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Old 01-22-2012, 06:43 AM
642 posts, read 921,841 times
Reputation: 505


On Sunday, May 31st, 2010, I decided to go car-free. It had been a long time coming but happened due to the combination of the following events:

A year earlier I had bought a pretty nice car ('06 Accord Sedan), and I enjoyed it for a while but I started to get a little annoyed at how much the insurance was costing me. I realized that the USD $126 per month ended up being about $1,500 per year the full coverage, which over 5 years was about $7,500 - more than 1/2 of what I paid for the car. On top of that, I had a $1,000 deductible to pay up front it I ever did need the insurance to help pay anything. And then the gas, and the maintenace . . . It was just a lot of money.

I also felt that by driving the police had a lot more juristition over me. I try to avoid confrontation with police if possible, not necessarily because I'm doing anything wrong but because it seems like they're just kinda waiting for people to do something wrong. I have a DWI on my record, which I'm not proud of, but in a way it's kinda a right of passage for many young people from New Mexico. There's a whole economy here that thrives on busting people for traffic offeneses. But seriously, I don't want to potentially kill somebody just because I'm not paying enough attention while going from point A to pt. B.

I had also recently realized how much hated cars, mostly for being loud money pits and taking up a lot of space (I grew up on a busy street that's now 5 lanes wide) but also for killing a couple of my dogs and friends. That was also when the gulf oil spill happened so that helped seal the deal.

I remember it was a Sunday, because the bus route that stops by my house didn't run that day I had planned to take my bike to REI to get it fixed (I hadn't ridden it in YEARS.) I ended up walking my bike a good 6+ miles, but it was worth it, because an hour or so later when they gave me my bike all fixed up , I was reborn. I have a lot of nostalgic moments of riding my bike all the way across town with a renewed sense of freedom. One day I bought a coconut popsicle from the paleta guy and sat in the park after a good ride and life was amazing.

I had parked my car and taken itt off the insurance (I had to get a 10k student loan so I could pay off the car to get the title to do this) and I was now 'On bike." Albuquerque has some multi-use trails along the river and some drainage ditches which I could not have done this without - driving away from traffic is one of the better things in life.

I did have to make some adjustments, though. At the time I was living wih my parents who live a half a mile up a hill from my work. It literally takes me 5 minutes to ride my bike to work from their house. The problem was that most of my social life was based around the university area, which is about 12.8 miles (which turned out to be about 20 km) from where my house and work was. I could go out on the weekends but I always had to pack overnight gear so I could crash at my friend's place and ride back home the next day.

That drove me to move in with a couple friends in the downtown area. It's now a 40-50 minute bike 5 times a week but it's definitely worth it to be able to walk or ride my bike to the bars. There's also a bus that goes that way which I take more often than not, but in August this year I made it a point to ride my bike to and from work everyday. I still ride when I take the bus but not as much.

My mom now drives the car and pays the insurance on it, but lets me use it when I want to go out of town to ski or something. Since then it's been paid off (along with all my other debts.) and I've been able to save over $1000 a month on a call-center salary. I don't think I can ever go back to being car-based. I eat worse when I drive and I don't get any excercise and don't sleep as well.

I got a basket for my bike to put on the back cause I was tired of the back and shoulder sweat from using a backpack. I also learned the thick tubes with the slime are the best. When people ask if I get cold in the winter I tell them I do for a second but once I get going I warm up. Getting wet's not as ok but I just got fenders for my bike. Sometimes It's a huge pain in the a** to be honest but I would say it is most definitely worth it!!

What I'd like to know is, if anyone else has gone car-free and what kind of experience it has been.
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Old 01-22-2012, 07:10 AM
Location: Victoria TX
42,668 posts, read 71,603,351 times
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Your paragraph about the police is the part that hit home with me. It is not an exaggeration to say that in the US today, a person getting into an automobile has just walked across an international border, and entered a police state where the Constitution has been suspended. If you are in the driver's seat of a car, you have no constitutional rights. The police can stop and detain you for any reason or no reason at all, you are required to be in possession of up-to-date identity documents, your person and your car and your belongings can be searched without a warrant, you can be held to be accountable for where you are and where you are going and where you have been, and you can be incarcerated for 48 hours without being charged. Your possessions, including money, can be confiscated, with virtually no chance of ever getting them returned. You can be accused of any felony, faced with a choice of a plea bargain or crushing legal debts and the mercy of arbitrary "justice". On a good day, you can get off the hook with hundreds of dollars in fines and doubled insurance rates, based solely on an officer's word, with no defense. Hidden cameras are in place to scan your movements, with fines assessed in absentia, without your knowledge. Not only can these things happen to people driving cars (and often, passengers too), but they routinely do, and you know people they have happened to.

None of those can happen if you are not in the driver's seat of a car. If you are a pedestrian or a bystander, and a police officer asks you a question, you can say you don't have time to chat, and walk away, and he has the burden of proof that there is probable cause to detain you, and pointing to a broken tail light isn't good enough. If he asks you to identify yourself, you can state your name and address (in a language of your choice) and walk away, and you don't have to wait for him to write it down, or spell it for him. On foot, you are an American, presumed innocent (except in Arizona). In a car you are a suspect, presumed guilty.

Last edited by jtur88; 01-22-2012 at 07:27 AM..
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Old 01-22-2012, 07:30 AM
642 posts, read 921,841 times
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Pretty much. When I went to my arraignment, I tried to plead guilty (because I was) but the judge convinced me not because apparently if you plead guilty then they have no choice but to give you 90 days in jail.

I dished out some money for a public defender, and 9 months and 5 court appearances later I signed a plea-bargain and was placed on a year's probation and the 'first-offender's program' and some community service, pretty much what I knew they were gonna give me in the first place. Just a song and dance and a lot of cash involved.
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Old 01-22-2012, 09:25 AM
Location: southwestern PA
20,426 posts, read 35,751,613 times
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Paranoid much?
I have been driving for 40 years and have never experiences anything like you have described.
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Old 01-22-2012, 09:45 AM
43,012 posts, read 89,033,856 times
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Originally Posted by Pitt Chick View Post
Paranoid much?
I have been driving for 40 years and have never experiences anything like you have described.
That's because we live in Southwestern PA. They live in Texas and New Mexico. It's a whole other world down there, Pitt Chick.
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Old 01-22-2012, 10:15 AM
Location: Talmadge, San Diego, CA
12,974 posts, read 24,032,975 times
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You dished out money for a public defender? I wonder who you paid, because Public Defenders are free to you.
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Old 01-22-2012, 10:32 AM
43,012 posts, read 89,033,856 times
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Originally Posted by moved View Post
You dished out money for a public defender? I wonder who you paid, because Public Defenders are free to you.
There's a $10 application fee for a public defender in New Mexico: New Mexico Public Defenders (http://www.pdd.state.nm.us/aboutus/client_information.html - broken link)
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Old 01-22-2012, 10:43 AM
5,489 posts, read 8,173,490 times
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I've been to several duty stations, which, because of the nature of the duty, or the location I have traveled there without a POV.

It sucks, I'll never do it again.

If money was an issue I'd buy a >$2K motorcycle, get $20/Month basic coverage (This perfectly describes one of my motorcycles) and use that!

I once walked 45 minutes to get a crosandwich. then I walked 45 minutes back.
And don't tell me 'just don't go'... i was going to Iraq in a couple days and didn't want to want one the whole time I was there.

Can't date, can't go get good deals, your travel is restricted.

Stationed in VA... going to get anything I was dependant on others, had to go where they wanted to, took hours and hours to do a simple little task. Etc.

Transportation = freedom. I note the OP HAS a car avalabe, he's just not paying the insurance. (And fails to realize once it was paid off the insurance dropped.)

As to the whole Police thing... not so much. They can't search without a warrant, articulating probably cause, or reasonable suspicion.

If your walking they can perform a 'terry search'.... Ignorance is no reason to rant.
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Old 01-22-2012, 11:16 AM
Location: Mid-Atlantic east coast
5,122 posts, read 9,422,987 times
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When we moved across country from car-centric urban California, we looked for housing that was very walkable so it would be possible to live as car-free as possible. Our new neighborhood allowed us to ditch one of our two cars and the other mostly sits in the driveway as we both work at home.

We now have a stable of four bikes for the two of us, all purchased used, not one costing over $50.00. They are our second car...the one with the basket is the workhorse-- I can fit in four bags of groceries.

The other bikes, mountain bikes with the fat tires are for riding on trails and rough pavement. I also have a vintage World Tourist Schwinn that's my cruiser and it's got the skinny road tires and is very comfortable, with an upright riding position.

Though far from being a kid, I still feel like one when riding my bike and I will keep on pedaling as long as I'm able.

Our car, now 11 years old, is insured with only liability and doesn't cost much to keep operable. It only has 68,000 miles--we don't use it much!
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Old 01-22-2012, 11:43 AM
43,012 posts, read 89,033,856 times
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We live in a region of the country where biking isn't an option. Too many steep hills.

I went without a car for a few months. Hubby had his but mine died. I didn't mind too much, but it took forever to accomplish the easiest tasks. For example, my child had an appointment with the Dean of his college. The college was 10 minutes away via car. The appointment was 15 minutes long tops. By taking the bus, it took half a day because buses run hourly. A 30 minute event took four hours. It would have only taken 3 hours except the bus broke down on the return trip. We had to get out in town and wait for the next bus.
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