I love all things about cycling, but one of the things I love to hear about is when people tell me about their Car-Less lifestyle. I’m totally amazed by what these people are doing and have the utmost respect for anyone who has chosen to take this route in life.
There is also the term “Car-Light” which, as the name implies, is a step down from living a full out Car-Less life and only occasionally taking out the car. Living extremely Car-Light has been on our goal sheet for the past six months now, and my wife and I are doing what we can to move ourselves into that reality. I hadn’t really considered it before, but it mentioned that in today’s society, families who get by on only one car could pretty much be considered “Car-Light”….I realised that I’m closer than I thought. We’ve been a one car family for 7 of the past 9 years, and I love it.
So what’s it like living Car-Less?
I really wanted to know more about this lifestyle, so I reached out to some people in the cycling community to find out. To me, the king of living Car-Less has got to be Ryan Van Duzer. Not only has he been living his life without a car, he doesn’t even have a driver’s license.
I’ve never had a license!!! When I turned 16 I kept on riding my bike, while all my friends got cars and forgot about their bicycles.
-Ryan Van Duzer
And what a life he’s been living. Keep your eyes on this dude because he is totally going places. Fresh off being the star of “Out of the Wild“, he was awarded the gig of being host of the show “
Ryan’s adventurous Car-Less life didn’t just happen, he made it happen:
People always ask how I live without a car…truth is, I created a life that doesn’t require a car…When I travel, I look up bike stores to rent a bike, not Avis.
Amsterdam and Copenhagen seem like places where everyone lives the Car-Free lifestyle…what about the European country of Sweden? I asked Marcus Ljungqvist (not to be mistaken with the Pro Cyclist, Marcus Ljungqvist from Sweden) what the cycling situation is like in Sweden:
“Malmö is the best bike-city in Sweden and probably pretty good in an international standard too. It is light years behind cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, but is working hard to close the gap.”
Marcus began commuting to work about 2.5 years ago and soon realised that the 50km round trip didn’t really take much longer than his car or the bus. He says that taking his bike is a fourfold win. The four factors that he builds his argument against when promoting the bike as the Ultimate Transport are: “time, economy, environment and exercise.”
Now that he’s living the Car-Free life, Marcus says it feels really strange to not take a bike somewhere. ”The very rare occasions when I use the car within the city, I always hate it; congestion, parking and the cost of gas.”
Andrew Wright’s Car-Less journey began when his vehicle was taken off the road due to a “roadworthiness” issue. He and is wife live in Australia and decided to give it a go by riding busses and trains as their means of transportation. Before too long, Andrew realised that co-ordinating the schedules between these two sources really “sucked” and he looked to the bike to save him. As a guy who used to say, “If it has no motor between the wheels then I’m not interested”, this was a major shift in lifestyle. He bought himself a $20 garage sale bike and hit the road. Within 3 months Andrew had lost over 40 pounds and was hooked on the Car-Free life. His love of cycling has now filtered down to his three daughters and he rides them to school almost every day…even in the winter.
“So there is my story. We cycle. We catch the bus. We catch the train. We borrow a car when necessary.”
If you’re not able to live the full out Car-Free life, becoming Car-Light is a great option….especially when you have a family. Rob Perks of oceanaircycles.com started living Car-Light four years ago so that he could combine outdoor exercise with his commute to work.
With a young family, you’d think it might be a little challenging, but what does Rob say about living car-light?
“It’s not too hard. Our daughter is almost big enough to ride in a kid seat and then we will be able to ride again as a family. For now my wife and I mostly ride in shifts. I run many of our errands by bike. When we do fire up the car we combine as much stuff into one loop around town as we can.”
Cyclelicous‘ Richard Masoner has been living the car-light lifestyle since he was in college…..and continues this way now that he’s married and has a family. He doesn’t really consider his family to be “car-light” because they do own and drive a car for certain things….but in my opinion, he’s definitely living it and doing a great job of promoting this lifestyle along the way. Richard says all the “schlepping” to and from events can be challenging, but “cycling is it’s own reward” and makes it all so worth it.
The list of people living Car-Less and Light goes on and on…here are few tweets from Twitter friends living the lifestyle:
Advice from the Car-less/light Experts:
So what do you think? If you’ve been thinking about making the switch to a car-less or car-light lifestyle, here are come comments and advice to those already doing it:
Marcus Ljungqvist: “Just do it. A lot of people see it as a huge challenge, but it is a lot easier than one could imagine. For sure, some things might get a bit more complicated, like buying new furniture, but you may still have your car, a friend with a car, car-rental and so on. Some stuff are actually easier, like dropping the kids off in the morning and grocery-shopping (using a bike-carrier or cargo-bike).”
Ryan Van Duzer: Don’t be scared of leaving the car behind, the bicycle will bring so much joy to your life that you’ll forget all about that heavy box on wheels!
Richard Masoner: LIVE CLOSE TO WORK, SCHOOL, SHOPPING!
Rob Perks: Start with whatever bike you have, even a rusty beach cruiser with a flashlight taped to the bars will work. Do not obsess over “needing” the right bike to get going. Start with easy stuff like going to dinner where there is less time constraint. Move more and more of your car time to bike time as it comfortably works for your situation. As you ride more and gain experience you can tailor you bike(s) to better suit your needs. Once you start to cut the car dependence you will wonder why it took you so long to get started.
Are you living car-less or light? What advice do you have for others thinking of making the switch? If you’ve been thinking about moving to this lifestyle, what barriers are preventing you from doing it?
Photos c/o Michael Graham Richard, Ryan Van Duzer, and Marcus Ljungqvist