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rant: bikes vs cars(20 posts)

rant: bikes vs carscyclopathic
Nov 19, 2003 10:36 AM
On weekend easy spin ran into old friend whom I rode with on many occasions. After talking about this and that, bikes, rides etc (lots of things if you haven't seen someone in a while), we stumbled upon something which left me puzzled.

Turned out he sold his car and lives on the bike to protest "big oil companies interests and war". Now I am not really interested in discussing politics, or his sanity, pls direct comments of this sort to non-cycling board.

What really amazes me who, where and how can survive w/o car? I guess if I were single or lived in Manhattan, it would have been more practical to rent car once in a while then pay 500$ in monthly parking.. girlfriend and friends with car would look as attractive transportation option. Something completely different if you live in Suburbia.

Second, leaving survival question out, how handicapped one could be? I just cannot imagine if I were to loose driving license, I wouldn't be able to do most of club rides, and I'd pretty much have to give up on mountain biking. At least a lot of good trails would be beyond access. Commuting to work wouldn't be much of a deal, it is only 32mi one way and I do half anyways, but how about getting groceries? Or dropping kid at day care?

If you live w/o car or know one, pls shed the light.
Lets use the Amish as an examplebigrider
Nov 19, 2003 11:05 AM
They live carless and survive but it is a far cry from the lifestyle we all live with using motor vehicles. Just some few observations. I believe you can survive without a car if you live like the Amish (They have mules and horses for large horsepower needs). I think not having a car can make sense in an urban environment that also has public transportation.

However, with that said, in todays society even if YOU don't own the motor vehicle you would rely on them every day. Mail order an item, it is delivered via rail, plane, or truck. Build a house, backhoes, generators, etc. Visit family out of state? You'll be taking something with an engine to get there. Even the Amish use engines to bale hay and pick corn. They feel no shame in bumming rides and do so routinely.
Lets use ME for an example...Spunout
Nov 19, 2003 11:13 AM
I live in an urban centre. Walk to work, grocery store, bank, dentist, LBS, and The Beer Store(Canadian caveat).

No car. Don't need one. I'll rent one to travel to races on the weekends. Carpool with buddies to other races, I'll gladly pay $10 for some gas. I save so much money by not having a car.

Suburbia is a failure.
I like the way you thinkbigrider
Nov 19, 2003 11:21 AM
I admit I live in suburbia and by design it makes it difficult to go carless. What I don't understand about city dwellers is why would you want the hassle of two cars for a family? One is expensive enough. Faulty logic makes one believe that an occasional taxi ride or rental car is breaking the bank yet they will ignore 500 dollar car payments and 1000 dollar insurance bills. Go figure.
I don't do it, but here are some thoughts....PdxMark
Nov 19, 2003 11:20 AM
Get out of suburbia to start. Living & working in a city with a dense, livable core is the first step to a car-less life. The reason it's not do-able in suburbia is that suburbia was built explicitly for cars. Dense city cores were laid-out & built before car was king.

Once in a dense city core, you can live within 4-5 miles of work and a mile or less of a grocery store. Your kids school might even be just a few blocks away. Now about 95% of travel can be done without a car.

For the 5% relating to recreation, extra-bulky store purchases, etc., you need either a car or deliveries provided by others.
I did it for over 7 years in college ...Humma Hah
Nov 19, 2003 11:24 AM
... with nothing but the cruiser for transportation. You get some auxilliary carrying hardware (panniers and a very large backpack, maybe even a trailer) for your grocery shopping. A bike can carry sufficient groceries for around 4 days to a week for one person. Or, use MB1's system ... stop at the store almost every night on the ride home, buy managable quantities.

All rides are from the front door ... it does put a crimp on taking part in any events that are not nearby. But this is a transportation decision, not a sport decision.

A few years ago, I went three months putting something like 100 miles on the truck, doing all my other miles on the bike. Almost the only truck miles were grocery shopping ... if I had kept the huge backpack and baskets I had on that bike in college, I could have eliminated driving all together.

And when I did drive a significant distance, it was either to MTB or to go to a major ride like a century.

Today, for me, it is not presently an option. All routes from home to my present place of business have stretches too dangerous for a bike. But with just a little road widening in a couple of places, I could get a nice 16 miles twice a day. And if I were dedicated to bike commuting, I could move ... to the south or west the roads are great to this location.
Public transportation..spluti
Nov 19, 2003 11:31 AM
can work well. Some places better than others.
I have a friend that removed the distributer from his car. 5:00 am and no excuses.
I was without a car for 4 years. Wouldn't do it again.Mike P
Nov 19, 2003 11:38 AM
Not by choice anyhow. I was able to take care of everything I needed to do but missed out on a lot.

A car, truck anyhow, has given me the ability to easily get places I would not have gone before. I guess it just allows me to do more things when I want. More freedom perhaps.

related story in local paper today..eggshell
Nov 19, 2003 11:49 AM
on this very topic.this guy works from his home, but bikes it everywhere else.never says if he actually owns a car. thought you might find it relative and interesting.,1426,MCA_437_2438652,00.html
living in a dense city...george_da_trog
Nov 19, 2003 11:51 AM

I chose the other option and moved to a small town... live 3 blocks from work the grocery store is less than a mile away.

re: rant: bikes vs carsSean008
Nov 19, 2003 12:25 PM
Very interesting thread...

I went without a car for six months, using my bike and public transportation.

But I I the only one out here who has a "love" for cars? I now own two, a Porsche 911 and Porsche 550 replica. I still commute on by bike or bus on most days (including an 8% lung busting climb each way), but I still smile when I hear the sound of a well tuned air-cooled engine.

I think the answer is moderation (and variety) in how we get to from point A to point B, not necessarily the all or nothing mantra.
Think it's bad now? Wait until you're too old to drive.laffeaux
Nov 19, 2003 12:32 PM
It's interesting that you question if it's possible to live without a car instead of asking why we build places where cars are necessary.

You don't think it's possible to live without a car? Imagine how kids must feel being dependent on their parents for rides. Imagine how you'll feel when you're too old to drive anymore - I guess you'll have no choice but to move into a retirement home. Imagine how anyone that has medical issues that prevents them from driving must feel. Why do we build cities this way?

It's entirely possible to build cites and towns where there are options for people that want to drive cars, and for those who either choose not to or can't. Maybe it's time we start doing that .. again. I say again, because it used to be common place.

I live in CA. Our state's population is projected to double in the next 30 years - mostly from people having kids, not immigration. We'll be adding a city roughly the size of Oakland every year for the next 30 years. What do we want them to look like? Should we build real cities where people can walk to destinations, or should we continue to build auto-dependent sprawl? For the past 40 years we have built sprawl. Should we continue?

When you consider where those 30 million people are going to live (and yes they are going to be here), think about the types of places that you'll want to live. When you're 70 years old do you want to walk to the corner store to buy your food and daily necessities? Or do you want to sit in your suburban mansion and wait for your children to drive through the many miles of suburbia to then drive you around to do your shopping on a weekly basis?

It's pretty easy to make a strong comparison between being in prison and living in the suburbs if you can't drive. Now's the time to decide if we want to continue on our current course.

My $0.02.
I did it for a yearDropped
Nov 19, 2003 1:05 PM
We went without a car for a year. Honestly, it was no big deal. And we had a 1 year old kid at the time.

I live in Portland, Oregon. 4 miles from the heart of downtown. We have excellent public transportation (amazing bus system plus light rail and trolleys). It's very bike friendly. This is a "city oriented" area, with a vibrant urban core. It's not a suburban oriented place at all (I don't even know anyone who lives in the 'burbs). There is no place I need to go that is not accessible by a short bus or bike ride. If I needed to go out of town on the weekend, I'd just rent a car (which only costs $15/day here).

We bought a car when we had our second kid not because we needed it, but because my wife wanted it to make it easier to lug two kids around. I still don't use a car more than once a week, and we probably put less than 5,000 miles a year on our car.

I don't think it is practical to go car-less in the suburbs, but then I'd never live in the suburbs, either.
I need the car but know those that live withoutbimini
Nov 19, 2003 1:13 PM
I know several bike only folks. Don't own a car and get along just fine. One lives on a farm 5 miles out of town and has no problem riding his bike for anything he needs. Even weddings and such 100 miles away, no problem, hop on the bike and ride. He always wears a pack and a change of clothes. Most put on 200-300 miles a week riding, commuting and just getting around. Even in the dead of winter with the ice and snow they are out as soon as the roads are plowed. None of the bike only folks I know have children. You would need the car for the kids if you needed them to have a modern life style and fit in.

Me, I need the car. I need to travel for work and have a 25 mile bike unfriendly commute to work. I must pass between two large lakes to get to work. There are two roads. One is an interstate so that is out and the other is a highway with no sholders and rush hour traffic so that is out, just too dangerous.

As a consession to principles I do refuse to put my bike in the car to drive to rides and nearby races. Always seemed silly to me to drive a car to go ride a bike.
I need the car but know those that live withoutMShaw
Nov 20, 2003 10:05 AM
I'm with you on the drive the car to go riding thing. I have some friends here that love to go mtn night riding. They don't think anything about putting the bikes in the cars and driving 30-45min away to go riding.

Personally, I'd rather string together the canyons we have around here and just ride from home...

Driving to go running, driving to go racing (depending on what, when, where), or just driving to go riding all bug me.

I had a car in college, but Blacksburg, VA is one of those places that you can get anywhere in town in less than 20min by bike. The only time the car moved was groceries or my Army Reserve unit's drill weekends.

I left college at 155# because I rode back and forth from campus to the apartment several times/day and THEN went training. Its been 10 years, now I work at a desk, and weigh 30# more than I did back then. Bummer.

re: rant: bikes vs carstarwheel
Nov 19, 2003 1:14 PM
I survived almost all of my college years without a car. Rode just about everywhere on my bike, walked or rode the bus. It would be very difficult to work, however, in most US cities without a car. Many jobs require a car at least part of the time. Many cities do not have adequate public transportation or housing in the core city, and many jobs are located in areas away from public transit and housing. Most cities have few safe bike routes to travel during peak traffic hours. I'm not saying it's impossible to work without a car, but it would be very very difficult. Imagine trying to ride your bike to work when there's a snow storm, freezing rain or heavy thunderstorms. I know there are some people who do it (eg, MB1), but I doubt if any of those people have children.
re: rant: bikes vs carsyeah right
Nov 19, 2003 1:26 PM
I made it without a car through the first 4 years of college, but now living in an apartment during grad school I decided to get a car to faclitate errands and seeing friends who are more spread out. I made it fine for four years, but I did miss out on a lot of opportunities, or often felt like an idiot always asking for rides, even when it was way out of people's way. Also as a semi-pro musician, getting to gigs at midnight to a club in San Fransisco (30 miles) was a challenge ;) Of course, I'm a huge car enthusiast, especially for ones whith white and blue propeller logos on the front. I minimize my driving, but as I'm not a city person at all, I feel that owning a car will be important, probably for my entire adult life.
Have to admit, I'm toying with the ideaScot_Gore
Nov 19, 2003 6:01 PM
I live in suburban Minnesota, but I'm 1 mile from work, 1/2 mile to grocery store (and many other retail stores), 3 max to the movies, boookstore, video store, fast food, library, church, my childs school is two blocks. Most my life is in a 5 mile bubble. Heck the largest Mall in the world is inside that bubble. Nearly every I take long trip is an optional convience for variety, not need.

The family would keep one car, so I'd have one available.

So far, I havn't had the conviction or guts, but it remains a nagging notion in my head. I think it would be good for me, good for my community, and good for the planet.

I went without a licence for 3 weeks...african
Nov 19, 2003 8:03 PM
I rode a mtn bike to work and back. Rode my roadie on rides, I seemed to get stronger fast. It was fun and I want to do it again. But I have to use a car to do groceries and going out.

Very good post and questions.
37 years licence and car-free.....philippec
Nov 20, 2003 1:06 AM
I have never held a driver's licence (well, I did have a motorcycle licence for 1 year) and have lived 37 years w/out driving. I have lived on both sides of the Atlantic (in Nashville-TN, Arlington-VA amd Silverton-CO in the States and in Paris, Toulouse and Montpelier here in France). I even went to high school in Nashville, lived 5 miles from downtown and never had a car! You would be surprised what options are available to you between walking, cycling, public transit, rentals and taxis! Living car-free is much simpler here in France but I can honestly say I have never felt like I was missing out b/c I didn't have a car -- big disclaimer: 5 years ago I bought my first car... for my wife and children! and no, she doesn't drive me places unless she is going there as well. Only once before did I contemplate buying a car, back in 1988 after saving all summer from a summer job in Silverton. I was thinking about buying a nice car for my senior year at university...... ended up buying a sweet Klein road bike and a wicked Fat Chance mountain bike and have never looked back!!!

Come over to the dark side.... ;-)