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Feb 2, 2012

26 Months on Without a Car

After reading a post on Lovely Bicycle I was reminded that I too have been without a daily driver for over two years now - wow, has it really been that long?

One of the things that Velouria mentioned in her piece about not owning a car was her desire to not make her decision to be car free as some kind of "if I can do it so can you" narrative - it is simply a lifestyle choice that is easy for her.

However, for me, choosing to live a car free lifestyle was definitely influenced by a desire to lead by example -

1 - I was taking a huge pay cut quitting my job to open BikeBike and I wanted to make sure the business would have enough cash flow to get us through the critical first year so by ditching the car I would pull less wages out of the shop.

2 - Most importantly, I wanted to know what it would be like to live car free in a city known for being very spread out and populated by car loving people so I could better converse with my customers about the realities of daily bike commuting in "Los Angeles of the North".  Contrary to Velouria's position, I want to show people that if I can live without a car, so could you!

It has been an interesting ride to be sure.

I have written a trio of previous posts about this topic here and here and here and since the last post not much has really changed.  One thing I did decide was I needed to find a way to get out of the city more often as I was finding myself getting a little squirrelly and badly missing trips to the mountains for the usual fun found out there - mountain biking, snowboarding, hiking, and camping.

So last fall I bought a vehicle - gasp!  However, not a daily driver, far from it.  I picked up an ancient RV and have had a blast using it to get out of the city on fun missions as well as used it during the cyclocross race season last fall.  99.9% of the time it sits quietly in the backyard patiently waiting for us to plan the next adventure and never is used in the city since it is a gashog and not the most comfortable thing to drive in the city.

Beyond that, life is still as it was - I enjoy riding everyday, my son loves cycling together on the cargo bike, and I am just as content as a year ago.  My health is getting better everyday due to the daily activity but also because I am choosing better foods to fuel myself, my bank account is very happy not dealing with car payments, gasoline purchases, etc and I still love breezing past those long lines of traffic.

Cycling everyday has reduced my stress levels so much that I do not think I want a car anymore.  I can afford it now and find a few cars very attractive (looking at you Fiat 500).  Aside from the cost associated with car ownership which I am not interested in taking on, I am also concerned about the effect on my contentment level, which is currently sky high.  The psychology of driving has been something that has been facinating me since I reduced so dramatically the kilometres I drive and I still to this day cannot figure out why so many people are ok with being so stressed out while behind the wheel.  I think people need to ride bikes more often to chill out.

I feel like I have been able to show some of my friends and customers that car ownership is not a requirement to live a fulfilling lifestyle in this city.  A handful of customers have told me that I have been able to inspire them to look at their own lives and reevaluate their notions of transportation - some have even ditched their second car.  One employee sold the last of their two cars and a close friend has also ditched their car.  Will you take the time to look in the mirror and see if you too can get by with one less car or no car at all?

It is a question worth asking.

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