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When does staying car free get ridiculous/ impractical?

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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.

When does staying car free get ridiculous/ impractical?

Old 07-01-11, 11:45 AM
  #1  
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When does staying car free get ridiculous/ impractical?

I've been car free since 2005. At the time I decided to put the commute between my legs, and never look back. But times change. I no longer live, work, play, and go to school within a 15 mile radius. My commute to work by bike is 50 miles and takes 3ish hours, but if I drive (there is a car which I have borrowed a few times, especially on rainy days) then it's only 30 miles and takes 45 minutes. If I cycle to work I'm in a good mood all day, but I miss out on social functions since it takes so long. If I drive, then I still get to see my friends, but I'm going back on a huge part of how I've defined myself for the last five years. Public transportation is an option, but its a total drag (one bus, two trains, up to 2.5 hours).
Is it time for me to just get a car and (for the time being) stop being a politico for the cycling community? Should I just suck it up, star car free, and devote all my spare time to the commute until I can move closer (probably at the end of December once I finish my first semester at my new college). Would getting a car make me a total hypocrite?
Is there anyone else out there who has a similar issue? Am I totally over thinking this?
Any and all suggestions, opinions, criticisms, and knock knock jokes are welcome.
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Old 07-01-11, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by junkyardking View Post
I've been car free since 2005. At the time I decided to put the commute between my legs, and never look back. But times change. I no longer live, work, play, and go to school within a 15 mile radius. My commute to work by bike is 50 miles and takes 3ish hours, but if I drive (there is a car which I have borrowed a few times, especially on rainy days) then it's only 30 miles and takes 45 minutes. If I cycle to work I'm in a good mood all day, but I miss out on social functions since it takes so long. If I drive, then I still get to see my friends, but I'm going back on a huge part of how I've defined myself for the last five years. Public transportation is an option, but its a total drag (one bus, two trains, up to 2.5 hours).
Is it time for me to just get a car and (for the time being) stop being a politico for the cycling community? Should I just suck it up, star car free, and devote all my spare time to the commute until I can move closer (probably at the end of December once I finish my first semester at my new college). Would getting a car make me a total hypocrite?
Is there anyone else out there who has a similar issue? Am I totally over thinking this?
Any and all suggestions, opinions, criticisms, and knock knock jokes are welcome.
My thinking is if you are already planning to move closer soon-ish anyway, why not slog it out a few more months and not take on the huge investment money hole that is a car. Possibly carpool?
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Old 07-01-11, 11:53 AM
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junkyard, personally, if I got as much enjoyment out of it as you seem to, I'd consider moving.

But, of course, this isn't always an option and so... you enter the wide world of compromise. Is there a way you could car commute and then cycle? Since you live in San Jose, can't you get the train part way with a folder? From the last time I was in the Bay area, I thought car travel was a total disaster. It took me hours to get anywhere.

I guess real estate close to a good train route is expensive, isn't it. What about work from home a couple of days a week? Do a mix of car, train and bike the other 3?

Yes .. this would make you a total hypocrite, of course. But you'll have to get in line behind the rest of us.
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Old 07-01-11, 12:06 PM
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Right, if you take on a car at this stage you might not be able to afford to move closer. Or to pay for the car for that matter. I notice that the transit commute is still shorter than the bike commute. Is there a chance of carpooling? Maybe you can find someone in the area who makes a similar commute who would appreciate company and part of their outrageous gas bill being paid.
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Old 07-01-11, 12:29 PM
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Is it a 50 mile commute each way or all together?

100 miles total: buy a car then sell it again when you move closer.

50 miles all total: suck it up 'till december.

This is your mother speaking.
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Old 07-01-11, 12:49 PM
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Put a motor on a bicycle $160-1000 or buy a motor scooter. Travel at 25-40 miles per hour with 50 CC motors whether you choose one on a bicycle or scooter with a transmission. For $3999 you can buy a 250 CC cruiser and get over seventy miles per gallon. Honda claims their Rebel gets 84 mpg. I don't believe it. Suzuki makes a 250 CC cruiser for $2999 that is just as good as the Honda.

You decide which way to go. Time has value. That is why I put a motor on one of my bicycles.

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Old 07-01-11, 12:54 PM
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You have to do what makes you happiest. You can't always blame yourself--our society is so car-centered that it can be too much of a burden for some people to be carfree.

I hope that if you get a car, you will be active in your community for improving carfree infrastructure. Your area obviously has some serious defecits in public transit, for example. There are probably advocacy groups who are trying to improve things that you could help out.
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Old 07-01-11, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by robyr View Post
\ Possibly carpool?
I have a very very strange work schedule, so I can only commute on my time. Although I'm moving soonish, I still have to make it through autumn, which, believe it or not, can get pretty rough in the Bay Area. Especially during the early morning hours when I do my ride.
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Old 07-01-11, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by cycleobsidian View Post
Is it a 50 mile commute each way or all together?
It's fifty miles one way, 100 total. Some days I cycle in the morning and take the bus/train back in the evening, others I do the opposite.
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Old 07-01-11, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post
Put a motor on a bicycle $160-1000 or buy a motor scooter...Time has value. That is why I put a motor on one of my bicycles.
I once got stuck behind a guy with a motorized cruiser. He was going only slightly faster than I was, and was smoking a cigarette the whole time. Me being to proud to wait for 5 minutes so he could get a good distance ahead of me, I was inhaling all of his gross fumes for the 30 minute ride into work. From that day forth, I swore to never let my rear touch the saddle of a motorized bicycle. Please don't think I'm passing judgement. They definitely have their place, but my experience was far too traumatic.
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Old 07-01-11, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
You have to do what makes you happiest. You can't always blame yourself--our society is so car-centered that it can be too much of a burden for some people to be carfree.

I hope that if you get a car, you will be active in your community for improving carfree infrastructure. Your area obviously has some serious defecits in public transit, for example. There are probably advocacy groups who are trying to improve things that you could help out.
One of the things that drives me crazy about cycling my commute is that it takes up the time that I used to spend doing bike related community work. My bike world exists with me and me alone, but I still care very much about the bike community, especially in San Jose where it is growing and gaining much forward momentum. And that's basically the issue, the fact that I was once a firm believer in alternative transportation, and now I'm finding myself thinking about falling to my knees and driving a car when its convenient. And I've always hated it when people's only reason for driving is that it's more convenient.
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Old 07-01-11, 03:11 PM
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For me, the main reason to live car free is to gain insight about alternative living arrangements. Nothing can take away the insight and perspective you've acquired over the past six years of car free living. People go in and out of the car free lifestyle all the time.
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Old 07-01-11, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by junkyardking View Post
I have a very very strange work schedule, so I can only commute on my time. Although I'm moving soonish, I still have to make it through autumn, which, believe it or not, can get pretty rough in the Bay Area. Especially during the early morning hours when I do my ride.
I supplse that your daly low temperature in autumn is greater than my daily high temperature for 6 months of the year. But then Californians are not knwn for having balls.
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Old 07-01-11, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
I supplse that your daly low temperature in autumn is greater than my daily high temperature for 6 months of the year. But then Californians are not knwn for having balls.
No, we're not. In fact, I think I read somewhere that Californians have as many collective (edit: spherical reproductive parts used as a metaphor for courage, strength, and manly-ness) as Michiganders have functional and economically competitive automobile plants.
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Old 07-01-11, 05:42 PM
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Note the motorcycle thread I started ... some have said motorcycles are more annoying/maintenance-heavy/etc than cars, some have said motorcycles are more fun and worth having.

You have a variety of options. Public transit seems to suck, so motorcycle and car are your best options. I find that owning a car is too damn expensive for me, so a modest 250cc motorcycle is in my eyes. Not that I'm getting rid of my car; more that I'm trying to get away from using it enough to extend its temporal lifespan by not running through its operational lifespan as fast.

You also have the option of leasing a car, rather than buying. As options go, the ability to get out from under the damn thing is pretty decent. Of course for 30 miles a day 20 days a month 600 miles ... yeah, that's rough, lease terms might look at you like uhhh you have $$$$$ right? 7200 miles/year...
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Old 07-01-11, 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
You have to do what makes you happiest. You can't always blame yourself--our society is so car-centered that it can be too much of a burden for some people to be carfree.

I hope that if you get a car, you will be active in your community for improving carfree infrastructure. Your area obviously has some serious defecits in public transit, for example. There are probably advocacy groups who are trying to improve things that you could help out.
This is a good response. But you can think about your personal long-term strategies too. Where will you be in 5 years? Still piling on the car miles? Hopefully not, since we all know it's not a healthy way to get to work.

Work towards what keeps you living healthy and giving you a long life.
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Old 07-01-11, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by gerv View Post

Work towards what keeps you living healthy and giving you a long life.
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Old 07-01-11, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by junkyardking View Post
One of the things that drives me crazy about cycling my commute is that it takes up the time that I used to spend doing bike related community work. My bike world exists with me and me alone, but I still care very much about the bike community, especially in San Jose where it is growing and gaining much forward momentum. And that's basically the issue, the fact that I was once a firm believer in alternative transportation, and now I'm finding myself thinking about falling to my knees and driving a car when its convenient. And I've always hated it when people's only reason for driving is that it's more convenient.
I ride virtually everywhere I go, and I think you're being WAY too hard on yourself, and also, if I may be so blunt, I think you're totally insane. I would never, not in a million years, commute 100 miles a day, not even with a car, yet you're doing it with a bike. (I ride about the same amount in a week as you do just getting to and from work.) You should commend yourself for being way more hardcore than mere mortals, come to your senses, get a crappy beater car for six months, move MUCH closer to work, get rid of the car again, get back on the bike, and never look back. I admire your scruples and your toughness, but at the end of the day, there should be a lot more in one's life than just riding a bike.
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Old 07-02-11, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by gerv View Post
This is a good response. But you can think about your personal long-term strategies too. Where will you be in 5 years? Still piling on the car miles? Hopefully not, since we all know it's not a healthy way to get to work.

Work towards what keeps you living healthy and giving you a long life.
In five years, I see myself portaging around my currently unborn (and unconceived) child to his/her preschool/daycare in my sleek bakfiets. I basically plan on having a car-lite family. I realize that it makes sense for a family to have access to an automobile, even if it’s just a zip car type situation. But while I’m a young man, I’d like to stay car free or at least car light. For me, driving to get to work or school more than once a week feels very car heavy, but the time sacrifice just makes it feel more and more ridiculous.

Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
Bicycling, Beer and Genetics
Mmmmmhmmmmmmmmm

Originally Posted by bragi View Post
I admire your scruples and your toughness, but at the end of the day, there should be a lot more in one's life than just riding a bike.
Does working on bikes/thinking about bikes/talking about bikes/looking at bikes/watching bike races/reading about bikes count as more than just riding a bike? Because if that’s the case, then I totally agree.
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Old 07-02-11, 02:00 PM
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Get a zip car / lease a car or something and then drive with your bike and cycle back, next day cycle to work and drive back, repeat.

Huge respect for cycling all that distance - I do 100 miles a week
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Old 07-02-11, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by junkyardking View Post
I've been car free since 2005. At the time I decided to put the commute between my legs, and never look back. But times change. I no longer live, work, play, and go to school within a 15 mile radius. My commute to work by bike is 50 miles and takes 3ish hours, but if I drive (there is a car which I have borrowed a few times, especially on rainy days) then it's only 30 miles and takes 45 minutes. If I cycle to work I'm in a good mood all day, but I miss out on social functions since it takes so long. If I drive, then I still get to see my friends, but I'm going back on a huge part of how I've defined myself for the last five years. Public transportation is an option, but its a total drag (one bus, two trains, up to 2.5 hours).
Is it time for me to just get a car and (for the time being) stop being a politico for the cycling community? Should I just suck it up, star car free, and devote all my spare time to the commute until I can move closer (probably at the end of December once I finish my first semester at my new college). Would getting a car make me a total hypocrite?
Is there anyone else out there who has a similar issue? Am I totally over thinking this?
Any and all suggestions, opinions, criticisms, and knock knock jokes are welcome.
I am currently car free at present-meaning that I don't actually own a car. I do have a valid CA driver's license since I was twenty years old for the various needed tasks or chauffeuring others (little choice in the matter) to drive around. I have to drive (by renting a car) when I have to drive others to the hospital or doctor's/dentist's appointments. I have to drive when leaving my bike(s) locked anywhere is probable for being stolen. I drive in areas of Los Angeles/neighboring counties that do not have decent public transportation access. I drive to haul large loads impractical to place on any of my bikes and/or cover the distance with this load in a reasonable amount of time. I drive when I am not in the physical condition to cycle (moderate-severe illness). I drive when I am strapped for time (bikes are far slower to cover the same distance). And I generally don't cycle outside of a 6 mile radius.

Do not let anyone else try to put you down or sway you that you are less a car free cyclist than anyone else here. Much as I like (even love) my little fleet of bikes, there were times in the past & times in the foreseeable future that I must drive. No ifs, ands, or buts.

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Old 07-04-11, 09:44 AM
  #22  
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My two cents? If you're moving in Dec. anyways, get a cheap used Honda or Toyota that you should be able to sell for close to what you paid for it in a few months.

I'm glad you're moving (for your well being) and this in no way makes you a sell-out. Continue with the advocacy, only drive to work and back, and dump it when you finally move. Don't be so hard on yourself in the meantime.
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Old 07-04-11, 03:38 PM
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Well, a commute that long will drive you crazy. Why not move now in the middle of summer.

Driving a car is not a crime and they forgot to include prohibitions to it in the 10 commandments. That's why I consider that being car-free is a day at a time thing. You go car-free each day you can. If it must end now, you will resume it as soon as it can, because driving a car will also drive you crazy. You'll be sitting there and see a cyclist and know that you should be there.
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Old 07-05-11, 02:35 AM
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I love the motorized bicycle option. IMO, that's the best suggestion here. It's inexpensive, you don't have to save up for it, you still get to cycle and cut back on that 3-hour commute time. If you are thinking of moving closer to work anyway, don't splurge on the car and get a motorized bicycle instead!
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Old 07-05-11, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by constance56 View Post
I love the motorized bicycle option. IMO, that's the best suggestion here. It's inexpensive, you don't have to save up for it, you still get to cycle and cut back on that 3-hour commute time. If you are thinking of moving closer to work anyway, don't splurge on the car and get a motorized bicycle instead!
I definitely agree with this, but don't get a crappy one get a decent one that will actually speed you up!
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