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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.

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Old 03-06-14, 05:13 PM   #1
MikeRides
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Going car-LIGHT and living rural..It can be done!

edit: Since creating this thread there's been some controversy on just how serious I am about being car-free in the future. Truth of the matter is, due to a job relocation, a 25 mile commute instead of a 20 although doesn't seem like a big difference that commute has been getting to me mentally in the last week and even though I still plan to ride my bike more than drive I'm not ready to give up the car yet. So here I am..changing the title, to "Going car-LIGHT and living rural..."


Okay, where do I start? Hmm, last month I found out my car (a '96 Mustang Cobra) has a blown head. I've sheltered it in my garage since, working on it little by little, but just last week decided I wasn't going to finish rebuilding it anytime soon so I took the plates down to DMV and canceled the insurance. Now I should probably point out that I live 15 miles from a small town where there's a small grocery/hardware store. I also work about 20 miles in the opposite direction and am forced to ride my bike on a roller coaster-like road the entire way. There's also absolutely no public transportation available (even a cab ride would be mean taking out a second mortgage). On the other hand, it's a back road so traffic in general isn't a problem.

So since April of last year, I've been car light, only driving when I need to get someplace too far to ride the bike, which wasn't very often. I commuted to work a couple times last summer but couldn't make it a regular thing (too many hills), but now I've got no choice.

Even in the recent northeast cold, I've been commuting daily (leaving at 4am to arrive by 6am - I've learned the freezing temperatures make me work harder to get to my destination faster) and making weekly trips to the grocery store all on the bike. I currently have a milk crate strapped to the rear rack on my hybrid and a XL backpack for smaller items. I plan on borrowing my girlfriend's car (she still drives and has no plans to follow my lead in this car-free lifestyle) when I need to pick up dog food and other bulk items. I bought a chest freezer to stock up on frozen food so I only need to make those trips every 2-3 months.

Granted it's only been a month, I'm thinking about finishing the car (as a hobby) and selling it rather than ever drive it again. So far, this new lifestyle is working for me.

EDIT:
I've still got my old mountain bike, but I'm itching to visit my LBS for a new road bike to speed up my commute.

Last edited by MikeRides; 05-13-14 at 09:30 AM.
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Old 03-06-14, 05:21 PM   #2
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Congratulations! If you made it a whole month. You should be good. Is the store near where you work? If it is, combining trips would make life easier. I think the plan of bumming a ride every couple months for fetching bulk purchases is a good idea.
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Old 03-06-14, 07:15 PM   #3
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You sir, are an inspiration.

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Old 03-06-14, 07:23 PM   #4
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moved here W/O a car, in 1997 , still havent put out for one.

moved around thru 5 addresses .. this is the closest one in.

town is small a long ways from the Big City , that being PDX..
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Old 03-06-14, 07:40 PM   #5
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Congratulations! If you made it a whole month. You should be good. Is the store near where you work? If it is, combining trips would make life easier. I think the plan of bumming a ride every couple months for fetching bulk purchases is a good idea.
There is a store about 5 miles from where I work, I've stopped there after work for one or two "last minute" items but generally I've been doing good doing all my shopping early in the week and only filling my milk crate and backpack.

Also, it's not so much "bumming" rides every couple months as I seem to fill her gas tank more than she does, I also do all the repairs necessary on the car, and the bulk items are shared between the two of us (well except for the dog food)

The only thing I haven't got used to is the traffic honking like crazy at me for no apparent reason when I get to the main road. There are signs clearly posted to "share the road" but they still seem to honk and yell obscentities at me like I'm in the wrong for riding a bike on the shoulder of a public highway. I've been riding regularly for only a year, have tried ignoring them and even tried taking my mp3 player along with one ear bud out so I can hear traffic approach me from behind but still tune out unnecessary honking
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Old 03-06-14, 10:36 PM   #6
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You get used to it eventually and tune it out automatically.

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Old 03-06-14, 10:38 PM   #7
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Twenty miles through rolling hills to get to work and fifteen miles to the nearest shop! That's impressive. I don't think I could handle it on a regular basis. I'd be thinking about a bike with electric assist and plenty of room for cargo, something like this.
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Old 03-06-14, 11:05 PM   #8
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There is a store about 5 miles from where I work, I've stopped there after work for one or two "last minute" items but generally I've been doing good doing all my shopping early in the week and only filling my milk crate and backpack.

Also, it's not so much "bumming" rides every couple months as I seem to fill her gas tank more than she does, I also do all the repairs necessary on the car, and the bulk items are shared between the two of us (well except for the dog food)

The only thing I haven't got used to is the traffic honking like crazy at me for no apparent reason when I get to the main road. There are signs clearly posted to "share the road" but they still seem to honk and yell obscentities at me like I'm in the wrong for riding a bike on the shoulder of a public highway. I've been riding regularly for only a year, have tried ignoring them and even tried taking my mp3 player along with one ear bud out so I can hear traffic approach me from behind but still tune out unnecessary honking
The good news is that if they honk they know you're there. Presumably the regular drivers on your commute route will get used to you eventually. From what I've read on BF over the years, the yelling and honking seems to be more common along the east coast. Here in the Midwest it's just an occasional thing.
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Old 04-17-14, 08:49 AM   #9
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Re-bored the head, installed new gaskets, and got my car road ready again in a little under 2 months. I drove it 100 miles one way for a business trip earlier this month. Started to drive in today and got 5 miles before I lost power, the car just died. A quick side of the road diagnosis showed a bad fuel pump. I was already running late so I pushed it off the road and walked back home to get the bike. Twenty miles later, I was about 20 minutes late. Oh well, I'll work 30 minutes over my usual quitting time to make up for it.

I called the parts store and was told the new fuel pump would cost about $300 after taxes. Yikes. The rebuilt head job was cheaper than that, oh well. I'll probably order it but I don't know when I'll get the free time to replace it so I'll continue commuting by bike. With summer coming, I'm not in a hurry to fix it anyway. I only need the car for out of town trips which emergency notwithstanding I don't have scheduled until mid-July.

So there goes my eventful month long report. Cars suck.
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Old 04-17-14, 09:04 AM   #10
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I called the parts store and was told the new fuel pump would cost about $300 after taxes.
You should be able to find the same OEM or "OEM" quality fuel pump for about half that amount if you look around online. Btw, I'd also recommend that you change the engine oil (even if new) as soon as you can. I say this because coolant contaminated engine oil can damage the engine bearings (and it doesn't take much to do so).

Anyway, it's good to see you do so well without your car!
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Old 04-17-14, 09:37 AM   #11
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You should be able to find the same OEM or "OEM" quality fuel pump for about half that amount if you look around online. Btw, I'd also recommend that you change the engine oil (even if new) as soon as you can. I say this because coolant contaminated engine oil can damage the engine bearings (and it doesn't take much to do so).

Anyway, it's good to see you do so well without your car!
I finished the small block overhaul. I didn't have any coolant in the oil, but I changed it anyway and even flushed the cooling system while I had it in the garage. I had a problem a few years ago where the transmission cooler bursted, causing coolant to mix with the tranny fluid. I ended up having to drain it and flush the transmission. New filter and fluid made a lot of difference in the shifting afterwards. Also eplaced the radiator ($100 part from Napa). That was a simple project compared to the engine overhaul.

As for the fuel pump, I've called Auto Zone, Advance Auto, and Napa and they all want around the same price. Advance Auto has it for about $50 cheaper, $250+tax. I could take the chance with getting one at the junk yard for a lot less, but that's too risky I'd rather just put a new one in. I could probably find some hole in the wall parts distributor online, but I'd rather deal with some place local. I get all my parts from Advance Auto and never have had a problem. I don't have the $500++ for "official" OEM parts from the dealer.
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Old 04-17-14, 10:51 AM   #12
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Nope, I wouldn't get replacement pump from a junk yard (if at all possible).

Try Rock Auto, Summit Racing, or even eb*y. Ya, I know, eb*y!?..., but I bought a brand-new replacement distributor for my 2000 Chev truck for less than $75 (Chev wanted ~ 300, while RA and SR wanted about 150-250 depending on the brand). Just look for a lot of positive reviews on the seller tho.
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Old 04-17-14, 01:25 PM   #13
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That is one spendy fuel pump. What the heck is re-boring a head? Did you mean the block?

I'm impressed, too, with how well you are doing car-free. Your example sort of indicts me, as my commute is only 9 miles each way of biking (and a few hours of bus riding but the bus pass is free), even with the ridge in my ride. My avatar is a portion of my ride. My wife does the shopping in her car, so I rarely really need to drive. Today I drove my pickup so I could haul home a bunch of belting material they are throwing out here at work, and my wife wants it, but most days I don't haul very much. Hence my ability to use my motorcycle for my main motorized transport.

I only do the bike/bus commute 2 - 3 days per week. It does eat up a big chunk of the day.

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Old 05-09-14, 08:30 AM   #14
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Twenty miles through rolling hills to get to work and fifteen miles to the nearest shop! That's impressive. I don't think I could handle it on a regular basis.
Me neither.
Pure respect, man!
Of course, each person has it's own physical limits. Not everyone can win the Tour de France. But every small bit on a bike helps

I like this community here. Didn't know there was a place with same minded people to share ideas and motivate each other doing the same thing.
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Old 05-12-14, 04:19 AM   #15
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Me neither.
Pure respect, man!
Of course, each person has it's own physical limits. Not everyone can win the Tour de France. But every small bit on a bike helps

I like this community here. Didn't know there was a place with same minded people to share ideas and motivate each other doing the same thing.
Welcome!

Yeah, it's nice to be able to discuss car-free and car-light living, although, believe it or not, there are some folks who post here who adore the motor car and are offended by car-free freaks. Go figure.

How's cycling in Brussels? I've heard it's not as bike-friendly as some other Belgian cities.

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Old 05-12-14, 04:26 AM   #16
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How's cycling in Brussels? I've heard is not as bike-friendly as some other Belgian cities.
In Brussels I walk or take the subway
When I go to Brussels I take the train to the city, because it's a little too far for me to just go there by bike (40 km) for shopping or to go to a pub.

I know some people who take their bike in Brussels, but it's quite dangerous. Most cars ride very rude and won't stop to let you pass, so I'm not risking my life there.
Aswel, separated cycle paths are not added to the streets in Brussels.

But other cities it's perfectly doable by bike .
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Old 05-12-14, 04:56 AM   #17
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In Brussels I walk or take the subway
When I go to Brussels I take the train to the city, because it's a little too far for me to just go there by bike (40 km) for shopping or to go to a pub.

I know some people who take their bike in Brussels, but it's quite dangerous. Most cars ride very rude and won't stop to let you pass, so I'm not risking my life there.
Aswel, separated cycle paths are not added to the streets in Brussels.

But other cities it's perfectly doable by bike .
One of these days I'm going to do a bike-beer tour of Belgium.
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Old 05-12-14, 05:41 AM   #18
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Just the head gasket-??
Is it in reasonably good shape otherwise??
If so fix it-lie to get the cheapest possible insurance"only used on weekends-not too work minimal insurance"
and keep the car functional for emergency and "too cold too wet have a bad cold " days
No point in selling it after fixing it.
It is a kinda cool car(I am now a GM partisan-so I will insert Fix On Road Daily quip here)-but it is a cool car-V-8 but with mild hypermiling can ]get decent MPG(hills are a PROBLEM mpg wise- auto trans??)
But UNLESS it is in GREAT SHAPE body wise-and 1996 17 years old-perhaps in a road salt area??
So even being a cool car-for a FORD- it won't be worth more than $4000??
If it works WELL after you fix it-then a running car-cool car-is worth more than $4000 since you KNOW its history-problems etc

Now if it was a Cavalier or Cobalt Taurus etc-I would say DUMP it-who cares-you can ALWAYS get another one of them 16 years old-for $2500-

Fix it get minimal insurance-keep it-besides the dog MIGHT need ride somewhere or you MIGHT need to go to ER when GF isn't around-or you MIGHT break up so


Keep it-cool car-for a FORD- and not worth enough resale wise-to dump it
Charlie
PS This assumes that the head gasket leak won't involve LOTS of machining to repair "other coolant in oil caused" problems

PPS Didn't Ford make a short run of independent rear suspension Mustangs-Cobras I think- a while back?? It isn't one of those is it-in which case it might be worth selling if Ford partisans are hunting for them ?? But I would STILL keep it-cool car-poor economy-might be a while before you can afford a cool car again?? You could end up somewhere-job- you needed a car-and have to buy a USED Taurus as a replacement?

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Old 05-12-14, 06:12 AM   #19
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Just the head gasket-??
Is it in reasonably good shape otherwise??
If so fix it-lie to get the cheapest possible insurance"only used on weekends-not too work minimal insurance"
and keep the car functional for emergency and "too cold too wet have a bad cold " days
No point in selling it after fixing it.
It is a kinda cool car(I am now a GM partisan-so I will insert Fix On Road Daily quip here)-but it is a cool car-V-8 but with mild hypermiling can ]get decent MPG(hills are a PROBLEM mpg wise- auto trans??)
But UNLESS it is in GREAT SHAPE body wise-and 1996 17 years old-perhaps in a road salt area??
So even being a cool car-for a FORD- it won't be worth more than $4000??
If it works WELL after you fix it-then a running car-cool car-is worth more than $4000 since you KNOW its history-problems etc

Now if it was a Cavalier or Cobalt Taurus etc-I would say DUMP it-who cares-you can ALWAYS get another one of them 16 years old-for $2500-

Fix it get minimal insurance-keep it-besides the dog MIGHT need ride somewhere or you MIGHT need to go to ER when GF isn't around-or you MIGHT break up so


Keep it-cool car-for a FORD- and not worth enough resale wise-to dump it
Charlie
PS This assumes that the head gasket leak won't involve LOTS of machining to repair "other coolant in oil caused" problems

PPS Didn't Ford make a short run of independent rear suspension Mustangs-Cobras I think- a while back?? It isn't one of those is it-in which case it might be worth selling if Ford partisans are hunting for them ?? But I would STILL keep it-cool car-poor economy-might be a while before you can afford a cool car again?? You could end up somewhere-job- you needed a car-and have to buy a USED Taurus as a replacement?
Spot on !
Just what I wanted to say !
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Old 05-12-14, 09:56 AM   #20
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Spot on !
Just what I wanted to say !

Hey-great minds think alike!
Not sure what the economy is like in Belgium, but in the USA -despite Government figures showing it is improving
The economy is still NOT GREAT for middle class folks-especially in rural areas.Yeah economy for the middle class still sucks in USA.

Not sure what the OP situation is $$ wise-but since that is a "cool car" (for a FORD) and he knows its history-he should hang onto it.
Many spend $300-$500 in gaskets-fluids -and the miscellaneous stuff you break while repairing it-plus maybe 50 hours in labor-
and he has a nice car again
He should be able to mildly hyper mile it to 20mpg-25mpg even in that hilly area-so $8 round trip to work-sucks of course $8 is $8
but someday he isn't going to want to ride to work-plus his dog might need vet trip
and the Dog Might occasionally want to ride in a cool car too!
KEEP IT!!
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Old 05-12-14, 11:54 AM   #21
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Just the head gasket-??
Is it in reasonably good shape otherwise??
If so fix it-lie to get the cheapest possible insurance"only used on weekends-not too work minimal insurance"
and keep the car functional for emergency and "too cold too wet have a bad cold " days
No point in selling it after fixing it.
It is a kinda cool car(I am now a GM partisan-so I will insert Fix On Road Daily quip here)-but it is a cool car-V-8 but with mild hypermiling can ]get decent MPG(hills are a PROBLEM mpg wise- auto trans??)
But UNLESS it is in GREAT SHAPE body wise-and 1996 17 years old-perhaps in a road salt area??
So even being a cool car-for a FORD- it won't be worth more than $4000??
If it works WELL after you fix it-then a running car-cool car-is worth more than $4000 since you KNOW its history-problems etc

Now if it was a Cavalier or Cobalt Taurus etc-I would say DUMP it-who cares-you can ALWAYS get another one of them 16 years old-for $2500-

Fix it get minimal insurance-keep it-besides the dog MIGHT need ride somewhere or you MIGHT need to go to ER when GF isn't around-or you MIGHT break up so


Keep it-cool car-for a FORD- and not worth enough resale wise-to dump it
Charlie
PS This assumes that the head gasket leak won't involve LOTS of machining to repair "other coolant in oil caused" problems

PPS Didn't Ford make a short run of independent rear suspension Mustangs-Cobras I think- a while back?? It isn't one of those is it-in which case it might be worth selling if Ford partisans are hunting for them ?? But I would STILL keep it-cool car-poor economy-might be a while before you can afford a cool car again?? You could end up somewhere-job- you needed a car-and have to buy a USED Taurus as a replacement?
Maybe he doesn't want a car. Maybe that's why he posted on the carfree forum--because he wanted to be carfree. Instead of support and encouragement for being carfree, he gets detailed advice on how to keep his car. There are many car and driving forums where the OP could have gone for this kind of advice, yet he selected a carfree forum.

Am I the only one who thinks this is weird and inappropriate?
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Old 05-12-14, 03:46 PM   #22
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Maybe he doesn't want a car. Maybe that's why he posted on the carfree forum--because he wanted to be carfree. Instead of support and encouragement for being carfree, he gets detailed advice on how to keep his car. There are many car and driving forums where the OP could have gone for this kind of advice, yet he selected a carfree forum.

Am I the only one who thinks this is weird and inappropriate?
Read my post number 15.
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Old 05-12-14, 04:29 PM   #23
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Maybe he doesn't want a car. Maybe that's why he posted on the carfree forum--because he wanted to be carfree. Instead of support and encouragement for being carfree, he gets detailed advice on how to keep his car. There are many car and driving forums where the OP could have gone for this kind of advice, yet he selected a carfree forum.

Am I the only one who thinks this is weird and inappropriate?
If he owns a Mustang especially a Cobra-he LOVES CARS.He will own another car someday-might as well be a kinda cool car he has paid for.
Besides OWNING a working car doesn't mean you HAVE to drive it a lot-it is nice to have "just in case"

Besides- now he is only a $300 fuel pump plus a couple of hours of DIY away from having running transportation again-might as well stick with the used car he is familiar with
He is 20 HILLY COLD MILES from work!
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Old 05-12-14, 09:43 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
Maybe he doesn't want a car. Maybe that's why he posted on the carfree forum--because he wanted to be carfree. Instead of support and encouragement for being carfree, he gets detailed advice on how to keep his car. There are many car and driving forums where the OP could have gone for this kind of advice, yet he selected a carfree forum.

Am I the only one who thinks this is weird and inappropriate?
Considering the OP went into detail how he tried to fix his car and how much money he spent in post #11 , I don't think it's weird or inappropriate at all.
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Old 05-12-14, 11:43 PM   #25
Roody
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Considering the OP went into detail how he tried to fix his car and how much money he spent in post #1 1 , I don't think it's weird or inappropriate at all.
That is just absurd enough that I suspect it's a joke. Post #1 is the original post, and he talks about his plans to remain carfree, without once asking for help with auto repair questions.

This is supposedly a carfree forum, but threads about carfree topics are routinely moved out of the forum, while threads about cars are encouraged by the head moderator.

Would it it be appropriate to go on about how to repair cars on the road bike forum or the mountain biking forum? Or would the Bicycle Mechanics forum be a better place for discussions about automobile repair? I'm being sarcastic--actually I don't think it's ok to post about car repair anywhere on a website about bicycling. And especially not in the carfree section!

But seriously, what would you do if threads on the other subforums were routinely diverted to discussions about how to repair cars? I believe you would lose a lot of your users if this happened on other forums, and I doubt if you would allow it to happen.

I for one do not appreciate these off-topic discussions about cars and car repair. It's definitely not why I come to a bicycle site.
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