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My "Car Free" Experiment

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.

My "Car Free" Experiment

Old 07-28-18, 12:39 PM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
Then what you mean is 'frugal,' not 'poor.' Frugality is what keeps more of your income from going out. Saving by managing your spending is how you get rich, not how you go poor.
I meant poor. Get over it. News alert - poor people are usually by necessity also frugal and the bottom line is if they can't afford a car they find other ways and looking at how such people mange is instructive especially since they live in communities of like minded people and share information and habits etc. People that are forced to be car free can teach you to be more resourceful than what you get from looking at people with money experiment with a car free lifestyle as part of their frugality pursuits and because it's cool and green.
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Old 07-28-18, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Walter S View Post
I meant poor. Get over it.
Don't use rude language. It puts me in the position of having to ignore you because the mods will attack me if I fight back. So don't do it. Got it?

News alert - poor people are usually by necessity also frugal
How closely have you looked at how many poor people live? Many spend a lot on certain things, and you wonder where they get the money to afford it.

and the bottom line is if they can't afford a car they find other ways and looking at how such people mange is instructive especially since they live in communities of like minded people and share information and habits etc.
But you could take the same people and give them big loans and they would be much deeper in debt, but then they would just turn into middle-class people. You don't seem to understand that many middle-class people are poorer than poor because they go into debt trying to get out and stay out of poverty. It is sad but true. Many are just poor people pretending like they have more of a future than they do. They feel bad about their situation, so they go trade their car in and hope a new car will be the first step toward getting out of debt, when it is really a further step into deeper debt.

People that are forced to be car free can teach you to be more resourceful than what you get from looking at people with money experiment with a car free lifestyle as part of their frugality pursuits and because it's cool and green.
You're generalizing. Different individuals have different things to teach and learn.
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Old 07-28-18, 03:53 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
But you could take the same people and give them big loans and they would be much deeper in debt, but then they would just turn into middle-class people. You don't seem to understand that many middle-class people are poorer than poor because they go into debt trying to get out and stay out of poverty. It is sad but true. Many are just poor people pretending like they have more of a future than they do. They feel bad about their situation, so they go trade their car in and hope a new car will be the first step toward getting out of debt, when it is really a further step into deeper debt.
Yeah, we middle class folks can certainly be financial dummies at times (I lump myself into the dummy
category). Unless one develops the appropriate disciplines (which I have failed to do), making more money does little to alleviate the feeling of being strapped for cash. As we make more money, the impulse is to spend more money (something that I am trying to work on). Among my largest expenses are automotive ($700/mo between loan payments, fuel and insurance) and fast food. It is my hope that through my experiment in car-free living that I can eliminate or seriously curtail the first. The second will require me to build a different set of habits which will feed back into the car free part.

Speaking of spending money... pursuant to earlier parts of my conversation I have purchased another bicycle (and found a new home for the single speed). I found a shop called Two Wheel View that is a non-profit outreach of sorts that refurbishes used bikes with kids. Between the bike itself and the parts (sturdier pedals, lights and fenders), this unit cost me right around $250.

I have attached pics of both the new bike and Ol' Black Beauty.

Ol' Black Beauty:


The "new" bike.
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Old 07-28-18, 04:27 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by Sir Lunch-a-lot View Post
I have attached pics of both the new bike and Ol' Black Beauty.

Ol' Black Beauty:


The "new" bike.
Looks like you kept your saddle. Good idea, if you found it comfortable. The springs underneath help cushion the ride without the disadvantages of gel seats which can sometimes cause numbness you-know-where. The new handlebars might be a little farther to reach and if that is uncomfortable you might need to see if they can be raised a bit, which partially compensates for being farther forward. Same rack too - good moves.
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Old 07-28-18, 04:31 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
Looks like you kept your saddle. Good idea, if you found it comfortable. The springs underneath help cushion the ride without the disadvantages of gel seats which can sometimes cause numbness you-know-where. The new handlebars might be a little farther to reach and if that is uncomfortable you might need to see if they can be raised a bit, which partially compensates for being farther forward. Same rack too - good moves.
Actually no. The new bike came with a very similar style of saddle and a similar rack. I had noticed how similar the seat was but now that I am looking at the pictures - you're right: the rack is almost identical to that on the old bike.
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Old 07-28-18, 08:54 PM
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Wow, so close.
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Old 08-14-18, 09:08 AM
  #32  
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Well, I've been fairly consistent in my bicycle use for the past few weeks and am starting to look at the logistics involved in making this a more permanent transition (getting my car loan properly connected to my bank so I can see where that is at, finding out what my car is valued at, etc). Mind you, I did use my car a couple of weeks back to visit my parents over the long weekend, so at some point I may need to test my rental options. Actually, with my sister moving to the city (and being the sort who is unlikely to ever consider getting rid of her car) we can potentially share a ride home (I can pay for gas or some such thing) when we go to visit our folks back home.

This past Saturday I took the train/bus out to the far reaches of town to buy a bicycle trailer off of Kijiji for larger grocery runs and the odd time I need to haul larger objects around (such as my tent and folding cot which I sometimes use for work trips). I had found myself needing to drive the work van home to pick up/drop off such items for my work trips (and other items such as my CPAP machine, etc) as these were just too unwieldy to carry on the bike. I'll need to give it a more thorough inspection and take it for a test ride sometime soon, though it proved good for getting groceries (I stopped at the grocery store on the way home and walked it the rest of the way home full of groceries), so I feel like I am incrementally making progress towards the ultimate goal of going car free.

I did experience a bit of a set-back this morning, however. I got to work, loaded the bike into the work van and drove it into the shop to have it serviced (I took the bike along so I would have some means of getting back to the office). When I booted up the power assist it gave me errors and refused to work, no matter what I tried (so I just rode it unpowered - fortunately the terrain was fairly flat so that was no big deal). I have since emailed the bike shop I bought the bike from to see if this issue is covered by warranty and to see about getting it fixed. Today I'll probably take the train home as I don't fancy fighting the drag an unpowered motor gives, and perhaps tomorrow I'll leave early and take a stab at riding my "normal" bike to work. It might be a good test to see how I'm progressing in terms of endurance and the rest of it. If all goes well, I may want to start alternating riding my ebike and regular bike to improve the level of exercise I am getting, but I will have to see.
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Old 08-14-18, 10:50 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by Sir Lunch-a-lot View Post
tomorrow I'll leave early and take a stab at riding my "normal" bike to work. It might be a good test to see how I'm progressing in terms of endurance and the rest of it. If all goes well, I may want to start alternating riding my ebike and regular bike to improve the level of exercise I am getting, but I will have to see.
How far to your work and how much time can you allot to the ride? I.e. How early can you leave for work?
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Old 08-14-18, 11:58 AM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
How far to your work and how much time can you allot to the ride? I.e. How early can you leave for work?
Well, the ride is about 10km. I figure if I leave half an hour earlier that will give me an hour and a half to make the trip - should be plenty of time.
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Old 08-14-18, 12:05 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by Sir Lunch-a-lot View Post
Well, the ride is about 10km. I figure if I leave half an hour earlier that will give me an hour and a half to make the trip - should be plenty of time.
Sounds like you have a hilly commute. Do you walk your bike up the hills? If I had the time, I would love a commute like that because hill-climbing is great exercise - free stairclimber gym membership you have! Do you have much flat distance to pedal where you are cruising at 10mph or higher? If not, maybe a push scooter would be better than a bike for you because it would really just be a way to coast down the hills after walking up them.
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Old 08-14-18, 12:46 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
Sounds like you have a hilly commute. Do you walk your bike up the hills? If I had the time, I would love a commute like that because hill-climbing is great exercise - free stairclimber gym membership you have! Do you have much flat distance to pedal where you are cruising at 10mph or higher? If not, maybe a push scooter would be better than a bike for you because it would really just be a way to coast down the hills after walking up them.
The worst of the hills really are at the mid-point of my commute where I cross a major freeway. One hill on the way home will have to be walked up (at a guess, that will probably cost me 10 minutes), and there will probably be a couple of walking points on the way to work. We'll see how I handle the more gradual slopes. For perspective, here is what Google has to show (the blue line) about the change in elevation on my route (left being home, right being work) - about 41 meters from the highest to lowest point.

Edit: Wow! The forums really did not like that image. Here, I'll try that a different way:
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Old 08-14-18, 04:08 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by Sir Lunch-a-lot View Post
The worst of the hills really are at the mid-point of my commute where I cross a major freeway. One hill on the way home will have to be walked up (at a guess, that will probably cost me 10 minutes), and there will probably be a couple of walking points on the way to work. We'll see how I handle the more gradual slopes. For perspective, here is what Google has to show (the blue line) about the change in elevation on my route (left being home, right being work) - about 41 meters from the highest to lowest point.

Edit: Wow! The forums really did not like that image. Here, I'll try that a different way:
Looks like it's mostly downhill on the way to work until you get to that steep uphill slope and then it's sort of downhill after that too. The way back is going to be a lot more tiring, I think. I hope you have good low gears and you don't mind stopping often to keep your heart rate and breathing from getting too intense. It's nice when you can just spend 10 minutes walking up a hill instead of a long gradual slope, i.e. if you're trying to have an easy commute, that is.
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Old 08-14-18, 08:39 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
It's nice when you can just spend 10 minutes walking up a hill instead of a long gradual slope, i.e. if you're trying to have an easy commute, that is.
There is definitely something to that. Some of the hills I have to tackle on the way home from church are much like that - I can take 5 minutes to walk the worst of it and the rest is pretty enjoyable. (BTW, I must say I'm glad I took everyone's advice on trading my single speed in for something geared).

As it turns out, I found the problem with my e-bike (there was another connector inside of the battery compartment of which I knew nothing and it would seem to have come partway disconnected). So I won't be testing myself on those hills quite so soon, which perhaps is just as well as my unpowered ride to pick up the work van in the summer heat was making me realize that doing the entire commute unpowered might be a bit much just yet.

However, in spite of putting the "test ride" off, I have decided to start doing more of the hill on a lower power assist mode to give my legs more of a workout. As much as it is nice to have the option of power assist, I eventually want to get to the place where I don't need to rely on it. Though, on the other hand, I figure that (at least for the time being) I'm not really worse off relying on bicycle power assist technology than relying on automobile technology.
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Old 08-15-18, 05:38 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by Sir Lunch-a-lot View Post
However, in spite of putting the "test ride" off, I have decided to start doing more of the hill on a lower power assist mode to give my legs more of a workout. As much as it is nice to have the option of power assist, I eventually want to get to the place where I don't need to rely on it. Though, on the other hand, I figure that (at least for the time being) I'm not really worse off relying on bicycle power assist technology than relying on automobile technology.
You seem to be discovering what many traditional (manual) bike riders have said about e-bikes, which is that they take away the benefits of pedaling. Once you reach the point where you have become accustomed to pedaling and it no longer feels like a big deal without electric assist, it will be interesting to hear what you have to say about electric assist in retrospect. I have always thought that a motorized bicycle makes more sense than a heavier motor-vehicle in terms of weight, efficiency, and the amount of land area it uses on roads and when parked; but I like pedaling so much I've never actually wanted to replace my legs and heart with a motor.

Actually, that's not completely true. There was a time when I was studying power curves and wind resistance and thinking that I could easily go 40mph by combining pedaling with e-assist, but I found a graph that showed it takes exponentially more power per mph speed increase above @20MPH, so at that point I realized the best solution for energy-speed efficiency is to just bike at 20mph or less.
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Old 08-15-18, 09:13 AM
  #40  
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Here's a little "Tip". If your post contains the word "YOU", that's a good opportunity to review it before posting, and make sure it is "on topic"
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Old 08-30-18, 08:30 PM
  #41  
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I have been running this carfree experiment for just over a month now, and I have reached a point where carrying on just feels hard. The novelty of commuting by bicycle is gone, and on days when I am tired it just seems like a lot of work - even with the electric assist. Granted, the increased physical pace of work the past couple of weeks doesn’t help, but even so I think I can safely say that I am past the honeymoon phase of my carfree experiment.

There is a part of me that just wants to give up, that says “this is too hard”, that longs for the ease and comfort offered by driving. But part of me is stubborn and prideful - I have told my friends and family about this carfree experiment and my long term hopes for; I have told all of you about it; and I spent a lot of money on my e-bike, and dagnabbit I want to get my money’s worth out of it/not have it just sit around collecting dust! (Plus, once I get out the door, biking is pretty great).

But I also know that change is hard. Indeed, the worthwhile things in life are seldom easy. So for now, I need to stick with it as it will get easier (or become more automatic, or both) over time. I also plan to see what kinds of smaller changes I can make to aide my journey to car freedom - such as intentionally going to bed earlier and incrementally improving my diet.

Long term, I intend to extend this experiment until January 2019. By that time, I am hoping to save enough and pay down enough of my car loan that it will no longer be an “upside down loan” (ie, more being owed than the car is worth) - which will make selling it a lot easier. At that time, I expect to be decided about whether or not I am ready to pull the trigger and take the leap from being “car-lite” to “car free”.
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Old 09-01-18, 05:26 AM
  #42  
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Bravo, @Sir Lunch-a-lot. You are well along your way on a tough journey, but one that grows more rewarding every week ....

I think everyone who has ever commuted had had those days when the body says "No" and the mind says well ... I sort of have to go to work ... " and you get up and go ... that's about as bad as it gets, and you have already dealt with that.

Also, I think the e-assist is a great idea---even on the days when you use it more, you are still out there riding. And you have the option to use it as you like ....but I can recall a lot of days when I would have turned it to "11" if I had had an e-assist.

I applaud you for basically choosing to take back your life. I know this is a "car-free" forum and we are supposed to praise only "car-free" ideals ... but to me life is life. I don't care about certain artificial ideas ( I was car free for decades, switched to car-light---and hardly ever drive but i also rely on my wife to use her car to do some of the shopping, so Technically I am "cheating ... " so I just ignore that nonsense.)

Good for you for choosing health and fitness. That choice will bring tremendous changes for you ... pretty much all of them positive. And good for you for finding ways to make it work for you. Car-free can be tough---some lifestyles and some situations are not conducive, but a creative thinker can sometimes find solutions, as you have.

Please, keep us apprised.

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Old 09-01-18, 08:40 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by Sir Lunch-a-lot View Post
I have been running this carfree experiment for just over a month now, and I have reached a point where carrying on just feels hard. The novelty of commuting by bicycle is gone, and on days when I am tired it just seems like a lot of work - even with the electric assist. Granted, the increased physical pace of work the past couple of weeks doesn’t help, but even so I think I can safely say that I am past the honeymoon phase of my carfree experiment.

There is a part of me that just wants to give up, that says “this is too hard”, that longs for the ease and comfort offered by driving. But part of me is stubborn and prideful - I have told my friends and family about this carfree experiment and my long term hopes for; I have told all of you about it; and I spent a lot of money on my e-bike, and dagnabbit I want to get my money’s worth out of it/not have it just sit around collecting dust! (Plus, once I get out the door, biking is pretty great).

But I also know that change is hard. Indeed, the worthwhile things in life are seldom easy. So for now, I need to stick with it as it will get easier (or become more automatic, or both) over time. I also plan to see what kinds of smaller changes I can make to aide my journey to car freedom - such as intentionally going to bed earlier and incrementally improving my diet.

Long term, I intend to extend this experiment until January 2019. By that time, I am hoping to save enough and pay down enough of my car loan that it will no longer be an “upside down loan” (ie, more being owed than the car is worth) - which will make selling it a lot easier. At that time, I expect to be decided about whether or not I am ready to pull the trigger and take the leap from being “car-lite” to “car free”.
There is no 'honeymoon phase' with your body. A healthy body is the real vehicle you are using to LCF, not the bike, scooter, or whatever else you use to increase the speed-effort ratio of your body's performance. When you give in to the ostensible comfort and convenience of sitting in a car and driving, you are parking your body and letting it rust away, so to speak. Your mind may have the capacity to ignore your body wasting away, but that won't change the fact of the long term degradation that will occur through time.

Keeping your body physically active for transportation establishes a healthy habit and habit is what makes something comfortable. When daily biking isn't (yet) a habit, it feels like a chore you have to put effort into. When it becomes a habit, it's just what you do, the way driving is just 'what you do' for people who drive everywhere and never think about choosing some other mode when they leave the house.
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Old 09-01-18, 12:08 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by Sir Lunch-a-lot View Post
There is a part of me that just wants to give up, that says “this is too hard”, that longs for the ease and comfort offered by driving.
Everybody feels like that sometimes. When you have a car you can choose to drive and thus nurture this instinct that wants rest. When you don't have that choice you're not up against a wall. Take it easier on the bike that day. Look at how little real difference it makes. Also getting in a hurry is bad for my psych on a bicycle. Leave the house with plenty of time - too much time. You attitude enroute and upon arrival will change.

Or buy a car
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