling the kids in a trailer. We only drive on weekends, and even then only if it's going to be far or we're going inside somewhere (like a mall) for a while and don't want to leave our stuff locked up where it might get stolen.

Our house is central to everything we need to go to. Work is 3+ miles, the mall is 1, my son's cancer doctor is 4 miles, we have four kids parks within a three block radius and two of them have wading pools.

My wife walks everywhere with my boys, we bought a nice stroller (Mountain Buggy Urban Double) for her to use so she doesn't need the car either.

So we're not car free but we only have to gas up the car every 6 weeks. Of course in the winter there's no cycling here so car use goes up.
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Old 06-08-07, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by rockmom
That has nothing to do with being car free. That has to do with being a parent of more than one child. Generally, it is quite acceptable to bring children to most doctor's appointments. My kids go to each other's appointments and have gone to many of mine as well. Sometimes I get a babysitter. It is generally advisable to have a couple people you could call in a pinch to babysit. But even people with cars need emergency babysitters since leaving a kid in a car alone is not advisable and often criminal.
You are right. It is a response to what is the difference between handling one vs. multiples at a medical facility. I assume you do not really bring all your children along to your own dental and physical examinations. Or take healthy children into the clinic during flu season for example just to tag along.

I guess it helps to assure that your babysitters always have available dependable all-weather transportation to come to you whenever you need them.

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Old 06-08-07, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
You are right. It is a response to what is the difference between handling one vs. multiples at a medical facility. I assume you do not really bring all your children along to your own dental and physical examinations. Or take healthy children into the clinic during flu season for example just to tag along.

I guess it helps to assure that your babysitters always have available dependable all-weather transportation to come to you whenever you need them.
For my own exams, I generally schedule it when either my husband or someone else can watch the kids. The same goes for my husbands regular physicals. For my OB appointments during my second pregnancy, I usually took my daughter. She got a kick out of hearing her brother's heartbeat and watching the doc measure my belly. I generally take the kids along to each other's appointments. Even better, I schedule them together to get it all over with in one day. And generally, if one of them is sick, so is the other. Our ER visits have tended to occur in the middle of the night so one of us stayed with the other kid.

My back up babysitters are both within a block. My back up to the other back ups are also easy to reach and are on the way to the hospital. I've been doing this for awhile.
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Old 06-08-07, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by rockmom
I've been doing this for awhile.
It sounds like it. Congratulations and I hope the family stays healthy and happy.
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