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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.

Car free question

Old 02-25-18, 07:37 PM
  #1  
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Car free question

I've been car-lite since I retired (6 years now) and put less than 400 miles a year on my car. I'm tired of paying insurance, registration, etc. I use the car maybe twice a month and have to remember to run it to charge it up. I'm getting an electric drive kit for my bike this summer (easily removed and installed when I need it) and I have a Burley Travoy. I'm thinking I will sell the car when I get it. I live in the Bay Area, good weather almost all year long. Being retired, I don't have to go out if the weather is bad and I don't have to go out when it's dark. Very good public transit with Bart and busses.
I'm trying to anticipate when I might actually need a car. If you are car-free how do you deal with situations where you would normally have a passenger? Sometimes I pick up someone to go to a movie or somewhere. Do I have to always tell them to meet me if I'm car free? How do you deal with that?
In rare situations where I need a car to go more distance, I can use a Zip car or City car share (I go visit family once a year about 2 hours away). Are there other instances where you find you really need a car?
Once I sell the car, I will not get another one (although I admit, I am following the Elio 3 wheel enclosed vehicle with great interest). Years of commuting have left me hating to drive and I love to bike. Anything I need to be aware of or prepared for that you can think of would be really helpful. TIA.
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Old 02-25-18, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by linberl View Post
I've been car-lite since I retired (6 years now) and put less than 400 miles a year on my car. I'm tired of paying insurance, registration, etc. I use the car maybe twice a month and have to remember to run it to charge it up. I'm getting an electric drive kit for my bike this summer (easily removed and installed when I need it) and I have a Burley Travoy. I'm thinking I will sell the car when I get it. I live in the Bay Area, good weather almost all year long. Being retired, I don't have to go out if the weather is bad and I don't have to go out when it's dark. Very good public transit with Bart and busses.
I'm trying to anticipate when I might actually need a car. If you are car-free how do you deal with situations where you would normally have a passenger? Sometimes I pick up someone to go to a movie or somewhere. Do I have to always tell them to meet me if I'm car free? How do you deal with that?
In rare situations where I need a car to go more distance, I can use a Zip car or City car share (I go visit family once a year about 2 hours away). Are there other instances where you find you really need a car?
Once I sell the car, I will not get another one (although I admit, I am following the Elio 3 wheel enclosed vehicle with great interest). Years of commuting have left me hating to drive and I love to bike. Anything I need to be aware of or prepared for that you can think of would be really helpful. TIA.
With genuine respect, it seems to me you've answered your own question(s), linberl!

You have been and are getting along perfectly well without your car. If you are only using it twice a month, and options (within your means) are available, as they appear to be ... give it up. That's what I would do were I in your situation.

Meeting someone, and possibly picking them up to go to a movie etc.? Either arrange to meet, or cab/Uber/whatever on those occasions. Need to go to a shop to get something that will be beyond your bike/fitness cargo capacity? Ditto. Again, if you are only using your car twice a month at present, it's clear that you are managing perfectly well with that, and could manage without it at all. A fare/rental here and there will never amount to the cost of retaining/insuring/maintaining your car.

If on any reasonable extrapolation your needs can be accommodated w/o a car, why bother with one? I certainly wouldn't.
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Old 02-25-18, 09:31 PM
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Yeah, I think it will be okay but once it's gone, it's gone. I'm just wondering if anyone else who has gone car free found a situation later where they wished they still had their car. It's a very final thing, I won't be in a position to purchase another car if I change my mind.
I'm probably going to pay for another 6 months insurance once i get the motor, just to see if anything comes up. It's kind of a big deal for someone who has had a car since they were 16 (I'm a senior citizen now).
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Old 02-25-18, 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by linberl View Post
Yeah, I think it will be okay but once it's gone, it's gone. I'm just wondering if anyone else who has gone car free found a situation later where they wished they still had their car. It's a very final thing, I won't be in a position to purchase another car if I change my mind.
I'm probably going to pay for another 6 months insurance once i get the motor, just to see if anything comes up. It's kind of a big deal for someone who has had a car since they were 16 (I'm a senior citizen now).
D'you mean keep your car/insured for another six months, once you've converted to 'e-bike'? That makes sense to me: pretty solid trial run, with no real downside.

I'm not carfree, and will likely never be so -- family circumstances. I am car-light, though, and fwiw I do spend a good portion of the year 'car free', and the rest 'car light' as much as I can manage within the constraints I deal with.

I am also a 'senior', though still working full-time (for my sins), and I can say that were I not needing to maintain a vehicle for my spouse's use (for good, health-related reasons), I would not bother with one and I'm pretty sure would not miss it. When I'm on my own, I find that cycling, and transit + a day's car rental here and there when needed or convenient covers all my needs. And I am in a mid-size Cdn. city with not nearly the resources (transit etc.) that you have. I do know the Bay area pretty well.

That's my perspective, again -- fwiw.
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Old 02-25-18, 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by linberl View Post
In rare situations where I need a car to go more distance, I can use a Zip car or City car share (I go visit family once a year about 2 hours away). Are there other instances where you find you really need a car?
When I was carfree (as in, I didn't own a car), the main thing I found I needed a car for was cycling events ... ironically!

Sometimes I would cycle 50 km to the start of a shorter event, cycle the 50-100 km with the group, and then cycle 50 km home. But if the events were longer, I found it easier to rent a car for the weekend. I would also rent a car for events that weren't in my area ... those that were a province or two over.


Another instance where I needed a car was big grocery shops. I could walk the 2 km return trip for my usual shops, but about once every couple months, I did a big shop. I would either coordinate it with the weekend where I rented a car for a cycling event, or I would take the bus to the big grocery store, do my shop, and then get a taxi to take me home.
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Old 02-25-18, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
When I was carfree (as in, I didn't own a car), the main thing I found I needed a car for was cycling events ... ironically!

Sometimes I would cycle 50 km to the start of a shorter event, cycle the 50-100 km with the group, and then cycle 50 km home. But if the events were longer, I found it easier to rent a car for the weekend. I would also rent a car for events that weren't in my area ... those that were a province or two over.


Another instance where I needed a car was big grocery shops. I could walk the 2 km return trip for my usual shops, but about once every couple months, I did a big shop. I would either coordinate it with the weekend where I rented a car for a cycling event, or I would take the bus to the big grocery store, do my shop, and then get a taxi to take me home.
That's helpful, thanks. Cycling events aren't something I do but I do go to Santa Cruz with my bike once a year; fortunately I go with friends so we can put my bike in their car since it folds nicely. I picked up a Burley Travoy and I'm currently using it to do all my shopping except Costco. Once I get the motor for my bike, I hope to be able to do my Costco runs and also get my 40lb bag of dog food with the trailer. I've got one steep uphill home so when I'm pulling a lot of weight the motor will come in handy. So that's one thing I will still need to test out before I unload the car. I'm okay with making more trips if necessary by bike, so long as I can eventually get everything home.

The other thing I do worry about is if I injure myself and can't ride for some reason....a car would come in handy. But it's a one-off scenario and I guess I shouldn't worry about it.
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Old 02-26-18, 12:13 AM
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Originally Posted by linberl View Post
The other thing I do worry about is if I injure myself and can't ride for some reason....a car would come in handy. But it's a one-off scenario and I guess I shouldn't worry about it.
I did injure myself so that I couldn't ride or walk during the time I was car free.

I dropped a pot of boiling water on my left foot and burnt it to the bone.

At first, I tried to get around by bus but that was just too hard, so I used taxis if I had to go out. Then my doctor's receptionist put me onto home care nurses, so they came to my house once or twice a day to change my dressing and check up on me so I didn't have to go out. Then I found out about home grocery delivery which was immensely helpful during those months of recovery. And my supervisor set me up to work from home for a few weeks.

When I was somewhat mobile again, I carpooled for 2 or 3 weeks, and then was able to start taking the bus again until I could finally ride.

So ... look around and see what you've got in your area for grocery home delivery, home health care, etc.

Also get comfortable with your public transportation system. I've been taking buses for decades now, and had been for many years before I went car free so there was no sudden learning curve when I went car free ... I just continued to do what I had been doing.
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Old 02-26-18, 12:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I did injure myself so that I couldn't ride or walk during the time I was car free.

I dropped a pot of boiling water on my left foot and burnt it to the bone.

At first, I tried to get around by bus but that was just too hard, so I used taxis if I had to go out. Then my doctor's receptionist put me onto home care nurses, so they came to my house once or twice a day to change my dressing and check up on me so I didn't have to go out. Then I found out about home grocery delivery which was immensely helpful during those months of recovery. And my supervisor set me up to work from home for a few weeks.

When I was somewhat mobile again, I carpooled for 2 or 3 weeks, and then was able to start taking the bus again until I could finally ride.

So ... look around and see what you've got in your area for grocery home delivery, home health care, etc.

Also get comfortable with your public transportation system. I've been taking buses for decades now, and had been for many years before I went car free so there was no sudden learning curve when I went car free ... I just continued to do what I had been doing.
Oooh, I cringed for you when I read what happened! Omg, that must have hurt. Glad you have recovered. I'm clumsy so I wouldn't be surprised if I end up not being able to ride at some point. Grocery delivery is great here, fortunately. Getting to the doc/hospital without a car or bike would be difficult - I guess that would be the time to use Lyft or something. Our light rail (Bart) doesn't go everywhere but it is excellent for what it does. Buses are okay, I would need to download their apps to figure out routes, etc. But, yeah, you're right....with all the grocery delivery options nowadays and Lyft or taxis, it should be do-able.
My car has been a wonderful car, it's a 2002 Honda Civic with 134,000 miles on it and the ORIGINAL brakes (yup, 134,000 miles on the same brakes) and clutch. It doesn't really cost me much in repairs or gas but the insurance is killing me when it sits mostly. So for that reason I cannot wait to get rid of it. Some leadfoot will probably buy it and run it into the ground, oh, well.
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Old 02-26-18, 01:11 AM
  #9  
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I've had two injuries where I couldn't ride or walk. In both cases I was also unable to drive a car, so it made no difference that I was carfree. Around here the bus company has on-demand service (like a door to door shuttle) for those who are disabled and need to go to appointments and so forth. You might want to find out if this is available from your bus company. It's a lot cheaper than a cab and better set up to handle medical equipment.

It sounds like you will have no problems with shopping. I used to have friends who went to the warehouse club once a month, and I sometimes tagged along with them. I would help pay for gas and maybe buy their kids a treat at the store, and they always said they loved having me along.

I think you'll do well and I hope to see a thread from you next year telling what a great experience LCF has been for you.
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Old 02-26-18, 01:27 AM
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Well, you could always go car-free the way my family did. We kind of just stopped driving our pick-up without even thinking about it. After a year or two, we checked out the pick-up to see if it could be used and discovered that some critters had eaten most of the electrical system. Then we found an insurance agent who creatively found a way to use the derelict pick-up as a means to reduce our overall insurance bill and to have a policy that we could turn on in the event we needed to drive (like when we rent a car for a trip).

So we just bumbled into being car-free by letting our car rot away on the side of the house. Decades earlier, that same pick-up had collected so much dust fall-out that it both sprouted flowers in the Spring and ended up with an anthill in the bed. We just never did drive much, I guess.

As my wife and I were riding our bikes to Costco today, she mentioned how lucky we were to have found each other thirty-five years ago. How unusual is it to find two people who hate being in cars? Oh, and as usual we hauled away more stuff on our bikes from Costco than any of the SUV drivers we saw put into their vehicles.
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Old 02-26-18, 01:54 AM
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I've done bike trailer loads that I can barely get home over two hills, but not up the driveway. So the car has been really handy to drive to the end of the driveway to fetch my trailer

No insurance as long as I don't leave the driveway.
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Old 02-26-18, 10:25 AM
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Thanks for all the reassurance, guys. I guess if it doesn't work out quite like I'm hoping, I can look into velomobiles and see if they've come any further in development. the Transit Elf is super cute, but apparently not the most reliable. But I could totally see myself going with an electric enclosed trike-type vehicle if I really need to carry a passenger. I went through a checklist. I can use Lyft to get the dog to the vet or myself to the doc, if needed. Groceries no problem. City car share if absolutely necessary.
So I renewed my insurance through September and then that's it. Hopefully I will have received my bike motor by then and had some time to make sure everything works well for me. It's a long-delayed Kickstarter item but I really think it's gonna get delivered in the next month or two. I think the only real impact going CF instead CL will have for me is a bit extra planning around weather. Now watch California start getting deluged with rains again come this winter, lol!!!
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Old 02-26-18, 01:23 PM
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Electric trike or bike with trailer (not an e-assist but an actual electric cycel) is a good fall-back/emergency option ... but you might never need it. You seem to live in an area with numerous transit options.

The other thing that helps is having a friend or two for when you need a ride Right Now .... or when you want to share rides to activities and such.

Weather can be an issue, but if it isn't both very cold and raining, you will be fine. If it is both very cold and rainy, you will just need to buy some better rain gear.
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Old 02-26-18, 06:46 PM
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This is the second time I have been car free. The first time was for a year, then I caved and bought a motorcycle. I have been car free now for 18 months and honestly I do not miss owning a car at all, especially with Lyft available. I ride mostly, walk a lot and take public transportation. On those rare occasions (I think 3 times in 18 months) when I was out too late to catch a bus without my bike, I called a Lyft. No problems at all, and the money saved is wonderful!
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Old 02-26-18, 07:15 PM
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graduated high school in 2005 and took public bus in philly and new jersey from grades 6-12. Got my license in 2007 and drove from 2007-2008 and I had to retire. Too much drama with my car and I ended up junking it for $300 It was a taurus sho with some weird fast & furious engine that was pricey to get parts for.

Been cycling since 2008 and mostly ride my miyata 914 as well as klein quantum race and a spiderman univega that the model escapes me at the moment. I usually use bungee cords and a rear rack. For my univega it has eyelets and better tire clearance so I have full panier bags and rack. The only time I feel crappy about not having a car or driving is when people drive like crazy folks and dont realize I am a human being as well. Even if I was pedaling 5 mph in the right lane it takes 5 secs to pass me safely and your entire journey was delayed maybe 1 min total. I know cars are basically plastic but its still protection. (The taurus sho I had was alloy or less plastic-y as most 90's cars were abeit because of this alloy they seemed to rust easier. I am sure some car experts here know what I mean)
Got sent here by @cooker and @badger1 B4 I go off the deep end and start getting into metaphysics or spiritual talk or trying to understand my own concerns and similar things I hope I can contribute to this thread without doing the aforementioned lol

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Old 02-26-18, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by bp2k8 View Post
graduated high school in 2005 and took public bus in philly and new jersey from grades 6-12. Got my license in 2007 and drove from 2007-2008 and I had to retire. Too much drama with my car and I ended up junking it for $300 It was a taurus sho with some weird fast & furious engine that was pricey to get parts for.

Been cycling since 2008 and mostly ride my miyata 914 as well as klein quantum race and a spiderman univega that the model escapes me at the moment. I usually use bungee cords and a rear rack. For my univega it has eyelets and better tire clearance so I have full panier bags and rack. The only time I feel crappy about not having a car or driving is when people drive like crazy folks and dont realize I am a human being as well. Even if I was pedaling 5 mph in the right lane it takes 5 secs to pass me safely and your entire journey was delayed maybe 1 min total. I know cars are basically plastic but its still protection. (The taurus sho I had was alloy or less plastic-y as most 90's cars were abeit because of this alloy they seemed to rust easier. I am sure some car experts here know what I mean)
Got sent here by @cooker and @badger1 B4 I go off the deep end and start getting into metaphysics or spiritual talk or trying to understand my own concerns and similar things I hope I can contribute to this thread without doing the aforementioned lol
My millennial son has never owned a car. He got a drivers license but just decided it was too much trouble; with traffic, you can get most places faster on a bike here and you don't have to drive around looking for parking. He's been cycling and using public transit ever since. He says he uses the $ he saves to buy beer, lol.
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Old 02-26-18, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by linberl View Post
My millennial son has never owned a car. He got a drivers license but just decided it was too much trouble; with traffic, you can get most places faster on a bike here and you don't have to drive around looking for parking. He's been cycling and using public transit ever since. He says he uses the $ he saves to buy beer, lol.
it truly makes sense and cents if you will. Also i am sure he is quite fast. as long as he fees he is capable its always na good transportation method. good vibes to him and wish him the best
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Old 02-28-18, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by linberl View Post
Once I sell the car, I will not get another one (although I admit, I am following the Elio 3 wheel enclosed vehicle with great interest). Years of commuting have left me hating to drive and I love to bike. Anything I need to be aware of or prepared for that you can think of would be really helpful. TIA.
I think that for people who have always depended on driving for transportation, going car-free can feel like moving to another country where you can't drive, with the difference that you have the advantage of having no language barriers or administrative/cultural obstructions to finding work. It can be a little strange to see, after you go LCF, that everyone else doesn't too, especially if you're the kind of person that derives satisfaction from being normal/average. This is something I've noticed about people who move from areas of the world where cycling is a norm, i.e. that they find it less comfortable to bike for transportation in the U.S. because it's an exception rather than a norm. If you don't mind 'taking the road less traveled' though, as per the Robert Frost poem, it can be a great way to take a permanent vacation from the hassles of automotive culture without having to leave all the other comforts and conveniences of home behind.
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Old 03-01-18, 12:49 PM
  #19  
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Your car is at or near the bottom of the depreciation curve. Assuming you have free parking, you could drop the insurance and keep the car past the 6mo trial. They sell trickle chargers that will keep your battery charged so you don't have to run it. Careful of the tires sitting too long in the same position though. This will at least allow you to have the car available should you become unable to ride.
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Old 03-02-18, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by katsup View Post
Your car is at or near the bottom of the depreciation curve. Assuming you have free parking, you could drop the insurance and keep the car past the 6mo trial. They sell trickle chargers that will keep your battery charged so you don't have to run it. Careful of the tires sitting too long in the same position though. This will at least allow you to have the car available should you become unable to ride.
I've got the minimal insurance on it but I own a home so I will not drive without insurance that protects my equity. Which means I need to keep at least 100/300 liability. And once you drop insurance, it costs a lot more to get insured again (at least here in California). I kind of want it gone after the 6 months, it's like a weight around my neck. We finally got "winter" and it is raining here for the next 10 days or so; so far, I've had enough hour long breaks in the rain so that I can get out and get food, etc. With a little planning, I think I can let it go.
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Old 04-29-18, 03:42 PM
  #21  
ITALVEGA_6955
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Originally Posted by linberl View Post
I've been car-lite since I retired (6 years now) and put less than 400 miles a year on my car. I'm tired of paying insurance, registration, etc. I use the car maybe twice a month and have to remember to run it to charge it up. I'm getting an electric drive kit for my bike this summer (easily removed and installed when I need it) and I have a Burley Travoy. I'm thinking I will sell the car when I get it. I live in the Bay Area, good weather almost all year long. Being retired, I don't have to go out if the weather is bad and I don't have to go out when it's dark. Very good public transit with Bart and busses.
I'm trying to anticipate when I might actually need a car. If you are car-free how do you deal with situations where you would normally have a passenger? Sometimes I pick up someone to go to a movie or somewhere. Do I have to always tell them to meet me if I'm car free? How do you deal with that?
In rare situations where I need a car to go more distance, I can use a Zip car or City car share (I go visit family once a year about 2 hours away). Are there other instances where you find you really need a car?
Once I sell the car, I will not get another one (although I admit, I am following the Elio 3 wheel enclosed vehicle with great interest). Years of commuting have left me hating to drive and I love to bike. Anything I need to be aware of or prepared for that you can think of would be really helpful. TIA.
I live in the bay area too, and have been car free for a few years. I know the exact situation you speak of and, for me, it has been frustrating a few times but there are workarounds such as those you've mentioned but I would also add that you can use rideshare (uber, lyft, etc) and have the driver do multiple pickups or stops, it is not always the cheapest way but the situation occurs relatively infrequently and so is still far far more inexpensive than car insurance and maintenance, at least in my situation.

The thing I miss the most about not having a car is quick access to hiking, some mornings I wake up and just want to quickly drive to a hill and have my morning coffee on a little scenic hike, this is obviously more of a challenge now without a car.
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Old 04-29-18, 03:49 PM
  #22  
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I just got a Oregon ID to visit the Pot stores , no car since 91..
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Old 04-29-18, 03:50 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by ITALVEGA_6955 View Post
I live in the bay area too, and have been car free for a few years. I know the exact situation you speak of and, for me, it has been frustrating a few times but there are workarounds such as those you've mentioned but I would also add that you can use rideshare (uber, lyft, etc) and have the driver do multiple pickups or stops, it is not always the cheapest way but the situation occurs relatively infrequently and so is still far far more inexpensive than car insurance and maintenance, at least in my situation.

The thing I miss the most about not having a car is quick access to hiking, some mornings I wake up and just want to quickly drive to a hill and have my morning coffee on a little scenic hike, this is obviously more of a challenge now without a car.
Honestly, I think the only time I will really miss a car is on rainy days. Picking up a friend to go to the cheapie matinee at the Grand Lake Theater on a rainy day has been a tradition. Not sure I'd be willing to add the cost of Uber or Gig, etc., to that. I've not used Uber or Lyft before but if short rides are economical, I guess we could combine a Bart ride to MacArthur with a short Uber ride to the theater. There's also a bus but I find the bus much more tedious than Bart. For getting around by myself, I don't foresee any issues though; I even have a terrific bike riding poncho for wet days. My car currently costs me around $550-600/yr total but that would still fund quite a few alternative rides. As for your morning coffee, that just makes me realize some habits will have to change. Not a bad thing, right? Create new enjoyable options. =).
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Old 04-30-18, 05:32 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by linberl View Post
Honestly, I think the only time I will really miss a car is on rainy days. Picking up a friend to go to the cheapie matinee at the Grand Lake Theater on a rainy day has been a tradition. Not sure I'd be willing to add the cost of Uber or Gig, etc., to that. I've not used Uber or Lyft before but if short rides are economical, I guess we could combine a Bart ride to MacArthur with a short Uber ride to the theater. There's also a bus but I find the bus much more tedious than Bart. For getting around by myself, I don't foresee any issues though; I even have a terrific bike riding poncho for wet days. My car currently costs me around $550-600/yr total but that would still fund quite a few alternative rides. As for your morning coffee, that just makes me realize some habits will have to change. Not a bad thing, right? Create new enjoyable options. =).
What kind of car costs only $600/year when you include the cost of buying the car, the insurance, the fuel, maintenance and parts, and parking costs?

If you buy a used car for $2000 and keep it for four years, that would be $500/year right there without adding any other expense, and what $2000 used car doesn't need repairs or maintenance?
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Old 04-30-18, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
What kind of car costs only $600/year when you include the cost of buying the car, the insurance, the fuel, maintenance and parts, and parking costs?
Haha. My 2002 honda civic 5 speed that has long been paid off, has 134,000 miles and still has the ORIGINAL brakes and clutch, I do the oil changes and that's all it needs. No parking costs and my insurance is less than $30/month because I drive so little (MetroMile) and have a clean record. Registration is about a hundred bucks, insurance under $360, and I put $20 of gas in in every 6-8 weeks. The biggest hassle I have is remembering to drive it enough to keep the battery charged up.
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