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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.

How?

Old 08-07-12, 10:12 PM
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redeyedtreefr0g
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How?

How do you be car-free?

Story (you can skip if you want):

I don't expect to really ever be completely free of a vehicle, but right now we're pretty close to it involuntarily. We (my husband and I) have 2 cars. He has his first-ever vehicle, which I cannot drive: a 1980 Camaro. Then we have a vehicle he rescued when it broke and his father didn't want it anymore, a decommissioned highway patrol car: 1995 Chevrolet Caprice. The Caprice (black car) is reported to get 16mpg city and 24 highway for 19 miles per gallon combined, which I guess is some sort of average. I know these reported numbers aren't too far from the truth, and might even be a bit optimistic. When we first got together I also had a vehicle of my own that was used to go back and forth to college, and it was pressed into duty various times when both others broke and it was easier not to fix them immediately. Mine eventually broke (I can't remember how) and was sold away, never to be replaced.

NOW, we just finished moving. My husband drove the Camaro, and my dad came to tow the black car. It's transmission has broken again (it broke last year around this time and was replaced with junk-yard specials). Apparently this is the most common issue for these transmissions- the 3-4 gearband or something goes out, and so you can limp around in first and second gear, but if you are in the D drive gear, you freewind after that and get stuck. If you leave the column shifter in 2, you drive around just fine, very slowly. Now even those gears are starting to slip, so the black car is basically down for the count.

I can't drive the Camaro, because I am a full foot shorter than my husband, and the seat is very low and doesn't move well, plus that is HIS car, and I want nothing to do with it. Likely I'll break something. It's a muscle car too, and that's all I need is a finicky new manual to figure out with way too much power underneath the hood when I fudge it. Plus we're back to the abysmal fuel economy.

So very little car use, and not with me driving.

/end story

But my problem is, I have family that I would love to go see occasionally down in Colorado Springs, a little over 100 miles away. Two hours by car according to google, and it says 4 hours by bus. That's also not my reasonable biking distance!
I'm having trouble because one of the bus terminals for my new district is 15 miles away, on back country roads that I am not at all familiar with. Right now I've had a coworker give me a ride to training, and resigned myself to letting the office know that I can't sub for any routes from that terminal. I'm praying I get a route from the near one and don't have to substitute at all.



So how do you deal with things like that?

Do you just not go far from home? I admit that not seeing family often would keep me out of their drama, but I've gotten pretty good at avoiding that anyway.
Do you rent cars? I haven't looked into a single day rental before, would that be feasible if you aren't paying monthly insurance?. I know a week-long rental was only $200 or so, and the gas-savings was well worth it to go from Oregon to Florida and back for a retrieval/emergency move. Can you rent a car if you don't own one- how does insurance work then?

Do you just bite the time bullet and go by bus anyway? 8 hours of travel for a short visit seems incredibly wasteful to me.

How far is too far? Is 15 miles really not that big of a hurdle to get over, I'm just needlessly worried about it? I've only covered 12 miles, before, but not at one shot, usually 6 one way 6 another, or with some sort of stop along the way, such as for dinner.

I'd ultimately love to sell both gas-guzzling cars and either not replace them, or get something fuel-efficient, because fuel cost was still curbing travel even when they were both working fine. But now, I don't see us needing to do any traveling other than to see immediate family in Colorado Springs, and maybe a holiday trip back to Florida every few years or so to see the extended family.

Any help or advice, or stories would be appreciated. It just seems like not having a car is a big challenge, and downright prohibitive.

EDIT TO ADD:

How do you travel with dogs? I have a beagle (40lbs) and Jack Russel Terrier (20lbs), that I would love to take to a dog park, or on long-distance bike rides eventually. I have a child trailer, and Jackson enjoyed being a Jack-pack when I took him with me in a backpack once. The beagle Grunt does nothing but howl. How do you train your dog to not only quit howling at you when you ride a bike, but to enjoy going with it like a car ride? How far or fast can a dog run beside you? How do you train them not to kill you by yanking your bike or making you run over them? I don't want to hurt my dogs, but i really think they would enjoy coming with me once they learn what its all about. I just have no idea where to start!

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Old 08-07-12, 10:39 PM
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Sounds like your life is a bit of an adventure!

I'm probably as old or older than your dad, but I think I can give you some perspective.

My last car quit in '04; I was already riding back and forth to work a lot, so it wasn't a big issue. (I drove it 3 times the last two months I had it!) My commute then was 9 miles one-way, and that fall, I had to cover grocery-getting for the family, as my car-equipped sister and her husband were out of town for about nine weeks. I had an old trailer, from the summer before my daughter was born, and it served (still does!).

Going out of town is no longer on the table for us; some 'family disagreements' have resulted in people not wanting to have much to do with us; none of us adults have parents living any more, either. We have 'settled in' -- cocooned, if you will -- to raising the kids (3 left in school, one other needs baby help) and taking care of the homestead. Sis' husband insists on having a vehicle in case he NEEDS to go out of town -- once this year so far. His money....

Personally, I enjoy not having a car; I hate the cost, the upkeep, and those GAS PRICES! I shake my head, and say thanks, every time I ride past a gas station that advertises $3.78/gal or whatever. I'm healthier, happier, and can make ends meet a little better. (Sis can't GET work, husband's disabled.) I don't mind putting a little effort into taking care of family business; it's exercise, and what else am I gonna do with my time? My loved ones appreciate all I do, we are CLOSE....

Doing without a car takes a personal commitment that many people don't want to make; most don't because they're "allergic to sweat". But it can be done, and has its own rewards, that the addicted driver cannot even FATHOM.
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Old 08-07-12, 11:49 PM
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I'd be curious to hear other answers to this question too, though this is a problem I've not encountered because my all my immediate family members live nearby.

Treefrog: I live in Colorado Springs myself and you're right, intercity travel by bike is tough when cities are far apart and falls into the realm of touring (or long-distance riding). It's doable, but a further step beyond commuting by bike, and it sounds like you're just entering the world of car-free living.

My experience is that it took me a couple years, lots of riding, and a road bike, to become comfortable with travel distances of more than twenty-five miles (one way), it's not something you learn overnight. I'll ride a lot further than that on rides that are purely recreational, but riding somewhere with the intention of a staying for a few hours (typically with cargo) is very different. I do find that if I'm going somewhere 30+ miles away, I'll usually stay overnight there and ride back the next day, which is never a problem since the only reason I'd 'travel' that far is to visit at friend's houses anyways. If you keep riding, and push yourself to attempt longer distances, you'll gradually increase your bike-able range.

Now, specific to riding to the Springs from Longmont, the realistic truth is that if you're car-free and don't want to use the bus (I didn't even realize there was any bus service that could get you between the Springs and Longmont until I googled it just now), it will entail taking a vacation of several days that allows for travel time. You'd need at least three days, because in theory the travel by bike could be done in a day if you were very fit and accustomed to long distances already without being intimidated by riding on the most direct (read: high-traffic) routes, but the least difficult, more pleasant way to get here would be to pack a tent, a more complete repair kit than you usually ride with, food, and water, and stop for the night somewhere in the middle, avoiding roads aside from lower-volume highways with wide shoulders, something that might look like this:
Day 1: (50 miles)
Ride on Highway 287 from Longmont into Broomfield where you can pick up the bike paths that run through Denver (~17 miles)
Ride the Greenway trails through Denver to Chatfield reservoir (33 miles) - Camping at Chatfield 'requires' a purchasing a reservation for an RV campsite with a utility hookup, but I've stayed here as a bicycle camper before by politely asking someone with an RV spot if I could 'borrow' a few square feet from their campsite that they're obviously not using. Of course you could spend some money for a hotel somewhere, but I think camping out is part of the appeal of traveling by bike, personally. Incidentally, yes, there are showers at Chatfield.
Day 2: (67 miles, maybe more)
Ride from Chatfield to Sedalia (10 miles)
Ride on Highway 105 from Sedalia to Palmer Lake (38 miles)
Ride on the Santa Fe Trail from Palmer Lake to Woodmen Road in the Springs (17 miles)

That sounds like a lot of riding and a lot of time, but in practice it's not at all unpleasant, because you don't have to try and ride that straight through, you stop for meals on route, take breaks and meet interesting people on the bike paths, and you get to see a lot of the scenery along the front range that you've likely missed no matter how long you've lived in Colorado. The highway sections are, of course, much easier with a road bike and a high degree of fitness, but I've ridden all those roads before and they are safe with good sized shoulders.
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Old 08-08-12, 12:35 AM
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Motorcycle or scooter for non-snow riding. It would need to be big enough to go highway speeds if you must travel that way. If you can make the trip on roads with 45 mph speed limits you don't need a big one. Wouldn't it be good to stay away from the family for a few months at a time during the winter? They could visit you during winter and you could visit them any other time of the year.

Take a bus, train, or jet to go to Florida.

The famous comedian Steven Wright said, "Everywhere is within walking distance if you've got the time."

Time is the factor for me regarding motorized transportation. I'm not afraid of the bad weather. I do want my time. Riding bicycles is fun when it is done for recreation. Riding every day does have benefits but to me it is just a method of transportation. Every ride isn't an adventure to me the way it is for some others.

You could build up to riding thirty miles per trip without any real difficulty. If you can live with the time it takes out of your day go for it. I had a job fifteen miles away for a while. Had they put me on as a full time worker I would have moved much closer. Instead I eventually got a different job just three miles away.
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Old 08-08-12, 09:26 AM
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First, those sound like the two worst possible cars to own. They both get lousy mileage, one is always breaking down and the other is off limits to you. If you decide not to go carfree, at least sell or junk these monsters and get something practical like a little hatchback or even a minivan.

For your out of town trips, car rental would probably be cheaper than what you're doing now--and probably more reliable. You mentioned a 4 hour bus trip versus a two hour car trip? Well, the 4 hours on the bus can be used productively to get some paper work done, or just catch up on books, DVDs or sleep. Also cheaper (at least for one person) and more reliable. I really worry about you breaking down in the mountains driving that POS car.

I was a little confused. Are you working as a bus driver?
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Old 08-08-12, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
Sounds like your life is a bit of an adventure!
I had an old trailer, from the summer before my daughter was born, and it served (still does!).
Going out of town is no longer on the table for us…
Personally, I enjoy not having a car; I hate the cost, the upkeep, and those GAS PRICES!
Doing without a car takes a personal commitment that many people don't want to make; most don't because they're "allergic to sweat". But it can be done, and has its own rewards, that the addicted driver cannot even FATHOM.
Life is always an adventure, and would you believe things are actually quite tame now? Moving all the way across the country IS an effective way to just leave your problems behind, for the most part.
The last town we lived in (in Oregon) was tiny. The entire thing was maybe 7 miles from one end to the other, and it was an oblong shape! I got very used to having everything I need close by, so my urge to leave the town I live in is pretty much squashed- except for wanting to see my twin sister, my dad, and more sparingly my mom and little sister with my niece.


Originally Posted by lasauge View Post
It's doable, but a further step beyond commuting by bike, and it sounds like you're just entering the world of car-free living.

My experience is that it took me a couple years, lots of riding, and a road bike, to become comfortable with travel distances of more than twenty-five miles (one way), it's not something you learn overnight… I do find that if I'm going somewhere 30+ miles away, I'll usually stay overnight there and ride back the next day… If you keep riding, and push yourself to attempt longer distances, you'll gradually increase your bike-able range.
I’m not sure if my husband will ever go for a full car-free lifestyle, though I think we can and should do it. The fact that I got almost everywhere I needed to go last year, even in the wintertime, and it was FUN is what has convinced me that paying for a car is just silly. I’ve always wanted to own a Volkswagen New Beetle, and now I realize that is just no longer on my list of things I actually want at all. Like DX-MAN said, the cost is ridiculous!

Originally Posted by lasauge View Post
Now, specific to riding to the Springs from Longmont, the realistic truth is that if you're car-free and don't want to use the bus… it will entail taking a vacation of several days that allows for travel time.

…I've ridden all those roads before and they are safe with good sized shoulders.
Several roads seem like they don’t have shoulders at all, such as south of the Chatfield State Park. Can you link your version of directions for me?

Your idea sounds awesome though! I actually have been thinking idly about the feasibility of a cross-country bike tour (I’ve never gone any significant distance, but I have summers off! I think it would be one great big giant fun camping trip- by bike!). Going that distance (between Longmont and Colorado Springs) sounds like a wonderful way to try and prepare for that, not to mention a neat trip all in itself. Is 60 miles in a day a realistic goal? I can’t believe I used to drive that EVERY DAY to go to classes at college!

Do they make road bikes without the diamond shape? Now that I’ve had my step-through bike for a while, I don’t want anything else. I used a higher-barred mountain bike and found it to be very annoying trying to get on and off it.


Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post
Motorcycle or scooter for non-snow riding. It would need to be big enough to go highway speeds if you must travel that way

Take a bus, train, or jet to go to Florida.

Time is the factor for me regarding motorized transportation. I'm not afraid of the bad weather. I do want my time. Riding bicycles is fun when it is done for recreation. Riding every day does have benefits but to me it is just a method of transportation. Every ride isn't an adventure to me the way it is for some others.

You could build up to riding thirty miles per trip without any real difficulty. If you can live with the time it takes out of your day go for it. I had a job fifteen miles away for a while. Had they put me on as a full time worker I would have moved much closer. Instead I eventually got a different job just three miles away.
I need a Driver’s License for my job, so renting a car is the best option for Florida trips. They tell you no pets allowed, but screw that! I am not putting my dog all alone like a suitcase into a baggage hold on an airplane, and pets are not allowed on buses or trains.

I seriously considered a scooter or motorcycle, but I doubt they would have many advantages over a small efficient car. In wintertime the four wheels would be more stable, I'm thinking, and I do like to take the dogs with us sometimes (I'm hoping to teach them how to go on bikes!).

I’m worried that my husband is like you. He enjoyed (actually suggested) a trip by bike to go out to dinner, but he has no interest in going on any of the local group rides, and I think the bike is just an inferior mode of transportation to him. If he had the money he’d be spending it on gas for the Camaro, I’m fairly certain. He works 2.5 miles from home.
To be fair, he is riding a seriously cheap mountain bike that doesn’t fit him at all, and right now he’s a gear-masher. But he’s not the type that you can really get to listen to suggestions- he has to figure things out himself.


Originally Posted by Roody View Post
First, those sound like the two worst possible cars to own… If you decide not to go carfree, at least sell or junk these monsters and get something practical like a little hatchback...
That’s about where I am now. Not only do I see these things as great big giant anchors tying us down, both literally and financially, but they have no use to me anymore. We can’t go anywhere because they are broken, and even if they were both in tip-top shape, the gas prices are ridiculous, which would mean that a 2 hour trip might be decided against anyway!

The black car is from hubby’s dad, and his parents used to own two of them- black for the dad, white for the mom (with a bench seat up front for more kid-stuffing!). His mom survived a medium-speed T-boning on her side from a GINORMOUS Ford 350 long-bed huge freaking truck. Both vehicles were totaled, and she has a stiff shoulder that no longer wants to lift heavy things above her head. It could have been lots worse- and now my husband holds that kind of car on a safety pedestal, it seems like. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a guy with an ego and the black car can still run down all but the fastest cars out there still, either. So he’s very attached to them both.


Originally Posted by Roody View Post
Well, the 4 hours on the bus can be used productively to get some paper work done, or just catch up on books, DVDs or sleep… I really worry about you breaking down in the mountains driving that POS car.

I was a little confused. Are you working as a bus driver?
Yes, I am a school bus driver, sorry for the confusion! I absolutely LOVE my job, and so I’ll always have an active Driver’s License as far as I can tell.

Renting for Florida trips is a must due to pets (our only children at the moment), but I suppose I’ll have to check for the Colorado Springs trip.
I never thought of the bus as a ride before- to free up time for other things (I‘ve been on public transportation maybe twice in my whole life). My husband would go nuts though- he cannot sit still that long with nothing to do, and even a PSP wouldn’t hold him for long I think. He also doesn’t care for my mother or younger sister, so a trip like that is already kind of a chore for him. I doubt he’d let me go alone.

And don’t worry about us going into the mountains. We may be dumb for owning and pouring money into those cars, but we aren’t stupid enough to think they can actually handle anything like that (now, anyway. Ask us how we moved from Florida to Oregon, and then you might cringe).

ANOTHER QUESTION: (added above too)

How do you travel with dogs? I have a beagle (40lbs) and Jack Russel Terrier (20lbs), that I would love to take to a dog park, or on long-distance bike rides eventually. I have a child trailer, and Jackson enjoyed being a Jack-pack when I took him with me in a backpack once. The beagle Grunt does nothing but howl. How do you train your dog to not only quit howling at you when you ride a bike, but to enjoy going with it like a car ride? How far or fast can a dog run beside you? How do you train them not to kill you by yanking your bike or making you run over them? I don't want to hurt my dogs, but i really think they would enjoy coming with me once they learn what its all about. I just have no idea where to start!


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Old 08-08-12, 12:25 PM
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We are car-lite. Our car is older (10+ yrs and plenty of miles).
For outta' town trips we rent a car.
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Old 08-08-12, 12:32 PM
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Good grief!! I wish people would stop using all "colored" text since it is so damn rude.

They never think about other people with vision difficulty (like me) when they color the text of the post.

Hell, I can't read that colored sh1t at all! Damn!!!

I'd be willing to bet that it's a women posting in colors.
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Old 08-08-12, 12:44 PM
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Have you tried actually sitting down and calculating how much your cars cost? Take registration, insurance, fuel costs, all repairs ever made, estimated resale value vs purchase price, maintenance, etc, and add it all up. Then divide by the length of ownership. I did this with the help of mint.com for tracking and categorizing purchases, and I was shocked to discover that my car costs me $1.72 per mile! (details in this thread: Crunching numbers and cars). I've come to the conclusion that it makes infinitely more sense to rent/carshare when needed, and continue biking/walking/public transiting at all other times.

Perhaps husband will listen to cold hard numbers?
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Old 08-08-12, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
Good grief!! I wish people would stop using all "colored" text since it is so damn rude.

They never think about other people with vision difficulty (like me) when they color the text of the post.

Hell, I can't read that colored sh1t at all! Damn!!!

I'd be willing to bet that it's a women posting in colors.
And other people use way too many emoticons...
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Old 08-08-12, 02:25 PM
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Nightshade, if you have trouble reading colored text, try using CTRL+ to make it bigger. You can always make it smaller again with CTRL-.

Or, you could hightlight the text, it will turn white with a blue background. Or just assume whatever I said isn't important enough to waste your time reading
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Old 08-08-12, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
And other people use way too many emoticons...
Originally Posted by redeyedtreefr0g View Post
Nightshade, if you have trouble reading colored text, try using CTRL+ to make it bigger. You can always make it smaller again with CTRL-.

Or, you could hightlight the text, it will turn white with a blue background. Or just assume whatever I said isn't important enough to waste your time reading
Your compassion and understanding just overwhelm me .

I do have agree that if you think your stuff is waste of time reading it then it must be.

Why do you post it??

Emoticons are used for communicating a thought ,or feelings, that are not easily said in words in mixed company.
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Old 08-08-12, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by redeyedtreefr0g View Post


Do they make road bikes without the diamond shape? Now that I’ve had my step-through bike for a while, I don’t want anything else. I used a higher-barred mountain bike and found it to be very annoying trying to get on and off it.




and I do like to take the dogs with us sometimes (I'm hoping to teach them how to go on bikes!).

I’m worried that my husband is like you. He enjoyed (actually suggested) a trip by bike to go out to dinner, but he has no interest in going on any of the local group rides, and I think the bike is just an inferior mode of transportation to him. If he had the money he’d be spending it on gas for the Camaro, I’m fairly certain. He works 2.5 miles from home.

Yes, I am a school bus driver, sorry for the confusion! I absolutely LOVE my job, and so I’ll always have an active Driver’s License as far as I can tell.

ANOTHER QUESTION: (added above too)

How do you travel with dogs? I have a beagle (40lbs) and Jack Russel Terrier (20lbs), that I would love to take to a dog park, or on long-distance bike rides eventually. I have a child trailer, and Jackson enjoyed being a Jack-pack when I took him with me in a backpack once. The beagle Grunt does nothing but howl. How do you train your dog to not only quit howling at you when you ride a bike, but to enjoy going with it like a car ride? How far or fast can a dog run beside you? How do you train them not to kill you by yanking your bike or making you run over them? I don't want to hurt my dogs, but i really think they would enjoy coming with me once they learn what its all about. I just have no idea where to start!

Lots of things to talk about. First I doubt anyone that still has a 80 Camaro would ever enjoy a Mini Van but if the compact was a bit sportier than an Hatch back maybe but it would have to be his idea. Still if he is only driving 5 miles or so a day he may not see the need.

Being car free or car light is going to be a compromise when it comes to travel and family if they aren't close by. I discovered the the Bus doesn't go everywhere like it used to, or at least as I remember it did. But that doesn't mean with extra planning you can't get there. As people have said you have to change your concept of time. Cars have taught us to do things on the spur of the moment and that might be a habit that you will have to overcome. And understand you are not alone when you have a SO that doesn't share your desire to be Car Free or Car Light. If it weren't for the pets I would have suggested renting as well. One of the reasons I am car light is because we like to travel and we have a Rat Terrier we like to take with us. We used to look for hotels and motels that took pets but now we take our trailer and stay at RV parks.

Still more to the point of some of your questions. If you want a road bike without a Top bar you might have to look for a used Mixte or if you can afford it have Soma build you a Mixte drop bar. Taking your dogs on a bike ride is easier with a trailer. If you have a kids trailer like with the canvas sides you will need to make a plywood floor so they can feel more secure. My Terrier doesn't love it but she doesn't try to jump out either. 60 miles rides aren't that bad once you build up to it. About 4 hours for a reasonable road bike if it is pretty flat. But then I have been to Colorado Springs and it isn't flat.
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Old 08-08-12, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
Your compassion and understanding just overwhelm me .

I do have agree that if you think your stuff is waste of time reading it then it must be.

Why do you post it??

Emoticons are used for communicating a thought ,or feelings, that are not easily said in words in mixed company.
Why are you being such an old curmudgeon? That's supposed to be I-Like-to-Bike's role.
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Old 08-08-12, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
Being car free or car light is going to be a compromise when it comes to travel and family if they aren't close by. I discovered the the Bus doesn't go everywhere like it used to, or at least as I remember it did. But that doesn't mean with extra planning you can't get there.
There's also a chance that the bus will work perfectly. My parents lived in Traverse City, about 200 miles from my home in Lansing. During the last 19 years of their lives, I visited them ever 4 weeks on the bus for a total of more than 125 round trips. On the bus it took 4.5 to 6 hours, compared to a little less than 4 hours driving. It was relaxing and fun, especially compared to driving to northern Michigan in the winter. A couple times there were inconveniences or annoyances--not bad on more than 120 trips!
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Old 08-08-12, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
And other people use way too many emoticons...
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Old 08-09-12, 12:16 AM
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Originally Posted by redeyedtreefr0g View Post
But my problem is, I have family that I would love to go see occasionally down in Colorado Springs, a little over 100 miles away. Two hours by car according to google, and it says 4 hours by bus. That's also not my reasonable biking distance!
I'm having trouble because one of the bus terminals for my new district is 15 miles away, on back country roads that I am not at all familiar with. Right now I've had a coworker give me a ride to training, and resigned myself to letting the office know that I can't sub for any routes from that terminal. I'm praying I get a route from the near one and don't have to substitute at all.



So how do you deal with things like that?

Do you just not go far from home? I admit that not seeing family often would keep me out of their drama, but I've gotten pretty good at avoiding that anyway.
Do you rent cars? I haven't looked into a single day rental before, would that be feasible if you aren't paying monthly insurance?. I know a week-long rental was only $200 or so, and the gas-savings was well worth it to go from Oregon to Florida and back for a retrieval/emergency move. Can you rent a car if you don't own one- how does insurance work then?

Do you just bite the time bullet and go by bus anyway? 8 hours of travel for a short visit seems incredibly wasteful to me.

What do you mean by visiting occasionally? If it's a weekend every month or two, then transit or the bus would be the best option. I just did a quick search and according to Google Maps, the trip is around 3:17 or more using public transit. Greyhound can get you there in 3:05, but it's going to be more expensive. If you leave on a Friday after work or Saturday early morning and then come back on Sunday evening, two trips of three to four hours each does not seem too bad to me. And it's going to be the best bang for the buck.

The bigger problem, as I see it, is the scheduling. Using public transportation puts you at the mercy of the bus service. That's fine if you're in an area with good service, but it's not so good if you're in an area with poor schedules or limited service. That's when using public transportation for inter-city trips becomes rather involved. It's possible, but it's not convenient. At that point, I'd normally suggest going extremely car-light, but from what you've described, other alternatives would be preferred.

I'm wondering if Craigslist or a posting on a community bulletin board or in churches could help you find a carpool to Colorado Springs for the times when you're making the trip.

Another option might be to have the family time in Denver. It's not too far for you to make the trip down there and it's not too far from Colorado Springs. Denver is the hub in Colorado and it's far easier making that the destination than making a connection from there. (Whether this option is practical depends on your family. Not everyone is keen on making the compromises, even if you explain the reasons behind them.)
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Old 08-09-12, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Newspaperguy View Post
[/COLOR]
[/COLOR]What do you mean by visiting occasionally? If it's a weekend every month or two, then transit or the bus would be the best option. I just did a quick search and according to Google Maps, the trip is around 3:17 or more using public transit. Greyhound can get you there in 3:05, but it's going to be more expensive. If you leave on a Friday after work or Saturday early morning and then come back on Sunday evening, two trips of three to four hours each does not seem too bad to me. And it's going to be the best bang for the buck.

The bigger problem, as I see it, is the scheduling. Using public transportation puts you at the mercy of the bus service. That's fine if you're in an area with good service, but it's not so good if you're in an area with poor schedules or limited service. That's when using public transportation for inter-city trips becomes rather involved. It's possible, but it's not convenient. At that point, I'd normally suggest going extremely car-light, but from what you've described, other alternatives would be preferred.

I'm wondering if Craigslist or a posting on a community bulletin board or in churches could help you find a carpool to Colorado Springs for the times when you're making the trip.

Another option might be to have the family time in Denver. It's not too far for you to make the trip down there and it's not too far from Colorado Springs. Denver is the hub in Colorado and it's far easier making that the destination than making a connection from there. (Whether this option is practical depends on your family. Not everyone is keen on making the compromises, even if you explain the reasons behind them.)
Excellent points. Another compromise would be to alternate the locations so the OP only has to travel half as often. Of course, there might be reasons why this would be impossible, but my family always did this and it seemed fair.
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Old 08-09-12, 02:40 PM
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My family can and has already made the trip north to see us, so I would agree that once a month, more or less, would be the goal of my travel south to see them. I'd prefer to meet at one place or the other because there are things I like to do that would be difficult, away from home (such as have my twin wrap me up in duct tape to create a dress form for me!).

Apparently the bus schedules have been updated! That is handy to know. I wonder how much the time of dayor the day of the week influences routes and travel time.

You're right, I could very easily hop on a bus Friday night and come back Sunday but for one thing: our pets. They can't be left home that long and I'd hate to push them off onto our roommate. I HATE people babysitting. Far too often the person that we asked to watch the dogs was not in fact the one that stayed with them, or they just aren't animal people. I've come back home once to find them locked in a tiny room with easily tipped dishes, so that their food was dumped into the floor where they had been so long that they had been forced to have accidents. They had no water at all. I was livid. Granted, that was one time, but I never ever want it to happen again.
With that said, I fully trust my current roommate, but I still would feel guilty leaving our dogs with him, as our apartment allows 2 pets only, and he has left his own dog with the small herd at his parents' house.

So the choices are either quick trips to visit family when the dogs can stay home alone, long trips including the dogs, or no trips at all. Meeting in Denver likely would be the way to go, meeting halfway as it were. That way everyone commits the same amount. We'd have to plan things out is we need to do something at one house or the other.

Eventually a bike trip where I could bring the dogs long-term for a week or so, such as during school Thanksgiving, Winter or Spring Breaks, sounds like it would be completely fun and if I can get the dogs to travel well with bikes they would love it.
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Old 08-12-12, 05:53 AM
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My family has been car free for a year and a half now, but I'm going to be honest here and just admit that it wasn't really by choice (although before that we did try to do "car light" or "car lighter than average" anyway) and that it kind of sucks in some ways and we are hoping to get a car again soon.

It is true though that cars are expensive. We hit financial tough times, we got rid of our car (that was leaking oil like a sieve and needed a $500 repair, which was the last straw), and it really did help us stop the bleeding. Since then, we've been able to keep up with the bills as long as we live frugally. If we had kept the car, it just wouldn't have been possible (though now that my wife is starting a new job things are looking up and we are planning to save up for another car). I think a lot of people hit tough times, can't conceive of eliminating the car, and so end up getting evicted and living in the car, which to me is definitely not a worthwhile tradeoff, especially for a family with kids.

But so here's the thing: we have four kids, ranging from two months old to twelve years old, and we live in the rural Midwest, where everyone drives, where we get bitter cold snaps and blizzards in the winter and heat waves and severe weather in the summer (plus lots of rain in the spring, in previous years though not this one). The two older kids ride their bikes alongside us, and the two year old has been riding in the bike trailer for a year and a half (and the youngest will be able to join her soon). But weather can be a definite problem, and it's a grind to go back and forth to get all the groceries and other supplies a big family like ours needs.

A really big problem is visiting family. Our families range from 500 miles away to 2000 miles away. When we still had a car, that was one of its primary functions: to allow us to take long road trips to see them. We have no Greyhound service to our town, although there is an airport and an Amtrak station ten miles away. But when you have a family of six, it gets insanely expensive to buy all those round trip tickets. I've come to realise that while public transit can definitely be cheaper for individuals compared to driving solo in a car, when it comes to a six person family, a minivan would be way cheaper for out of town trips!

Renting a car was mentioned upthread, but our credit got messed up at the same time as we had to get rid of the car, so we can't do that either.

Anyway, I guess this post might seem to go against the grain of the general spirit here, but although I won't be singing any paeans to the joys of car free living, I still think my having made it work over the past eighteen months--on a very tight budget and even with small children--entitles me to share my two cents; and I think it's only fair to hear a variety of realistic, honest perspectives.
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Old 08-12-12, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by SlackerInc View Post
My family has been car free for a year and a half now, but I'm going to be honest here and just admit that it wasn't really by choice (although before that we did try to do "car light" or "car lighter than average" anyway) and that it kind of sucks in some ways and we are hoping to get a car again soon.

It is true though that cars are expensive. We hit financial tough times, we got rid of our car (that was leaking oil like a sieve and needed a $500 repair, which was the last straw), and it really did help us stop the bleeding. Since then, we've been able to keep up with the bills as long as we live frugally. If we had kept the car, it just wouldn't have been possible (though now that my wife is starting a new job things are looking up and we are planning to save up for another car). I think a lot of people hit tough times, can't conceive of eliminating the car, and so end up getting evicted and living in the car, which to me is definitely not a worthwhile tradeoff, especially for a family with kids.

But so here's the thing: we have four kids, ranging from two months old to twelve years old, and we live in the rural Midwest, where everyone drives, where we get bitter cold snaps and blizzards in the winter and heat waves and severe weather in the summer (plus lots of rain in the spring, in previous years though not this one). The two older kids ride their bikes alongside us, and the two year old has been riding in the bike trailer for a year and a half (and the youngest will be able to join her soon). But weather can be a definite problem, and it's a grind to go back and forth to get all the groceries and other supplies a big family like ours needs.

A really big problem is visiting family. Our families range from 500 miles away to 2000 miles away. When we still had a car, that was one of its primary functions: to allow us to take long road trips to see them. We have no Greyhound service to our town, although there is an airport and an Amtrak station ten miles away. But when you have a family of six, it gets insanely expensive to buy all those round trip tickets. I've come to realise that while public transit can definitely be cheaper for individuals compared to driving solo in a car, when it comes to a six person family, a minivan would be way cheaper for out of town trips!

Renting a car was mentioned upthread, but our credit got messed up at the same time as we had to get rid of the car, so we can't do that either.

Anyway, I guess this post might seem to go against the grain of the general spirit here, but although I won't be singing any paeans to the joys of car free living, I still think my having made it work over the past eighteen months--on a very tight budget and even with small children--entitles me to share my two cents; and I think it's only fair to hear a variety of realistic, honest perspectives.
Very interesting post, and I certainly agree that your viewpoint should be welcomed on this forum. Your situation points out a number of issues that are very important considerations for carfree people everywhere.

You remind us how screwed up our infrastructure is, that all other forms of transit have been sacrificed to the almighty car. This situation does indeed make it very difficcult, and in many cases impossible for people to be carfree.

Americans are put into the situation of needing cars that they can't afford. Many are bankrupted by their cars, credit is wrecked, but the only sane goal seems to be repair of credit in order to buy another car, so that the whole tragedy can happen all over again. Basically, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy: We have so thoroughly convinced ourelves that a car is a NECESSITY that we have unconsciously created a world where it actually is a necessity.

It's really quite insane when you stop to think about it. Why in hell would any town NOT have a bus station to connect it to the greater world?

Having spouted all that, I have one thing to add. Why do you not have a trailer so that you don't have to make multiple trips to fetch your groceries?
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Old 08-12-12, 09:46 AM
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Roody, thanks for your thoughtful reply. Twenty years ago, this town (with nearly 20,000 residents, the region's only major hospital, a nationally known university, and a medical school) did have Greyhound service. In those days, that company's primary MO was providing bus service to little towns across the country, many of which were far smaller than ours. But then I recall hearing an interview on NPR with the new CEO. That model was losing them money, he said, and they were going to abandon it in favour of just running between major cities, seeking a niche as the cheapo alternative to flying. And sure enough, shortly after that we were dropped from Greyhound's route map. I really think the federal government should have stepped in and made some kind of subsidy or something to maintain "lifeline service", but alas they did not.

You're so right though that people get bankrupted by their cars. I find it ironic when I read car-free blogs that it appears the vast majority of people giving up cars are middle class and are doing it totally by choice. By all rights there ought to be a lot more low income people who go car free, but they just can't conceive of doing it. If they did, there would likely be more societal support for non-car transportation, too.

As it is now, along with everything else my wife is feeling heavy social pressure to get a car (she is starting a job as a grade school teacher). Other teachers at her school describe disadvantaged kids, and those families that are described as "not even having a working car right now" are tut-tutted over the most of all. As her colleagues are beginning to discover that she bikes to work (only 1.1 miles!) they gasp at how "far" it is, even knowing where we live; and they give her pitying looks, etc. She used to walk to work (she really likes walking more than cycling in a lot of ways, the opposite of me), but got sick of people recognising her and slowing down, rolling their windows down, asking her with concerned expressions if she needs a ride. (Nice, I guess; but if she takes those rides then she's just a sad sack deadbeat, you know? Very awkward.)

We do have a kids trailer that can fit several bags of groceries; but with a family of six (including two in diapers) it's still a lot of schlepping!
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Old 08-12-12, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by SlackerInc View Post
Roody, thanks for your thoughtful reply. Twenty years ago, this town (with nearly 20,000 residents, the region's only major hospital, a nationally known university, and a medical school) did have Greyhound service. In those days, that company's primary MO was providing bus service to little towns across the country, many of which were far smaller than ours. But then I recall hearing an interview on NPR with the new CEO. That model was losing them money, he said, and they were going to abandon it in favour of just running between major cities, seeking a niche as the cheapo alternative to flying. And sure enough, shortly after that we were dropped from Greyhound's route map. I really think the federal government should have stepped in and made some kind of subsidy or something to maintain "lifeline service", but alas they did not.
Greyhound has started dropping small towns in Canada as well. For a population as widely dispersed as ours, I agree that it's a big problem. However, a town like you describe is certainly not small by Canadian standards!

Originally Posted by SlackerInc View Post
You're so right though that people get bankrupted by their cars. I find it ironic when I read car-free blogs that it appears the vast majority of people giving up cars are middle class and are doing it totally by choice. By all rights there ought to be a lot more low income people who go car free, but they just can't conceive of doing it. If they did, there would likely be more societal support for non-car transportation, too.
I wonder why this is? A few things come to mind... are there just more middle-class bloggers? Or maybe middle class people are just more vocal about it because it's obvious that it's a choice and not necessity? Perhaps low-income people are more self-conscious about their money situation and feel that losing a car is a sign of rock bottom (like the teachers at your wife's school seem to think)?

I've heard stories of people offering rides and giving funny looks to people walking in US cities before (Houston comes to mind). That just seems so backwards! I'm sure it's the same in some parts of Canada, but I haven't experienced it first hand. And I'm sure that someone lamenting their lack of a car to many Europeans would be met with "so what?".

It sounds like the real problem here is the social stigma. That's a tough one to fix, for sure.
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Old 08-12-12, 11:33 AM
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Perhaps low-income people are more self-conscious about their money situation and feel that losing a car is a sign of rock bottom (like the teachers at your wife's school seem to think)?
Right, I think that's definitely it. (Although it must go even deeper, as losing your home and living in your car is surely a bad sign as well!) The rest of your post is spot on as well. I do think that in NYC at least, not having a car is considered no big deal. And in liberal enclaves like Seattle, Portland, etc., it would be admired. But in most of the "heartland", there is a small subculture (mostly young college students and other twentysomethings) that organises Critical Mass rides and so on, but they are just so out of the mainstream they are either ignored, ridiculed, or just sort of stared at with incomprehension.
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Old 08-12-12, 01:40 PM
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Couple of notes: Greyhound started dropping routes back around 1981 when they were deregulated, then they were allowed to purchase Trailways in 1985, effectively creating a monopoly.

I am of the opinion that too many people in the US would rather hold onto their car than a roof over their heads, in part because in many parts of the country is it almost impossible to live without a car. There was a thread on here a while back about some homeless that had gone from middle class to homeless, and were living in their cars.

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