Are You Thinking of Moving in the Car – Less/Light Direction?

23
Mar
2011

One of the coolest things that I’ve come across since starting this Loving the Bike site is learning about all the people out there living Car-Less.  I’m totally amazed by what these people are doing and have the utmost respect for anyone who has chosen to take this route in life.

There is also the term “Car-Light” which, as the name implies, is a step down from living a full out Car-Less life and only occasionally taking out the car.  Living extremely Car-Light has been on our goal sheet for the past six months now, and my wife and I are doing what we can to move ourselves into that reality.  I hadn’t really considered it before, but after Richard from Cyclelicious mentioned that in today’s society, families who get by on only one car could pretty much be considered “Car-Light”….I realized that we’re maybe closer than I thought.  We’ve been a one car family for 7 of the past 8 years, and I love it.

So what’s it like living Car-Less?

I really wanted to know, so I reached out to some people in the cycling community to find out.  To me, the king of living Car-Less has got to be Ryan Van Duzer .  Not only has he been living his life without a car, he doesn’t even have a driver’s license.

I’ve never had a license!!! When I turned 16 I kept on riding my bike, while all my friends got cars and forgot about their bicycles.

-Ryan Van Duzer

And what a life he’s been living.  Keep your eyes on this dude because he is totally going places.  Fresh off being the star of “Out of the Wild“, he was awarded the gig of being host of the show “Paradise Hunter” and will be taping those episodes soon.  On top of all this, he’s an incredible bicycle advocate and has done some incredible things to bring awareness and promote more bikes and less cars.

Ryan’s adventurous Car-Less life didn’t just happen,  he made it happen:

People always ask how I live without a car…truth is, I created a life that doesn’t require a car…When I travel, I look up bike stores to rent a bike, not Avis.

Amsterdam and Copenhagen seem like places where everyone lives the Car-Free lifestyle…what about the European country of Sweden? I asked Marcus Ljungqvist (not to be mistaken with the Pro Cyclist, Marcus Ljungqvist from Sweden) what the cycling situation is like in Sweden:

“Malmö is the best bike-city in Sweden and probably pretty good in an international standard too. It is light years behind cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, but is working hard to close the gap.”

-Marcus Ljungqvist

Marcus began commuting to work about 2.5 years ago and soon realized that the 50km round trip didn’t really take much longer than his car or the bus.  He says that taking his bike is a fourfold win. The four factors that he builds his argument against when promoting the bike as the Ultimate Transport are: “time, economy, environment and exercise.”

Now that he’s living the Car-Free life, Marcus says it feels really strange to not take a bike somewhere.  “The very rare occasions when I use the car within the city, I always hate it; congestion, parking and the cost of gas.”

Andrew Wright’s Car-Less journey began when his vehicle was taken off the road due to a “roadworthiness” issue.  He and is wife live in Australia and decided to give it a go by riding busses and trains as their means of transportation.  Before too long, Andrew realized that co-ordinating the schedules between these two sources really “sucked” and he looked to the bike to save him.  As a guy who used to say, “If it has no motor between the wheels then I’m not interested”, this was a major shift in lifestyle.  He bought himself a $20 garage sale bike and hit the road.  Within 3 months Andrew had lost over 40 pounds and was hooked on the Car-Free life.  His love of cycling has now filtered down to his three daughters and he rides them to school almost every day…even in the winter.

“So there is my story. We cycle. We catch the bus. We catch the train. We borrow a car when necessary.”

-Andrew Wright

If you’re not able to live the full out Car-Free life, becoming Car-Light is a great option….especially when you have a family.  Rob Perks of oceanaircycles.com started living Car-Light four years ago so that he could combine outdoor exercise with his commute to work.  It was actually a post that Cyclelicious did on Rob that first introduced me to the Car-Light term.

With a young family, you’d think it might be a little challenging, but what does Rob say about living car-light?

“It’s not too hard.  Our daughter is almost big enough to ride in a kid seat and then we will be able to ride again as a family.  For now my wife and I mostly ride in shifts.  I run many of our errands by bike.  When we do fire up the car we combine as much stuff into one loop around town as we can.”

-Rob Perks

Cyclelicous‘ Richard Masoner has been living the car-light lifestyle since he was in college…..and continues this way now that he’s married and has a family. He doesn’t really consider his family to be “car-light” because they do own and drive a car for certain things….but in my opinion, he’s definitely living it and doing a great job of promoting this lifestyle along the way.  Richard says all the “schlepping” to and from events can be challenging, but “cycling is it’s own reward” and makes it all so worth it.

The list of people living Car-Less and Light goes on and on…here are few tweets from Twitter friends living the lifestyle:

Advice from the Car-less/light Experts:

So what do you think?  If you’ve been thinking about making the switch to a car-less or car-light lifestyle, here are come comments and advice to those already doing it:

Marcus Ljungqvist: “Just do it. A lot of people see it as a huge challenge, but it is a lot easier than one could imagine. For sure, some things might get a bit more complicated, like buying new furniture, but you may still have your car, a friend with a car, car-rental and so on.  Some stuff are actually easier, like dropping the kids off in the morning and grocery-shopping (using a bike-carrier or cargo-bike).”

Ryan Van Duzer: Don’t be scared of leaving the car behind, the bicycle will bring so much joy to your life that you’ll forget all about that heavy box on wheels!

Richard Masoner: LIVE CLOSE TO WORK, SCHOOL, SHOPPING!

Rob Perks: Start with whatever bike you have, even a rusty beach cruiser with a flashlight taped to the bars will work.  Do not obsess over “needing” the right bike to get going.  Start with easy stuff like going to dinner where there is less time constraint.  Move more and more of your car time to bike time as it comfortably works for your situation.  As you ride more and gain experience you can tailor you bike(s) to better suit your needs.  Once you start to cut the car dependence you will wonder why it took you so long to get started.

Your Comments:

Are you living car-less or light?  What advice do you have for others thinking of making the switch?  If you’ve been thinking about moving to this lifestyle, what barriers are preventing you from doing it?

Photos c/o Michael Graham Richard, Marcus Ljungqvist, and Rob Perks
Enjoy Your Ride

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54 Responses to “ Are You Thinking of Moving in the Car – Less/Light Direction? ”

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      I couldn’t agree more, Ervin…..it does make life much more simple, and a huge bonus to the environment.

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  21. Jean on March 27, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    I have been car-free for over past quarter century. (I love saying this –just sounds cool anarchronistic. :)). Actually longer than that probably, over 30 years. ‘Cause my parents were too poor and bought their lst car when I was 14 yrs. old. After I left home at 21 to complete my university studies elsewhere, I never lived in any home where there was a car. I am 52 yrs.

    I gave up my driver’s license after 23 yrs. old. I just had problems driving.
    I have lived in 5 Canadian cities in western Canada and Ontario. In all cities, I’ve lived 15 min. walk within a local bus route, subway or light rapid rail. In Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary I’ve lived within 15 min. of a lengthy bike-pedestrian route with feeder routes and used them. I have 4 bikes and use them often.

    We also take a good part of our vacations as bike oriented. Sometimes we have brought them onto a train. Or I’ve flown in somewhere and rented a bike. We rent a car about 2-3 times annually, but no more than for 1-2 days each.

    It saves heck alot of money. There have been years where I bought annual transit pass. Or past few years, we occasionally take taxi…about 5 times annually.

    One good thing about a car-free, cycling oriented life, besides saving car costs:

    *One becomes less consumer-oriented. Since I have bike my shopping weight home, I only buy what I need /never too much.
    *Fashion clothing is less of a big deal. When I’m on the bike alot during cycling months, I’m less interested and less opportunity to buy/wear expensive street clothing.

    Yes, when looking for places to live, I do look for proximity to local transit and cycling /safe routes.

    Yay, bikes!

    • Darryl on April 15, 2011 at 1:56 am

      You are an inspiration….I love to read about people like you.

  22. Emily Smith on March 27, 2011 at 1:21 am

    Great blog! We have gone car-light since moving to Chapel Hill last summer. First, my husband sold his truck and started cycling, walking, and taking the bus everywhere. Then I started taking the bus to work a couple of times a week (and also work from home one day a week). On weekends we normally only drive if we have go to another city. We do the vast majority of our errands on bikes, bus, or walking. We feel really good about the changes we have been able to make since moving to a community that makes this lifestyle feasible.

    • Anonymous on March 27, 2011 at 2:14 am

      I’m feeling pretty jealous right now. That sounds like the kind of location we’re looking for right now. We absolutely love Austin, but need to be in a section of it that is more bike friendly so that we can live car-light or car-free.

      Thanks for your comments.

  23. Velonista on March 25, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Sweetness! This year, I’m conducting a wager with my students and university community that I can put more kilometers on my bikes than my family (2 adults, 3 children) does on our single car. Snow in Ontario has put me in a bit of a hole, but it’s been an interesting exercise blogging about it and raising awareness about living car-light.

    • Anonymous on March 25, 2011 at 1:28 pm

      This is a fantastic challenge and I can’t wait to hear how it goes. Go kick some car driving butt.

      Darryl

      • Velonista on March 25, 2011 at 2:21 pm

        Thanks! Check it out at velonista.wordpress.com. I’m also doubling the blog as a fundraiser for Bikes to Rwanda.

  24. Antoine RJ Wright on March 24, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Before a current project, I was living car-less/light and enjoyed it a ton. In Charlotte, that’s pretty hard, and especially where I lived. However, my work (writing, speaking, consulting) lended well to not being in the car as often, and so I could make adventures out of biking most places. I rarely did the shopping part, and lived too far from entertainment places for it to be suitable (because of Charlotte’s streets and late runs), but I do have it on task to shift myself a bit after this project and get back to that kind of life. I loved it.

    • Anonymous on March 24, 2011 at 5:52 pm

      Congratulations on getting yourself back to the Car-Free lifestyle.

  25. @flying_J on March 24, 2011 at 2:00 am

    I’ve been living “car-light” for two years now. Toronto is not the easist city in which to live car-light. With a poor public transportation system and politicians that think cyclists are “a pain in the *ss”, cyclists have to hold their own on the road. This year I also added “run-commuting” to my means of living car-light. It’s very empowering to know you can get “off the grid” and get yourself around independant of technology.

    • Anonymous on March 24, 2011 at 2:20 am

      I like your style and thank you for sharing your comments. It’s people like you who motivate the rest of us to get out there and do it.

  26. Donna Jobert on March 24, 2011 at 1:48 am

    I love the term car-light….never heard it before and it fits me perfectly…with no guilt! Thanks for posting this…options for everyone making a difference in the best way they can!

    • Anonymous on March 24, 2011 at 2:19 am

      Yeah, we can’t all be as awesome as your son….but even moving in the Car-Light direction is a great move for everyone, including the planet. Thanks for all that you do for bicycle advocacy and goodness.

  27. Anonymous on March 24, 2011 at 12:45 am

    I am sorta car-lite (like the term – never heard it before) but the family is not. We do alot of weekend trips by van. Somehow since I got hooked on cycling I am now usually a passenger in the car. I ride quite ab it but a vehicle picks me up somewhat regularly to get the kids to sports in other cities…

    • Anonymous on March 24, 2011 at 2:15 am

      Yeah, Car-Light is a cool term….and you are much more than that. Seeing what kind of conditions you often cycle in, I would say you are Car-Light Crazy my friend.

      Darryl

  28. Amanda Gale Kotyk on March 23, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    I love seeing all the people, especially families, that are living car-free / car-light! I’m thankful that we are a family that is living fairly car-light right now, and look forward to the day we are a car-free family!!
    Props to all the people doing it….and props to all the people that have it on their list of goals.

    • Anonymous on March 24, 2011 at 2:18 am

      I wanted to publicly thank you for all your support and like minded focus. I know we’ll be living super Car-Light or Car-Less soon because you will help our Family make it happen.

  29. Bamboo Cyclist on March 23, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Awesome post Darryl. I’m thankful for the insight that everyone has given. Once I’m done riding the 50 states I’m going to ride every country in the world. I know that one day I’ll find a woman to be by my side and when I do I want to live the lifestyle of these amazing people who balance family life and the bike. I will continue to ride when married and raising my family. We need to look for ways to make our bikes work. I think that the best way to go carless is to sell the car, cancel the insurance and just start. If you always have a car “just in case”, you will find more and more excuses to use it. Leave it to yourself to become more resourceful. Cars are a luxury item, not a necessity. I wish more people understood that.

    • Anonymous on March 23, 2011 at 6:51 pm

      With an attitude like the one you have, I know you’ll achieve all you want and more. “Cars are a luxury item, not a necessity”….along with so many other comforts in life.

  30. Geoff on March 23, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    I sold my car a couple of years ago to start commuting by bike/car full time. I found if the car was there I was more likely to drive it, but with it gone I don’t have a choice. It has presented some challenges, but nothing insurmountable. My goal is to lessen the demand on our family car, which makes far too many trips of 2 miles or less. Not practical when you really think about it.

    • Anonymous on March 23, 2011 at 6:50 pm

      That’s a great goal to have. I appreciate you sharing your story with us here at Loving the Bike. Enjoy Your Ride.

  31. Brandon Wright on March 23, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    I’ve been commuting to work for 3 years or so, but only this past winter did I make it a full-time gig. I found that I was only taking out the SUV for big hauls and going to races, and then when I decided to buy a Surly Bill, that got sold, because I can haul bikes, groceries, lumber, tools, furniture, anything.
    We were left with my wife’s car, which she drives, and has a baby seat (so we kinda have to have that if we go anywhere with the infant), and I was then left with my old hot rod in the garage, a ’70 Chevelle. It sat and sat and I eveuantlly saw it as a big pile of money that I never use. 10mpg and not very practical, I sold that this past week. So, even though I’ve been car-lite for the past few months, I’m personally now car-free. Because I don’t drive the wife’s car. We only take it when we go out as a family.
    I’m fortunate enough to live in a town that was founded before the advent of the automobile, and I find that we don’t need one at all. It helps to be within walking/cycling distance to everything. Those who live in sprawl will have a harder time, but it’s still very possible. Just find your route, drive it once to memorize and learn features, and potential issues, and then plan enough time one day to just do it. There are so many resources on how to commute, what to bring, what to wear, tricks, tips, etc, that there’s no excuse not to, except for insane distances.

    • Anonymous on March 23, 2011 at 6:49 pm

      Living in a town like that sure sounds nice. Infrastructure is our biggest challenge right now. Where we are living is not very bike friendly for my Wife and Kids to go very far. It’s okay for me, but I wouldn’t want them out there.

      We’re working on it and hope to be in a situation like you soon. Thanks for your comments and sharing your car-less lifestyle.

      Darryl

  32. Clive Chapman on March 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I’m car lite. I got rid of my car last September and now totally commute by bike. In fairness since I started commuting by bike in 2009 I very rarely used my car, it was in effect dead money sat on my drive. So I took plunge and launched it into the great car sales pitch in the sky.

    We still have wifey’s car for family trips so we’re not totally car free, but you never know!

    • Anonymous on March 23, 2011 at 2:04 pm

      You’re doing a great job, Clive….and it’s inspiring.

      Darryl

  33. Shebicycles on March 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Nice look at the topic. I’ve been car-light for about 5 years, and while I’d love to entirely get rid of my car , I know for my circumstances/location it wouldn’t be practical. While it may be possible for many people to visit their child’s elementary school on a bike, it becomes much more challenging for example to take your high school son to various tennis matches throughout a 75 mile radius (yeah, the school provides no bus transportation), or get a sick/injured family member to doctor or hospital that is 25 miles away.

    I think the key is to live in an area/city where development is more concentrated, and where there are a variety of sustainable transportation choices – a combination of being able to ride, walk, use public transit and do without the car. One of these days, I hope to relocate to a place where I can go car-free, meanwhile I applaud the people who are able to and make the choice to do so.

    • Anonymous on March 23, 2011 at 2:03 pm

      Thanks for including your comments, Cassi. We are also wanting to move more towards the car-less lifestyle, but like you, we will need to relocate in order to safely do this with our family.

      Darryl

  34. Archergal on March 23, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    I’ve been working on car-light for the past several months. I’m gradually getting to the point where I’m riding more than I’m driving. The big problem for me is rainy days. On most days I have to go around to several places, and the idea of riding in the rain, stopping for half an hour, then getting back and riding in the rain AGAIN just wears me out.

    I’m slowly getting to the point where consecutive 30+ mile days are doable for me. You’d think that doing 30 miles in 5-6 mile hops with time in between wouldn’t be too bad, but almost all my riding is in town, in traffic, and that does get a little wearing. Plus I’m no spring chicken anymore (I’m 58), so I’m just happy I can ride as much as I do.

    The down side? I don’t really ride for recreation anymore. It’s all transpo/utility riding.

    • Anonymous on March 23, 2011 at 2:01 pm

      Thanks for your great comments and for sharing your experiences. Yeah, it is challenging to commute by bike and also have the time and energy for recreational rides. Keep up the great work.

      Darryl

  35. Ani on March 23, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    I’m a single mom to a 4.5 year old, we’ve been carless for 8 months now & we love it! Living in a very walkable neighborhood that also has great public transportation really helps, but slowing down your life in general is the best advice I can give for someone looking to do this. We make sure that we have time to walk or bus to our destination (with curious kids along stopping to explore is inevitable :)) and we are looking forward to getting a bike this summer!

    simplesinglemom.blogspot.com

    • Anonymous on March 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm

      You hit it right on the button when you said, “slowing down your life in general is the best advice”. The more our family slows down, the more relaxing and enjoyable it becomes.

      Darryl

      • Amanda Gale Kotyk on March 23, 2011 at 4:53 pm

        Oh yeah….I love this advice too!! Life is definitely more enjoyable when you slow it down!! :)

    • Amanda Gale Kotyk on March 23, 2011 at 4:52 pm

      Wow….that is awesome. It can’t be an easy feat to go carless as a single mom!! Good for you!! I’m sure you will LOVE getting a bike this summer.

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