Living Without a Drivers License

I have huge respect for anyone Living Car-Less or Car-Light, so imagine how I feel about someone who has lived their life without a personal driver’s license.  Actually, it could almost be described as a feeling of jealousy because I wish I could say the same for myself.  To be honest, it’s a strange concept to wrap my head around, even for me.  I think doing everything by bike (or public transport) is incredible, but can someone really make their way through life without ever having their own driver’s license, and without driving a car?  Well, Mark Beaconsfield and Ryan van Duzer have done just that.

Mark Beaconsfield – Melbourne, Australia

“When people ask me why I chose to live car-free, I can’t really answer.  I didn’t choose to, it just happened.  Sure, I could give the usual answers – It keeps me fit. It’s good for the environment. It saves me money – But they are not the reasons.  Those are just happy side effects.

When I was 16. I did the usual teenage thing.  I got a learners permit and was going to learn to drive, but then simply didn’t do it.  I can’t remember exactly why, but I just never decided to get my license.

I am lucky enough to live in a city that has fairly good public transport, and is also easy to get around by bike (or a combination of both).  There are times when a car is needed, and in these instances, I thank my family and friends for their help.  I guess, a car-free life chose me.   And I have never regretted it.”

- mark Beaconsfield

Ryan van Duzer – Boulder, CO

“When I turned 16 all my friends got cars but I kept on riding my bike.  At the time it was an economical decision because I didn’t have the money for a car.  But as time went on I became more environmentally conscious and decided to keep riding in an effort to have one less car on the road.

I’ve created a life where I don’t need a car, even when it’s snowy I can figure it out by taking the bus.  I ride everywhere I go, the grocery store, mom’s house and across the USA.  I recently got my license (at age 32) but only for a job…and I’ve barely driven since taking the test…so if you see me behind the wheel anytime soon…watch out!”

- Ryan van Duzer

Who else out there is living a driver’s license free life?  Are you…or do you know of someone?  Let’s celebrate these achievements by including their name and story in the comments section.  Let’s also celebrate what Mark and Ryan have accomplished by leaving your remarks below as well.

  • Asher Taylor

    I have never yet held a driver’s license. I go most places by bike or the multimodal bike-and-bus option. My better half has a license, a car, and a truck, so things like acquiring an electronic organ from Craigslist (I’m currently a psych major and organ minor; a practice instrument at home is invaluable) are still doable. There are many things I’d be willing to move by bike trailer, but an organ isn’t one of them.

    Public transit here (Louisville, KY) is decent — not great, but it could be significantly worse. The fact that every single bus in the system has a bike carrier, however, about doubles its usefulness for someone like me.

    Commuting (31 miles round-trip if I ride the whole way; 14 miles on the bike if I go multimodal; 23 if I split the difference, which I usually do this time of year), grocery shopping, going to various appointments, running errands, and so forth all generally get done by bike. Last June, some of my friends and I even took a four-day, three-night camping-touring vacation entirely by bike. I’d like to do a longer one this year, if I can.

    I have a learner’s permit that I’ve had for like eight years now. It lets me drive if I’m in an auto with a licensed, sober driver over 21 — in other words, my better half. Once in a while I do, to give him a break or just to keep my driving skills honed. I’m not really terribly interested in getting a full-fledged license; I don’t really see a need for one.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      That is so awesome, Asher. I really am jealous of all of you who live without a license. Good Job.

  • Addison

    I sold my vehicle a few years ago and never bought another. Instead I got a great bike and a backpack for groceries. I am very happy not worrying about parking, insurance, my car getting damaged on the street (I was the victim of two non-occupied hit-and-runs in the last ten years) or other crazy drivers. The big decision was to let my drivers license expire. Before I always had the option of renting a car for a weekend get-away. Now I can’t legally drive at all, even in an emergency. That was a big step to take. But there are always taxi-cabs.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      That’s awesome…thanks for sharing this, Addison. What a great way to live. Congratulations.

  • Dillon

    I DO!!! I’m 21 years old and i’m proud of it. I live in northern Minnesota and the winters can get brutal up here, but I love biking in the winter, hell all year long. I ride two different bikes: a RANS V-rex recumbent, and a Ross Eurosport 10 speed with up right handlebars. We just got a new bike bridge up here about a week ago, and that has added a lot to getting around town as well. I love not having a car, my mom has tried to get me to get my Drivers License, but I have been resisting. I also volunteer in a local non-profit bike shop, called Shifting Gears that helps others that can’t drive, say due to a dui/dwi, homeless, no money, etc… and we get them back on the road. I have a friend that is about 20 years older than I am, and he can’t drive due to medical reasons, but he loves biking everywhere. He owns an old barracuda car, and he’s gonna be selling that, and i’ve gotten him volunteering with Shifting Gears as well. I have noticed that in the last three years that more people have been getting on there bikes more, and relying less on their car, and i love seeing that.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      That is fantastic, Dillon. I’ve heard that MN is a very bike friendly place and I love hearing about your life without a license. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  • http://www.cyclistdad.com/ Dean

    I think it is a great article.  Some day I would love to live like this and get out of the rat race.  

    • Videorov

      Sounds great and wish more towns were designed so people didn’t need cars. They are a waste of time in the traffic
      and people don’t know how to drive most of the time anyway. Now with the cellphones people are real crazy while they drive. Most of the people to day are to out of shape to ride a bike:)

    • Videorov

      Sounds great and wish more towns were designed so people didn’t need cars. They are a waste of time in the traffic
      and people don’t know how to drive most of the time anyway. Now with the cellphones people are real crazy while they drive. Most of the people to day are to out of shape to ride a bike:)

  • Tbradley20032001

    I live in Ft Worth Tx & haven’t owned a car since 1995. I have a state ID card for identification, & even though this is not a bike friendly part of town, buy groceries, do laundry & all the normal things people usually do on my bike. A couple times a month I use the bus( with bike racks). Been doing it this way so long now it’s just normal for me.

    • http://twitter.com/MarkBeaky Mark Beaconsfield

      You have buses with bike racks! That is awesome!!!!! I wish we had them here. Good on you for “ditching” the car and using the bike for everything.

  • Bethel

    Those are great storirs. I truly wish I could do without a car, However, my job requires it. I’m in sales and do alot of driving. I ride my bike as much as possible.

    • http://twitter.com/MarkBeaky Mark Beaconsfield

      I understand that many people have to use a car for work, etc. I dont understand when people use cars for short trips when it is easy to ride/walk.

  • Sherrill

    Great post. Like so many people I do have a drivers license, but I try to forget I do and keep things local so I have a reason for riding my bike. I just see more interesting things when I ride, not to mention my whole day is brighter when I can take my bike to my destination instead of  the car.  I have a few friends that have license but don’t own a vehicle and ride their bikes everywhere. There is just a freedom that surrounds me when I ride my bike.  

    • http://twitter.com/MarkBeaky Mark Beaconsfield

      Agreed. You always see more and feel better on the bike. It is a freedom that you feel, as you are not trapped inside a vehicle cut off from the sights and sounds of the world.

  • B.J. Ondo

    We’ve been car-free for 4 years now and except when, “you need to get there fast”, it’s been a real blessing! We can actually afford to go out, see a movie, have dinner, etc. With a car and all it’s added expenses we couldn’t afford to go “anywhere or do anything”! We too use a homemade utility trailer for food/etc. We do use the city bus in the winter, when there’s ICE on the roads or a taxi as a last resort.

    • http://twitter.com/MarkBeaky Mark Beaconsfield

      I need to get me one of those. Our local supermarket is less tham 1km away. So usually I will ride/walk down to get my shopping. I love how you have been living car-free for 4 years.

  • Crazyduzer

    Thought you might like this, a little video about how I grocery shop with my bike and trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyvLlvgHcQA

    • http://twitter.com/MarkBeaky Mark Beaconsfield

      Hahahahaha. I love it Ryan. But theres one thing wrong. You forgot the beer!!!

  • http://www.lifes2wheelbalance.com Anthony Lussier

    It’s hard to fathom life without a car.  I fell into the “I turned 16 so now bug your parents for a car” trap a long time ago and never thought a thing about it until I ended up having a motorcycle as my only means of transportation.  It was hard to grocery shop, buy large items (basically anything that didn’t fit in a backpack) and get around in the rain.  I have to give major props to you guys & gals that are living car free as you chose to NOT take the easy road as most american consumers do (including me) and buy a car.  I would be interested to know if any of the people here that are car free also consider themselves living a minimalist lifestyle? Great post as it really makes you think about what you have (materialistic) and if these things like cars are truly necessary in life.

    • http://twitter.com/MarkBeaky Mark Beaconsfield

      I guess, that because I have never had a car, I cant miss it. For people that are used to driving a lot, it can be a big adjustment.

  • Malachi Doane

    It’s not the car-less-ness  that is shocking but managing without a state issued photographic ID. It’s like trying to do something without a Facebook or a Twitter account on the internet anymore! Ryan pointed that out.
    Here in NY you can have a state ID card which is a driver license blank that has the words STATE ID on it and it’s usually the domain of people who lost their license to DWI. There is a list of approved ID for the I-9 you need to do with and employer and I’ve been using my passport of late, but maybe I’ll try something else next time. Is the bicycle a way to take a step back towards a life a little less managed by the state as well? Currently Albany has to know my location for my license, my registration, and my insurance. They and my insurance company then sell my name and location to solicitors. We’re not just escaping from the car, we’re escaping from lots of wasteful things by choosing to ride over other transportation.

    • Mark Beaconsfield

      In Australia, we can obtain a photo ID card (for a small fee) that contains all our information similar to a licence. It is government and police issued and is accepted just as a licence or passport is.

  • Marty @twittyboyd

    Kudos to Mark and Ryan!!! I needed this inspiration for my job of trying to make my city more commuter friendly for ped/bike.
    Thanks from your friendly transportation engineer!

    • Mark Beaconsfield

      Thanks Marty. And keep up the good work. The more bike friendly a city is, the more people will be encouraged to ride.

  • BrennanAnnie

    I lived without a car for three years and it was the best three years of my life. I walked miles and miles every day. When I did take public transportation I read or spoke with other passengers in hopes of finding a story I could stash away from a later date. After dinner, my family alway walked home and those walks are still some of my favorite memories with my children. When we moved back to the States, having a car was the one thing I really dreaded. It has been 8 years and I still miss my carfree lifestyle.

    • Mark Beaconsfield

      I think its great that you spent a few years car free. I know it is not always possible for many people.

  • http://twitter.com/MarkBeaky Mark Beaconsfield

    One thing I forgot to mention when I wrote this is that my wife also doesn’t drive, instead opting to use public transport to get around. So our whole household lives Car-free.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      I should have included some information about your Wife as well.  I know she doesn’t ride much, but anyone who lives without a license deserves to be highlighted.  You guys have one amazing Family.

      • http://twitter.com/MarkBeaky Mark Beaconsfield

        Despite my best efforts, Lisa won’t get on the bike. She does have a learners permit and has had a few lessons but at the moment, the cost of more driving lessons, licence tests and buyng a car is beyond our budget. She would like to drive but does not see it as a priority.

  • Kim

    Love this article I am 55 years old an never had a licence, have a medical condition which affects my reflexes. Had some driving lessons when I was in high school, but never felt comfortable. So decided not get a licence. Managed by living where I could use bus transport an walked a lot. Kept me healthy. I know Mark through twitter an facebook an he is a legend in my  eyes.

    • http://twitter.com/MarkBeaky Mark Beaconsfield

      Thanks Kim. I have never thought of myself as inspirational or legend. I’m just doing what I love to do.