Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Winter Starts without the Car

Sometime in December, the car which I don't myself drive but share with the Co-Habitant, announced to us that it needs some work. It's not a big problem, but it's quirky. Unable to agree on how to go about getting it resolved, our solution was to put off the decision until we have more time and can think clearly. In the meanwhile, we have been automobile-free for about three weeks - just in time for the snow!

As far as everyday necessities go, we have felt no adverse effects so far from the lack of car. The Co-Habitant typically cycles to work anyhow, and I always cycle to my meetings and errands. We can (though normally don't always) go grocery shopping by bike. And other crucial destinations - post office, bank, hardware store, art supply store, etc. - are within manageable distance as well. When the streets were un-cyclable during the blizzard, we worked from home and walked to the grocery store. If anything, not having a car feels liberating in this respect.

The problematic aspects surface when it comes to long-distance trips. For instance, our photo studio is 14 miles away. It is accessible via the subway system, but the T stop is a considerable walk from our house. That is okay, except that sometimes we transport huge and fragile objects to and from the studio - and that cannot really be done properly other than in our car.  We also travel to remote places for photoshoots - and those trips will be suspended until the car is available again. There are other things, like not being able to go to specific supply stores that are in bicycle-unfriendly locations, as well as trips that involve large and heavy cargo. So far we have dealt with these things by either finding alternative (but not ideal) solutions, or postponing them. And while so far that's been fine, I wonder how we will feel about it after several more weeks pass.

At the heart of my transportation preferences is a need to feel independent, and most of the time cycling fulfills this need for me better than other options. But sometimes the car is the appropriate tool for the job, and I have nothing but respect for the automobile in that context. I am hoping this carless period will clarify for us, what it is that we actually need from the car given our current lifestyle.

44 comments:

  1. Excellent perspective! It's so refreshing to read a piece that's outside the bikes vs. cars paradigm.

    Of course, there is a place for both, as many other cultures have proven. Thanks for the gentle reminder.

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  2. I have nothing against car ownership, per se. I have never been without a car, except for one year of my life when I lived in Europe (and even then, I had a borrowed car whenever I wanted one for weekend trips). Especially now with kids, it's very difficult not to rely on the car at least occasionally. Trips outside the city are nearly impossible without one, given our substandard train infrastructure, and even though concepts such as ZipCar can fulfill the automotive needs of many urban dwellers who only occasionally need a car, it's not practical when you have kids and have things like child seats (and bike racks) to shuttle between vehicles.

    Nope, no dilemma for me. A car at the ready is a must for my family, but that doesn't mean we use it all the time. During the week it may get used a couple of times, but it often sits for days at a time. Probably 95% percent of its use comes from from trips out of the city.

    Sadly, we know people in the city who still rely on their car for things that they could easily accomplish without one, like shuttling their kids to and from school, etc... sometimes they use the cars several times every day, for everything. That indiscriminate use of the car somehow obviates the convenience of living in the city, and diminishes the quality of urban life for others, in my opinion.

    What's the problem with your car, btw?

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  3. Good luck with your transportation. It's easier to get from Boston/Cambridge/Somerville to the suburbs than the other way around. Zipcar was useful for me when I was carless, I know there are more cars available in the city than on the North Shore.

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  4. Have you ever considered car sharing?

    That way you only use a car when you REALLY need it and it makes a lot of sense in the long run since you don't have to pay for gas, insurance, repairs or taxes.

    After the last spending of +$600 in the car that was it for me and I'm now in the process of selling it, it may not be a reasonable solution for you but you should look into it anyway IMHO.

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  5. While it might not be appropriate for the trips to the Studio where you want to spend a long time after arrival, I'll suggest Zipcar as a solution for some of the harder to reach/ bulky/ heavy errands.

    I know there have been some questions about Zipcar's insurance, but I use it for work regularly, and the interface is so simple and easy to use, that to me it's worth the risk (especially if you already have insurance on your main vehicle that would cover you in any accident).

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  6. We're kind of considering this as well right now, as our car is in need of some major work, and we're pondering some financial changes in the near future, so I think we've come to the decision to sell the car as-is (we can still probably get nearly what we bought it for, as we've put some money into it).

    We already do nearly everything we do on a daily basis by bike at least some of the time. And we have the availability of Zipcar, which we can use to go visit my family in the suburbs (we can also take the bus, but it takes 3 times as long and they still have to pick us up at the bus stop) or Patrina's family down south an hour or so.

    There are just those few things that we really can't do on our bikes, like getting our water jugs refilled (we have one of those ceramic pots with a tap that you can put the big plastic jug on top of). But, on the other hand, we can also plan to do a big grocery run on a weekend, and rent a bakfiets for a couple of hours or something. But most of our normal shopping we can do with our own bikes easily enough.

    In general though, I think you're right - cars can be put to some very useful purposes (like carrying large and/or fragile things). I think the biggest thing is that they really should fill a niche, not be everyone's default means of transportation for everything.

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  7. It seems to me like you only need a car occasionally, or rather use of a car. Is there a car share programme available nearby, or a nearby resident with similarly minimal car needs who may be interested in a share? You'd be able to cover all of your needs with a substantially reduced cost burden for something which is going to spend much of its time idle otherwise.

    Sometimes a situation crops up where it would be useful to have a van. However, these occasions are so infrequent for most that actually owning your own van would be a huge waste of money. For me, the same is also true of a car. Maybe you could meet your needs without the burden of sole ownership.

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  8. I would imagine you have Zipcar near your house, living in an urban area in the northeast. It works pretty well for the things you describe, and really fails only for commuting. Given you commitment to bicycling, you may find yourself able to live without owning a car entirely.

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  9. Velouria, As usual, your take is a very refreshing one. I get so fatigued by the faux remorse that seemingly must accompany any bike-blog reference to using a car.

    Now, brace yourself for umpteen comments describing how you could have made the trip by bicycle after all. We blog readers are truly excellent at advice-after-the-fact.

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  10. I recently read this great book: How to Live Well Without Owning a Car by Chris Balish. It opened my eyes to the possibilities, and in your case, a simple solution of selling your current car and getting a ZipCar membership would be perfect.

    You can "check out" a ZipCar based on your needs for a given day. Maybe you need to haul a large object, so you can check out a minivan or truck for a couple of hours. Maybe you need something sporty with cruise control for those long trips, so you can check out a sedan for a couple of hours.

    Just a suggestion! I wish my co-habitant would let me sell his car and buy into this idea as well.

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  11. I'm so glad you wrote this post! Sometimes I feel when I read bicycling blogs that unless one quits using the car entirely, we are somehow not as bicycle friendly as those who have no car. I live in the Midwest and everything is always too far spread out, even in the cities at times, to not have a car. It annoys me how the Midwest did the sprawl as it was growing, but that is just how it is and I can't change it. I can bicycle to many places without needing a car, but I could never get rid of my car based on where I live. Another thought I have had when reading blogs of those who have gone completely car-free, is what happens when you get ill? I had to go to the ER twice this past year and while I did not need an ambulance, I certainly would not have wanted to use public transportation or bicycle in the shape I was in! But I do love being as car-free as possible. :-)

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  12. I imagine a lot of people will have said this already but is there a car club or good car share scheme you can use? When we lived in London & didn't have a car we didn't need to use one as often as you do but for the few times we did need one we would hire a car and then spend a weekend driving around doing all the pent up things we couldn't do as easily without a car (go birdwatching and get gardening supplies, mainly)

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  13. In the S.F.Bay area, back in 2002, I was finally able to get rid of my (beloved) 1967 V.W. Beetle, when the local carshare cooperative place a prius in my neighborhood.
    http://www.citycarshare.org/

    You might look for something similar in Cambridge, or start one in Cambridge, or if there is one but no vehicle handy give'em a call and see what it would take to have them place a vehicle in your 'hood.

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  14. Should have addressed car sharing and rental. We have certainly considered it, but for a number of reasons that are a little hard to explain, it does not work for us. For one thing, we need a specific type of vehicle, that is not always available in these programs, especially not right when you need it. We also have a system rigged up for transporting our equipment and props that would be difficult and time consuming to replicate every single time with a new rented/zip vehicle. Another problem, is that much of our traveling takes place on short notice, and being able to leave immediately and directly from our house, is of value, as we are always short on time and over-stretched. The car has been paid up, so we are not leasing it or paying off loans. Insurance is (relatively) inexpensive in MA and otherwise we just pay for gasoline - which is not too bad, since we only use the car when we need it. We also have a dedicated off-street parking spot in the back of our house, so basically if the car is just sitting there in between trips and not being used, it is not bothering anyone and costing us very little. We calculated, and rental/zipcar would most likely cost a bit more, plus would be a lot more hassle.

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  15. I also forgot to mention, that zip and car-share programmes are for short trips and charge by the hour, whereas when we go off to photoshoot locations it is often for the day. So that means we would need to pay a monthly membership to a car-share programme for short trips, and rent a car for longer trips, since the car-share would cost too much. So, just lots of things like that, making it not a great solution for the way we need to do things.

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  16. Doesn't the Zip-car hourly fee top off after a certain number of hours? A friend of mine said he uses zip cars to take weekend trips hundreds of miles away, and ends up paying a flat daily rate (something like $70?). So to leave on a Saturday morning and return Sunday night it costs something like $140, and the gas is free (which would normally cost him $40 for his long trips). Can you rent a car for that little?

    But in general, I agree; for us as well, zip cars are not a viable option. We need our car.

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  17. mmm ... I don't think my last comment made it. anyway, I think I mentioned in your car post, that over the summer, the Girl and I went through a similar process and came to similar conclusions regarding ZipCar and how it wouldn't work for us. For day long or multi-day trips, going to Enterprise and just renting a car made sense, but that still doesn't address your requirement around moving cargo. Still, it might be an interesting experiment to consider how much one could make from selling the car (with or without repair) and comparing that to the cost of a period of rentals. If it doesn't make economic sense, then it's probably not worth pursuing.

    Though, there is also the unquantifiable sense of security that comes from having a working car in the driveway, available at a moment's need.

    Good luck with your decision! Though, really, you ought to take advantage of this opportunity to at least decouple your grocery shopping from car usage. ;)

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  18. Velouria, you are where we are In that we are "car-lite" which in todays world is about as good as it gets when there are elements in your life that prevent going completely "car free"

    There is a wealth of ideas and advice to be found on this topic to be found on Bike Forum which you are a member of so look there. See"Living Car Free" there.

    One point I do want to address here is the special maintenance
    needs of a car that sits idle a lot. I agree that it's always cheaper , in the long run, to keep repairs up on a paid for car due to the fact that these cars get cheaper to own as they age if you don't let repair cost spook you into a new car. Remember, the point of diminishing returns for cars is when something structural fails....all else is just parts repairs.

    It will do you well to research the web for tips & pointers on how to maintain your mostly idle car to keep it from deterioration into additional repairs from sitting idle. The info it out there so learn & use it to your benefit. It''s worth the effort since our two vehicles are now 17 yr old & 13 year old and run/look just like they are new with very, very little wear showing anywhere. Cycling helps a lot with that!

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  19. I join the applause for successfully and pointedly avoiding all-or-nothing smugness about mostly bicycling or walking instead of driving. I'm carless in the midwest, but wouldn't manage that at all easily if it weren't for friends with cars, and taxis, and I sold my car because after a 4-year trial I found that I loathed driving and was very bad at it (hence the loathing - was always worried about hurting someone). Going carless was not a decision made out of virtue of any kind. Bikes (with the help of Lovely Bicycle) made it much more doable, though.

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  20. Walt - Well, I don't like to use terms like "car-lite" and "car free," because they have political implications with which I don't identify. Some day I hope to live in the middle of nowhere, in Northern New England again, where I will probably own a pick-up truck and drive it every day. In addition to cycling, of course. I just feel like it would be disingenuous to use that terminology, as it implies an intentional striving towards a lifestyle without a car, as well as promotion of that lifestyle.

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  21. I like your take on it. I was feeling all anti car for a while- but that was mainly due to feeling forced to use the car and I needed to rebel to assert my independance. But actually lately I have embraced the car for long trips every now and then and have ventured places I tend to not go b/c it entails highway driving. Today I drove as the kids had events across town from each other and end times within 15 minutes of each other. I was wishing sorte had motor power but realized that I'd have to drive anyway due to timing and well it's ok. Back when I lived in NYC and couldn't drive I was a hermit b/c I hated being stuck waiting for the next train. I often splurged on $20 cab rides from Lower East Side to harlem with nary a guilt. It's about option I think.
    mamavee

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  22. Personally, I love cars. I love them enough, that I'd like my children and grandchildren to enjoy cars as well. That won't happen if we use up all the petroleum in the next 20 years. And the earth can't support that RATE of consumption; nature's air-washers can't keep up. So my viewpoint is that transportation should suit the job to hand. And going 3-4 miles to the post office to post your letters and get some stamps does not warrant a car trip, and it's too far to walk. And your smog device won't even get warmed up enough to work. it's like using pliers for a wrench... wasteful, damaging, and irritating.

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  23. Living in a big city where life essentials and a good transit system reside close by... I can see where it's conceivable to live carless. But, I couldn't imagine living without a car and a good bike rack :). Just like there are places only a bike can go (which I adore); there are place I want to go where only a car can take me.

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  24. somervillain - even with the best financial scenario, zip cars are still not viable for the other reasons I listed. I guess the bottom line for me, is that if I do live in a way that I need a car, then I like to have it available to me on my terms and whenever I need it.

    (Oh, and the problem with our car is an electrical peculiarity, common to its kinfolk. It's 6 1/2 years old, so I am actually surprised something like this has not happened sooner.)

    vee - I think that timing is a good point, and I keep meaning to write about it. Within the city, cycling is actually a quicker way to get around than driving most of the time. But once outside the city, that's no longer the case. So sure, a person can cycle to location A 20 miles away, do what they need to do there and then cycle to location B a further 10 miles away. But this way, travel will take up most of their day and that's just not always viable.

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  25. "Velouria said...
    Walt - Well, I don't like to use terms like "car-lite" and "car free," because they have political implications with which I don't identify. Some day I hope to live in the middle of nowhere, in Northern New England again, where I will probably own a pick-up truck and drive it every day. In addition to cycling, of course. I just feel like it would be disingenuous to use that terminology, as it implies an intentional striving towards a lifestyle without a car, as well as promotion of that lifestyle."

    Oh, ok. I thought we were dealing with the here and now. My bad, Sorry..........:((

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  26. My sister and I live in the city and do not own cars. One day, we decided to go to Ikea in the suburbs using her Zipcar account. Well, she ended up not allotting enough time for the trip and had to leave me at the store while she returned the car. "Could you call them and say you will be late?" No, she said that would incur a big penalty and that someone else reserved it after her. I was pretty irritated that I had to wait an hour for her to retrieve me and our stuff with another Zipcar because of her poor planning. Well, as she was driving back out of the city she discovered that the windshield was breaking and that broken glass shards were falling on her! Of course she pulled over, called the company, and got a cab. But that extra hour I waited became two. :/

    We calculated that it would have been less expensive to have taken cabs to and from the store instead. Of course, we could have left whenever we wanted without worrying about a higher bill, not have had broken glass on us, and not have had to drive.

    Those car sharing programs would not work for me, but I'm glad if other people are happy with them. When it makes sense for me financially, I will have my own car to use a few times a week, like you do.

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  27. Walt - Oh don't be sorry, I was just trying to explain my POV : )

    I haven't yet found a good way to express my aversion to the car-free/car-lite terminology that does not in itself sound smug. I guess I don't agree that political ideology and guilt over environmental concerns can really be a sustainable motivator for cycling. Our behaviour is inherently self-serving, no matter how highly we like to think of ourselves. If something is useful, convenient and enjoyable, then we will keep doing it in the long-run; but if not, not. That is how I view it, at least.

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  28. I'm surprised that no one mentioned getting another bike. This time a cargo bike, like a Bullitt. You could get a tub or a platform for the cargo area, whatever would work for what you need to carry to the studio. Might further reduce your dependence on a car (not suggesting it would eliminate it) Would definitely make the grocery run easier. In the interest of full disclosure, I live in a mid size town in Kansas (not bike friendly) and work 40 miles away (impossible to bike commute) so I totally envy you. Wish I could replace car trips far more than I do (I do my less than 3 mile errands around town on a hybrid.)

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  29. Within the city, a cargo bike can be a great option (though at $5K for a good one, not one that is affordable for us right now, or really necessary most of the time given the rear rack capacities on our bikes). But can you imagine riding a cargo bike 60 miles to Maine, up hills, and back?...full of camera equipment?...in the winter?...

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  30. I'd throw a +1 for the whole Zipcar/car share angle, but it sounds like it's not an option for you.

    It seems like that you have enough of a reason to keep the vehicle. Unfortunately there's not a lot of options if you need access to a vehicle on short notice, or if you really have to use a specific type of vehicle to transport stuff.

    The only things I would throw in would be cab rides, or renting a U-Haul van (they usually start at $19.95 plus gas and extras). It would be pricey per trip, but could balance out if you don't have to pay for insurance and maintenance on a vehicle.

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  31. The problem with renting is that it's such a rigmarole going through the paperwork, standing in line, etc. You can spend an hour of your life just getting the keys to the car. That's the beauty of zip car... just walk up to the car and drive away.

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  32. update: We are now signed up for zipcar, as it turns out the Co-Habitant's job offers some sort of special deal. Will see how it goes in terms of usefulness and shortcomings.

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  33. Terrific discussion here! I just want to add a little anecdote.

    Munich is known as one of the most livable and bike friendly cities in the world. I know a couple who lives there and has *three* cars (for two people!). But they also own 5 bikes, and the cars spend most of the time parked under the lawn next to the apartment building, and are almost never taken into the city.

    This makes me somewhat confident that (as many here have pointed out) the problem with cars is not ownership per se, but only people using them too much, guzzling fossil fuels, clogging up the city and running people over.

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  34. lyen - Exactly. During my stays in Vienna, almost no one I know, no matter how "rich or famous" they are, drives a car in the city; it's considered inconvenient. Like your Munich family, I know families who own multiple cars, but they keep them parked in the garage and use public transportation, or in the worst case scenario, a taxi, even if they don't cycle. But then again, the public transportation system in Vienna is incomparable to the options available in Boston (see here for more on that).

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  35. A good cargo bike can be had for far less than $5k. A WorkCycles Bakfiets Cargobike costs $3k, and a Yuba Mundo is a whole lot cheaper than that. Not that either one could go from Boston to Maine in a day.

    One thing about the cost of owning a car that you may be overlooking is depreciation. If you were to sell your car now, its market value would be higher than if you sold it a few years from now. And eventually, you'll buy another car when the current one is no longer able to do what you need, even if you don't sell it. In your case, it certainly seems like you have a good reason for keeping it, but if someone is trying to make a purely financial decision about whether or not to own a car, it's important to estimate the hidden costs as well as the obvious ones.

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  36. For cargo, I'd get a trailer. But not for the winter, rainy, snowy, slushy stuff... Cheaper than a cargo bike, and can handle even larger loads without the tip-over problem that cargo bikes have when you park them. It's a solution I see a lot in fair-weather California for hauling food, recycle and stuff. 60 miles with a load would take a bite out of your day.
    But for hauling kids, you want them in FRONT of you, where you can keep an eye on them - especially if you have more than *one* ;-) That's where the Bakfiets etc. really shine. See Frances Cycles up in Santa Cruz. Beautiful light cargo bike for his Labrador, Camera equipment optional.

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  37. What about vibration? Weird things happen to stuff that I leave for a long time in my bag (the one I always but in my bike basket). I'm not sure if I would feel comfortable hauling camera equipment (or even a laptop) on a bike, without having it on my body.

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  38. No offense, but if you're not trying to "promote" the car-free or car-light lifestyle, then why are you writing this blog? Because I would definitely consider it a blog that suggests that it's possible to live with little or no car use.

    It's good that you're trying to keep your blog non-political, but at the same time, the personal *is* political. Our personal decisions have ramifications, and there's nothing wrong with discussing that--there is, however, something wrong with pretending that it isn't true.

    I stopped driving in 2001, originally because I just couldn't afford it anymore (plus I was a terrible driver). I have caught rides here and there from friends, but on a day-to-day basis, I don't feel the lack of a car. I can't imagine owning one. (And yeah, I live in Portland, but until 2006 I lived in the suburbs, where everything is far apart and the public transit sucks.)

    Bike touring, and learning about various bus and train systems, means that I don't feel "hemmed in" and unable to get out of town.

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  39. April - You are right, in a sense, but then so am I : ) It's not that I don't realise that Lovely Bicycle promotes cycling; it clearly does. But I feel that I have a different perspective from those whose focus is on minimising car use per se. Not that there is anything wrong with that perspective either; it just isn't how I see things. If someone ends up living without driving as a result of my blog, I see that as a side-effect of liking bicycles a whole lot, rather than a result of "embracing a car free lifestyle". It's a distinct difference in intent and point of view, even if the actions are similar.

    lyen - Vibration is a concern as well, and our equipment is too large to carry on our person. I a talking about not an SLR on a shoulder strap, but a Bakfiets full of equipment, including tripods, flash units, and so on. I remember reading somewhere that a Bakfiets, and especially a trike, transmits less vibration than a trailer, or "long bike" but don't remember the details. But again, all this is moot, as we rarely need to transport this equipment within the city itself; it is usually 20-80 miles outside the city, or further for multiple day trips.

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  40. Do you find that your identity is dependent solely on self propulsion upon two wheels? No? Then who cares. You have a car, it serves a specific purpose. You could load everything on your back and haul it by foot, therefore eliminating the potential for damaging fragile items but that would seem foolish as we live in a modern, post-industrial world where car ownership is one of the few things that crosses all socio-economic factors. Why do cyclists feel the need to constantly battle the automobile for dominance? I live in a city and I bike year round. My partner has a car that I can have access to and occasionally I will access it. For the most part, I choose public transit if bicycling isn't appropriate. I don't like traffic or paying for parking. Its not guilt that motivates my cycling enthusiasm, its pragmatism. If you want to save the world, then I might suggest also eliminating non-essential consumption, procreation and eating meat. Cyclists are like I was 20 years ago when I became a vegetarian, but at least I was a bratty high school kid then.

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  41. matt - There is really no conflict for me in this situation. We need to agree on how to get the car fixed, and it will probably be back in commission by the end of January, and that will be the end of it. But it's interesting to take notes in the meanwhile on what it is like to be without a car entirely. Funny about the vegetarians 20 years ago - describes some of my friends in high school as well : )

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  42. Thanks for the refreshingly realistic approach. I am disappointed when I inevitably get the occasional snide remark from fellow bike enthusiasts upon mention that I own (and frequently drive!) a car. I think it is extremely important to understand that although we all enjoy cycling it is often not meteorologically or physically practical to ride a bike in all circumstances. Living in a large city with a stable infrastructure of public transportation or Europe is one thing, living in a midwestern suburb is another.

    Commutes here in January are often undertaken in negative air temps (today was -5) and double-digit negative windchills that would take the breath away from even the most experienced cyclists. Short commutes within the city is doable (if you live in the city) but anything other than a quick jaunt to the store is dangerous both to your heath.

    Another issue that befalls us in the midwest is lack of transportation options. I commute about 25 miles to work from one suburb to another. Currently, we only have one light rail line that goes from the city to the airport and the busses only go to and from the city, not from suburb to suburb. For this reason, it would be absolutely impossible to utilise any form of "alternative" transportation to get to work. A car is vital.

    Anyways, I thought I would share these personal ancedotes so that your readers can understand how each person's situation is different, especially in the US where our suburbs and cities are so far apart and we really don't have the network in place to make alternative commuting a reality. It's one thing to wear a "cars are coffins" T-Shirt if you live and work in a city, but I find it disappointing that so many cycling enthusiasts are willing to pass judgment on those whose circumstances don't allow for the same lifestyle.

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  43. Re: cargo vibration

    I have used both a trailer (Chariot CX2) and a bakfiets (Workcycles Cargobike) extensively to transport my children. My three-year-old -- not the most reliable witness, but the only person who can comment on it -- reports that the bakfiets is much less bumpy than the trailer. This is especially true when loaded; the bakfiets gets much more noticeable shocks when empty than when it's got a lot of weight in the box. This is because the box is positioned in between two wheels that are very far apart, minimizing the impulse delivered by each bump, and the long steel boom in between flexes if there's enough weight, absorbing the shocks. Our Chariot has independently-suspended wheels with adjustable springs, but the passengers are still sitting directly over the axle, so the impact from a bump is very direct. Loaded properly, the back end of the box of the bakfiets has a ride that seems quite similar to that of a passenger car. I would not hesitate to transport any kind of camera equipment with it, though I would probably use a little padding underneath to soften any bumps. It's also much easier to avoid the bumps completely with a two-wheeler than it is with a bike pulling a trailer with side-by-side wheels.

    Re: MFarrington

    I don't think any less of you for driving a car, but I think you may be exaggerating with some of your remarks. I live in Winnipeg, and routinely use my bicycle (usually the aforementioned bakfiets) for transportation in the winter. I assure you, even on windy days at -5F (-20C) I am quite comfortable out there, even when I go on longer outings (~12km for me, but that can take an hour or more, sometimes). In fact, I have to be careful not to wear a sweater under my jacket at that temperature, so that I won't start overheating and sweating (-30C is borderline for that). I dress carefully for the cold, and don't leave much (if any) exposed skin when it gets really cold. It's certainly not "dangerous...to [my] health".

    Also, there may be "alternative" transportation options that you haven't thought of -- e-bikes, scooters, velomobiles... I'm not suggesting that I think you should try to give up your car in favor of any of those things, particularly in winter, but categorically dismissing it as "absolutely impossible" is probably going a bit too far. I know there's a guy in eastern Massachusetts who commutes by bicycles 30 miles each way every workday, year-round. That's not to say that everyone can do it, but it demonstrates that such things are possible.

    Nitpicking aside, I do generally agree with your argument. In fact, I would guess that most "cycling enthusiasts" in North America are "sport" cyclists, and drive their cars to get to their events...

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  44. It's a tough one. I haven't had a car for a few years, but only had it for about 3. Always been a bike only person. However I live in the country and it is challenging. My husband used to do more woodworking jobs and would have to constantly borrow a van to haul materials and stuff. The only other option is the bus which is semi lame. But to have a car would require we work so much harder and longer to afford a car and it's upkeep, repairs and fuel.
    While I lean towards the NO CAR side of things, I understand the need and practicality and wanting to do more than one thing in a day. I would want a very specific kind of car that can run on recycled veggie fuel as I would not feel good about using gas either.
    Heather

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