Sunday, January 13, 2013

15 Car-Free Myths and Truths

15 Car-Free Myths and Truths
By Bill Poindexter aka “The Car-free American”

1. It is hard to live car-free!
False. It is not hard to live car-free. It may be inconvenient, but not hard. Think about it, people had been living car-free up to the early 1900s. No one died because they did not own a car, nor will you if you go car-free or car-lite. It takes time to get use to it, but it all comes together and becomes more natural than car use. Basically being carfree is getting back to nature-you get healthier, it is good for environment, and you meet your community-face to face rather than car to car. It is also nice to save money.

2. It is always fun
True: Most of the time it is FUN. Usually the weather is the fun or non fun factor. But there are other factors too; heavy traffic, if you are tired, or sick, or a strong headwind. Then again, those are all factors that make driving a car not fun too.

3. People look down at you
True: sometimes they do. That is ok; at the end of the day most secretly wish they could live carfree. Everyone will tell you that it is "cool."

4. You have to have special equipment
False: Good walking shoes and a bicycle. And you do not have to have an expensive bicycle, just one that works well for you. Overtime you’ll figure out your own personal style of transportation. Keep it simple. If it roles and feels good go with it. Take your time, do not spend alot of money.

5. You will lose a lot of weight
Maybe, if you burn off more than you take in. You will get fit-that is for sure. Diet is still important though, I recommend a "whole food" diet of non processed foods. Raw nuts, Olive oil, fresh vegetables, quality protein, berries, whole cheeses will give you all the energy you need...I recently lost 70+ lbs eating the above foods.

6. You will save money
True: No more gas! No more insurance! No more car payment! No more personal property tax! No more oil changes! I think the last time I figured I save about $8,000 per year (what I spent the last year I owned a car).

7. You cannot live carfree if you have a young family
False: You can, millions do, it is just more inconvenient until you become use to it. It is definitely easier in more urban settings and some suburban. If you live in the country it may not be practical, in which case a car is necessary, but it does not mean you have to use it all the time. Kids are carfree, and they make it work. Don't use your family as a excuse, instead use them as the primary motivation for living a healthier lifestyle!

8. You will get hit by a car or crash
Big false: Nonsense! Only if you don’t pay attention to your surroundings. The odds are still in your favor…not to get squished. I have spent 10 years riding in traffic a have never been hit by a car. I ride with the assumption the drivers do not see me. If you have a driver's license you know the laws, obey them and you should be ok walking or bicycling for transportation.

9. People will make fun of you if you do not own a car and /or bike places
False and true: Well, if they do, make fun of them back. They are jealous you are out enjoying yourself. I find that most people want to be carfree, I mean, when they go on vacation, they don't want to go someplace they have to drive all the time, no, they want to go some place to relax, walk or bike.

10. You will instantly be “Green.”
False: There is more to being green than just using alternative transportation. Carfree is a step in the right direction. A BIG STEP.

11. You will miss out on event because you won’t be able to get there.
True, sometimes that does happen, but you will be able to see and feel much more than you ever have in a car, so you’ll gain much more richness in your life. You will also learn to support events in your local community and you will add value as you arrive by your own steam. It makes your transportation an adventure!

12. I will have to own special clothes for bicycling?
False: You can wear anything you want. If you are riding longer than an hour, you may want to make sure you are wearing something comfortable. Bike shorts were made for a reason. Time on the bike will be your best teacher. I now rarely wear specialized gear or shoes. I keep it simple and comfortable.

13. I do not have time to be car-free
False: most Americans waste a crap load of time in their cars going to places they don’t need to go to or watching TV. I suspect you could find a bit of time to get healthier, save the environment, and make your community stronger. There is always time to do something good for you. It comes down to needs versus wants-“do I really need to drive to the Wal-Mart to buy more crap I don’t need.” Or “can we hop on the bikes and go to the local store to buy what we really need?” Then again...there are exceptions:)

14. Car-free means never owning or driving a car
False: It is a little confusing I admit. Typically Car-free means living with out a car and Car-lite means owning a car, but using it on a limited basis. Any journey you take without the use of a car, no matter the distance, is car-free.

15. Living car-free makes me happy!
Bill's bicycle with the bags, has over 30,000 commuting miles on
TRUE: I love the lifestyle. Living car-free has helped me become healthier, I feel like I am polluting less, I save money, and I have developed very strong relationships in my community because of my lifestyle.

Bill Poindexter lives in Kansas City, Missouri and has lived the highly evolved life style of living carfree.