Living without a car

By Gaborzol on Mon, Aug 13, 2012 - 11:28am


I am warming up to the subject of exploring what a world without cars, being firmly implanted on the transportation-throne, could look like. So why don't I just tell you how it is living without a car. I will try to write about both the plusses and the minuses.

I have been living without a car for years now. That doesn't mean I don't ever drive, or get into a car. I do, but it doesn’t happen that frequently, as it is not as easy as just walking out of the house, sitting in and driving off. Today the few things I do using cars became a connection with people. I go to events that are out of my biking range with only others. If I need to transport something that is a nuisance to do with a bicycle, I arrange to borrow a car ahead of the time, and gift the person with something, usually edible. And most often if it is a nuisance to transport something with a bike, the same goes for a car (I have bike trailers, and a really good cargo bike setup), so I end up using a car trailer alongside the car: two friends and I bought a trailer years ago, and share the maintenance cost on it.

Another change is that my inner vision of transportation changed: when I think about getting somewhere, I think about biking as a reflex. If it is possible with the time I have available, I stop right there – a wish of driving doesn’t even enter into the picture any more.

While my living range has shrunk, the quality of my life didn’t: if I do go farther than usual (like using the bus for an out-of-state trip soon), I cherish it as something special; I get to read, and have the chauffeur manage the roads, what a luxury is that?

Many people wonder if I miss the comfort a car can provide, especially in the winter. But then they go ahead, drive to a fancy ski resort, and do downhill for a day. Or go for an hour of walking, to get some exercise. The same goes for farming by the way: I dig up a bed, or carry buckets of water for the vegetables, and feel good about it – I hear many others go to the gym, work out by lifting heavy weights repeatedly, and then worry about how much it costs.

Not having to pay for car-insurance is the one thing I feel the best about. Not just for the money saved, but that whole institution gets to me. As a car owner, I would be obliged by law to buy into fear. Fear that something will happen. And because of that, give a lump sum every year to a company I would not want to have anything to do with otherwise. And if something does happen, as occasionally it does, I better be prepared to fill out long forms, follow the game of bureaucracy, to fight to get the service I already paid for.

The biggest loss I felt around not driving used to be not being able to talk about it with others. The latest models, enthusiasm about different accessories, etc. But then I realized, that most conversations about cars were not on the fun side anyway. They pertained to the cost of car-ownership and car-management.

And another one is that I would like to view the car as a useful and versatile tool, since it is that, and more: many people chose keeping their cars over holding on to their homes. And when I think about the technology involved making a car, pretty much any car today, I am hit with the true marvel of it: the precision, coordination and design required by that humongously complicated process. But what I get in the practical sense is how cars shape our lives. The impersonality, un-coziness and dangerous nature of a sidewalk-less driveway, the distances that we need to travel for the basics in life, and the size of the resulting organizations; malls, supermarkets and all.

So I guess when I do write about a world without cars, I make sure to mention the size of that world: the short, but many, errands to get local food, the size and peace of roads, that don’t have to host high speed vehicles, and the size of towns that can be traversed without the extensive use of petro fuels. I am already looking forward to it.  


Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
Status: Peak Prosperity Team (Offline)
Joined: Mar 17 2008
Posts: 409
Resurrecting this discussion - I'd love to hear how others do it

I moved to town and spend most of my week within a 2-mile radius.  With four homeschooled kids in various activities, I haven't quite gotten to the point where I can imagine building in the extra time and planning to bike instead of drive, but I'm setting my sights in that direction.

I do have my kids walk to activities and playdates when possible and safe to do so.  Our town is hilly and old (without good clearance on road shoulders for bikes, in most cases).  It's not ideal for biking, but I am sure it is possible, and I know a lot of people do it.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Gabor.

herewego's picture
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 11 2010
Posts: 157
Never had one, never will

A young friend of mine is dead set on getting a car now though she can't afford it.  She sees freedom and power in car ownership.  Other friends can't imagine life without the convenience and privacy of their cars.

Since I chose early on to never buy a car, it never became necessary to have one.  It takes thinking before I move or take a job, and hiring people with pickups now and again to bring things to the village homestead.

With the tens of thousands that I never spent on cars, I've been able to shoe-string travel for many months at a go - amongst the most precious of my experiences so far of life on this fair earth.

In my new life here on the homestead I'm very bus dependent.  Just this morning it sank in how odd/sad it is that so many people from the village can't work where they live.  Just not having a car is really only a baby step.  How can we re-create an economy that supports us here where we live?

Time to go to work now!


rheba's picture
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 22 2009
Posts: 74
Bike Season Coming

Time to get the machine out and try to get back in shape after this nasty winter (almost over?) I got so I could granny gear up my huge hill (hilltown in Massachusetts) but I still want to try to get more torque for my Ridekick Trailer - and get the battery recharging from a solar panel.

Please don't suggest that I should just try harder and I will get used to riding up hills. I know that. I have been riding all of my life but I am older now with some knee issues and, if I in my particular circumstances, am to do without a car I must be able to get some assistance on that hill. It really bothers me that there is always someone on every bike forum who says that I should just suck it up and learn to ride better. I can't. Others who are younger probably can.

So..... that being said..... is there anyone in the valley or central mass who is good at electric retrofits? I need to swap out a 500w currie motor for something around 600w with a really good controller and be sure that it will fit my trailer. (BTW I am still convinced that having a detachable trailer is a really good solution to keeping all the best features of a light efficient bike while having a little power when you really  need it.)

philallsopp's picture
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 8 2015
Posts: 1
Biking and Cars

We live in Scottsdale, AZ and have to deal with the seasonal crazies who come to town for the golf, the partying and Spring Training.  All good for the local economies so they say but the highways are now visibly choked for extended periods of time.  Highway widening schemes cooked up by the geniuses in the Arizona Department of Transportation have simply expanded the scale and the duration of the traffic jams.  No surprises there...that was a great way to pour money down the drain.

Amidst all of this, we decided in 2005 to be a one car family - our children had grown and were living outside of the home and we were - and still are - working full time jobs.  We have four bikes - Two Pashleys (we don't need to drink Gatorade or wear spandex to ride them) and two Bromptons that we take on trips.

Its definitely feasible although requires more forethought and planning, which really is no big deal.  On the odd occasion where there's a known conflict, we rent a car for a day to deal with it.  The one-car 4 bike scenarios  would be easier still if we lived along Phoenix's expanding light rail corridors - which is where we'd prefer to be if we have to remain in the Phoenix metro region.

mycar12's picture
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 22 2015
Posts: 1
Share a Campervan

Thanks for posting such a nice blog for us living without car is very difficult in raining season or winter season everyone wants to live with a car or whenever they don't have a car in his house so people saves the money from the income or they would easily finance a car or any vehicle for his/her convenience.

Michael_Rudmin's picture
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 25 2014
Posts: 969
Cheap, useful bike trailer.

Here's a quick snap-together bike trailer:!/story.php?story_fbid=10153885382043831&id=774078830

It consists of a golf cart caddy that is attached to the bike seat;
two crutches;
three 5-gal buckets, two with handles;
and a number of bungee cords.

Turn the crutches upside down, slide them into the top caddy anchorage on each side, and snap the armpads into place at the bottom caddy anchorage. Secure them with the caddy belts.

Bungee the bottom bucket into place at the bottom. The other two buckets, slide the handle over the crutch feet, drop it to the level desired, and snap into place. Secure with bungee cords.

The whole thing is super stable, strong, and super light. Everything fold up and snaps apart for easy storage.

I wish I could post pics; but if anyone wants to go to my facebook page (above) and post them, I'd appreciate it.

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