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What stops you from riding?

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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.

What stops you from riding?

Old 11-30-12, 11:16 PM
  #1  
bragi
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What stops you from riding?

I assume that most people who are on this forum ride bicycles to get places most of the time, or at least as often as possible. I ride my bike or walk for probably 80-90% of my local trips. I have a car, but I don't use it more than 1-2 times a month. Last year, I put 3000 mi on the bike and about 200 on the Volvo. I think of the car as a necessary evil: I don't like to drive, and often it's actually much faster and more convenient to ride or take public transportation. However, there are a few things that will make me resort to the car without hesitation, in descending order of urgency:

1. I'm sick, and have to go to work anyway, or at least go to the doctor and buy food. (I could use public transportation for this, but would then risk infecting innocent strangers.)
2. I have to haul something that's too bulky or heavy to be practical on a bicycle. I have hauled science fair display boards and even outboard motors using a bicycle, but these sorts of things are just too much of a PITA on a bike for me to ever do voluntarily again.
3. I have family flying in from out of town.
4. It's really icy or snowy outside. (In this case I won't drive locally, either, I'll just walk. It's not the snow and ice itself that dissuades me, it's Seattle drivers, who often can't even drive in the rain, let alone on ice.)

What are your limits to doing without an internal combustion engine of your very own, or at least a borrowed/rented one?
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Old 12-01-12, 02:33 PM
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I haven't ever actually gotten a drivers' license. So anything that really requires a car requires me to ask other people for help, which I prefer to avoid. My better half has a license, but no car, although there are nearby Zipcars and rental places when we need it.
But pretty much, the things that I can't/don't do by bike are:
1. Getting to and from the airport, since they don't exactly have long term parking for bikes (I probably wouldn't trust it if they did, but it sure would make life a lot simpler if I could ride there). So I take public transit or get a ride, or take a cab.
2. Going to cycling events that are far away. During the summer, we rent cars to go to rides that are several hours away fairly frequently. While it's a nice idea to load up and take a few days getting there and back, it's not really practical.
Those are the two most common reasons. Once in a blue moon we'll go buy some especially large item that's too big or too far to get with the Xtracycle.
3. Going for a walk somewhere, or going shopping someplace that's only a ten minute walk away.
4. Once in a blue moon, we'll go shopping for something that's either too big or too far away to conveniently use the Xtracycle, and rent a vehicle, but it doesn't happen very often.
5. Moving. Needless to say, that doesn't happen very often either.

That's pretty much it... I've worked at my current part-time job for 11 years (used to be full time, now only 2 days/wk) and have gotten there by methods other than bicycle maybe five times, if you count four times by unicycle as "not a bicycle". I took public transit once because I was going straight to the airport afterward.
But one way or another, I'm a creature of habit and the bicycle has been my habitual way of getting around since I was maybe ten. I even rode my bike one-handed to the emergency room to get stitches when I cut my hand because I was freaking out too much to think of anything else to do.
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Old 12-01-12, 03:05 PM
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1. Extreme downpours like half an inch of rain
2. Long distance travel that doesn't permit the time
3. Sometimes I take the bus or a boat to cross a body of water, but I take my bike with me.

That's about it I think. Temperature isn't a problem, and I've never encountered ice yet. I use the bike to go to the post office, grocery store, library, bank, or whatever. Sometimes light rain will deter me if whatever I need to do can be postponed like getting groceries. I don't mind getting wet. I just don't like getting my rims, drivetrain, and stuff all dirty. If I need to go to work, then I'll just ride through it.
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Old 12-01-12, 03:40 PM
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Even though I'm not supposed to drive I rent a car to go to my medical appointments in Spokane. It's over a hundred miles and it's the only practical way to get there. Since I rent an economy car it's also the cheapest. If I were to take Greyhound it would have to be an overnight trip and the cost of a decent motel room tips the balance in favor of renting a car.

Other than that I bike all my errands in town. I'm on disability and don't work so I don't have a daily commute. Unless you count my morning trips to the gym. If I were to buy anything large or bulky that didn't fit in my Nomad I would call a friend with a car. Someday I'd like to own a Big Dummy and a Trailer Bill so I can have a nice garden. It would make trips to the nursery much easier.
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Old 12-01-12, 06:28 PM
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The only things that stop me from riding are:
1. The lack of an adequately safe route to where I want to go when I want to go there. An example will occur later this month when I will be renting a car to drive from the Willamette Valley to the Rogue Valley in OR. It is just barely safe to do this a few times per year, but the Solstice/Christmas/New Year/whatever break isn't one of them.
2. When I am transporting someone who is disabled. In 2011 I had to make five trips by car over the Cascades to transport a disabled friend to medical appointments. When I visit my elderly in-laws I often drive them to their destinations.
3. Time/distance constraints. I sometimes take Amtrak on the West Coast when I don't have the time to make the trip by bike. If my destination is close, like Portland (140 miles by bike), then I'll ride, but to Seattle or Sacramento I'll often take the train if I don't have the days to spare.

I've rarely encountered a situation where I have to transport something that I can't load onto a bike and trailer(s). I brought the five-foot long freezer we bought at the local Sears home on a trailer and I've also moved couches, scores of bikes (sometimes dozens in a single trip), garbage cans filled with compost/wood chips/potting soil, and building supplies. With the proper trailer, very few things cannot be moved by bike.
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Old 12-01-12, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
I've rarely encountered a situation where I have to transport something that I can't load onto a bike and trailer(s). I brought the five-foot long freezer we bought at the local Sears home on a trailer and I've also moved couches, scores of bikes (sometimes dozens in a single trip), garbage cans filled with compost/wood chips/potting soil, and building supplies. With the proper trailer, very few things cannot be moved by bike.
What kind of trailer do you have that allows you to haul a freezer? (I'm not being skeptical, I'm sincerely curious.)
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Old 12-01-12, 06:55 PM
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Well, this year, I've rented a car three times, once to drive to Atlanta, and twice to drive to Texas. I also carpooled once to a conference 30 miles away.

I'll take the local bus when I'm too lazy to ride, want to get something else done during that time instead of riding, or if it's too cold for my tastes. I took the Greyhound to DC, it was on my nickle and I wasn't pressed for time so I went cheaper and slower. I got a hostel room close to the conference so I didn't need a Capitol Share bike until the last day when I had some free time.

Getting to the airport in Little Rock means a bus ride or a taxi ride. When I flew to L.A. I didn't end up using a bicycle there. I either took a bus or walked.

I've got a Bikes at Work trailer so I can carry some fairly big things.

Often I'll walk when I don't want to bother with navigation and traffic and can let my mind roam free, or if I just want to do some nature watching.
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Old 12-01-12, 07:09 PM
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I've found that when I get past 80lbs on my trailer it makes my rear derailleur wonky and it shifts by itself.
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Old 12-01-12, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by bragi View Post
What kind of trailer do you have that allows you to haul a freezer? (I'm not being skeptical, I'm sincerely curious.)
The Center for Appropriate Transport here in Eugene makes a nice trailer. it can handle 500 pounds without much problem, assuming the rider's legs are up to that task. A couple years ago, they had a buyer back out on one and my neighbor and I co-purchased it. His daughter picked out a nice pink color and it has been quite useful. One version of this type of trailer is in the picture below. the hitch has two parts. A ball attaches to the seat post with two allen bolts and the trailer arm has a socket that locks onto the ball. I have been meaning to have them build me a longer arm to facilitate the transport of longer pieces of lumber and sheet goods; I would like to get the center of mass of the load in front of the axle and that requires more distance between the trailer and the bike.
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Old 12-01-12, 08:50 PM
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I stop riding my bike when it gets to about 0*C and snow starts to stay on the ground.... IMO it's just too dangerous competing with these vehicles/drivers who think they can go anywhere, do anything, and they own the roads that no bicyclist should be rinding on at the best of times...
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Old 12-01-12, 10:57 PM
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There are only two things which I know I cannot do by bike alone, but fortunately they are extremely rare events:
1. moving to a new place (I can move most of my stuff by bike, but moving things like desks, mattresses, and bookshelves is tough)
2. getting to the hospital with a painful injury
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Old 12-01-12, 11:08 PM
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1) Laziness. Sometimes I don't feel like changing into bike clothes and going thru the whole locking/unlocking at my destination.

2) Most of my friends don't cycle and most like shopping in malls that are located out of the city. The things I'll do for a hot pretzel.

3) Bringing home something bulky or heavy that won't fit in my panniers. I don't have a trailer but it's on my list.
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Old 12-01-12, 11:29 PM
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Well... pretty much everything Bragi has mentioned in the first post.

Occasionally, as well, I am too tired or need a break from riding. I'm on a pretty convenient bus route, so that will get me to work. I can walk the half mile to the grocery store too. Although usually when I'm having such a rest day, I just hang around the house.
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Old 12-02-12, 12:21 PM
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I probably take public transportation more than most on this forum, as I'm a student with a mandatory transit pass.

Therefore, I'll take the bus when:
- I'm really sore from a workout
- I'm tired and can't face going up the hill
- It's below -15 or so. I have ridden at -20, but I don't like it very much.
- There's a risk of hail. Seriously, hail is the scariest weather to me. One hail storm last summer had mandarin-orange sized hail stones - enough to break windshields, tear up shingles, take down tree branches, and cause hundreds of millions of dollars of damage.

My biggest need for a car is for going to the mountains to go skiing, backpacking, climbing, hiking, etc. Fortunately, I don't do those things on my own, so I just chip in extra gas money for the driver. I even budgeted a car rental every week for my xc ski lessons, but so far I've been able to get rides.

I also take rides from people when going to visit friends that live in the suburbs. There's no way I'm going to ride 60 km round trip at night to go to a party for a few hours, and I'm not going to let my carfree decision impact my social life. This is one of the reasons I'm considering a brompton - I can take the train as far as it goes and then ride the remaining 5 k or so and reduce my dependence on other people.

I'll be the first to admit that living car-free in Calgary is only really feasible because everyone else has a car, or car2go/rentals. If I were to refuse to set foot in a car, I would be putting a big damper on both my social life and the activities that I enjoy doing.
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Old 12-02-12, 03:16 PM
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Old 12-02-12, 06:12 PM
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You guys are my heros!! I really dislike cycling below 30F and sunny, yes, I've done it but even with wicking layers, I'm sweating like a pig!! I don't care to ride on ICE, I've hit the ground hard a few times and being 57, the bruises don't heal as fast anymore. We have a LOT of short steep hills here in our area so anything over 75lbs. can get hard to pull in the trailer even with a 22/32 gearing set up. We usually, take a bus to the food store and take a taxi home, if there's ICE on the roads or it's really COLD. The wife commutes to work but only to 30F and sunny, otherwise she uses the city bus, were on "the" main route so it's very useable for her.
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Old 12-02-12, 06:27 PM
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My family. If I don't have to carry a baby and six year old around I ride all the time. Also black ice on the road... can't stand the stuff.
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Old 12-02-12, 07:05 PM
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Life in general sometimes.
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Old 12-02-12, 07:13 PM
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I keep my car parked at the office and I bike or walk to and from work. If I'm at home, I have no choice other than human-powered transportation, or at least no choice I've ever considered. I haven't thought about springing for a taxi. If I'm at work, the only time I'll use a car at the end of the day is if I need to make a run into the next city. When we get a transit system, that will change.
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Old 12-02-12, 07:54 PM
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Moves, going to different cities or countries (where I use mass transport and airlines if it's overseas). I have to hire piano movers too if I relocate, as I have a Steinway grand.

I do buy things like books online sometimes and have on rare occasions ordered pizza or Chinese food delivered, which means I'm having someone drive for my whims directly to my home.

I also don't bicycle in winter, though I really should set up a good solid beater and winter gear. I live in farm country (the snow belt of western NY, no less) and walk between 3 and 4 miles round trip in winter for every single grocery or town need.
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Old 12-02-12, 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Alekhine View Post

I also don't bicycle in winter, though I really should set up a good solid beater and winter gear. I live in farm country (the snow belt of western NY, no less) and walk between 3 and 4 miles round trip in winter for every single grocery or town need.
You might consider biking in winter. Check the winter forums for ideas and inspiration. I guess it's not for everyone but a 3-4 mile trek for grocery would be handled much better on a bike.
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Old 12-03-12, 09:32 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by gerv View Post
You might consider biking in winter. Check the winter forums for ideas and inspiration. I guess it's not for everyone but a 3-4 mile trek for grocery would be handled much better on a bike.
Yes. Thanks for the suggestion. It's a big consideration on my mind as this winter rolls around. I'm a little concerned about hills in winter, since I live in the bottom of a valley and don't know the first thing about riding up and down hills that have snow and ice accumulation, but I won't ride any of my current bicycles as they are all very nice machines and I don't want to subject them to the rigors of winter. My touring bike (and general 3-season utility bike) is a custom with Rohloff Speedhub too, so it could be converted to a nice snow machine, but again I just don't want to kill the thing before its time. It's just too nice a thing.

Ideally, I'm looking right now at fat bike options even above the aforementioned possible beater, specifically along the lines of a belt drive bike with IGH (probably an Alfine) and disc brakes. I know Schlick makes something called the Northpaw that would accommodate all of this but it's quite the cost for the frame alone ($1700), and the Pugsley is a consideration, but I'd have to both research and save for any of this, which realistically probably rules out this winter in any case - hence the mention of a beater.

But I don't mind walking so much for now. I only grocery shop about once every 6 to 10 days or so, and 3 to 4 miles isn't too terribly far. I only wish grocery stores here were open 24/7 like they are in the city, because I prefer to walk in the dead hours of the night and very early morning when it's all snowy out.
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Old 12-03-12, 04:20 PM
  #23  
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Old 12-03-12, 08:27 PM
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It's just the fact of getting older in life that made me stop riding. Once I passed 37, I stopped bike commuting altogether and moved to another town to take advantage of the lightrail. I hated the bus but now that I've discovered express service in New York City, I'm back on the bus. I wanted to limit my exposure to the potential risk of a serious accident. I had one two years ago and I'll never bike commute again unless it's an emergency like the last hurricane which took out all buses and trains!

I still love bicycling but want to do it the rest of my life. However, I'm limiting my exposure becuase I can't have any more falls!
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Old 12-03-12, 09:56 PM
  #25  
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