Discussion from The Chainlink about Being Car Free in Chicago

by juliehochstadter | 08/10/2010

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From Thechainlink.org, a social network for cyclists in Chicago. Thought this would be a great place to share car free thoughts....

Link is here, but I have also posted the question below. -

http://www.thechainlink.org/forum/topics/people-who-do-not-own-cars?page...

Quite a few threads have me wondering what your lifestyle is like that it doesn’t necessitate owning a car. I think it is great that you are able to live car free, but I am wondering how this is. Many people have expressed the feeling of freedom that comes with not owning car, but for me it feels like a lack of.

Do you work in the city or commute to the suburbs? Are you otherwise required to commute to areas outside the city on a frequent basis? Is your family local and how often do you see them? Would you describe your lifestyle as minimalistic? This is the part of me wondering how I would have gotten that all-in-one printer home the other day or the cans of paint and bbq I just bought. When I run my weekly errands, I get everything done in one shot. How is that possible on a bike? Do you use car-sharing services? How often would you say not owning a car creates a hindrance? Do you ever feel like you are losing time in your day due to a reliance on public transportation or that it is more of a hassle?


Perhaps you would like to

Perhaps you would like to talk about your lifestyle that requires you to own a car in order to feel "free"?

(Is this the same sort of lifestyle where you need captchas on your blog, and hooks back in to Facebook? ;)

(Wow, this captcha is incredibly difficult . . . maybe the fifth try is the charm?)

-danny

Q: Do you work in the city

Q: Do you work in the city or commute to the suburbs?
A: Work in the loop, 3.5 miles away from my apartment. I've got four options for getting to and from work -- train, bus, bike, and walking.

Q:Are you otherwise required to commute to areas outside the city on a frequent basis?
A: Not required.

Q: Is your family local and how often do you see them?
A: Mixture between Chicago and Wisconsin. I visit fairly frequently, grabbing the bus from Union Station. I can sleep or read on the way there.

Q: Would you describe your lifestyle as minimalistic?
A: Maybe? Doesn't feel like it with all the clutter in my apartment! Someone pointed out that since a car is such a bad investment, us carfree folks have more money to spend on other things. That's definitely true for me. I wouldn't have the savings and retirement plans I have in place if I had to pay car payments, insurance, gas, maintenance, and parking costs. My most costly transportation expenditure is my monthly transit pass, which I think is less than or roughly equal to annual car insurance payments. I'm just guessing, I haven't had to get car insurance before. Is that right?

Q: This is the part of me wondering how I would have gotten that all-in-one printer home the other day or the cans of paint and bbq I just bought.
A: I definitely do not make purchases that I cannot physically carry or bike very often. I've brought an array of strange items on buses before -- off peak. And if it is a non-urgent purchase, you can wait and see when other people are going to the store. And of course, there's always a cab.

Q: When I run my weekly errands, I get everything done in one shot. How is that possible on a bike?
A: The biggest change here is with groceries and it is SO much for the better! I'm pretty conscious about how much I'm picking out so I can be sure to get it to fit in my bag or bike pannier. As a result, I don't buy a lot of packaged goods. All that packaging just adds bulk and is a waste of space. I never buy any junk food or soda, instead sticking to a lot of fresh vegetables and basic staples. When I read somewhere (maybe Michael Pollan?) that you should stay on the outskirts of a grocery store, away from the processed foods in the center, I realized that I was already doing that due to my carfree living.

Sure, I probably go to the grocery store more often. I often go on the way home from work so I'm not making an extra trip nor am I going out of my way. The farmer's markets in the loop are also very helpful.

Q: Do you use car-sharing services?
A: No. I've thought about it, but realized that the types of trips where I actually need a car are better served by a more traditional car rental.

Q: How often would you say not owning a car creates a hindrance?
A: I'm going on 13 years, essentially my life after living with my parents. I personally don't know how people deal with a car! I see car drivers getting so angry in traffic and I also get angry sometimes but I'm moving so I can walk/bike it off!

I can go directly to my destination -- just roll up and lock up my bike. I don't spend any time circling around trying to park. Plus, I also don't have any of the stress that comes with operating a machine that could critically harm people. Though I do experience stress worrying if someone will hit me while I'm walking or biking.

And while I definitely play my part in environmental problems, I feel a bit more in control knowing that I'm not emitting as many greenhouse gases or polluting waterways as much with dirty stormwater runoff.

Q: Do you ever feel like you are losing time in your day due to a reliance on public transportation or that it is more of a hassle?
A: This hardly ever occurs -- I'm either getting exercise or relaxing/reading on transit.

I do get frustrated that we don't have more higher-speed, simple east-west or north-south transit options in this city. We need more train lines -- some light rail with dedicated lanes. And of course, I would like to see more bike lanes. I feel safer riding in them.