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Living without a car  RSS feed

 
steward
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Lets have a discussion about living without a car/truck. I fantasize about it all the time... Are any of you living without a vehicle? What are best practices? Things to consider? Alternatives to transportation?
 
steward
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so much depends on your local geography, culture, and resources. in some parts of the world, getting from a rural area to a market with produce might involve a whole lot of time without an automobile, for example. elsewhere, there are transit options even far from population centers that make automobiles entirely unnecessary.

I am not entirely without a car or truck. I share a car with an old friend and it probably gets driven an average of three times a month between us. I also have access to small and large pickup trucks. I get around almost exclusively by bicycle, with occasional bus and train rides to get further afield. for daily riding, I've got a big Wald basket on the front with a saddlebag in the back that attaches to my seat post and saddle. for carrying more gear, I add a pannier rack to the front and use bungees to fit more in the basket and strap stuff to the saddle bag. if that's not enough room, I can also add panniers in the back. not everyone agrees, but I like having more weight up front than in the back. most bikes handle better that way.

I've also got a trailer that I used when I was going to market. I've loaded that up with a couple hundred pounds. I wouldn't try to climb any real hills that way, and it's real slow, but works fine. handy when I need it, but if I can fit my load on the bike instead of in the trailer, that is much preferred.

there quite a few great handmade options for bike baggage these days, but they aren't cheap. if you've got access to a stout sewing machine, or like hand-sewing, materials and hardware for most bags shouldn't cost much. kitty-litter bucket panniers are another cheap and popular option.


then there's actually riding. if you live in a place with motorists who are antagonistic to folks on bikes, well, make your own choices. the more folks are out on bikes or foot, the safer everyone on bikes and on foot is. but if you're the only one and local motorists think of you as less than human, maybe exploring another option is in order. I always thought a donkey and cart would be really nice, though obviously quite a bit more expensive and difficult to purchase and maintain than a bicycle.


I guess that might not be quite the direction you were interested in taking the conversation. apologies. just for kicks, here are a couple of articles about automobiles that I really like: Ivan Illich, and André Gorz.
 
pollinator
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I can't agree enough with ^^ about being in the right place.
I lived in Japan and used my bicycle for nearly everything. The few times a bike didn't work, there were buses and taxis, and for longer distances trains. My friends moved apartments using bicycles, and I got very good at doing all my shopping by bike.
Here in Brazil, if you use a bicycle where I live you are taking your life into your hands. Drivers seem to enjoy hitting cyclists and you would have to be nuts to live a fully cycle-based life like I did in Japan unless you had access to a completely segregated cycleway (with no access for cars to invade- and since most cycleways are shared on the street without even a curb separating them from cars, it's not happening).  
Last year there was a truckers' strike and fuel shortages as a result, and I let my spouse use my car and full tank of gas for a week or so so he could get to his business. I was able to do my local errands on foot (with a little wheely cart), and it was great, but it was very time consuming. Today I need to think time-is-money, but when I retire it will be awesome to have the time to walk and do what I need to do while getting to know my neighborhood and exercise my body (and it's something to take into account when I decide where to retire).
 
gardener
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I lived without a car in college and used buses. I have friends with 1 car homes- a car for commute. When I was single, it was easy: groceries in my backpack, and walk or run where I need to go. Everything I needed was in walking distance, or I did without.

Now I have a family and small kids. I can't schlep all my groceries and my kid to the store and back and survive in winter. I have a bad knee thanks to my desk job, so that adds to the challenge. I also manage gardens and am working on converting my home to zero energy. That means lots of hauling and I always feel short on time. It's a problem and it annoys me.  However, last summer I got so good at shortening my commute that I had to idle and charge the truck battery. So that's the background I bring.

The first thing I have to add is we need better transportation for the walker to haul things.  I am working on slowly updating a cart a friend gave us to be a quick efficient hauling machine. I'm going to try and get a picture. It's an old bike cart whose rubber tires came off. I am working on attaching a roof and with a rope or something like that I can attach a scooter to the handle.  I also may make it snow-worthy. Why not ride a bike? I find bikes safety concerns, especially during winter. To me it's just a motorcycle without a third gear.  But, I have nothing against others riding a bike.

The second thing I have to add is bulk shopping and gardening.  If you can lower the quantity of what needs to be hauled, then hauling gets easier. I wish there was a cheap way to order all my staples to my house once a year instead of me going out to get them on a weekly basis.

Third, factor commute into your work as part of the work day and removing a portion of your paycheck. I didn't start out that way, but $.50/mile is used by the government to calculate gas+wear and tear on vehicles.

Thanks for starting the discussion!

 
pollinator
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I currently only cycle-commute & do not use a motor vehicle. I have experienced this cycle-commuting lifestyle on-&-off for quite a few years in several places, living in various places from a medium-sized town bicycle utopia in The Netherlands, to very large urban areas, to small rural towns & communities. In all cases cycle-commuting has generally been a wondrous experience, especially in The Netherlands. Granted, I have had a handful of near-death experience run-ins with several large motor vehicles who I suppose didn't see me (note: this happened to me in places other than The Netherlands). Nowadays, as I no longer cycle-commute in The Netherlands, my bike & I wear plenty of reflective gear & I always invest in a good helmet.
Several things make The Netherlands the perfect place to cycle. In my experience, the best part was that because cycling culture is so ingrained there, every motorist in The Netherlands is also a cyclist! Therefore, everyone is by default constantly aware of & polite towards cyclists. That, as well as the fact that the cycling infrastructure in The Netherlands is really dialed in. There are also all sorts of creative bikes & trikes for all kinds of tasks. Some say "oh The Netherlands is so flat, which makes it better for cycling & that's why folks there so easily adopt it." While it's true that the country is ridiculously flat (many bikes don't even have gears), I noticed that many Dutch people appear to have no problem whatsoever cycle-commuting in freezing rainy ice storms! What I've noticed about cycle-commuting in places with hills is that for every heart-pumping uphill climb, there is very pleasant breezy downhill coast that I personally enjoy so very much. It's probably my favorite part of cycling actually. So hills do not bother me because I can't wait for what's coming next: an awesome coast with an ear-to-ear smile! Plus, not being a gym-goer, I need that cardio workout of a hill climb. I currently have 2 hill climbs on my work commute... as well as... 2 downhill coasts!

My personal "best practices" (every person & place is unique):
...for an everyday commuter, I personally like to invest in a good sturdy bike that can take a daily beating & preferably with front suspension for unexpected potholes. One day I will save up enough for a Dutch-style frame as I really like the sitting upright riding position.
...for those of you who have only used bikes for exercise, racing, or as toys, I will say: daily commuting is really a different matter. For me, comfort & preparedness play a much larger roll for commuting than in other types of cycling. That said, commuter cycling accessories to consider include: a bell to let pedestrians know you are approaching, a tire pump, puncture patches, & tire levers for fixing flats on the side of the road, bicycle lights (the authorities in The Netherlands apparently forget their politeness manners when you run red lights at night without bicycle lights), bike lock, a mirror to see rear-approaching oncoming traffic & to then give motorists ample space, mudguards & fenders for rainy commutes, panniers & baskets for carrying all sorts of stuff that might normally go in the boot of a vehicle, reflective stickers to allow for more visibility, a bike multi-tool for bike repairs,
...lubricant for keeping gears rust-free & functioning smoothly, & -if it's stored outdoors- a good bike cover will dramatically extend the life of the bike.

As for alternatives to (combustion engine) transportation:
...bicycle trailers & freight trikes are great for adding towing capacity. Think "bicycle pickup truck."
...for very long distances, public buses often have places to put bikes. If in your area buses do not have these features, either join or start up a local pro-cyclist political action group to get better municipal infrastructure support. In one city I lived in we were lobbying to get high-power line easements turned into to bike lanes as the city was already maintaining the power line easements really nicely, all we lacked was some pavement.
...probably the most exciting recent development in cycle-commuting -in my view- is the emergence of affordable electric bicycle conversion kits & pre-fabricated e-bikes. While I don't own an e-bike yet, I have ridden several of my friends' e-bikes & I can tell you: not only do they make cycle-commuting more practical (especially for those with physical limitations & the elderly), an ebike ride is pretty much guaranteed to plaster that ear-to-ear smile on your face for the whole friggin' ride! You can read more about the unavoidable ebike smile on the DIY ebike forums.
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pollinator
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It's an interesting concept, I lived for many years without a car when I lived in a large city in the UK. We didn't have a car when I first moved to Denmark and lived in a small town which had good transport links to a city (bus every 30minutes or so which took an hour) and 5 supermarkets. As soon as we moved from there we bought a car, and they are very expensive here both to buy and to run, I just had my car tax reminder today $281 for half a year, we just had to have the windscreen replaced for $770! insurance is equally eyewatering.

So why do I have a car? well there's a few reasons the first is that getting to a small corner shop thing would be an hours walk or around 15minutes by bike down a main road, the closest town with actual shops is 11miles away well past walking distance and not really in my opinion within sensible bike distance , there is no bus.
2. Dogs do not fit on a bike to go either to the dog wood, or to the vet. (the latter being 40minutes drive away)
3. Hauling things around some things can be delivered but most things are only delivered to the local shop 5 miles away and a trailer of compost will not fit on a bike, nor will lime wash for the walls or cement or bricks.
4. Free stuff, people give away all sorts first come first served, can't pick up paving slabs etc without a car and trailer.
5. Not having to constantly beg for rides, our old car died just as husband needed to go to hospital and couldn't walk, they would not send an ambulance and the hospital is 3 hours, a train and 3 buses away from our old house we had to beg a lift (he needed emergency surgery as it happened so good we did beg it)
6. Being able to do things like go to the beach, to the museums to historical sites, public transport round here is non existent.

So could we live without it? Probably but it would cost a lot more, all shopping would have to be at the tiny local shop so choice is very limited, that shop does actually sell things like chicken feed and fertiliser so it's not too bad, just expensive. I couldn't buy compost anymore as the greenwaste compost costs the grand sum of $7 for a trailer (single axle) $10 for a double and $25 for a tractor trailer. a single bag (1000L) bought from a supplier and delivered would be. $200 We couldn't buy our chicken feed locally (I buy local grain direct from the combine and mix it myself) it would all have to come from a national company that delivers, I just bought 100m of 35mm pipe to put water into our field, we pick it up tomorrow getting it delivered would cost  $40 these delivery charges soon add up and get up to the cost of a car.

Actually writing this I can see that not having a car would seriously impact our ability to buy local, we could manage without but it would mean everything would have to come from companies that deliver, and they are generally national ones, food would be a real pain either 2 hours each way or limited to only the local shop.  and the deal clincher say the Animals? Dried food! we feed slaughterhouse scraps can't get hold of them without a car!

Loxley.. Affordable ebikes?! Denmark prides itself on it's bikes and "green" culture and the cheapest ebike I can see is $1500 ish (they probably come on sale) and that has 250w of power. not sure how much help that is.

 
pollinator
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I have always had a four-wheeled vehicle, since I was 18. Almost all of my work has involved moving tools and materials.

I have had bicycles and I still have a Pedego, electric bicycle. I don't consider them a safe way to get around in my city.

My new plan is to have a motorcycle as my primary means of transportation, on an island in the Philippines. Distances are not great and there aren't many four wheeled vehicles to contend with. The roads are quite good. Most driving is done in the 20 to 40 mile per hour range. That's a speed I consider safe on a good quality motorbike. I'm pretty sure that I will buy a Yamaha 155, since it's the best machine of its type that I've seen to date. The photos were taken during a 3-day rental, where it performed perfectly, with amazing power for a 155. Very smooth, no gears to change and awesome mileage. I won't be completely out of burning fossil fuels, but I can't see how I could possibly use 20% of what I do now.

My fiance will need a bike for running into town and around the farm. I expect to get a scooter style electric bike for her. They sell models that go up to 40 miles per hour. They look almost like the other small motorcycles. Distance will not be an issue, so it may be fitted with a banana box or some other means of hauling a few hundred pounds, at low speed. She had a job hauling big sacks of cooking wood for a restaurant that she worked at when she was 9 years old. The bike she used is still too big for her, so I have no doubt that she will be able to manage a good quality bike with a load aboard.

I saw a guy driving a 125 Honda fitted with a banana box. He had six friends in the back going about 12 miles per hour, on their way to the beach. I talked to a policeman about this and he said he wouldn't bother anybody who was going that speed. Good to know. Walter, my neighbor, starts each day with his wife, his mother-in-law and two children on the back of his 125. They drop the kids at school and then he drops both women at their jobs. The school run is done at a running speed and things speed up as the load lightens.

There are many, relatively small 3 ton flat deck trucks that run on diesel. I may eventually need one of those, so I will consider growing some oil palm. It's all hand labor, so the fuel doesn't get burnt up during its production, as happens with the fiasco that is biofuel from corn.
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master steward
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We live 7 miles from the nearest city/town/place-to-buy things. This wouldn't be a problem to ride our bikes if it was flat, preferably with room on the side of the road to be out of the way of cars. But, our roads are all very curvy, with no shoulders, and very hilly. The city is a good 500 feet lower in elevation, and you go up and down hills to get down there! We've though about getting an electric bike to help with going up the hills, but the risk of getting hit by a car is pretty high, even with most motorists here being relatively bicycle friendly.

My husband also works 20 miles away at the hospital--there's a lot of hills between here and there! Google maps tells me it'd take him 2 hours to bike there, and then 2 hours back. He works 10 hour shifts, so he might as well not come home!

So, we do what we can to reduce driving. During my husband's work week, I never drive anywhere. If anything needs to be bought, he picks it up on his way home. He also works nightshift, so he's only driving for 30 minutes, rather than the hour+ he'd be spending if he worked in the day. On his days off, we combine shopping trips and try to cram in as much stuff as we can when we go to the nearby town, and don't shop in the cities farther away more than once every few months.

I think about what'd we do if gas prices got too high for him to drive to work. I think we'd try to get him a job at the lower-paying, smaller hospital in the nearby city so he could potentially ride to work, and just pray he doesn't get hit by a car... Or have a Crohn's flare-up and be unable to ride a bike. Having one's health is really important to being able to ride!
 
tel jetson
steward
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some interesting conversation.

Loxley: I actually prefer a rigid fork for commuting. I find that relatively fat tires (35 mm minimum, on up to 55 or 60 mm) do a great job smoothing out rough pavement without wasting energy to a shock absorber. rigid forks also handle loads better and more simply in my experience.

folks who have good reasons to keep a car: I think because so much of our built environment is designed to accommodate automobiles, planning for not using them doesn't occur to many of us. our choices of where to live and where to work don't often involve trying to minimize or eliminate the use of automobiles. so I guess I would include that in a car-free best practice: plan for and design in that lifestyle ahead of time. there's room for improvement everywhere, and the world could use plenty more people advocating for good alternatives to cars, but if you want to live car-free now or in the near future, it's probably best to make big decisions with that in mind.
 
pollinator
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My brother bought an electric assist for his bike to commute from Burnaby to North Vancouver.  He still had to pedal, but he said it made the hills much more manageable.  
 
Loxley Clovis
pollinator
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Skandi Rogers wrote:... Loxley.. Affordable ebikes?! Denmark prides itself on it's bikes and "green" culture and the cheapest ebike I can see is $1500 ish (they probably come on sale) and that has 250w of power. not sure how much help that is.


Skandi,
I appreciate your perspective as well as your situation. I also feel strongly that bikes are not the answer for every person, every situation, or every environment. Being a gardener-farmer I have previously truly appreciated having my highly utilitarian waste veggie oil biodiesel pickup truck around for the countless times it was needed. It was useful in so many ways that a bike just could not be: carrying certain heavy loads, traveling long distances, etc. Everyone has different needs & different situations & we are lucky nowadays to have the options out there that we do.

That said, there are many things that make bicycle commuting perfect for my personal commuting needs. In addition to the enormous commuting practicality in my own life in my particular situation for biking to work & for errand runs, I also enjoy cycling. I enjoy the breeze, I enjoy smelling the flowers in people's gardens as I ride by, I enjoy the slower pace that helps me more readily look around my community & take in all the lovely sights & sounds - getting to know it better, I enjoy the exercise, & I enjoy not participating in expensive, wasteful, war-fueled car culture.

Affordable is a relative concept. Yes, $1,500 is affordable relative to the original e-bike prices when they first came out, also more affordable than that head gasket replacement my friend just had to pay for to get his car running again. And considering the money I'm saving by not buying fuel, the money that I'm saving not paying car insurance, the money I'm saving not buying tires, batteries, repairs, etc, etc, etc,... I'll have enough money for my 750w e-bike kit in just a couple of months! For some people, in some situations, 250w is all that's needed. For others, there are other higher-watt options out there as well. And for those on a really tight budget, there are endless threads on the DIY e-bike forums about how to build your own e-bike on the super-cheap.
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I also fantasize about living without a car one day, as I desire to have a more naturalistic lifestyle and absolutely hate dealing with the dangers of car accidents, and then things like exhaust fumes and pumping gasoline. Getting my self to the point wher I could use bikes and or horses as my main sources of transportation would be awesome.

That being said, I think i'd always have to have some sort of car, whether it be an electric one, or a converted vegetable oil ran engine. There are just times when a metal box that can go 80 mph is of great use, especially for things like medical emergencies if you are going to be located in a rural area with a family. If I can one day reduce my need to drive a car to only a handful of times a month, I'd be pretty happy as someone who currently has to drive daily.


 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
Lets have a discussion about living without a car/truck. I fantasize about it all the time... Are any of you living without a vehicle? What are best practices? Things to consider? Alternatives to transportation?



I lived without a vehicle for many years. Here's some things that were a must for me:
-1 the location of where I slept had to be with in 4 miles of a number of employers I could easily work for;
-2 I would then pick a location where I could get to work even if it snowed heavily and I had to walk to work (meaning 3.5 miles radius of work);
-3 a WINCO had to be with in 10 miles;
-4 I had two bikes and multiple tubes
-5 I had very bright flashing lights on front and back
-6 I had a bike trailer capable of moving two 5 gallon containers of water;
-7 I used paniers not a backpack
-8 I did a routine of stretches to maintain bodily health
-9 I didn't live in local cultures where people saw bikes as targets
-10 build up to it slowly....ride 2 miles every day for two weeks, then 5 miles for two weeks, then 10 miles every day for two weeks

...I always used a hardtail with a front suspension otherwise a washboard dirt road will shake the #@! bejeezus out of you and you'll see triplicate for an hour after the ride

also:
---front and back fenders (nobody likes to look like they peed and pooped while hanging upside down)
---a 10' cable with loops on the cable (it won't stop your bike from being stolen during a long term park but it will during a short stop)
---find a safe long term parking space inside your final destination if possible
---a kick stand is almost mandatory for a daily use biker

Find other hard core bikers for company or atleast weekend riders who ride 20 miles or more

good luck and be bold as well as safe
 
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End of the month marks 9 years since I last had a car registered in my name.  I'm single and live by myself.  The shortest errand I can run in 5.5 miles, each way, to go to the library so I can get online.  Most of the time a grocery run in 28-30 miles round trip.  I ride year round here in hilly New Hampshire.  It's totally doable.  You need to get in shape so you don't think much about the mileage anymore.  Last year I rode a small paltry 8200 miles.  That's down from 10,000 the year before and 16,000 the year before that.  The prior two years to that(2014/2015) were each over 20,000 miles.  When you don't care how many miles you ride you don't really care about much of anything else either, you just ride.  If it takes 30 miles to get groceries, so be it, it 30 extra miles for the year.  That was my thought process several years back.  I would take off and ride to the sea coast(200 miles round trip) for the heck of it and not think a thing about.  Now if I don't have a reason for going some place...I don't.

The key secret to going car free go car free.  Don't give yourself any method of going back.  Make it so you have to do it or else.

For me the big savings started with the car and has continued ever since.  Each of the past two years I have spent less than $4000, all expenses included.  MY average since the start of 2010 has been around $5600/year.

Right now I'm looking at taking several things together into one and cutting back even more.  I stumbled into the crazy idea of sprouting, now up to urine sprouting.  This got me to take a look back here on the forums again.  I saw Paul's age old article about cutting his heating bill by 87%.  I also saw the idea about show us your bike(a couple weeks back).  Both of those got me to a totally new idea I'm trying to form up in my mind right now while waiting for the weather to warm up a bit.  I have been trying to cutting the heating bill out entirely but had never figured out the sweetest method yet.  Thanks to Paul and the show us your bike posts it got into thinking about a hammock trailer for bike touring.  That led to the idea of taking the hammock trailer inside, been sleeping on a hammock for a dozen years now at home, and shrinking down the amount of room I'm heating even further, currently only heat 32 sq ft, err roughly 224 cubic ft.  Next winter the target is 100% off the heating bill, body heat or stray electronic(laptop/light) heat only, nothing else, no doggie pads , heated keyboards/mouse heaters allowed.  Paul has shown he has forgotten one major concept in the whole reducing the heat expense scenario.

It all started by doing one thing, giving up the car.  I've ridden over 100,000 miles since the start of 2011, plus another 2-3,000 in 2010.  Get out there and do it.  Let the mind go nutso and come up with all kinds of ideas on how to do it.  I even rode 501 miles, on the open road, with my leg in a cast...if an amputee can ride a bike, dang it...so can I.

You just have to make it happen.  Don't give yourself a way of backing out or you will.
 
pollinator
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I didn't get my 1st car until I was 35, and oddly enough living in a community that was supposed to be a prototype city design for a pedestrian society (called Arcosanti). The problem was it was in the middle of nowhere AZ. With no public transportation, insane highways to try and bike, and no ability to walk to places outside of the community.

But how I did the no vehicle life was fairly simple. I biked or walked most places, and sometimes would use public transportation. I used to walk 40 city blocks without even thinking about hoping on public transportation, which was available but just never even entered my head. Why wait for a bus when my legs worked just fine. Plus walking you discover things you miss in a vehicle. In the small city I grew up in in WA, I would walk from one side of town to the other then back again using the bike trails. Or if I was in a hurry, I might bike it. Again there was public transport but why use it if I didn't need to.

This brings up a very important thing. Walking and biking slows you down yes, but this is good. You discover so much more about the place your in when you are going slower. You see businesses you never knew about, you see people, parks, the entire world opens up when you slow down. Your path becomes an adventure when you are taking the time to walk or bike. You go places that you just wouldn't when in a vehicle. You can take many different routes to the same place, some may take a little longer but have beauty that makes it worth it.

The big thing that makes people use vehicles is a sense of urgency. People say necessity is the mother of invention. I say if that is so, then laziness is the father. A lot of what is out there is not due to needing it, but because we want to get there/done NOW, we don't want to take the time or effort to do it without the tech. And while some tech is good when used appropriately, we have become too dependent upon instant gratification. A lot of good things take time and effort but are forgotten by people who just want it done now.

You can walk a long ways in a day, especially if you have done a lot of walking to build up the stamina.

When I was walking and biking, the only times I wished for a vehicle was when I had to move large loads. Which at that point it does make sense to have a vehicle to use for such efforts. But when you don't need to haul stuff, try taking the extra time to walk or bike and see what amazing things you discover. You might be surprised at the things you never knew existed in your area because you were zooming by in a vehicle.
 
Dale Hodgins
pollinator
Posts: 8128
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I have a pretty strict rule for myself that I don't participate in unpaid exercise. I get plenty at work and want travel time to be relatively relaxing. I realize that many people have jobs that don't give them enough exercise, so their daily commute is a big part of health maintenance.
.......
Edit -  A couple more replies came in while I was typing. Hank puts more miles on his bike in a year than I put on a car. I am part of the large group of people that sell their time for money on a regular basis. I can't help it, if I was riding for a very long at all, I would start to think of how much someone would pay me for that time.

David makes many good points about stopping to smell the flowers, taking things at a nice pace so you don't miss everything. I'm all for that, but I found it works just as well when riding an electric scooter.

I have lived with people I really like and I have lived with people who I despise. And this affected the amount of driving I did. When I was living with a bunch of borders who drove me nuts, I found that I was putting more miles on my car, because I looked for reasons to go somewhere other than home. When home is a really nice place and you live with someone really nice, there's no need to leave as a means of avoidance. When home is a farm and it's also your primary job, there just aren't as many reasons to hop in the car or the bike or whatever.
........... back to my original spiel
But I am also keen on electric bikes and electric vehicles in general. So I want to get the scooter style electric bike that basically drives like a motorbike. My Pedigo electric-assist bike is a very durable model, but not much good for hauling stuff and not much good for anyone under 5 feet 10. The scooter styles comfortably accommodate groceries, big bottles of water and 1 passenger. Three if you're in the Philippines :-) Range will never be a problem for me, since I always plan my life to include very short commutes.

There's three other ways that I hope to wean myself and others off of petroleum.

1. Horse. It costs almost nothing to have a horse in the Philippines. The grass and fodder trees grow all year. Small horses are fitted with baskets instead of saddlebags. These baskets can be loaded with fruit or firewood or anything else that needs to be moved around the farm. Horses are also able to pull small loads.

2. Water buffalo. When I'm trying to skid large items, the machine of choice is almost always a buffalo. Just picture the biggest bull you've ever seen and then add a few hundred pounds. I probably won't have my own. Every neighborhood has a few guys who are available for hire.

3. Charcoal. I want to plant at least one hectare but I may plant 10, in fast-growing medium hard wood that is good for building and general woodworking. The gnarly pieces can be used as fuel wood directly or they could be made into charcoal.  There will probably be some biochar as well. With my own charcoal and a small biogas plant just big enough for the house, we won't be tied to industrial sources of energy, other than fuel for the motorcycle.
 
pollinator
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Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
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Loxley Clovis already explained about bicycles in the Netherlands. So that part I can skip. I am born and raised in the Netherlands. Since my early youth I am used to ride the bicycle, wherever I go and whatever I have to take with me (see the forum topic on hauling stuff on the bicycle).
So when I had the age for starting driving lessons ... I decided not to. I didn't feel the need to have a drivers licence! My opinion on that subject hasn't changed since then (I'm over 60 now).

But when you do not live in the Netherlands, that's totally different! Also in the 'overseas parts of the kingdom of the Netherlands' (some islands in the Caribbean) it isn't like it is here. Riding a bicycle on the island of Curaçao is like suicide (except for mountain biking on foot paths in nature).

So if you live in a region where there are no bicycle paths, where motorists aren't used to cyclists ... I do not advice you to do like I do.
 
Hank Fletcher
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in my case I don't mind not making the money from biking simply because I know more than likely when I die anything I have will end up going to to gov't, no one to leave it to.  I'm ot going to give the gov't anything.  If I don't have it I can't leave it to them.
 
Posts: 177
Location: NNSW Australia
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I want to mention, ebikes can be bought for as little as AU$500, also a wide range of chinese DIY kits on ebay for $200-400. [Petrol DIY kits are $130]
If you buy one in a brick and mortar, they cost more, but can have 2 yr warranties.
If you check during EOFY and Xmas, you can get bargains - I got $600 off a $1700 ebike and it's lasted years.

I've also got some experience with petrol bike kits (you can swap the generic carburetor for one from a chainsaw/motorcycle and cut the baffle for more oomph) [airflow can also limit its power and can be improved with a shorter fuel line and a hole in the fuel-tank cap] and I was fairly impressed with the 55km/L efficiency.

I think it's pretty unfair that cars can spew carcinogens on pedestrians and cyclists whilst enjoying filtered, conditioned air - all running on fossil fuels that my taxes subsidize.
Authorities don't even bother regulating motorcycle emissions for public safety or the environment, because there's more bang for the (policy) buck by focusing on the huge car market.

Food and transport make up 60% of an average carbon footprint, more than all the dirty electricity and consumer goods the average person uses.
 
Orin Raichart
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Dale Hodgins wrote:I have a pretty strict rule for myself that I don't participate in unpaid exercise.



Try this Dale:

track every penny you spend on your four wheels:

-purchase price of vehicle
-registration
-insurance
-time spent sitting at DMV or whatever they call your division of motor vehicles
-parking
-tickets
-parking tickets
-tags
-fuel
-oil
-windsheild wipers
-oil filters
-air filters
-wiper fluid
-transmission fluid
-every minute you work on your 4 wheels
-any repair you have to do and the parts you have to buy from upullIt or autozone look alike
-tires
-fan and timing belt changes

if you honestly do this, and I did, you'll find out just how much you'll get paid for your exercise if you switched to a bike.....it is so much not even anal retentive accountants who track everything else in their life dares actually track all costs related to their vehicle.

I challenge you to do this next time you buy another set of four wheels.... it's astounding

...and btw, I wouldn't tell your girlfriend that you don't do exercise you don't get paid for ;)
 
tel jetson
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Location: woodland, washington
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I like where your head's at, Orin. the cost of automobiles gets even more ridiculous when indirect costs and negative externalities are considered.
 
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Location: Powell River, BC
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We’ve been car free since 2012, in a small isolated town on the Canadian west coast. Buses come about once an hour but you can get almost anywhere you need to as long as you don’t mind working around the schedule. My hubby bikes and walks, I walk. Everyday groceries are 10 mins walk away and we belong to a bulk buying club for staples ( and grow a big garden).

My cargo transport is a pull along shopping cart which holds 2 bankers boxes stacked. I sell at the local market in the winter and can stock a full table using the cart. In fact I have even packed everything for a stall at a 2 day indoor craft fair in and on the cart. I get some funny looks sometimes 😀. One big bag of potting soil or similar also fits. Plants are a bit of a problem because they need headroom. I don’t do the summer market because it’s outside town and is hard to get to without a car.

Occasionally we borrow or rent a car or truck and do errands that require a vehicle.

However we are now 61 and 68 and seeing a need for a car on the horizon for medical runs. Multiple taxis get expensive fast, and our only local taxi co often has only one car on duty at night, so there can be a long wait.
 
pollinator
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Location: Derbyshire, UK
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I shared a car for 12 years! And only very recently purchased a vehicle for myself. Having the car has made so many things so much easier- not having to mentally plan everything out to ensure I could walk everywhere in time has been freeing! However I'm also a lot lazier- I keep driving the 3 miles to work instead of walking, just because I can or because I haven't planned properly and left things too late.

The car has given me lots more opportunities for free stuff, as I can actually get there and pick it up in a reasonable time frame!
I'm no longer 20 minutes late for yoga class every week because the buses are rubbish. I have saved money overall in the year- I make 4 longer-trips a year and having to get the train or rent a car for these trips cost me more than running my (admittedly old) car! However from a fossil-fuels pov, I'm doing an extra 5000 miles a year I didn't do before. When this car dies in a few years I shall try to be car-free again.

I'm in a great position to not have a car- I live within walking distance of work, grocery stores and the vast majority of things I'd need. But the car does make hauling chicken feed, and taking the mower to the community garden- much much easier. I live in a place called 'The Peak District' so hills are unavoidable. And I'm young(ish) and fit- I do triathlons for fun! Yet somehow can't envisage a car-free existance now!

I realise I've never seen a bicycle as a mode of transport. I see it as a sport, as a kids toy.. but not as actual mode of transport. This probably stems back to my parents telling me I couldn't cycle anywhere as it was too dangerous- go to the park and play on bikes, sure, but you can't cycle to the store- thats dangerous!

I did cycle 40km the other day, which was a major thing for me! I shall have to borrow a cycle trailer and see if I can get some hauling done without my car.
 
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