I guess many people right now might be learning to deal with a life without work, socialising, and many other things we take for granted. For Alastair Brown and his family, living without a car has been something they’ve dealt with for well over 15 years, using bikes to provide the main substitution – here’s how:
Our family is, I think, relatively unusual in NZ for the simple reason that we choose not to own a car. This has given us a couple of fleeting moments of fame at www.stuff.co.nz when we answered a call to contribute to a stuff blog in this article in 2010 and this follow-up article in 2015.
I don’t really want to repeat in detail the points made in those articles, but in summary
- Environment – the simple, personal, effective response to global warming.
- Financial – cars are expensive, bikes are cheap. We’ve found investing in appreciating assets (property, in our case) way better than depreciating liabilities (cars).
- Fitness – 30-100 km per week cycling gives us a good baseline fitness, which we can build on, if and when we want.
The public comments on those two articles were interesting (to me at least) and highlight many of the barriers that people perceive to exist when it comes to escaping the car and using smarter forms of transport. All of which have been well covered here by http://cyclingchristchurch.co.nz/.
Something that might be of slightly more interest is my strange little of hobby of moving improbable objects by bicycle. Among other things, it helps demonstrate that one of the arguments for having a car – I absolutely need a car to shift my antique Credenza, or whatnot – is not always valid, certainly not when distances are only across city, and a flat one at that. And apparently I’m not alone; according to this article from The Guardian it seems almost mainstream, and of course our very own Steve Muir has excelled in enabling utility cycling in Christchurch.
So for your collective enjoyment, here’s quick pictorial exposé of my family’s utility cycling activities over the last 10 or so years, in no particular order:
In summary, a few thoughts
- It can be quite fun
- I very much enjoy the challenge from “great! we’ve won it on TradeMe, now how on earth do we get it home?” to “yes! it’s finally home”
- We don’t bid for big things on big hills.
- Appropriate use of low-tech technology can work quite well.
- Not tying things on properly can have varying consequences
Could you go car-free in your life?