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Why live car-free?

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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.

Why live car-free?

Old 11-09-09, 01:45 PM
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TRZ
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Why live car-free?

I'm curious as to why (and where) people live car-free or commute by bike. We're surrounded by a car-based culture. In almost all circumstances, cars are put first: there are more parking spaces than bike racks, more advertising for cars than bikes, cars get more space on the road than bikes, government subsidies go more to car-pool commuting than to bike-commuting, and so on and so forth. So, given all that, why do you live car-free? Finances? The environment? Efficiency? Health and exercise?

Also, where do you live car-free? Urban areas? Rural areas? Warm climates? Cold climates?
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Old 11-09-09, 02:30 PM
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I live in Monterey, Ca.

car-free for about 6 years now
car-lite for most of my life.

why?
yes, finance
health
environment
I was also in the army, there has been a degree of "soldiering thru" with bicycling.
but, I've been like this most of my life.
that is, yes... i'd ride my bike to work in the rain, and always be early.
yes, I'd ride my bike around mudslides, fallen trees, during blackouts, etc...
also I'm totally a bike-a-holic
i went to UBI (certified bike wrench)
i help put on events/races (on site operations co-ordinator for Sea Otter Classic 09')
training camps, etc...
most of my racer buddies are not car free
and all the teams i end up working with, have support vehicles

Donald Shoup has an excellent view on the current car situation
https://shoup.bol.ucla.edu/
https://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...toryId=4622062
https://www.intransitionmag.org/default.html

in my experience, being Car Free demands/installs a degree of self sufficiency
for me
its a matter of being able to get my rides in
for awhile now, I've been riding 20 to 40hrs/week.
save money
maybe even work less.

that is...
since I haven't owned a car for a few years, i was able to save up some money.
currently I am at the 27 month mark with no real job
that is, any work I've done, has been 100% bike support/bike shop related.
i love working on bikes, and being around the culture in general.

this past weekend, I was in Mill Valley, Ca, where i got to ride with Jonathan Vaughters, Joe Breeze, Steven Cozza, and a bunch more.

i'm also somewhat of an accomplished amateur bike racer. a few 4th places doing 24hr solo mtb races, a bunch of MTB, & Road racing since around 94'

this year
i did 3 double centuries
some racing
a tour from Astoria to Ventura, CA
when i got to Arcata, I did 12hrs of Humboldt, where i placed 3rd, with 12 laps, 92 miles, and over 16,000ft of climbing.

so ya... I'm into bikes

the bottom bracket is The Center of my Universe.
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Old 11-09-09, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by TRZ View Post
I'm curious as to why (and where) people live car-free or commute by bike. We're surrounded by a car-based culture. In almost all circumstances, cars are put first: there are more parking spaces than bike racks, more advertising for cars than bikes, cars get more space on the road than bikes, government subsidies go more to car-pool commuting than to bike-commuting, and so on and so forth. So, given all that, why do you live car-free? Finances? The environment? Efficiency? Health and exercise?

Also, where do you live car-free? Urban areas? Rural areas? Warm climates? Cold climates?
Two reasons...... Money and the planet. Then there is also the damage to a person's health by being so sedentary.
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Old 11-09-09, 06:50 PM
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I've been car-free for 5 years, in NE Indiana, where the weather gets bad and the drivers get worse. When the last car gave it up, I realized that I'd only driven it once in the previous 5 weeks. Called the junkyard, waved bye-bye to the car, and took the chump-change I got for it and bought the family lunch.

I love the bike; the ride kills any anger/stress I leave work with, and stalls any I may run into at home. I feel more alive on days that I ride. I extend my commute by as much as seven miles just to get in the saddle time. There's maybe 5 or 6 weeks out of the year when it's just too nasty out to ride.

I also love the thought that, with everything I save by not buying gas/oil changes, tuneups, license plates, etc., I can put together a hellacious bike and still be money ahead!

It's also changed my whole outlook; I don't drive fast anymore when I DO drive, which only happens when someone hands me keys. I average about 2-3 drives a year. Everything outside the house, I channel it into logistics about the ride -- routes, time involved, weather, etc.

I wouldn't want to live without the bike; it would take a direct threat to my daughter to make me do that.
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Old 11-09-09, 08:20 PM
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I live car-lite. I have a scooter and two cars that I drive only when I have to or am with others. Rarely do I jump in the car alone. It makes no sense for me to because it is not cost effective and can take the same amount of time to drive as it would to cycle or ride my scooter. I ride because I enjoy being outdoors and doing something good for my body and spirit. I live in Southern California so weather plays little in what I do. There are cars all around yet they don't get in the way (so far) and the roads are rideable.
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Old 11-09-09, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by TRZ View Post
Also, where do you live car-free? Urban areas? Rural areas? Warm climates? Cold climates?
This may come as a surprise to you but almost half the population is car free! Only 57% of the U.S. population drives a motorcar which means 43% is using public transportation or walking. Where do the car free live? EVERY STATE IN THE U.S!

There are car free people in every state from cities to rual towns. You'll find the car free in Texas or Alaska because the poor are to be located everywhere. Most of the car free are not bicycling and the people you see on the forum are the exception. The majority of the car free are using the bus or walking.
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Old 11-10-09, 12:44 AM
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Most people in my part of the world won't leave their houses without first strapping a 4,000 pound machine to their butts. I just wondered if there was a better way to live.
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Old 11-10-09, 01:30 AM
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Time, money and convenience mainly. The chance to ride extra miles is a side benefit, as is the fact that it's good for the environment.
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Old 11-10-09, 01:35 AM
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Cars are a great big hassle for the most part. Rent one for vacations. Rent a truck if I have to move.

I live just north of the location under my avatar. My 3.8 mile commute ranges from suburban to exurban. It will likely be all suburban within 10 years.
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Old 11-10-09, 01:41 AM
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They are fun to drive. I just picked up a 2009 WRX. Not as fast as my 2000 FRC Corvette or plush as my 1996 Impala SS but more fun on dirt roads.
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Old 11-10-09, 01:43 AM
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I've still never driven a soobie WRX. Closest I've come is a Mitsu Evo VIII, and that was one VERY fun vehicle to drive!!!

I agree with your implied premise wholly. Cars are fun to drive. But driving them around in the city on a daily basis is usually very ****ty. Not fun at all!

Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 11-10-09 at 01:46 AM.
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Old 11-10-09, 01:48 AM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
I've still never driven a soobie WRX. Closest I've come is a Mitsu Evo VIII, and that was one VERY fun vehicle to drive!!!
They are a hoot. The Vette is all torque where the WRX is like a slingshot. Roads I would never think of going down in the Vette you can take at 70 MPH in the soobie.

If I could commute to work on a bicycle I would but I would still keep the cars for fun.
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Old 11-10-09, 02:13 AM
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Vrooomrmrmrmrmrmrmrmrm!

Once upon a time, one of my profoundest pleasures was taking a car sideways through a corner on an icy mountain road.
At some point in my travels, I came to the conclusion that the nicest places in the world are those where cars can't go.
Now I'm just trying to do my part in the reduction scheme.
Given my beliefs, it would be selfish for me to do otherwise.
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Old 11-10-09, 06:48 AM
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Financial

Urban
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Old 11-10-09, 12:04 PM
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You can check out this site to see how each town performs in terms of living car free (pooled from past census data): https://www.bikesatwork.com/carfree/c...-database.html

I have been car lite for 7 years and car-free for 2 years as of November 6th

For me, it initially was shear logic. We had to move 3000 miles cross country for my job, and they salt the roads so heavily here in winter our car would be worthless by the time we left here, so we sold it before the move. We were originally figuring we'd bite the bullet and live car free while in Maine, and then buy a car once I graduated and we settled back in the pacific northwest. However, then came the bank statements. Once rid of the car, and the resulting insurance, gas, taxes, repairs, etc., our savings sky rocketed. We suddenly went from being happy to be debt free, to being able to work towards a 20% down-payment on what will be our first home.

There also came the freedom. We no longer had to have an emergency repair fund for the car, freeing money for saving for retirement, and we no longer had to fear whether that rattle was some critical car part coming loose and what sort of exorbitant fee we'd have to pay to fix it. I also loved that I could repair my vehicle, no longer having to trust some mechanic (I once spent $2000 to have a transmission fixed, only to have it die the exact same way in two weeks).

All in all, our lives are surprisingly simpler and far more fruitful now that we no longer have a car. On meager incomes we have maxed out IRAs, almost to our 20% down-payment goal, are far more healthy then we were (another area of savings: lower medical costs), and have a lot more freedom. Especially when it comes to moving and finding a place to live, because parking is now a moot concern.

And then, beyond the selfish reasons, there are also the self-righteous reasons that are just as fun. I feel like I'm doing my part to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and thus reduce our rampant trade deficit, and that I'm helping the whole health-care issue by not becoming another morbidly obese American draining our nation's resources. In the grand scheme of things my contribution may be small, but when I hear reports on how much oil the US consumes or how unhealthy Americans are, I feel good in knowing that we imported a few fewer gallons of oil and wasted a thousand fewer dollars on preventable diseases thanks to our change in life-style.
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Old 11-10-09, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
This may come as a surprise to you but almost half the population is car free! Only 57% of the U.S. population drives a motorcar which means 43% is using public transportation or walking.
Do those figures include children?
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Old 11-10-09, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by TRZ View Post
I'm curious as to why (and where) people live car-free or commute by bike.
I rode a bike a lot as a teen, and in my college years, then I graduated, became sedentary and gained weight.

At age 44 I had a heart attack, which caused me to re-evaluate, and I started riding a bike to work regularly. I was doing this in Maine, which sometimes has weather. As years passed, I rode in worse and worse conditions until I found myself riding almost all the time.

Earlier this year my job relocated me to california. When I looked at how much I was using the car in Maine, I decided to leave it behind and go car free. I have not yet had reason to reconsider that decision. From a financial standpoint, could easily afford a car, but then I am also paying more in living expenses to live in a neighborhood which is more conducive to not having a car, so in the end, I am not sure that being car free is having a financial impact for me one way or the other.

This weekend, I went grocery shopping, and outside the store, I am loading grocery bags in my bike trailer and a little kid comes flying out of the store, looks at my bike and trailer and yells 'Hey Mom - look how cool this is', I was about to say something when mom came out of the store, and she probably weighed over 250 lbs. I didn't say a thing to mother or child, just smiled.

For me, the reason that I live the way that I do is partly because it makes me feel better.
Also, it is prolonging my life,
but mostly, it's like that little kid said: 'Hey Mom, look how cool this is'

Because of my bike, at an age of over 50, I can relate more to a 5 year old than to many adults, and that is cool!
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Old 11-10-09, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
Do those figures include children?
Good question. I don't know.

I just did a search on how many Americans did not have a car.
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Old 11-10-09, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Llamero View Post
There also came the freedom. We no longer had to have an emergency repair fund for the car, freeing money for saving for retirement, and we no longer had to fear whether that rattle was some critical car part coming loose and what sort of exorbitant fee we'd have to pay to fix it.
LOL!

It reminds me of the last time I was in my brother's car as he drove me home. He made this sharp turn and said, "Did you hear that rattle" from under the car! Boy the fear in his eyes from the prospect of making another huge repair bill said it all.

I wasn't so lucky in having extra money set aside for emergency repairs. My MasterCard was the auto emergency fund that was never paid in full back in the good old days. Today with interest going as high as 33% on credit cards, I'm lucky to be out of that racket!
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Old 11-10-09, 04:48 PM
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Funny thing, there, Steve... about the car-free percentage; I tool around on other sites, one of which is pretty car-centric. Another 'authority' (no negativity to you intended) quotes figures that say there are 300 million people in the USA, and 210 million of them are licensed and have cars! That's a little higher than your figures.

Not trying to troll or start a flame war, just sayin'....

I know ABSOLUTELY that there are more than your percentages owning/driving cars in my town! According to the city's numbers, there were right around 100 commuters that showed up for the city's Bike To Work Day. Out of 300,000, 100 isn't a real high percentage; now I know that doesn't include the 'low-end' riders, service workers on big-box bikes who just ride to their jobs because they can't drive for whatever reason. But I KNOW, where I live, there isn't 160,000 car-free folks! That would be a dream for me!!

You said you looked it up; m'friend, what was the web source of that? I'd like to see that....
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Old 11-10-09, 07:37 PM
  #21  
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Cause cars cost money and eventually will have problems. Also gas sucks. Supporting oil companies makes me die a little inside.
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Old 11-10-09, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by TRZ View Post
We're surrounded by a car-based culture.
And?
In almost all circumstances, cars are put first: there are more parking spaces than bike racks
I'm still closer to the front door.
more advertising for cars than bikes
If I fell for ads, I'd get a new car every month, a new toothbrush every day, and have a list of fast food that I must eat. Are people really that influenced why what's on TV?
cars get more space on the road than bikes
I also take less space, so most people pass me with ample space.
government subsidies go more to car-pool commuting than to bike-commuting
I think as more people commute by bike, the government will start changing. Look at cities like Portland, Boulder, Minneapolis, etc.
why do you live car-free? Finances? The environment? Efficiency? Health and exercise?
Yes. I'm actually car-lite, but people are car-free because they feel like it.
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Old 11-11-09, 12:16 AM
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Also why not?
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Old 11-11-09, 11:34 AM
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Every day at work, (I drive for a living but bike every other minute of the day) when I pass the MAX (its Portland mass transit trains) they are LOADED down with people. They look like they barely have room to move around. That a good percentage here in PDX that are car free/lite.

Even though Portland has hundreds (maybe even thousands) of cycle commuters, mass transit is probably used more year round here then biking. Though its nice to pass people riding bikes in a down pore and have them smile and wave.

I bike so I eat more and not get fat, save gas money to send on good food, clear my head everyday, and I'd like to say one less car, but I then hope in a truck (10-18 wheeler) when I get to work but it is one less car on the road.
I consider myself car lite, hoping to be car free or SUPER lite.

Urban NE Portland is home, suburban NW Gresham is work, about 12miles each way.
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Old 11-11-09, 06:53 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
Good question. I don't know.

I just did a search on how many Americans did not have a car.
I never would have suspected 57% vs 43% in the car drivership. I'm guessing quite a few of the 43% are under 15 and are driven by the 57%.... at least in my neck of the woods.
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