Monday, September 26, 2005

Going Carless

An interesting article I ran across a few weeks back about a family who decided it was worth it to become carless (it is one thing to be intentionally carless, yet another to have no car because you cannot afford any transportation, much like those stuck in New Orleans during Katrina). Here it is.

About a month ago, my family made the decision to simplify our lives once more by becoming a 1 car family. We had lived with 1 car from December, 2000 through June, 2005 and realized we could once more do this for a while.

In an attempt to have less of an imprint upon the earth and our pocketbook, we sold our beloved 1996 Nissan Maxima. This was a terribly sad moment for our children, who loved this car more than our Honda Element. The Nissan was the first car Kristi and I bought together and we had brought both kids home from the hospital in this car. It had moved from Virginia to Houston to Boston to Tampa.

I only work 3 miles from our house and our preschool is a short distance between my work and home. Kristi still has to commute about 30 minutes each way though.

So, now that we are down to 1 car, can we survive? Can we become carless? At this juncture, in a city with poor public transit, this would be an impossible task. However, as we make decisions based upon the next vehicle (which will be needed by the holidays because of my work schedule), we are using a few criteria.

First of all, what would Jesus drive? Since I think he would drive a 15 passenger van, I have to think of other criteria.
1) It must be inexpensive and cost little in insurance
2) It must leave a small imprint on God's creation (great gas mileage or alternative fuel)
3) It must be reliable

So, I have narrowed it down to 3 vehicles...
A) An older diesel automobile so I can use biodiesel (looking at Mercedes and Volkswagen)
B) A bicycle and a membership to the YMCA (I am worried about the traffic between my house and the office and the lack of respect for bicycles- and we would need the Y membership since I would be stinky when I arrived at work and it is next door)
C) A smaller motorcycle or scooter which I could drive short distances and never on the highway, while using the proper headgear.

My favorite option (though the least likely in the short term) is C. If this were to happen, I would buy a Royal Enfield, preferably with a sidecar. Click on the Enfield above for more info.


g13 said...

selling the maxima. that's kind of sad.

kidpositive said...

seems like everyone is going through a car change right now. we almost considered buying the green goblin, but decided against it, since it wasn't running. what's nice about being in florida is that you can actually get some really nice old used cars (like mercedes and VWs) in *really* nice condition (read: no rust). however, the motorcycle would also be a lot of fun...

james said...

Agreed. It is rather sad that the Maxima is to be sold, though i remain excited at your potential to be running on biodiesel, or perhaps to be biking it. Be sure to keep us posted.

Eric said...

Casting my vote for the truly enviro-friendly bicycle. Don't let fear keep you from this one. The same drivers that disregard bike also disregard motorcylces and scooters. So beware on any of those. At least you can ride the bike on the sidewalks and shoulders if needed.

Eric said...

Rick, I did a bit of research on the bikes and here is a thread you should definitely look over before making any decisions on option C.

DJ Word said...

Thanks for the link. I am very aware of the issues many people have with the Enfield.

It is a quirky bike, much like the Jag (for car enthusiasts).

However, among the posters I saw much consfusion regarding the Enfield. There are many of them out there. There is the original from the 40s-50s and then the Indian version (like the Mexican Beetle) which was made while the British company did not make them.

In the past few years the Brits have come along and reestablished the brand.

My family has long been aquainted with such bikes and my uncle used to sell them, along with the Indian (which I would love but is priced in the stratosphere).

With the Enfield, you need to buy it used from a person that was satisfied. You can never be sure of the bike's quirks any other way.

It will be a while before I get one. However, I want a smaller bike with a vintage flavor to it. None of those Harleys or fancy bikes. I am old fashioned and think it is impossible to improve on the old 350-600cc bikes.

I need no more power.

Thanks for chacking into them.

Eric said...

No problem.
By the way, if you ride the Enfield with your Fluevogs on you would be quite the branded boy;-)

As far as the vintage bikes, I am a Triumph fan at heart, but there goes the price again. That is why it sounds like the bicycle would be the way to go...environment, safety, health, attitude, cost, upkeep, insurance, etc.

Deborah White said...

To save money three years ago when my husband was laid off, we went down to one, older fully-owned car.

Even now that we can well afford two cars, we have no desire to or intention of paying double car insurance, registration fees, double the maintenance and so on.

My husband now works four miles from home, and happily takes the bus to work each day. For the most part, I work in my home office, and use our sole car mainly for taking our high school freshman daughter to school, as well as for church, community events and errands.

If we went to take a longer "road trip," we rent a newer (cooler)car from Enterprise using its neighborhood discount rates.

Our family life is simpler; we are happier; we are conserving fuel and doing our part to save our environment from the burning of fossil fuel...and we save the difference for the college fund.

And we never miss having a second car.

Congrats, Rick, on joining the one-car club.

Eric said...

So Rick, how is the Enfield?